Why Game Music Matters

Several years ago now, in one of my 1st year lectures at university, our professor was put on the spot and asked to justify why we had a compulsory ‘composing with electronics’ module in an otherwise very traditional classical music degree. Among other more academic endeavours he mentioned the need for music in games. Now at first I just thought that it sounded like a cool job but the more I looked into it, the more I realised what an incredible opportunity games present;

Compositions now have the opportunity to be free from a fixed timeline 

This is the biggest advancement to happen to music ever, here’s why:

On the whole, pieces of ‘normal’ music begin, continue along a set path and come to a predetermined end. But with games they don’t have to. Structures can warp and change on the fly. Different melodic pathways can present themselves. Textures can be created in real time layering changing musical fragments. Computers have given composers a greater power than they have ever had before. In short: 

MUSIC + CODE = UNLIMITED POTENTIAL

There are thousands of different ways to implement this. Everything from procedurally generated soundscapes to interactive orchestral symphonies can be realised. If that wasn’t exciting enough, games present musicians a modern day Gesamtkunstwerk, an opportunity to contribute to a multidiscipline meta-work. And all this can be created by a handful of people with laptops in a small room instead of an army of performers in a concert hall.

Well needless to say I jumped on board. Every career decision I’ve taken since that early semester in 2008 has been to make myself one of the composers pushing music forward. I did my dissertation portfolio on sound design as musical composition. I studied a composition MA focusing on writing for video games. I’ve written journal articles about the relationship between film music and game music. Most importantly, I’ve scored games. In each project, I’m looking for the possibility of creating something new; making music that could only exist in a game.