Archive for the ‘Game music’ Category

Video Game Live Poster

I spent a couple of hours last night listening to some really good theme music performed to a full house by a couple of top-notch symphony orchestras. The music had range, depth, emotion, and was equal to Hollywood’s better work.

Except it had nothing to do with Hollywood. These themes weren’t from movies. They were from videogames. And did I mention that they were good?

To most readers who’ve kept up with the gaming or music industries, this is old news. The rest of you may be surprised. I was caught off-guard myself, and I’ve been at this for a while. Remember, we’re talking about videogame music performed live by professional (and highly-regarded) orchestras.

Videogames have always pushed the boundaries of technology: Their need for speed led to faster computer processors, game graphics and artwork drove the evolution of graphics rendering and hardware acceleration, and the complexity of Myst required more disk storage capacity, which gave rise to CD-ROM drives. Hardware and software have historically benefited from advances in videogames.

Now they’re saving the symphony. Don’t believe it? Just ask Andy Brick. Why? He’s an award-winning composer of film, TV and videogame music. In 2003, he conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra for the first-ever Symphonic Game Music concert—which sold out, along with the four subsequent concerts. And he’s the principal conductor and music director for PLAY! A Video Game Symphony. In short, Brick knows whereof he speaks. When I spoke with him, he had this to say:

I mean thank God for the sake of the orchestras that there’s something out there that’s bringing these younger audiences back to the concert halls, because orchestras are dying, they still are. I don’t think it’s as bad today as it was 10 years ago, but you know, when we started, we were the only “game” in town—the Symphonic Game Music concerts. Now there’s one, two, three others that are doing it, and everyone’s successful… You don’t have as much of an urge to go to a rock concert if you don’t know the songs that they’re gonna play. Well it’s the same way in a symphonic concert. You know if you’re 17, 18, 19, 25 years old, and they’re gonna play like a Shostakovich symphony, not many people of that age who don’t have a significant musical background know what to expect… But if you go and you tell them you’re doing the theme from Zelda, you know, everybody is ‘oh, I know that! I played that game for 35,000 hours, and I want to go check that out, that’s gonna be great.’ So they buy a ticket to the concert, and all of a sudden, the orchestra is engaged and they’re playing for, not only a live audience again, but they’re playing for an audience of 25-year-olds, and maybe, after hearing that, maybe then they’ll go check out Shostakovich.”

PLAY! A Video Game Symphony

It’s not just orchestras who are feeling the love. Driven by advances in audio fidelity and the demands of gamers for better sound, publishers and developers are hiring composers and live musicians to create and record videogame music. Game composers are also finding work in Hollywood, scoring for big-budget movies. Ever heard of Michael Giacchino? Well, you know his work: he composed the scores for, among others, Star Trek (2009), The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up (which earned him an Oscar for best original film score). And he cut his teeth scoring for, you guessed it, videogames.

Okay, but does game music really rival Hollywood? The answer, according to Andy Brick, is yes:

My experience has been that game music has to rise to a different level than films. And when it filters down to the concert level, it becomes the best of the best. So the concerts really are quality pieces of music.”

But you don’t have to take his word for it. Give a listen, and decide for yourself.

You’ll find some of Any Brick’s compositions here.

This link will get you samples from PLAY! concerts.

You can check out some videos from Video Games Live concerts here

… and here.

And check out the PLAY! website here.