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Author Topic: Video Game Music Reviews: In Context  (Read 618 times)
Wild Armor
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« on: June 21, 2012, 12:30:17 AM »

Hey everyone, it's me again with Video Game Music Topics! *Plays Topic Intro Jingle*

Not too long ago, I finished watching a Let's play on a video game (The Lost Angelic Chronicles of Frane: Dragons' Odyssey). Sitting there for a couple of moments, allowing the finale to sink in, I thought about a topic that I wonder gets recognition in the world of Video Game Soundtrack Reviewers; Context[1].

A great deal of music reviews--both professional and amateur--I've witnessed present a great deal of information (such as information about the composer, instrumentation, motifs used, the game/other games, developers, background info, etc) and the emotional response to the track. These juxtaposition of facts/theories and emotional responses present what the music of a game was to that reviewer, and in the end, are usually presented a satisfying/dissatisfying final words conclusion and/or score (I hate number/symbol scores and sorry I ever did it in the past!). A wealth of information and response is wonderful to those who know little about the music and game, but I wonder if the actual use of gameplay connections enter [some] reviews as a supplement to the soundtrack being reviewed, so that the reader may [audibly] witness the track in action rather than narrative/flowery prose[2].

the topic of context came up mostly because after sitting through this ~70 part playthrough of Dragons' Odyssey--after I listened to the soundtrack, of course--I had a different reaction when everything was all said in done. Some tracks, such as 'Snow Angels' and 'Holy Priest' held a much stronger emotional response when placing the moving visual in context of its use in the game.

With the introduction of the visual representation of the village that is audibly represented by 'Snow Angels' (There's a tongue-twister for ya), an attachment to the character(s) and the villagers (whether good or bad) was made, as well the events that were tied to that single location. A mixed bag of feelings were caused by these characters and events, which then changed my original emotional response to this piece, thus creating a new approach/description I would then associate with the music of Petas village in context to the villagers and events. [3]

Now, 'Holy Priest' is another story that I will put in a more theoretical backdrop. When first hearing this track outside its virtual environment, I loved this track and found it to be one of my favorite tracks on the soundtrack. After hearing it in the game, I was practically shocked on how little of it was actually played at the speed the player beat this boss (Granted, it loops at the ~1:00 part, which goes to show you how fast this boss is easily defeated with mastery use of one's character). In my mind, I wonder how anyone could even get a chance to hear this exciting track in its context, and actually makes me thankful that the Soundtracks of games are readily available (well, most of 'em). [4]

Even though this player bulldozed this boss in mere moments, the emotional attachment of disgust at the boss's attitude towards other characters (particular the reason of their journey in life), actually found me really wanting this character to be placed out of commission. This [maturing] emotional response is fed throughout the game, in which the heroes are finally able to administer the task of dispatching the villain. This excitement of battle--as battle themes and the actual battles have always caused great gusto within me in participation of each (listening/playing)--then feeds off the attachment to the characters and events, thus creating a rush of jubilation when simply kicking this character's behind, while listening to some hyped up tunes. ;)

I know that placing, and demonstration, the soundtrack in context to the game still presents a subjective music experience to its listening, but I feel that it's worth mentioning and exploring in future reviews. I suppose in way you are holding the hand of the reader and practically spoiling the game for them by showing/demonstrating these emotional connections to the game and the music, but I know for myself....I'm okay with that; it kind of reminds me in a way of the use of [J.S.] Bach's Church music (Whether St. Massion Passion/ Bminor Mass / ect) within its contextual location: the church. One was meant to hear, as well feel, the voice of God/Narrator (Organ/Bass vocalist) during these pieces, as well have a story presented to you (In regards to the Passions) of the fall and Resurrection of Jesus, which included fear, awe, and jubilation to the church audience.

I that'll be it for now...comments and/or response to my late-night thinking(s)? *Plays Topic Outro Jingle*

[1] I'm sure it does, I just haven't stumbled across it yet! (Ramza, I did see your note in the most recent review you did (Dizzy Heights: Gravity Rush), which made me laugh uncontrollably because I started writing this topic WAY before I read that review just now, haha).
[2] To explain to me in romantic and/or grotesque terms how a soundtrack caused your inner being to stir is fine and all...but to then slap a numerical/symbol score at the end--whether excellent or poor--makes no sense (Yes, I I've done this in the past and sorry I've ever done it. I was young and so full of ignorance ;) )
[3] In other words: I heard the track from the digital soundtrack and felt something, and then I heard it used in the game and felt additional/different emotions.
[4] The use of this backdrop was to present an example of the negatives of in-game context, which I then follow up with my personal response (and perhaps even others as well).
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Ramza
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2012, 07:19:49 PM »

at OSV, we had a point-counterpoint on this very topic back in 2010.

Point: "Context is Everything"
http://www.originalsoundversion.com/editorial-context-is-everything/

Counterpoint: "Everything is a Context"
http://www.originalsoundversion.com/editorial-response-everything-is-a-context/

I think between these two articles, they make the same points you make, though with different examples. ^_^
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