Being a video game composer
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Old 12-10-2014, 07:47 PM   #1
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Being a video game composer

Some of the best music I've ever heard comes from video games, since I had an NES, actually. It might be kind of a turn-off for some composers to consider it, but I don't know ... or maybe I'm not with it and it actually is cool. After all, they're actually using choirs and orchestras sometimes now, aren't they? It seems like it might be a good fit for me since I'm much more of a casual composer than some.

I'd personally love to compose for like indie games or something like that! I think hearing the Borderlands 2 soundtrack helped inspire me.

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Old 12-10-2014, 08:16 PM   #2
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Re: Being a video game composer

There was a Computer Music issue about this recently, it is indeed a new market to consider.
I don't really understand why you mention your being a "casual composer", it's a full-time composing gig as much as anything else.
Lots of chip records these days seem to be centered around the idea of being the soundtrack to an imaginary game, I think it's a good exercise to stimulate your pictures/music association as a composer

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Old 12-10-2014, 08:19 PM   #3
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Re: Being a video game composer

Here's my love/hate about Video Game Music. Basically what I loved the most about NES, SNES, Genesis, anything pre-32-bit is that these musicians had to be talented enough to reproduce sounds as realistic as possible with the limited technology that they had. This means they needed more than a basic understanding of things like waveforms, software, hardware, instrument performance, as well as the tonal and performance qualities of the instruments they were attempting to recreate. I just have so much respect for that kind of forward thinking in electronics and music, combining acoustic aspects and mechanical instruments.

In some ways, the video game music industry has been somewhat lost on me now that we have the technology to simply take a recording of an actual orchestra and it probably takes up a fraction of the space and computing power compared to where visual graphics are at now. There are still brilliant electronic composers in the industry doing great things with the technology they have, there are just less composers really pushing their boundaries within the limits of what they work with. (i.e. "what limits?!")

I honestly would rather hear bleep-bloop music that has more emotional and musical context than a live recording of a 16 bar string swell or just a soundtrack of Warner/Universal/Rogers artists. Now I have nothing against modern acoustic composers like Jeremy Soule (one of my favorites), but it just felt more like an adventure when we were so limited that we essentially had to forget everything we knew about music and start from the ground up again in simplest terms. It was more exciting when it started, almost like the beginnings of truly substantial electronic music - and then I got into IDM.

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Old 12-10-2014, 08:21 PM   #4
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Re: Being a video game composer

@Chozo Tull: Well yeah, that's why I was saying for smaller indie games, I'm well aware that being a video game composer is a full time gig. Who knows maybe I'll start by dabbling then it will unleash a flurry of composing.
@Dick Shit42: Yeah I have done some looking at waveforms from 8-bit soundtracks and it's pretty amazing the kind of micro modulations they can sometimes do for certain timbres. But there is perhaps quite a bit room for experimentation ... depending on the project I guess.

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Old 12-10-2014, 08:28 PM   #5
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Re: Being a video game composer

^ That's the cool stuff about the soundtrack idea even if it's for nothing. The structures and tropes are already there for you to mess with ("I need a boss battle theme, a village theme, an opening credits, a closing credits ...")

I don't know if you're interested in these :

http://ubiktune.com/

http://dataglitch.bandcamp.com/

Can't remember any more at the moment :/

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Old 12-10-2014, 08:33 PM   #6
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Re: Being a video game composer

^ very interesting, thanks indeed!

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Old 12-10-2014, 08:34 PM   #7
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Re: Being a video game composer

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But there is perhaps quite a bit room for experimentation ... depending on the project I guess.
Oh, definitely! That's one of the things I'm not really fond of in modern chip-music, there's so much freedom that when the composition is done a LOT of people want to mix it like popular music or commercial EDM, and it completely ruins the effect for me.

With that said though, some new chip music out there still has the right idea:

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Old 12-10-2014, 08:51 PM   #8
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Re: Being a video game composer

Cool, tracks with SNES "soundfonts": http://ubiktune.com/releases/ubi076-...wilson-snesque

And I looked up SNES soundfonts: http://www.williamkage.com/snes_soundfonts/

It sounds like SNES strings in Squarepusher's track Arterial Fantasy.

