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The language of music in games

I always find it tremendously difficult to talk about music. The reason for this is that music is the language of the heart, and capturing its profound effect on my soul feels like trying to get a hold of water running through my hand. Please bear with me as I attempt to articulate the beauty that music adds to the gaming experience.  

First up though, let’s have a look at the latest music related news in gaming.  

On July 7, former Beatle Paul McCartney tweeted the following:

"I’m really excited to be working on writing music with @bungie, the studio that made Halo.” Earlier this year in an interview the music legend gave to German publication Die Zeit, McCartney said that he found the video game market fascinating and was excited by the project. He also said that by writing music for a game, he would be introducing it to the next generation.  

On July 10, Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor confirmed that he composed the theme song for Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

In an interview with GamerHunters, Reznor describes the song as an "aggressively sounding" piece of guitar, bass and drums-based rock". Reznore is himself an avid gamer and no stranger to collaborating with game developers, having worked on Quake and Doom 3 with id Software.  

Allow me to back track to video games and music news from May 2004.  

In April 2008, npr music ran an article called “The Evolution of Video Game Music.” This fascinating read opened with the following paragraph.  

“In May 2004, a composer named Nobuo Uematsu joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a single performance of his most famous work. The show sold out in three days. In fact, there was almost a riot at the box office when people couldn't get tickets. What was the music? Uematsu's soundtrack for the popular video game Final Fantasy.”  

There are few things in life that can compare to the passion we feel towards music. It is the chameleon of the soul; because as a chameleon reflects the colour it touches, so music reflects the ever changing landscape of our emotions. Music conveys a clearer message than words, because it surpasses the barriers of prejudice and reason. It elicits deep response because it knows the path to our hearts. Its melody can serve as a teacher by clearing our minds and directing our thoughts along the message of its lyrics. It is the higher language because it surpasses race, intellect and outward beauty. It makes us all equals on the planes of feeling.

To play a video game is to immersive oneself in a world of music, visual arts and storytelling. It’s the single interactive experience that encompasses the participant on multiple levels. In video games, music serves as the heartbeat of the story, and without it the experience would be lifeless, dull and unexceptional. It sets the stage for the unfolding plot by priming us for the release of fear, impending doom or the approach of victory. It enables the player to climb into the story’s skin and experience the emotion of his or her avatar in a very tangible manner. To play a game is to evoke emotions through interactive storytelling, and nothing triggers the desired feelings quit in the way that music is able to do. It enables a depth of immersion that players just can’t reach through striking visuals alone.

I want to close of this article with a piece about video games and the effect of music in it by David Crew.

“Music has a special ability to evoke emotions. The tone colors of certain instruments as well as the overall beat, rhythm, pitch, staff style and much more can influence what natural kind of emotion we get. The dissonant chords and fast strings in Dead Space put nerves on edge, the slow french horns and deep drums of Oblivion soothe you as you ride over luscious hills, and the airy sounds of Venice with the mix of human chatter make you really feel like you’re with Ezio in Assassin’s Creed 2.”  

Then there’s this ;)  

“Video game music isn't a passive experience, but an integral part of the foreground. “It’s for this reason that I've always said that if Beethoven were alive today, he'd be a video game composer." Tommy Tallarico 

Drop us a comment about your favourite music piece from a video game. Here is one of mine.  

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