October 19, 2021, 3:34 PM
Netflix’s new chart-topping horror show, “Squid Game,” is filled with classic music. Listen here to the chilling soundtrack that takes on a whole new meaning thanks to the plot of this bloody South Korean survival drama.
squid game burst onto our screens in late September 2021 in a burst of gore, shock and mystery. But what audiences probably didn’t expect was the appearance of some of classical music’s best-known works.
The show tells the story of a group of contestants who are lucky enough to win ₩45.6bn (£28.5m) playing playground games. The catch? If you lose, you die.
Each contestant chose to participate in the games because they are heavily in debt, prompting them to risk everything for the grand total.
This bloody plot is underscored by a few familiar pieces from the world of classical music, and after watching this show, you’ll never listen to these works the same way again. Here’s everything you need to know about the classical music pieces used in the soundtrack, and who composed the score for it. Squid game.
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Who composed the music for Squid Game?
South Korean composer Jung Jae-il was responsible for choosing and composing the music for squid game.
Jung has had a prolific career in the music industry and is best known in the songwriting world for writing the soundtracks for two of South Korea’s greatest films, Parasite (2019), and Okja (2017), both directed by Bong Joon-ho.
He graduated from Seoul Jazz Academy and is a gifted musician, playing piano, guitar, bass and drums at advanced levels.
In the Oscar-winning film, Parasitethe composer played the musical saw on the track “Camping”, and his piercing recorder playing is one of the first sounds heard by the watching audience squid gamewith the track “Way Back Then” introducing the show.
“Way Back Then” is one of many recurring musical themes to emphasize the action in squid game throughout the series.
This track is notable for its bare texture, using only the recorder and percussion at the start of the piece. The full 2:31 track featured on the soundtrack involves other instruments joining the piece in crescendos over a unison melody.
Another familiar track is “Pink Soldiers”, which on the soundtrack is credited to an artist called 23.
The eerie vocal tune highlights the Pink Soldiers, who are present as some kind of law enforcement during the games.
What classical music is in Squid Game?
Haydn Trumpet Concerto
Half an hour into the first episode, the musicians are awakened by the third and final movement of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major.
This piece becomes a chilling theme throughout the series, drawing contestants’ attention at critical moments and bringing a sense of unease to players and audiences alike.
The concerto was composed in 1796 for Haydn’s friend, the virtuoso trumpeter Anton Weidinger.
The piece was Haydn’s last major orchestral work, which is evident from the maturity and experience he brings to composition.
It’s possible squid game chose this piece because of the movement’s virtuoso fanfare playing.
With fanfares often used to announce important personalities, opening ceremonies such as the Olympics, and to signal the start of war, this work is an appropriate choice for a show that combines all three themes.
Strauss by the beautiful blue Danube
Johann Strauss II An der schönen, baluen Donaualso known as The Blue Danube waltz, was originally a choral work, although the most popular arrangement is for orchestra.
Strauss had been commissioned to write the piece for the Vienna Men’s Choral Society in 1866 to boost the morale of the Viennese, due to Prussia’s victory in the Austro-Prussian War that same year.
As for the war, squid game has many deaths, with almost half of all players killed in the first episode.
The wise choice of The Blue Danube as an underline then for the events before and after the games alludes to the idea that game makers are trying to cheer up the players, who, like the people of Vienna in 1866, have also witnessed tragic losses.
Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings
Tchaikovsky composed his Serenade for strings in C major from his “innermost conviction”.
“It is a sincere piece and therefore, I dare to think, it does not lack real qualities,” Tchaikovsky told his patron Nadezhda von Meck in a letter about the work.
squid game uses the waltz, the second movement, to mark the end of the second game, and the deliberation involved in forming the teams for the third.
The waltz is often performed separately from the roughly half-hour work, as it has gained popularity as a piece in its own right. When it was created, the movement had to be repeated. Tchaikovsky’s former teacher, Anton Rubinstein, declared it Tchaikovsky’s finest piece.
You can watch the first season of Squid Game on Netflix now.