Music of Minecraft

C418 (left) and Lena Raine (right) have been two of the main contributors to the music of Minecraft.

The music of the 2009 video game Minecraft, developed by Mojang Studios, primarily consists of two soundtrack albums by German musician Daniel Rosenfeld, also known as C418. American composer Lena Raine has also contributed with one album and two extended plays since 2020. Music included in downloadable content (DLC) for legacy console versions of the game was handled by British musician Gareth Coker, who released six soundtrack albums from 2016 to 2020.

Rosenfeld was solely responsible for the soundtrack for the Java Edition of the game until 2020, with Minecraft – Volume Alpha (2011) and its follow-up double album Minecraft – Volume Beta (2013) both released independently. With the launch of various DLC for Minecraft: Bedrock Edition in 2016, Coker issued three soundtrack albums, producing an additional three in the following four years. In 2020, Raine released the Minecraft: Nether Update EP and has since issued one album – Minecraft: Caves & Cliffs (2021) featuring contributions by Kumi Tanioka, and an additional EP for the game's Wild Update (2022) with Samuel Åberg. Citing licensing issues with Microsoft, an original third album composed by Rosenfeld, which was first hinted at in 2015, has still not come to fruition. His final contribution to the game was in 2018, releasing three singles for its Aquatic Update.

Sonically, the soundtrack consists largely of ambient music and has been lauded by critics – in 2011, video game blog Kotaku cited it as one of the best video game soundtracks of that year.

Background and artistry

C418

German musician Daniel Rosenfeld had been making music under the moniker C418 since he was 15 years old, and was influenced by the electronic work of Aphex Twin. From 2007, he became active on online indie game community TIGSource where he met Markus Persson, who still in the early stages of developing Minecraft. Rosenfeld was given creative freedom to create a soundtrack for the tech demo, and opted to make ambient music reminiscent of the works of Brian Eno and Vangelis. He was interested in "games with music that takes you completely by surprise," citing Dwarf Fortress as inspiration. Therefore, Rosenfeld wanted to "make something organic and partly electronic, partly acoustic" for Minecraft. Further, he intended to make the music as unintrusive to the player as possible, as if "they’d only notice it when something interesting happens in the game." However, the soundtrack's minimalistic style was also due to technical constraints, as he admitted the game "has a terrible sound engine."

Persson chose to commission the music from Rosenfeld, meaning the artist still retains ownership of all the music he made for Minecraft. Both the soundtrack albums also contain music not intended for the game, "extending the album into a more cohesive piece that can be played on its own."

Lena Raine

In 2020, American composer Lena Raine was contacted by Mojang Studios to compose music for the Nether Update in Minecraft. She had previously handled the soundtrack for video game Celeste, and had just released her debut studio album Oneknowing (2019). In composing music for Minecraft, she felt "immense pressure" to deliver due to the "very highly acclaimed score" already in the game. After submitting a demo, her goal with the Nether Update soundtrack was to see how far she "could push the sound of the piano until it resembled other things entirely." With her third contributions to the game in 2022, Raine wrote she wanted to "focus the musical style around more of a blend between synths and live instrumentation," while continuing to use "strings, piano, and woodwinds in places."

Albums

Minecraft – Volume Alpha

The first installment of the game's soundtrack, Minecraft – Volume Alpha, was released digitally on 4 March 2011 independently by Daniel Rosenfeld. In June 2015, the record received its first pressing to vinyl and CD through American record label Ghostly. In 2022, the album was nominated for Top Dance/Electronic Album at the Billboard Music Awards.

The album was met with positive reviews, with Andy Kellman from AllMusic praising its replay value, stating that "none of the recurring elements is pronounced or simple enough to become fatiguing with repeated play".

Minecraft – Volume Beta

On 9 November 2013, Rosenfeld released Minecraft – Volume Beta as his fifth studio album and the game's second soundtrack album. It includes music sonically described as having a darker tone than Volume Alpha, added into the game in various updates following his first record. It also contains audio from 10 of the 13 collectable music discs within the game. In 2013, the album appeared on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart, peaking at number 14. It received its first pressing to vinyl and CD through Ghostly in 2020.

Nether Update

Minecraft: Nether Update (Original Game Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Released14 June 2020
Genre
Length20:32
LabelMicrosoft Studios Music
ProducerLena Raine
Lena Raine chronology
Celeste: Farewell (Original Soundtrack)
(2019)
Minecraft: Nether Update (Original Game Soundtrack)
(2020)
Reknowing
(2020)

On 10 April 2020, it was announced Lena Raine had composed music for the game's Nether Update. On the sequencing of her three new soundtrack songs, Raine claimed she "wanted each piece to feel like a progression of emotions, or a journey from place to place within this other world." The EP also contains a new in-game music disc, "Pigstep", which has two different mixes on the soundtrack version, released 14 June 2020. Unlike Rosenfeld's work, Raine published her music digitally through Microsoft Studios Music.

