I’m happy to announce that I’ll be speaking in New York City on a panel entitled “Inside the World of Game Music.” The event is hosted by the Society of Composers & Lyricists, and moderated the distinguished NY SCL Steering Committee member Elizabeth Rose.
The panel will consist of myself and game composer Tom Salta, well known for his work on the Ghost Recon and H.A.W.X. series of games. We’ll be talking about our creative process as game composers. Here’s the official description of the seminar from the event’s web site:
These days, many top music composers who have been scoring film and TV are lending their talents to our newest media: video games. Using everything from full orchestras to digital instruments, this is a fascinating new creative field which turns the rules of composing sideways. Video games have earned more in revenue than film and TV combined, according to some reports. It is a bright, highly creative and competitive field. Please join us for this entertaining panel led by two of our most successful game composers who will demonstrate how they make musical magic happen in this fascinating “one-click” digital world.
Hosted by the New York chapter of the Society of Composers & Lyricists, this event is part of their ongoing seminar series. As an organization that supports and champions the interests of music creators, the society offers lots of informational resources that delve into the creative and business aspects of writing music and lyrics for film and television. They also make efforts to improve workplace and working conditions for their members, encourage a sense of community through the establishment of online forums, and proactively reach out to producers to facilitate productive communication and collaboration with the society’s members.
In 2008, the Society of Composers & Lyricists released a short video describing the mission of the organization. Here is television composer Dan Foliart, describing the society in his own words when he was the president of the organization:
It’s an honor to participate in the SCL’s seminar series and speak about game music to the New York Chapter! The event will take place on February 9th, starting at 6:30pm. If you’d like to attend, you can register here.
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.
Reading this article on the GameSoundCon site, I found myself thinking about the idea of premium purchases. What kind of psychological conditions need to exist in order for a customer to become a big spender — i.e. to opt to spend more money? With a console video game, we are clearly looking at a premium purchase — these games can be up to 50 dollars or more. Does the willingness to spend reflect on the depth and diversity of the experience? Games typically outlast films in terms of their long-term entertainment value. Is this the reason why the top-tier console games are able to sustain their premium pricing?
What I find interesting, though, is what happens when these two entertainment juggernauts start reducing their prices. While movie theaters had dug in their heels for many years and refused to offer discounts, there is currently an initiative underway by the National Association of Theatre Owners for discount tickets to be offered in selected locations on off-nights. While experimental and limited in scope, the trial period should be revealing in terms of whether discounts will lure movie-goers back to the theaters with more frequency. In the world of video games, however, the discount experiment is fully underway in the form of the iTunes App Store, XBox Live Indie Store, the PlayStation Network Minis Store, Google Play, the Facebook App Center, and many other online retailers that offer games for drastically reduced prices. If the movie industry hopes that discounted tickets will lure more people into theaters, then I wonder — have discounted games captured more casual gamers and turned them into frequent players/purchasers?