Video game music

Posted on September 26, 2013 in Misc DJ Blogs

Video game music Sonic Colors Planet Wisp Act 1 sheet music PAGE 7


Video game music refers to the soundtrack or background music accompanying video games. Originally limited to simple melodies by early sound synthesizer technology, video game music has grown to include the same breadth and complexity associated with television and movie soundtracks. While simple synthesizer pieces are still common, game music now can include full orchestral pieces and licensed popular music. Video games can now also generate or alter their soundtrack based on the player’s current actions or situation, such as indicating missed actions in rhythm games.

Video game scores surely have to be the most under-appreciated form of music.

The 1980’s video game market became dominated by Nintendo, originally developers of classic arcade games and now focusing their talents on family entertainment systems. The first Nintendo console was a huge success in the mid-eighties and marked a turning point in the history of video games. Due to the immense popularity of Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong, developers were now ready to push the envelope even further than before. Among the numerous increases in graphical and processing power, a unique form of electronic music was born out of the old experimental sound bites of the arcade generation and the newer mufti-channel capacities and frequency techniques. Composition was now starting to play an important role in the process, with early technophiles busy transforming the bleeps and blurps of the Pacman era into something quite exquisite.

Near the late eighties, another giant of the video game music emerged: Nobuo Uematsu, considered by many to be the most talented composer ever to surface in the video game industry. His work for the Final Fantasy universe – starting as early as 1987 – introduced fluttering melodies and rich harmonies that seemed to almost transcend the simple electronic bleeps of the era. In fact, one cannot avoid calling his early work “genius”, especially considering the limitations of the electronic medium in which he was operating.

Composer Masato Nakamura build atop the success of Kondo’s music for Mario, with more of a funk-based approach this time around. Not only did the main Sonic title become as popular as that of its older brother, but Nakamura’s individual music tracks for each level were hugely enjoyable. To this day, everybody immediately recognizes tracks such as the one played over the “Green Hill Zone” stage of the game.

In 1991, the adventure game Myst sparked two revolutions simultaneously: one was the masterful craft and feeling of its game-play, and the other was that it featured the first computer game music to be given an award (although people would have to wait nearly 7 years before it was put onto CD). The work was composed with synthesizers by Robyn Miller (who later went on to score Myst: Riven in 1998) and great emphasis was put on ambiance rather than dramatic composition to further highlight the contemplative quality of the game-play.

playing a computer game Computer MIDI sound was used with great creativity throughout the nineties, first and foremost by Robert Prince with his score to the 1993 cult first-person-shooter Doom. Its explosive mix of hard rock and ghostly synthesizers contributed immensity to the grisly and oppressive atmosphere of the game.

The late nineties and early 2000’s were the golden age of video game music. Heart of Darkness marked another change in game music history, being the first game ever to contain original music scored by an actual orchestra. The game itself was released in 1998

To this day, video game music is both growing in popularity and in quality

Game Composers

Koji Kondo – many Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda series
Nobuo Uematsu – Final Fantasy series
Masato Nakamura – the early Sonic The Hedgehog games
Jesper Kyd – Hitman Contracts, Freedom Fighters, Assassin’s Creed
Robyn Miller – Myst, Myst: Riven
Martin O’Donnell – Myth, Myth II, Oni, and the Halo Series (first games job was sound design for Riven)
Jack Wall – Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, Mass Effect 1 & 2, Jade Empire and Rise of the Kasai
Robert Prince – Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, Commander Keen, Duke Nukem 3D, Axis & Allies
Bruce Broughton – Heart of Darkness
Mark Morgan – Fallout series, Planescape: Torment, Zork series, Dark Seed 2, Descent 2
Michael Hoenig – Baldur’s Gate series
Jerry Martin – SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4 titles
Jason Graves – various Dead Space, Star Trek and Transformers titles
Patrick O’Hearn – Crying Freeman
Christopher Tin – Civilization IV (and his award-winning album “Calling All Dawns” including “Baba Yetu”)
Neal Acree – World of Warcraft series, Starcraft series, with “World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria” nominated in the Annual Games Music Awards 2012
Jeremy Soule – Total Annihilation, Elder Scrolls titles: Morrowind and Oblivion
Amon Tobin – Splinter Cell: Choas Theory
Inon Zur – Prince of Persia series, various Star Trek and Baldur’s Gate titles, Crysis, Dragon Age: Origins
James Hannigan – Reign of Fire, Command & Conquer titles, a range of Harry Potter and Football Manager titles
Rod Abernethy – The Hobbit, various Star Trek titles, Marvel Universe, Dead Head Fred, Rise of the Kasai
Michael Giacchino – Medal of Honor series, Call of Duty titles, film and game versions of The Incredibles, and film and game versions of Star Trek
Bill Brown – many titles in the Command and Conquer, Wolfenstein, and Ghost Recon series, and many more e.g. “CSI: NY” video game to tie-in with his work on the TV series
Harry Gregson-Williams – Metal Gear Solid series and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Joel McNeely – Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Howard Shore – Soul of the Ultimate Nation (or S.U.N.)
Michael Nyman – Enemy Zero
Jeff Rona – one of several composers on “God of War 3″ (the others were Gerard Marino, Ron Fish, Cris Velasco and Mike Reagan)
Joe Hisaishi – Ni No Kuni Shikkoku No Madoush (second country)
Hans Zimmer – themes for Crysis 2 (music by Borislav Slavov, Tilman Sillescu, Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe)

