There are some things that can only be said slowly. And there are some experiences that can only be communicated over time. Good stories must earn their climaxes. To mean more, you must communicate more. One can't borrow or buy an epic scale to their journey without going through an epic journey step by step. Every moment that is poured into a work has the potential of paying off in a big way.
Time is special like this. The purpose of this article is to highlight a few musical examples of works that take their time building up to their single, significant, and at times epic climax/conclusion.
If you're the kind of person that's in a rush, I suggest finding the time not to be. I also suggest listening to each of these songs. Play them in the background of your routine computer tasks if you must.
I am very fortunate to have played the Firebird Suite with a full orchestra and Adagio for Strings with a full string orchestra. I must say that I didn't enjoy rehearsing these songs at first. Adagio is written in a key with 5 flats, which is very uncommon for string music. This made the song difficult enough, but it was even more grueling to rehearse the song under tempo. Some days, we'd only get through a few lines before our time was up.
Then one day it hit me. Adagio wasn't boring. It was building. Slowly, one small step at at time, it was still going somewhere. And it was going to a place I had never experienced before along a path that I thought was insufficient. I found that even though the song moved slowly, it developed much in the same ways as a faster paced song. Also, because the tempo was so slow, every change and inflection on every note was more pronounced. In this way, Adagio and slow songs like it create a richer listening experience per note simply because there's actually time to linger and express each note completely over seconds instead of split seconds.
These songs don't disappoint.
Another good example of a song that fits the group is "Wait" by The Afters. Because I couldn't find an adequate online recording, I did not include it with the other examples.
Though the songs build slowly, time seems to melt away. At least, this is how it is for me. And it's not just time. My thoughts and physical state seem to match the song as well.
Forest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button are two films that have a similar slowly building progression. In both of these films, the life of the main character is shown including their travels, battles, hardships, and growing pains. In Gump's case, the metaphor between life and a box of chocolates was made more impactful because the film shows us the life of this character. After having experienced the life of Forest Gump filled with mishaps and unforeseeable happenings, we can easily relate to the idea of never knowing what we're gonna get out of life.
I wonder if there's a video game with a slow building structure. Sure, many games slowly progress their stories and increase their difficulty through a series of challenges and scenes over many hours of play. However, I think the analogy between the songs/movies above and video games falls under game mechanics.
The nature of a game mechanic, in general, is an action and quick response. Hit the punch button and the character on the screen quickly punches. Tap the jump button, and the character on the screen most likely makes a short jump. To make a game with a slow build, one would have to develop mechanics based on actions that are slow and/or create responses that aren't immediate.
The closest examples I can think off are some of the exercises and games in Wii Fit. Holding a stretch is a single action that is drawn out for a small period of time. When doing the Tree pose or the Sun Salutation pose, the prolonged action and delayed response (scoring) of the game create a very slow, unique pace. Likewise, Lotus Focus is a game that tests the player's ability to sit very still for 3 minutes. SIT, in the case, is just one long action. When the player fails to SIT still, the consequences are quickly brought to the players attention. "CUT"