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Hello.

I'm an undergraduate writing an Essay on Video Game Music in relation to Musical History. Since academic material is thin on the ground I want to collect some information myself.

Just three easy questions.

Why do you find Video Game Music Compelling (listening and mixing)?

What do you believe to be definitive of the VG music Scene? This could be a style, an atmoshere, a certain track even.

How do you think VG Mixing is different to other form of modern grassroots music?

Thanks to anyone who fills it in.

Dan B

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1. vgm, unlike pop music, focuses on the music, not the lyrics. I like music. Yes, there's orchestral and electronic music that doesn't focus on lyrics, but then it becomes a question of compositional complexity (with a fairly standard set of instruments) vs sound design and production (with a fairly basic compositional complexity)*. vgm can be anything.

*there's exceptions to both, of course.

2. The most notable aspect of much vgm is melody. Due to how it's usually used in-game, you hear it a lot. Even if it's not the most memorable track, it sticks with you. Back in the day, the chip sounds were the thing that set vgm apart. Not anymore. I think sound design is still one of the central aspects of what vgm "is", whether we're talking about a specific set of synth sounds, use of ambiences, or a particular mix method/sound or whatever.

The exception here would be non-standard tracks, whether too ambient, too generic, too mainstream/song-like, or whatever.

3. vgm is music done for a specific purpose - to be in a game. It's not standalone music, even when it can stand on its own. It's more like movie music than most other music scenes, music as _part_ of an experience.

The third question is weirdly phrased. Are you talking about remixing as we do here, or mixing the tracks together/production, or writing/making music for a game, or...?

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lol "Dan B" (you have the same name as a VGM composer, how coincidental :P)

1. It has a strong melody and memorable compositional aspects. The melodies were all they had back then, which is why they were so frikkin awesome.

2. VGM can't really be defined as anything. There are composers that mix jazz and electronica (and maybe chiptune stuff) together, but there are also composers who make that ridiculously generic big percussion four note string detaches with choir in the background film type "epic" music. The former usually has more interesting melodies, so I like that better, but there are also ambient stuff, rock, pop, any genre you can think of appearing in games. There's really no definition as far as genre. Main melodies can't even be the definition, because there are composers that do what I said above: copy "epic" film music that doesn't have a moving melody.

3. Melodies on an instrumental level need to be paid attention to of instead of lyrics. Compositional aspects are much more important.

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1. I've been around video games since I was born (my dad had an Atari 2600 that I still own) and of course as soon as I was old enough to understand what they were and how to play them, I became instantly fascinated with them. Listening to video game music comes from the fact that I love video games and it was just a natural progression to appreciate the music of those games as well. Mixing comes from the fact that I found myself to be at least somewhat musically inclined and as soon as I found tools to make music, I began imitating all of my favorite music, which included many video game tunes.

2. For me, video game music as it is now is much like movie music, there's no definitive line between vgm and other forms of music except the fact that vgm is made specifically for use in a video game. While certain things are unique to video game music (such as dynamic soundtracks, which actually change the music to match your actions in the game), vgm is usually identified by the game it's from, much in the way popular music is identified by the artist who makes it. While vgm composers are recognized by the community, more often people identify a vgm song by the game it's from, not the composer/performer. You rarely hear someone say "I'm listening to a song by Kou Otani." they say, "I'm listening to a song from Shadow of the Colossus".

3. I don't think it's any different at all. We're all here for the love of the music and without people to make it and listen to it, the scene will die out. But I don't see that happening.

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Hello.

I'm an undergraduate writing an Essay on Video Game Music in relation to Musical History. Since academic material is thin on the ground I want to collect some information myself.

Just three easy questions.

Why do you find Video Game Music Compelling (listening and mixing)?

What do you believe to be definitive of the VG music Scene? This could be a style, an atmoshere, a certain track even.

How do you think VG Mixing is different to other form of modern grassroots music?

Thanks to anyone who fills it in.

Dan B

Dan,

If you haven't seen Karen Collins' book on game audio, have a look at it, as its a great resource for academics.

Your questions lack a certain amount of substance, but I will answer them anyway:

I judge whether or not I like VGM using the same criteria as I would in a concert hall. I don't find all orchestral music compelling, nor do I find all VGM compelling (note: you should probably not use "video game music" as a genre -- there's obviously a big difference between something like a Baroque fugue and a pop ballad, right?).

I will say that, especially early on, a focus on a clear and memorable melody was present in VGM moreso than in other media.

I don't think mixing for games is much different than mixing as an indie artist -- good production is good production across the board.

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Just to Confirm I do mean Remixing. I'm loving the responses so far. And Thanks for the ref Bardic. Just ordered it. It's a little late for the essay, but will make nice bedtime reading.

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Why do you find Video Game Music Compelling (listening and mixing)?

I think videogame music, in it's early days, had no choice but to be very strongly melodic due to the limitations of the hardware. When you only have four channels to work with, you can't create a deep moody orchestral athmosphere -- your only choice is to write a strong, catchy melody.

I think these technical limitations forced a great deal of creativity on the part of the composers. This effect has lessened with more recent generations of consoles, but I think there is still somewhat of a lingering effect.

And songs with strong melodies tend to make for great remixing.

I also like the way videogame music separates genres from the cultures typically associated with them. For example, let's look at popular music. Being a pop star (especially a female one) isn't about writing good music, it's about being a sex symbol. Being a hip-hop star isn't about writing good music, it's about being a badass gangsta. Being a country star isn't about writing good music, it's about being a redneck. The same is true to varying extents with just about any genre -- electronic, metal, classical, you name it.

The VGM scene really separates the genres from those cultures, though. You can be a nerdy white guy and write rap. You can be a 20-something japanese guy and write irish folk. You can blend genres and write in any style you choose and nobody will so much as raise an eyebrow. I think the VGM scene is great in that it allows artists to be judged solely on the merits of their music, more so than just about any other genre of which I'm aware.

What do you believe to be definitive of the VG music Scene? This could be a style, an atmoshere, a certain track even.

See above -- VGM's biggest strength is that it does not confine artists to a particular style. It's biggest strength is how eclectic it is.

How do you think VG Mixing is different to other form of modern grassroots music?

*shrug* it's hard to make a blanket statement here that holds true across the board. It's the music I grew up with, it's the music that got me into music, it's the music that I've always loved.

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