Greatest Video Game Soundtracks

Final Fantasy VII – (1997, Nobuo Uematsu)
Super Mario Brothers – (1985, Koji Kondo)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – (1997, Michiru Yamane)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – (1998, Koji Kondo)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – (1992, Masato Nakamura)
Super Mario Brothers 3 – (1988, Koji Kondo)
Wing Commander – (1990, George “The Fat Man” Sanger)
DOOM -(1993, Bobby Prince)
Deus Ex – (2000, Alexander Brandon, Dan Gardopee, Michiel van den Bos & Reeves Gabrels)
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 – (1994, MJ, Howard Drossin, Brad Buxer, Bobby Brooks, Darryl Ross, Geoff Grace, Doug Grigsby III & Scirocco)
Outlaws – (1997, Clint Bajaikan)
Sonic the Hedgehog – (1991, Masato Nakamura)
Chrono Cross – (2000, Yasunori Mitsuda)
Mega Man 2 – (1989, Ogeretsu Kun, Manami Ietel & Yuukichan’s Papa)
Grim Fandango – (1998, Peter McConnell)
Final Fantasy VIII – (1999, Nobuo Uemetsu)
Chrono Trigger – (1995, Yasunori Mitsuda & Nobuo Uematsu)
Phantasy Star II – (1989, Tokuhiko Uwabo)
Kirby s Adventure – (1993, Hirokazu Ando & Jun Ishikawa)
Super Metroid – (1994, Kenji Yamamoto & Minako Hamano)
Metal Gear Solid – (1998, KCE Japan Sound Team, TAPPY, Aoife Ní Fhearraigh & Rika Muranaka)
Super Mario World – (1991, Koji Kondo)
Contra – (1988, H. Maezawa &K. Sada)
Resident Evil 2 – (1998, Masami Ueda)
Final Fantasy IX – (2000, Nobuo Uemetsu)
Silent Hill 2 – (2001, Akira Yamaoka)
Ecco the Dolphin – (1992, Magyari András, Spencer N. Nilsen & Brian Coburn)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty – (2001, Harry Gregson-Williams)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past – (1991, Koji Kondo)
Zombies Ate My Neighbors – (1993, George “The Fat Man” Sanger & Joe McDermott)
Wild ARMs – (1996, Michiko Naruke)
Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts – (1988, Tamayo Kawamoto & Tim Follin)
Command & Conquer: Red Alert – (1996, Frank Klepacki)
Halo: Combat Evolved – (2001, Martin O’Donnell)
Silent Hill – (1999, Akira Yamaoka)
Headhunter: Redemption – (2003, Richard Jacques)
Homeworld – (1999, Paul Ruskay & Yes)
Tales of Symphonia – (2003, Motoi Sakuraba, Shinji Tamura & Takeshi Arai)
Duke Nukem 3D – (1996, Bobby Prince & Lee Jackson)
Katamari Damacy – (2004, Yu Miyake & Charlie Kosei)
MechWarrior 2 – (1995, Gregory Alper & Jeehun Hwang)
Final Fantasy Tactics – (1998, Masaharu Iwata & Hitoshi Sakimoto)
Legend of Legaia – (1998, Michiru Oshima)
Civilization II – (1996, Jeff Briggs)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – (2000, Koji Kondo)
Resident Evil – (1996, Masami Ueda, Makoto Tomozawa & Akari Kaida)
Ico – (2001, Michiru Oshima)
Grandia II – (2000, Noriyuki Iwadare)
Wolfenstein 3D – (1992, Bobby Prince)
Xenogears – (1998, Yasunori Mitsuda)
Total Annihilation – (1997, Jeremy Soule)
God of War – (2005, Gerard Marino, Mike Reagan, Winifred Phillips, Ron Fish & Cris Velasco)
Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger – (1994, George Oldziey)
