Author Topic: Course Material for a Survey of Music Class: Video Games...  (Read 2895 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Wild Armor

Course Material for a Survey of Music Class: Video Games...
« on: September 29, 2012, 01:30:23 AM »
Greeting fellow Video Game Music connoisseurs,

I pose a question to all of you:

Say there was to be a "Survey of Music Class: Video Games" in the works: What topics and composers do you think would be of necessity for this class to exist?

I have a great deal of ideas and composers that would find itself appropriate for the class...but I want to hear your thoughts on topics and composers to see if they match up with mine so I can add/subtract/improve on the list and create something cohesive. If you have primary/secondary sources* in regards to your ideas on topics and composers, by all means...


*I have textbooks and articles that I already would scan chapters from, but I'd like to have a great deal more to work with as to make this happen in a college setting.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 01:46:00 AM by Wild Armor »


Re: Course Material for a Survey of Music Class: Video Games...
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2012, 11:21:53 AM »
The class would probably be best served with a chronological ordering of events. Start with pinball machines, early arcades, colecovision and atari and talk about how the genre starts with nothing but sound effects and single-track audio jingles.

The simultaneous development of "chip" music (music produced by running signals through the hardware itself) on Japan's Famicom and PC-88, and the west's Commodore Amiga (more popular in EU than America) is where looping "background music" (or "BGM") really got its start in gaming.

A great case study for the early hardware would most definitely be Koichi Sugiyama, whose compositions were originally written for a full symphony orchestra, recorded as such, but then "de-made" to fit the limitations of the hardware (for the first 4 DQs, that would be Famicom, then SFC for 4's remake and 5 and 6). Sugiyama didn't think of himself necessarily is a media (film/TV/game) score guru, but as a neo-classical and neo-romantic, and very "traditionalist," composer.

From there, starting with the MIDI sequencing and sound banks of the 16-bit consoles, things get a lot more complicated. But I'd always keep the focus of the course, when contrasting it to film, as the difference between needing catchy, "loopable" (indefinitely playing) music vs very sharp, evocative tunes playing at just the right times (that is, music cues). Eventually as games became more cinematic, we'd have more examples of non-looping "cue" or "cut scene" music. The earliest type of this music I know of was Tecmo's ahead-of-its-time cut scenes for Ninja Gaiden. But obviously, starting with the FMV revolution of the 32-bit era, it starts to become more and more common, til eventually you get to games like Halo and Alan Wake whose music is almost entirely cinematic and non-looping in nature.

Does this help?

Wild Armor

Re: Course Material for a Survey of Music Class: Video Games...
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 10:11:14 PM »
I wasn't aware of Koichi Sugiyama's method...very interesting topic that I'd like to look up. Yeah, but everything else you said is on point. A helpful book that I look over--especially for its bibliography/notes--is Karen Collins's "Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design"

It's very useful in both realm of of music as well its hardware development.

Proceeding on comparing contrasting game music/film music and discussing functions of music for games: that's definitely an excellent approach to take. I would as well follow a chronological approach to game music, making sure to break each era of focus with its composer and social happenings around that time.

There's plenty more to say...but my focus is a bit fuzzy as having a long day at school. I'll swing by here and drop off more info on a later date.

In regards to a great topic discussion, that context article(s) from OSV would definitely be a kicker to debate about in class. ;)

And just because: