Jacking the Dial

Kiri Miller

in Playing Along

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199753451
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932979 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Music/Media Series

                      Jacking the Dial

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This chapter focuses on musical experience in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. By withholding conventional soundtrack music and giving players control over an in-game radio system, the game designers draw attention to music’s capacity to channel emotional experience, match or clash with narrative situations, and alter the passage of time. The radio invites players to explore the role of music in their navigation of an unfamiliar landscape and their occupation of a foreign persona. A web of interconnected songs writes the history and shapes the cultural landscape of San Andreas, reaching beyond the borders of the gameworld to make connections with real-life songs, cities, and musical canons. While the radio system puts forward “classics” in many genres, it is African-American music (especially hip-hop) that receives the richest, most thorough, and most historically-aware treatment.

Keywords: radio; soundtrack; narrative; hip-hop; video game music; Grand Theft Auto

Chapter.  13123 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music ; Ethnomusicology

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