Skies of Arcadia – (2000, Yutaka Minobe & Takayuki Maeda)
Shenmue – (2000, Yuzo Koshiro)
Shadow of the Colossus – (2005, Kow Otani)
Jazz Jackrabbit 2 – (1998, Alexander Brandon)
Baldur’s Gate – (1998, John Winski)
The Neverhood – (1996, Terry Scott Taylor)
Interstate 76 – (1997, Arion Salazar)
Mega Man Legends – (1997, Makoto Tomozawa)
DOOM II: Hell on Earth – (1994, Bobby Prince)
ToeJam & Earl – (1991, John Baker & Mark Miller)
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – (2004, Harry Gregson-Williams & Norihiko Hibino)
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom – (1993, Yasunori Shiono, Aki Zaitsu & Naomi Kuroda)
Final Fantasy IV – (1991, Nobuo Uematsu)
Command & Conquer – (1995, Frank Klepacki)
Outcast – (1999, Gil Damoiseaux)
Diablo – (1996, Matt Uelman)
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six – (1998, Steve Rockett)
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings – (1999, David Rippy & Stephen Rippy)
Rayman 2: The Great Escape – (1999, Eric Chevalier)
Final Fantasy VI – (1994, Nobuo Uematsu)
F-Zero – (1990, Yumiko Kanki & Naoto Ishida)
HeXen – (1995, Kevin Schilder)
Star Control 2 – (1992, Aaron Grier, Erol Otus, Eric E. Berge, Riku Nuottajärvi & Dan Nicholson)
Tomb Raider – (1996, Nathan McCree)
Crusader: No Remorse – (1995, Dan Grandpre & Andrew Sega)
Rise of the Triad: Dark War – (1994, Bobby Prince)
Half-Life – (1998, Kelly Bailey)
Arcus Odyssey – (1991, Motoi Sakuraba)
Fallout – (1997, Mark Morgan)
Heavy Gear – (1997, Jeehun Hwang)
Bubble Bobble – (1986, David Whittaker)
Castlevania – (1986, Kinuyo Yamashita)
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin – (2002, Jesper Kyd)
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis – (2001, Ondrej Matejka)
Max Payne – (2001, Kärtsy Hatakka & Kimmo Kajasto)
Blast Corps – (1997, Graeme Norgate)
Thief: The Dark Project – (1998, Eric Brosius)
Herzog Zwei – (1989, Naosuke Arai & Tomomi Ohtani)
Syphon Filter – (1999, Chuck Doud)
Space Harrier – (1985, Jas C. Brooke & Mark Cooksey)
Ninja Gaiden – (1988, More Yamasan, B. Hasake & Miyazaki)
Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy! – (1991, Bobby Prince)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – (2006, Jeremy Soule)
Warcraft: Orcs & Humans – (1994, Gregory Alper, Rick Jackson, Chris Palmer & Glenn Stafford)
Battletoads – (1991, ?)
Mega Man X – (1993, Setsuo Yamamoto, Makoto Tomozawa, Yuko Takehara, & Toshihiko Horiyama)
Blaster Master – (1988, Naoki Kodaka & Marumo)



Most memorable video game music

Sonic the Hedgehog – Sonic 1 Opening Title Theme
World of Warcraft – Before BC Login Title Theme
Mortal Kombat – The Album
Mega Man – Mega Man 3 Opening Theme
Castlevania – Super Castlevania Theme of Simon Belmont (Bloody Tears)
Street Fighter II – Arcade Music Opening Title
Final Fantasy – Victory Theme
Tetris – “Type A” music in the original Game Boy version
Mario – Super Mario Theme
Zelda – The Legend of Zelda Theme

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