Quake's music soundtrack was composed by Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor. The music plays on each level of the game. Due to its ambient nature, the tracks attempt to give the levels an extra layer of atmosphere while the player is walking through a ghostly ancient realm.
The music was designed to be able to be easily looped, since there was no clear idea how long someone might spend in a level, especially for Deathmatch. They were also designed to not get in the way of the actual gameplay, allowing the player to still hear opponents with ease while the music was playing. The original tracks were often 10-15 minutes long.
The music on the disc is a standard audio CD-audio files which means the music can be played off a CD player and ripped onto the computer to play on media player. Track 01 is a data track, meaning the actual soundtrack are Tracks 02-11.
While it was possible to make .mp3 files in 1996, Interscope Records specifically required that the tracks be burned onto the CD (Redbook audio codecs) and only be playable from the CD. The disc therefore must be inserted in order to play the music in game. This meant that many players playing the game did not get to hear the music, even back in 1996, since they would take the CD out. In return, Trent Reznor could not release the soundtrack to Quake without the permission of id Software.
This earlier deal also has come with the side affect that modern releases of Quake, such as the Steam release, could not be released with the music. In 2019, Trent Reznor contacted id Software as he desired to release a vinyl version of the soundtrack. This in turn resulted in the deal being changed so that non-Redbook Quake releases are now permitted to come with the CD audio.
As the tracks do not have official names, they have several fan-made titles accepted by the player community.
|02||Persia Invasion / Quake Theme|
|03||The Life Beneath It All / Aftermath / Intermission|
|04||Conscience / The Hall of Souls / Whispers|
|05||Freezing Vertigo / It is Raped|
|06||The Journey / Parallel Dimensions|
|07||The Hammer / Life|
|08||Ice / Damnation|
|09||Peace? / Focus|
|10||Violence Inside / Falling|
|11||Death / The Reaction|