I’m pleased to announce that my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, is now available its new paperback edition! I’m excited that my book has done well enough to merit a paperback release, and I’m looking forward to getting to know a lot of new readers! The paperback is much lighter and more portable than the hardcover. Here’s a view of the front and back covers of the new paperback edition of my book (click the image for a bigger version if you’d like to read the back cover):
As you might expect, many aspiring game composers read my book, and I’m honored that my book is a part of their hunt for the best resources to help them succeed in this very competitive business. When I’m not working in my music studio, I like to keep up with all the great new developments in the game audio field, and I share a lot of what I learn in these articles. Keeping in mind how many of my readers are aspiring composers, I’ve made a point of devoting an article once a year to gathering the top online guidance currently available for newcomers to the game music profession. In previous years I’ve focused solely on recommendations gleaned from the writings of game audio pros, but this time I’d like to expand that focus to include other types of resources that could be helpful. Along the way, we’ll be taking a look at some nuggets of wisdom that have appeared on these sites. So, let’s get started!
The North American Conference on Video Game Music begins this Saturday, and I’m definitely looking forward to giving the keynote speech there! It will be great to talk about some of the concepts from my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, and I’m also very pleased that I’ll have the opportunity to meet such a wonderful collection of scholars in the field of game music study. Since not everyone will be able to travel to Fort Worth for the conference this weekend, I thought I’d provide you with some of the stimulating ideas that will be enlivening the forthcoming conference. Below you’ll find a collection of links to research papers, articles, essays, PowerPoint presentations and YouTube videos that some of the speakers from the upcoming event have previously created on the subject of video game music.
Dominic Arsenault is an assistant professor in the fields of video game design, history and musicology at the University of Montreal, Canada. This weekend he’ll be presenting a paper at the conference entitled “From Attunement to Interference: A Typology of Musical Intertextuality in Video Games.” Below you’ll find a link to his 2008 research paper from Loading… The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association. This article explores the mechanics of guitar playing in the music simulation videogame Guitar Hero, comparing this gameplay mechanic to the musicianship of playing a real-world guitar.
William Gibbons is the organizing chair of the North American Conference on Video Game Music, and teaches musicology at Texas Christian University. This weekend he’ll be presenting the paper “Navigating the Musical Uncanny Valley: Red Dead Redemption, Ni no Kuni, and the Dangers of Cinematic Game Scores” at the upcoming conference in Fort Worth. Below you’ll find a link to his research paper on the music of the video game Bioshock, as published in 2011 in Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research.
Julianne M. Grasso is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, pursuing her degree in music theory. She’ll be presenting the talk “Intersections of Musical Performance and Play in Video Games” this weekend in Fort Worth. What follows is a link to a fascinating and entertaining essay she wrote in 2009 about her experience writing her undergraduate thesis on the music of Zelda and Final Fantasy for her music degree from Princeton University.
Professor Robert Hamilton teaches in the Department of Music at Stanford University, and is also a lecturer at the California College of the Arts on Experimental Game Development. His presentation this weekend will be “Designing Game-Centric Academic Curricula for Procedural Audio and Music.” Below, you can read his 2007 paper exploring a new interactive music composition system triggered by a gamer’s position and actions within an in-game virtual space. This paper was presented at the International Computer Music Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Professor Christopher J. Hopkins researches chiptune music while teaching in the music department of Long Island University in New York. This weekend he’ll be presenting a paper entitled “Compositional Techniques of Chiptune Music.” Below, you can read an interesting PowerPoint presentation from a speech that Professor Hopkins gave about the discipline of video game sound and music at the 2013 Summer Teaching with Technology Institute.
There’s Always a Lighthouse: Commentary and Foreshadowing in the Diegetic Music of BioShock Infinite
Professor Enoch Jacobus’ fields of research include ludomusicology and music theory pedagogy. He teaches advanced musicianship and orchestration at Asbury University in Kentucky. At the upcoming Fort Worth conference he’ll be presenting a paper on BioShock Infinite entitled “Lighter Than Air: A Return to Columbia.” Happily, Professor Jacobus has previously given a speech on the music of BioShock Infinite at the inaugural North American Conference on Video Game Music that took place last year, and we can enjoy that speech via the YouTube video below:
The Origins of Musical Style in Video Games: 1977 – 1983 (Chapter 12 of The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies)
by Neil Lerner (Email at Davidson College: nelerner at davidson dot edu)
Neil Lerner teaches a wide assortment of music courses as a professor in the music department of Davidson College in North Carolina. At the conference in Fort Worth this weekend he’ll be giving a presentation entitled “Teaching the Soundtrack in a Video Game Music Class.” Neil Lerner has been active with several scholarly journals in the field of musicology. He has served on the editorial board of Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, and is currently the secretary for the Society for American Music. He also had the honor of holding the position of president of the American Musicological Society-Southeast Chapter. Below is a link to a chapter he contributed to The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies, as excerpted on Google Books.
Steven Reale is a music theorist, ludomusicology researcher, and associate professor at Youngstown State University in Ohio. At the Fort Worth conference this weekend he’ll be serving as the program chair. Here’s a 2011 research paper he wrote on the music of the video game Katamari Damacy for the journal ACT, published by The Research Institute for Music Theater Studies in Thurnau, Germany.
The Palais des congrès de Montréal convention center
If you’re attending the event this year, please feel free to say hi! It would be great to meet you! Also, I’ll be very happy to sign your copy of my book,A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, so please bring it along! Here’s the official description of my upcoming talk at the Montreal International Game Summit:
Music, the Brain, and the Three Levels of Immersion
Game Music Talk / Game Audio Track – 4pm November 11th – Room 522 – Palais des congrès de Montréal
Music has the power to deepen player immersion through psychological effects documented in scientific research. This talk will explore the influence of music on the brain, and how these effects can aid game designers in meeting the criteria necessary for the “Three Levels of Immersion.” According to research, these levels of immersion require specific mental states that music can help the player to achieve. Through a discussion of several scientific studies, the talk will investigate the power of music to alter time perception, deepen our appreciation of visual details, enhance our mental prowess, increase the intrinsic motivation of activities, change our understanding of plot, and enhance both our attention spans and our memory capacity. The talk will also explore the techniques of music composition and implementation that provide practical strategies for composers, audio teams and game designers to maximize the ability of game music to help players achieve total immersion.
Attendees will gain an understanding of the effects of music on the brain, and how music can alter the experience of the player through specific documented effects.
Study data will be discussed, including the “Three Levels of Immersion” from the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (sponsored by the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction), as well as several research studies on the relationship between music and cognitive function.
Tips and strategies will be explored for the application of practical techniques to exploit the power of music to alter the mental state of the player, thus enabling deeper immersion in the gameplay experience.