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Capstone Album: 9 Songs (XX:XX) Contemporary electronic music genres, influenced by the intentions and thematic content of nine different genres of game music. Introduction. interest: Electronic music production, involvement in game music community, career interest

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Capstone Album:

9 Songs (XX:XX)

Contemporary electronic

music genres, influenced by

the intentions and thematic

content of nine different

genres of game music



Electronic music

production, involvement in

game music community,

career interest

Two major goals:

Analysis of medium

Understand game music as an

evolving art form, including its

background, current state, and

possible future

Analysis of perception

Reach an informed conclusion

about how game music is seen by

the public, critics, and fans

What is video game music

What is Video Game Music?

Promotion of emotion

Listener has active role

Tremendous variety:

(Promoting music,

Serving narrative,

Basis of gameplay)



Function and interaction

Function and Interaction

ESA Lists9 “Supergenres” of games:

fighting, role-playing, children/family, action,

adventure, strategy, shooter, racing, and sports

Interactivity defines game music:

Game music “genres” determined by dynamic qualities (whether or not the music adapts to player actions)



Melody 1

Melody 2

Melody 3

Melody 4




(New Cycle)

Transition 1

The Legend of Zelda

Ocarina of Time

Into Combat

Transition 2

Hyrule Field Theme

Combat 1

Resolution 1

Exploring 1

Player in Combat

Combat Has Resolved

Melody Has Played TWICE

Resolution Has Played

Combat 2

Resolution 2

Exploring 2

Combat 3

Resolution 3

Exploring 3

Combat 4

Resolution 4

Exploring 4

Is the soundtrack important

Is the soundtrack Important?

Developer backlash

Strategic Cues

New genre: Games based on

musical customization

2005: Nokia rules that all mobile games they offer must have a feature to turn off the music

2006: Microsoft rules that music in every XBOX 360 game must be replaceable with the user’s own music files

Rhythm action

Rhythm Action

Dedicated music stores:

In 2008, $1.4 Billion, 500

Million songs sold

Rock Game Decline:

Rapid franchise sequels,

market oversaturation,

Guitar Hero disbanded,

survival in new genres

Player reproduces series of notes/rhythms

Largest cultural impact of game music

Entrance into music industry for artists

Use of popular music to promote games

Historical perspective

Historical Perspective

Generation 1 (1970’s) – No sound at all

Generation 2 (Early ’80s) – Synthesis chips

Simplistic, sometimes atonal, “event sounds”

Generation 3 (Mid-late ’80s) – 8-Bit Era

Dedicated sound chips, multiple channels

(8-Bit labeled by composers as simplistic but expressive, by fans

as memorable and beloved)

Generation 4 (Early-Mid ’90s) – 16-Bit Era

Advanced sound chips, Storage and usage of

samples, First major game soundtrack CDs released


  • Streaming Audio (CD)


    -Same sound by card

    -Live instruments – no

    limitations on composition

    -More familiar for composers


    -Limited storage space

    -Dynamic music impossible

    (without wavelets)

    -Soundtracks much more

    expensive to produce




-Easy communication with

audio device

-Composition without


-Small filesize, complex



-Different sound by card

-Limited set of instruments

-Synthetic, “choppy” sound

Game music culture

  • Celebration/Subcultures

    - Game Bands

    (The Minibosses, Armcannon, The

    Protomen, Metroid Metal, OneUps)

    - Large scale orchestral game

    music concerts

    (Video Games Live, Final Fantasy

    Good Friends, Play!)

    - Game Music Organizations,

    Festivals, Celebrations

    (MAGFest, OCRemix)

Game Music Culture

Quick development of game industry resulted in criticism/dismissal

  • New music genre: Chiptunes

    - Use in popular music and games

The next level

The Next Level

  • Future Game Music May:

  • Increasingly value nostalgia and

  • earlier technologies

  • - Be taken more seriously

  • Explore new musical methods and

  • concepts

Many See Game Music As:

A crucial piece of the industry

A prominent cultural force

A valid artistic medium

Increasingly diverse


Bibliography questions

Bridgett, Rob (2005). "Hollywood Sound." Gamasutra:

Bruno, Antony. "Byte by Byte." Billboard. 19 12 2009: 13. Print.

Bruno, Antony. "Gaming the System." Billboard. 24 01 2009: 12. Print.

Collins, Karen. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. MIT Press, 2008. Print.

Eno, Brian. Keyboard Wizards. Intervew by Jim Aikin. Jul 1981. Web. 20 Jan 2011. <>.

Farnell, Andy. "An Introduction to Procedural Audio and its Application in Computer Games." Games Sound: Theory and Practice of Video Game Music, Sound Effects, and Dialogue (2007): n. pag. Web. 15 Jan 2011. <>.

Hall, Kenji. "Video Game Music Strikes a Bigger Chord." BusinessWeek Online 07 09 2008: 25. Web. 10 Jan 2011.

Harlin, Jesse (2007). "Aural Fixation: Does It Sound Next Gen?" Game Developer (February).

Huang, Eugene (2007). "GCD: Next-gen Audio Will Rely on MIDI, Says Sony."

Jørgensen, Kristine. "Left in the Dark: Playing Computer Games with the Sound Turned Off." From Pac-Man to Pop Music: Interactive Audio in Games and New Media. Karen Collins. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2008. Print.

Bibliography( Questions? )

Nielsen, Simon, Jonas Smith, and Susana Tosca. Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Nokia Corporation (2005). "From Bleeps to Soundscapes: Designing Mobile Game Audio."

Penfold, R A. Practical MIDI Handbook. 3rd ed. Great Britain: Bell and Bain Limited, 1997. Print.

Phelps, Philip. "A Modern Implementation of Chiptune Synthesis." 01 02 2007. 3. University West of England Archive. Web. 15 Jan 2011.

Sloboda, John. Exploring the Musical Mind: Cognition, Emotion, Ability, Function. 1st ed. Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.

Turcan, Peter, and Mike Wasson. Fundamentals of Audio and Video Programming for Games. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 2004. Print.

Wilde, Martin. Audio Programming for Interactive Games. Boston, MA: Elsevier/Focal Press, 2004. Print.

Wolf, Mark. The Medium of the Video Game. 1st ed. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001. Print.

Yi, Matthew. "They Got Game." San Francisco Chronicle 18 Dec 2004.

Capstone album

Capstone Album


9 Songs (XX:XX)

Contemporary electronic music genres, influenced by the intentions and thematic content of nine different genres of game music