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Old 12-10-2014, 09:06 PM   #9
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Re: Being a video game composer

Can't post in a thread about chip music and not mention Tarmvred






Good track Broton

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Old 12-10-2014, 09:18 PM   #10
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Re: Being a video game composer

^ Especially liking that second track. :banarock3:

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Old 12-10-2014, 09:21 PM   #11
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Re: Being a video game composer

This track's the tits. I never get bored of it.

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Old 13-10-2014, 12:27 AM   #12
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Re: Being a video game composer

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Here's my love/hate about Video Game Music. Basically what I loved the most about NES, SNES, Genesis, anything pre-32-bit is that these musicians had to be talented enough to reproduce sounds as realistic as possible with the limited technology that they had. This means they needed more than a basic understanding of things like waveforms, software, hardware, instrument performance, as well as the tonal and performance qualities of the instruments they were attempting to recreate. I just have so much respect for that kind of forward thinking in electronics and music, combining acoustic aspects and mechanical instruments.

In some ways, the video game music industry has been somewhat lost on me now that we have the technology to simply take a recording of an actual orchestra and it probably takes up a fraction of the space and computing power compared to where visual graphics are at now. There are still brilliant electronic composers in the industry doing great things with the technology they have, there are just less composers really pushing their boundaries within the limits of what they work with. (i.e. "what limits?!")

I honestly would rather hear bleep-bloop music that has more emotional and musical context than a live recording of a 16 bar string swell or just a soundtrack of Warner/Universal/Rogers artists. Now I have nothing against modern acoustic composers like Jeremy Soule (one of my favorites), but it just felt more like an adventure when we were so limited that we essentially had to forget everything we knew about music and start from the ground up again in simplest terms. It was more exciting when it started, almost like the beginnings of truly substantial electronic music - and then I got into IDM.
This is pretty much everything I'd have to say summed up. Limits are sometimes what makes something great. Even older video games had their limits which held my attention so much more than an open-world type ever could (what's the fucking point of having a million options anyway?).

Also, OP, I think a lot of us computer musicians have thought the same thing. Hell, even Vlantis made an epic soundtrack for a game that I would have played just for the soundtrack itself. You should get into that if it's something you're passionate about. But if it's just a passing thought you had, it probably won't materialize. I have a hunch there's really nothing memorable about indie game music (to the audience), but if it matters to you then it's absolutely worth doing.
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Old 13-10-2014, 01:01 AM   #13
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Re: Being a video game composer

Why not make an epic alternative soundtrack ... to games that already exist?!!!

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Old 13-10-2014, 06:53 PM   #14
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Re: Being a video game composer

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Why not make an epic alternative soundtrack ... to games that already exist?!!!
This is where I started when learning to score.

Plus making alternative soundtracks for films (which is a lot harder in some cases).

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Old 14-10-2014, 05:55 PM   #15
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Re: Being a video game composer

Old game music is the best, because it's based on pure melody. It's literally the most melodic form of music, in my opinion (so I guess it's not "literally"). Sure, new game music isn't bad, but can you hum any of them from memory?

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Old 14-10-2014, 06:45 PM   #16
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Re: Being a video game composer

I've fancied the idea of scoring something along the lines of horror/survival genres. What i've got out of those games is the score itself makes the suspense.

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Old 14-10-2014, 07:39 PM   #17
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Re: Being a video game composer

A friend of mine writes games or is writing a game, and I suppose he would be looking for music for said game or games, I dunno, not spoken to him in ages, cunt moved to Malaga innit? Hehe

Anyway, here's his webmag, his name is Stephen if you want to contact him through the mag http://www.pixel-issue.net/

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Old 14-10-2014, 08:07 PM   #18
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Re: Being a video game composer

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but can you hum any of them from memory?
A skill I started on when I was 8 years old or so, I remember trying to sing the Super Mario Brothers song wayyy back then and at first ended up with something that sounded like the Reading Rainbow theme.

I was MAD for video games, especially Super Mario back then.

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Old 14-10-2014, 08:50 PM   #19
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Re: Being a video game composer

Very informative. I've been looking into it myself, and I like the music of games from chip tune up to the 90s when you had Symphony of the night, Zelda, and Silent Hill as well.

I am not a fan of the orchestra thing though. They should save that for the movies and certain games imo.

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Old 14-10-2014, 10:40 PM   #20
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Re: Being a video game composer

I might make a Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!, fan soundtrack. Perhaps in a chiptune style.

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