No.TitleLength
1."Chrysopoeia"5:03
2."Rubedo"5:12
3."So Below"5:19
4."Pigstep" (Mono Mix)2:28
5."Pigstep" (Stereo Mix)2:28
Total length:20:32

Caves & Cliffs

Minecraft: Caves & Cliffs (Original Game Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Released20 October 2021
Genre
Length47:46
LabelMicrosoft Studios Music
Producer
Lena Raine chronology
Chicory: The Sounds of Picnic Province
(2021)
Minecraft: Caves & Cliffs (Original Game Soundtrack)
(2021)
Moonglow Bay (Original Soundtrack)
(2021)

On 20 October 2021, the fourth official release of the Minecraft soundtrack was released, with 10 new tracks coinciding with the game's Caves & Cliffs Update. Seven of them were composed by Raine, including "Otherside", a new in-game music disc, and three were handled by Japanese composer Kumi Tanioka, known for his work in the Final Fantasy series.

Tracks 1–7 by Lena Raine; 8–10 by Kumi Tanioka
No.TitleLength
1."Stand Tall"5:08
2."Left to Bloom"5:42
3."Ancestry"5:43
4."Wending"5:14
5."Infinite Amethyst"4:31
6."One More Day"4:38
7."Otherside"3:15
8."Floating Dream"3:25
9."Comforting Memories"4:35
10."An Ordinary Day"5:31
Total length:47:46

Wild Update

Minecraft: The Wild Update (Original Game Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Lena Raine and Samuel Åberg
Released20 April 2022
Genre
Length18:32
LabelMicrosoft Studios Music
Producer
Lena Raine chronology
Moonglow Bay (Original Soundtrack)
(2021)
Minecraft: The Wild Update (Original Game Soundtrack)
(2022)

The fifth installment of the game's soundtrack, including songs introduced in the Wild Update, was released on 20 April 2022. It contains three new tracks by Raine, and a new music disc, "Five", composed by Mojang audio director Samuel Åberg.

Tracks 1–3 by Lena Raine; 4 by Samuel Åberg
No.TitleLength
1."Firebugs"5:12
2."Aerie"4:56
3."Labyrinthine"5:24
4."Five"2:58
Total length:18:32

Trails & Tales

Minecraft: Trails & Tales (Original Game Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Aaron Cherof
Released26 April 2023
Genre
  • Ambient
  • electronic
Length21:56
LabelMicrosoft Studios Music
ProducerAaron Cherof
Aaron Cherof chronology
Sunshine Heavy Industries (Original Soundtrack)
(2021)
Minecraft: Trails & Tales (Original Game Soundtrack)
(2023)

On 26 April 2023, Mojang announced American composer Aaron Cherof had contributed five new tracks to the game, to be introduced in the Trails & Tales Update.

No.TitleLength
1."Echo in the Wind"4:56
2."A Familiar Room"4:01
3."Bromeliad"5:12
4."Crescent Dunes"4:08
5."Relic"3:38
Total length:21:56

Further contributions

Singles

On 16 July 2018, three new songs from C418 were added to the game for its Aquatic Update. It marked the first new contributions from Rosenfeld to Minecraft since 2014. The three tracks were released digitally from August – "Dragon Fish" on 9 August, "Shuniji" on 10 November, and "Axolotl" on 12 December 2018.

Potential third C418 album

Rosenfeld first hinted at a potential third soundtrack album in 2015, commenting "I'll still work on Minecraft, so there'll probably be another album". He confirmed the future release in 2017 but claimed it was "still far from done". The musician confirmed on Twitter that the record would be longer than the previous two albums combined, which in total is over three hours and 18 minutes. On 8 January 2021, Rosenfeld was asked in an interview with Anthony Fantano whether or not there was still a third volume of the soundtrack in production. Rosenfeld responded that "I have something—I consider it finished—but things have become complicated, especially as Minecraft is now a big property, so I don't know".

DLC soundtrack

While Rosenfeld once composed holiday themed music in downloadable content (DLC) for console editions of the game in 2014, British composer Gareth Coker has been responsible for the bulk of music for DLC in Minecraft: Bedrock Edition.

On 21 December 2016, Coker released the albums Battle & Tumble, Chinese Mythology and Greek Mythology to complement three downloadable packs in Bedrock Edition. Two more records of similar themes, Norse Mythology and Egyptian Mythology, were released in December 2017 and May 2018 respectively. Coker's final album for DLC was for the Glide Mini Game, releasing on 22 December 2020. Unlike previous work by Rosenfeld, all of Coker's albums for Minecraft were released under Microsoft's own label.

Reception

The soundtrack's minimalistic and melancholic composition has been praised by critics. Keith Stuart of The Guardian noted that Rosenfeld's "wilting, minimalist tracks, slow-paced and slightly melancholy, recall the ambient works of Satie and Eno", calling it the game's "perfect accompaniment." In 2018, Jamie Hornsey of student newspaper The Boar described the soundtrack's composition as "nostalgia in its purest form," adding: "By encouraging players to associate pieces of music with certain actions, the game becomes capable of conjuring incredibly vivid images in the player’s mind."

Much of the soundtrack's retrospective praise has been directed at Volume Alpha, where Evan Tridone of The Review called the album "arguably the best ambient album to be released this decade." Writing for Kotaku, Luke Plunkett praised it as a "great album" and as "tranquil as a good night's sleep."

In 2022, the Minecraft soundtrack placed at number 54 on Australian radio station ABC Classic's top 100 countdown, as voted by listeners.

Charts

Chart performance for albums in the Minecraft soundtrack
Chart Album Year Peak
position
US Top Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard) Minecraft – Volume Alpha 2021–2022 5
Minecraft – Volume Beta 2013 14

This page was last updated at 2023-05-07 12:16 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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