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Noir Music

Noir music comes in a variety of flavours, depending on how you look at it. I've assembled some playlists from YouTube and Spotify that cater to these different styles. I am far from an expert here, so you can expect this page to grow and develop as I learn more about these genres.

Most people hear the term "noir music" and think of traditional lounge jazz with a slow, smoky style that features a lot of melancholy piano, muted trumpet, soulful saxophone and brushes on high-hats. This is a sound derived from some of the club acts of the film noir era, including such artists as John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. It's a sound and a vibe that has inspired many imitators since then, to the point that this style has become a bit of a cliche that can risk cheesiness. Not to fear, though - there is an endless supply of great, soulful jazz that fits this category. You can find mixes in this vein in this section.

Beat It, Toots - A Noir Jazz Playlist by Jazz Dispensary

Traditional Jazz & Lounge

Soundtracks & Orchestral

Another way to think of "noir music" is to consider the soundtracks used in film noir movies. There is a fair bit of overlap with traditional/lounge jazz, but such soundtracks also usually include orchestral music of the kind often employed as scores in the 40s and 50s. Music of this kind can be very lush and energetic or spare and brooding, depending on the requirements of a particular scene. The Adolph Deutsch soundtrack for "The Maltese Falcon" is a great example of this, and a link to a playlist for the film can be found below for both YouTube and Spotify. When "noir" is broadened to include, not just film noir, but also neo noir, the scope of noir soundtracks widens considerably. I'm thinking particularly of the Vangelis soundtrack for "Blade Runner" and the Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack for "Twin Peaks." Directors and composers of neo noir have a wider palette to choose from, including ambient, dark ambient, doom jazz, and anything else that captures a dark and sinister or conflicted vibe.

For the full playlist with multiple selections from multiple films click here. 1

For the full playlist click here. 2

For the full playlist with multiple selections from multiple films click here. 3

Alternative & Atmosphere

While I can appreciate the melancholy grooves of traditional club/lounge jazz, it's when elements from that style are borrowed and transformed that I find noir music more aligned with my own personal tastes. There are many artists exploring the dark waters of noir, some more jazz-influenced that others. A great example is the German ambient/jazz band, "Bohren & der Club of Gore" - please give a listen to their album, "Sunset Mission" (included as a YouTube link below) for slow, soulful darkness.

Noir L.A. Live Stream

Ambient Dark Jazz

Shiprinski - Noir Mixture

Noir Bar (Dark jazz / Night jazz / Doom jazz / Noir jazz)

Jazz Noir Mix

Jazz Noir Music

Bohren & der Club of Gore

Sunset Mission

For the full playlist click here.


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