Pretty much every kind of media benefits from music. That’s why studios spend so much time and money on creating or commissioning music for their projects. While movie soundtracks are the most famous example of this, there’s a deeper, weirder world of musical accompaniment that can be found online.
That weird world is the iGaming industry, where websites offer casino games that have all kinds of additional features. Part of their content includes online slots, arguably the most popular game available in casinos due to their simplicity and broad appeal through many niche genres. That’s where the soundtrack comes in, where iGaming developers need to figure out the perfect sound that goes with their game. To recreate the sound of ancient Greece, most musicians would reach for the lyre (or a similar stringed approximation of one). This is how the door gets opened to wild instruments that modern musicians don’t use often.
With that context, we can dive into the many strange instruments that are used by online slot games. In pursuing an eclectic mix of genres, settings, and time periods, you can expect to hear some of these sounds on your average iGaming website.
As mentioned, the lyre is a favourite for slots set in the ancient world. They may be most associated with Greece, though they’re used wherever other distinguished ancient civilisations need to be represented. For example, ancient Roman and Egyptian slots may use similar instruments. A more common accompaniment for those genres is the flute too, or specifically regional variants like the ney – one of the world’s oldest instruments still being used today.
History has a wide scope that includes primitive cavemen, Viking raids and Middle Age cathedrals. All demand a different sound, with simplistic hand drums as a reliable instrument of choice. For slots that invoke religious imagery and architecture, it’s common for delicate choral backing to be used, maybe an organ if more bombastic sounds are needed. Slots that include cavemen or Norse warriors opt for fierce chanting instead.
Online slots don’t just vary in setting and time period – they span vocations and other occupations. In this category, mining and fishing are quite popular since they match the ideas behind slot gameplay well – putting yourself out there and coming back with something for your trouble, if you’re lucky. While using culturally significant instruments like the banjo, mining slots sometimes use chains or pickaxe strikes to create the soundtrack. Fishing slots use banjos for rural locations or steel drums for tropical ones, due to their strong Caribbean associations.
Then there are more unexpected ones, like slots modelled after being a long-haul truck driver or a pirate at sea. Car or road-themed slots tend to rely on lyric-less rock music, not that weird, while nautical-themed slots reach for the accordion to make a signature jaunty tune.
Moving even further away from reality, there are slots tied to fantastical or entirely made-up circumstances. This sounds like it comes with a lot of musical freedom, audiences have specific expectations when they see certain visuals. EDM in a ‘swords and sorcery’ slot about slaying a dragon might throw people off, so harps and lutes are preferred instead. Likewise, slots with a noir or crime-caper theme use brass instruments like the saxophone, simply due to cultural ties between those genres.
Then there are horror slots – some use silence combined with atmospheric sound cues while others prefer violin screeches or whispering, and other unconventional and unsettling ways to make sound.
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