Narrative in trailers, cutscenes and cinematics (for the game music composer)

This photo includes the logo of the Spore Hero video game, and the game's composer Winifred Phillips. Phillips is the author of the book A Composer's Guide to Game Music, published by The MIT Press.

By Winifred Phillips | Contact | Follow

Hey, everybody!  I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips, and I’m happy to welcome you back to the last installment of our four-part discussion of “scoring-to-picture” techniques within video games.  In these articles we’ve considered how cutscenes, trailers, and cinematics can benefit from specific musical strategies.  As game composers, our jobs involve lots of complex music systems requiring expert knowledge of dynamic composition techniques.  However, we can still benefit from an examination of the goals that music can achieve during linear presentations within a game.  Such goals may include:

  1. Characterization
  2. Information
  3. Identity
  4. Narrative

Earlier in this series of articles, we’ve discussed the ways in which music can support believable and moving characterization.  We considered the ability of a musical score to emphasize details and enhance comprehension of information.  We’ve also considered how a game’s intrinsic identity can be reinforced using thoughtful choices of musical style, particularly in the case of custom music for game trailers.  So now let’s move on to the last item on our list, and the one most closely associated with linear music composition:

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