Together, Michiel Kamp, Tim Summers and Mark Sweeney co-founded the Ludomusicology Research Group in August 2011, an inter-university research organization dedicated to the study of game music. They are now joined by Melanie Fritsch.
Our slant, which we feel distinguishes us from other related inter-disciplinary/multimedia projects, is the musicological approach to video game music, as opposed to the non-performative visual arts, or non-interactive film, for example. This also sets our project apart from the related game sound groups, which are generally more industry based, and where they do cross over with musicology, often lean toward a consideration of sound in general, instead of music. Our aim is to promote inter-university academic collaboration, establish game music as a significant research area alongside academic musicology, act as a hub or point-of-contact to advertise the research of the group members (and of other academics working in the field) and serve as a general attempt to create a coherent direction and body of knowledge for this sub-discipline.
To achieve these aims, we organize annual international conferences on videogame music (Oxford 2012, Liverpool 2013, Chichester 2014, Utrecht 2015, Southampton 2016), provide an up-to-date bibliography (now also housed on the SSSMG website), and host regular blog articles by guest contributors about videogames and videogame music. We have also acted as a central hub in bringing together a number of publications including a double special issue of The Soundtrack and an edited volume of essays: Ludomusicology: Approaches to Video Game Music. Our mailing list is solely for the purpose of promoting our conferences and publications to those who prefer emails to Facebook pages and tweets; we do not produce a regular newsletter at present.
The research group consists of four ludomusicologists (click to expand individual profiles):
About me and research
Dr Michiel Kamp is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Utrecht University, where he teaches on music and media. He previously taught and completed his AHRC-funded PhD dissertation at the University of Cambridge. His research takes a phenomenological approach to music in video games, and attempts to categorize and characterize the different ways in which players can hear and listen to game soundtracks. Michiel received his BA and MA degrees from Utrecht University. In addition to a chapter in Ludomusicology: Approaches to Video Game Music, he has recently contributed to a special issue of Philosophy & Technology on video game music and ecological psychology.
2013, ‘Musical Ecologies in Video Games’, Philosophy & Technology June 2013.
Major Conference Papers:
2013, ‘The Civilization IV history of Western music’, Music and the Moving Image 2013, New York University
2013, ‘Background music in video games: a phenomenological approach’, Ludomusicology 2013 Conference, 12th – 13th April 2013, Liverpool University
2012, ‘Is background music music? A phenomenological approach’ Challenging Musical Ontologies: An RMA Study Day, University of Nottingham
2012, ‘Death and diegesis: music structuring gameplay in three platform games’, RMA Study Day Ludomusicology: Approaches and Aesthetics, 16th April 2012, Oxford University
2012, ‘Ecology, diegesis and music in video games’, RMA Research Students’ Conference 2012, University of Hull
2011, ‘Ludic music in video games’, Music and the Moving Image 2011, New York University
About me and research
Dr Tim Summers is Teaching Fellow in Music at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has taught music at Bristol and Oxford Universities. He was Stipendiary Lecturer in Music at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. He received a first-class BA degree in music from Oxford University, before completing an MPhil by research at Bristol University in moving-image music. He was awarded the Bristol University Centenary Scholarship for the duration of his PhD in video game music. Tim has also worked to design research components for MA and MFA courses in media music offered by ThinkSpace Education, accredited by Chichester University. As well as contributing to several essay collections, he has written for the Journal of the Royal Musical Association on music in comics, for Music, Sound, and the Moving Image on music in multimedia franchises, The Journal of Film Music on narratology, and for The Soundtrack and Act on video game music. Tim’s monograph, Understanding Video Game Music will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. Tim serves on the editorial board of The Soundtrack and is currently expanding his research to consider music in transmedial contexts.
Forth. ‘‘Sparks of Meaning’: Comics, Music and Alan Moore’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 140/1 (2015).
Forth. ‘The Aesthetics of Video Game Music: Epic Texturing in the First-Person Shooter’, The Soundtrack 5/1 (2013).
2013 ‘Star Trek and the Musical Depiction of the Alien Other’, Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 7/1 (Summer 2013), 19–52.
2011 ‘Playing the Tune: Video Game Music, Gamers and Genre’, ACT Zeitschrift für Musik & Performance 1/2, 25pp.
Chapters in Edited Collections:
Forth. ‘From Parsifal to the PlayStation: Wagner and Video Game Music’, in Kevin Donnelly, Neil Lerner and William Gibbons (eds), Video Game Music (New York and London: Routledge)
Forth. ‘Music in Racing Video Games’, in Chris Hart (ed.), Automobiles and Popular Music Culture
2013 ‘C’era Una Volta Il West : An Opera to do with Death?’, in Guido Heldt, Tarek Krohn, Peter Moormann and Willem Strank (eds), Ennio Morricone [FilmMusik Vol. 1] (Munich: edition text + kritik)
Major Conference Papers:
2013, ‘Wagner, Kant and the Metaphysical Rubber Chicken’, Ludomusicology 2013 Conference (12th – 13th April 2013, Liverpool University)
2012, ‘From Epic Texturing to Playful Negotiation: Game Music Aesthetics’, RMA Study Day Ludomusicology: Approaches and Aesthetics, (16th April 2012, Oxford University)
2012 Invited Colloquia Speaker, University of Liverpool
2011 ‘Approaching and Analyzing Music in Video Games’, Music Since 1900, Lancaster University
2011 ‘Why Should We Study Video Game Music?’, Bristol University
2009 ‘Star Trek and the Musical Depiction of the Alien Other’ , Sixth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, Keele University
2008 ‘Discussing Music Amelodically: The Music of Family Guy’, Bristol University
About me and research
Dr Mark Sweeney is an academic society journal publishing specialist at John Wiley & Sons. After completing a BA in music at Oxford University, he received an AHRC award in support of an MSt (Distinction) in musicology, with a dissertation on non-linear video game music, and this was expanded into a DPhil thesis on aesthetic theory and videogame music. He has taught faculty classes and college tutorials across the University and was a Stipendiary Lecturer in Music at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. He has also supervised dissertations on video game music at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Aside from the editorial duties with the group described above, Mark has also contributed conference papers, book chapters and articles on topics including diegetic folk music, social interaction in MMOs and the relationships between Hollywood film music and video game music. He is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Society for the Study of Sound & Music in Games.
About me and research
Dr. Melanie Fritsch is a Junior professor for Media and Cultural Studies with a focus on Game Studies and related fields at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf.
Her doctoral thesis “Performing bytes. Musikperformances der Computerspielkultur” (“Performing bytes. Music performances of video game culture“) was published in 2018, and she is now co-editing the “Cambridge Companion to Video Game Music” with Tim Summers.
She is also Communications Officer and member of the Executive Board of “The Society for the Study of Sound and Music in Games” (www.sssmg.org ), and has been part of the AHRC research network “Guitar Heroes in Music Education? Music-based video-games and their potential for musical and performative creativity” in 2014-2015. She further co-organized the GameCamp Berlin in 2016-2020.
In 2011 she edited the issue of “ACT – Zeitschrift für Musik und Performance” focusing on video games and music. Her recent publications appeared i.a. in Digitale Spiele: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven zu Diskursfeldern, Inszenierung und Musik, Ludomusicology: Approaches to Video Game Music, Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play, and the Oxford Handbook of Interactive Audio.
For more information on her academic output (full list of talks, publications, activities, full CV) see her Academia-page or meet her on Twitter @myfritsch.