Is Gaming Music the New Genre for Today's Youth?
I'm feeling old!
I've recently been getting teen students who want to learn gaming music on their violins. Some of them have even demonstrated part of their favorites. So far I have only been able to stare blankly at them then ask "what is that?" And they are surprised I have never heard it before. They will rattle off song titles for me to look up, but I still feel utterly lost.
I know the theme song to Mario Brothers from the 80's, but that's about it, and needless to say, they are not impressed.
I was wondering if anyone else has had this experience? Thankfully, I haven't had any of them give up practicing their core lesson pieces for gaming music, but as a teacher I want to know what's going on in their music world.
And from what I heard, I think Bach can still run circles around this new music. :)
Don't be so quick to disparage video game music! Some of it is simple, but a lot of it is as incredible as any classical music. One of my favourites from my youth was Team Fortress 2, which has a 1950's style big band score. Minecraft, Legend of Zelda, Cuphead, and Pokemon have many famous themes, too. There are loads more but since I don't play games anymore I'm also out of the loop. I guess the best move would be to volunteer at an elementary school and ask the little ones what they like.
Thanks Cotton. I didn't want to make a judgment based on the samples my students played. It was an area I didn't think much about because I'm not a gamer. When the first couple students talked about it, I was like "okay, that's nice you found music on your own you like", but as time goes on, I'm realizing it's a whole new world that I didn't know existed!
Gaming music sometimes derives from classical music, but not necessarily well-known music. There's a track in Civ 4, I think, that is basically a portion of DeBeriot's first violin concerto (the "Military").
All of this new music leaves Q*Bert in the dust.
As someone that grew up playing way too many video games when he should have been practicing, I still didn't take the music very seriously, but I have to say that even the early stuff with bleeps and bloops is kind of an impressive example of making art within a very narrow set of limitations. From the very start, companies like Nintendo hired composers straight out of music school who had to learn to work within the confines of what some dinky microchips could put out, and ended up writing some really catchy tunes that can be more sophisticated than they initially appear, that also are fairly short, don't really get old, despite looping over and over for a long time, and can often reflect the action and atmosphere on the screen.
I think it's great.
Then there is my daughter who thinks you can chop up Bruch Violin Concerto and make an awesome soundtrack for a video game.
I went to a concert of Holst where Mars was on the program, and there was a packed house, many in costumes. Turned out it was in some really popular game and all the gamers came out.
Presumably it's music that you're aren't supposed to pay attention to, in other words muzak. I can't see it ever packing the concert halls.
Steve, if students want to play it and many people are attending concerts given by such august institutions as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra (among many others)...they are clearly paying attention, and packing halls.
Grant Kirkhope's orchestral score for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is whimsical and epic at the same time--one of the most enjoyable ones I've heard recently. Even film composer Hans Zimmer has created tracks for video games including Call of Duty MW2 and Crysis 2.
The soundtrack from Chrono Trigger is a classic, and the use of leitmotifs throughout the whole Zelda franchise would impress Wagner himself.
As per Lydia's comment: I never played Civ 4, but I have played a lot of Civ 5. Civ 5 contains a mixture of standard repertoire pieces, arrangements of world music, and some original tracks. One of the original tracks is so
Yes, Christopher Tin's score for Civilization IV, with his work "Baba Yetu" for choir and orchestra which was the first video game score to win a Grammy Award!
Sometime look at the
One of the most remarkable things about western classical music is its durability. Works composed up 400 years ago retain their power to awe and move us, and lend themselves to constant reinterpretation. During those 400 years the course of musical evolution has been steady and continuous and the cumulative body of work stands as one of the great monuments of western culture.
I think it's worth pointing out that the Wikipedia entry for "incidental music" includes types of music that are most commonly associated with contemporary media such as film, TV, radio, and yes, video games: theme music, underscores, stingers, and loops.
Steve wrote about "transitory musical genres which owe their existence to short-lived fashion." Some of that stuff might be good -- it might be worthy of orchestration, etc., but first of all, who pays for that? And second, one of the problems we have now is that there is simply too much music. We don't have time to listen to even a tiny fraction of it. Nobody has the means or inclination to curate it for us. I'm not sure what the solution to that is, except to let the filters of history do their work. That is how we ended up with Handel's Water Music for example.
I don’t see the popularity of gaming music as a bad omen for classical music; I see it more as an emerging market with a younger audience. Despite not being a gamer, I’ve heard some excerpts from a few game scores, and they tend to be impressive, often richly orchestrated. As the graphics of games have developed, so have the demands for sound quality and scoring. Yes, there are some themes that are very repetitive and can be a little dry taken out of context, but if you lump all gaming music together, you run the risk of missing those elements that are really well done.
Gaming music also keeps living composers employed.
Gaming music, for all its effectiveness and occasionally ambitious scope, has yet to reach the heights of its progenitor, film soundtracks. Both suffer from structural constraints that would prevent a Mozart or Beethoven from composing great music for the medium.
I would argue that most of today's film soundtracks are
Hi Lydia, I almost agree with you. With regard to film scoring I think of the entire history of the genre. If I were to restrict myself to the current time period it would not surprise me that film scoring is falling behind. BUT I would still hold Williams up as an exception to the trend. Thinking of the last three movies, that sparing sound nonetheless carries enough sophistication and variety to make it quite an outlier to the current genre, to the point that while many fans were disappointed that he didn't recreate his old approach, I was delighted to find that he wasn't wasting his time on what I feared would be mere potboilers.
Many years ago, as a little child, I used to play a Mickey video game which had a music I liked. I discovered later it was 8-bit Bach.
Here's a work I think is well worth hearing in this genre, a suite of themes from Final Fantasy VI by Nobuo Uematsu, performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. What I enjoy the most in this particular recording is the effective orchestration--the combinations of instruments for the different themes cover a wide range of orchestral color and emotional settings.
Thanks Gene, but it doesn't convince me that this genre has anything much to offer that's musically innovative. Reminds me somewhat of Eric Coates c.1926!
Frankly, I never even heard of "gaming music" until I started to read this thread a few minutes ago.