Video Game Music "IS" The New Film Score

Once an afterthought in terms of game design and overall music culture awareness, video game music is now an authentic industry of its own. Today, worldwide prominent orchestras perform concerts of music composed specifically for video games and features top of the line film composer soundtracks. Like the purpose of all great scored music, it's supposed to appeal to your heartstrings and drive your emotions wild. Video game music has become over this past decade so indistinguishable from scored music for films, that many have begun to envision a video game to be on the same level as a feature length film. In the past video game music was limited by its hardware but that all changed with the introduction of the CD-ROM. Furthermore, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) decided in the year 2000 to let interactive games compete in the annual Grammy awards.

If composing for film and video games are so similar now, then what makes them different? Well its still the same process between both when composing? Video games just have a few extra techniques that need to be addressed when composing. Films are linear, which means that everything composed happens the same way each time you hear it. When an explosion occurs at SMPTE 3:01:38 it will always happen at SMPTE 3:01:38 nothing can ever change that. As for video games the composition process is non-linear even though the music composed is not. Video game music has to be composed in such a way that it can appear non-linear, which means a sound can happen at anytime depending on what you do and when you do it. In a video game you can have a fight start then a chase followed by an explosion. Or have an explosion then a chase followed by a fight start. Non-linear sound can happen differently each time its dependent on what the player does to make it happen.

The process used to make linear music appear nonlinear is called Horizontal and vertical music composition. Horizontal music composing is a style of composing involved with building music in sections. The music created is usually based on a theme and only played one section at a time. This style of composing is more similar to the traditional style used in film composing, thus horizontal music composing is linear. This style of composing is used for motif, intro, and ending credit themes, more importantly horizontal is used most often with shooter, arcade, and casual, video games. 

However, Vertical music composing is a style of composing involved with on going music that introduces new elements matching the player’s actions. Each new layer is faded in on top of the other depending on the player actions. For instance you start with an ambient them then build on top of that fading each theme in and out accordingly. Vertical composing is used mostly in open world exploration games; vertical composing is also a form of creating non-linear sound in a linear domain. Whether composing music in a video game or composing for film with a studio orchestra, there are more ways to make a living making music than ever. All it takes is hard work and talent. Video games provide a fantastic new venue for talented composers to express their craft.


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September 23, 2015 at 3:36 AM comment-delete

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