Thursday, October 23, 2014

What do you think?

What do you think? This month we walked through ways music appears in various video games. Do you think this is an adequate area of study in musicology? Why or why not? I would love to hear your opinion whether you enjoyed this month’s topic or not!

If you are a fan of video games and the music, what is your favorite type of music usage within a particular game?


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Video Game Music Scholarship and More!

As I mentioned earlier this month, video game music scholarship has taken off within the last decade. Now an accepted area of research amongst musicologists, it also exists as a very accessible topic for many people. One video game music scholar, Will Cheng, has an excellent book with more information on the topics I highlighted this month. If you find this topic interesting and would like more information, you can go to the following website and check out his book. 

One other area of music and gaming research worthy of note comes from scholar Karen Collins who studies music and gambling. Did you know that often times, the music used at casinos is intentionally written in such a way as to cause the player to believe they are doing better than the reality of their situation? Next time you consider gambling, you should be mindful of the music!

With the idea of video game soundtracks becoming so popular, the London Philharmonic Orchestra released a Greatest Video Game Music album in 2011 followed by a second volume in 2012.

 Zelda even has a traveling symphony that many of you may have seen when they performed at Cincinnati’s Music Hall last year. 


Join me next time as we wrap up our month of video game music!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Anything Goes: Music in Modern Games

Like many things in today’s modernized world, anything goes when creating a new video game. The types of music you may hear and how it’s used in newly-released games varies greatly. Today, let’s just look at a few uses of music in various modern-age games.

Today it is more common to have an actual composer write a soundtrack for a game rather than using a programmer to create background mechanical sounds. Some people relate video game scores to film scores when they are actually quite different to create. Many film composers know exactly what to expect with the film and have the clean and neat task of putting music to an already-set plotline. With video games, however, the story or progression is unpredictable since each individual player determines which direction the plot might turn. Many composers approach this difficult task by creating a score with flaps containing different ways the music may turn as well as different layers of instruments, adding more during intense moments.

Darren Korb, composer for games such as Bastion and Transistor is known for his excellent soundtracks and use of experimental music.

While some games use the old chip tunes, nostalgically choosing to pull sounds from the 80s, others use beautiful soundtracks (many people think of Halo when they want to hear a great video game soundtrack). One of my favorite soundtracks comes from Journey in which the main character is represented by a solo cello.

Do you dislike the soundtrack you hear in one of your games? Xbox players can plug their iPod into the console and create their own soundtrack!

Do you remember when we looked at diegetic and non-diegetic music during our film music month back in April? Well, these terms also apply to video games! As a reminder, diegetic music is music that the characters onscreen can hear (there is a musical source onscreen) while non-diegetic is simply background music. Bioshock Infinite shows a record player inside a house while Grand Theft Auto allows players to choose their own radio station inside the car, both diegetic examples.


Hopefully the expansive examples touched on above show you that music can be used in many different ways within modern-day video games. Do you enjoy the range of options currently on the market or do you prefer the traditional games of the 80s and early 90s?