Author: Contributor

Ludo2017 Conference Review by Ivan Mouraviev

Ludo17 Conference Report: Highlights and Themes

Ivan Mouraviev [1] reviews Ludo2017 for us, offering his thoughts on the experience.

Ivan is a student at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where he specializes in game music. Ludo2017 was his first Ludo conference, where he presented a very well-received paper ‘Textual Play: Music as Performance in the Ludomusicological Discourse’.

Independent scholar Mark Benis, writing in his report for the 2017 North American Conference on Video Game Music, recently remarked that “video games have a way of bringing people together.” Indeed they do. This is how I felt at the sixth annual Ludomusicology conference held over 20-22 April at Bath Spa University. The event was hosted by Professor James Newman and organised by Ludomusicology Research Group members Michiel Kamp, Tim Summers, Mark Sweeney, and Melanie Fritsch. [2] As a student and newcomer to the world of academic conferences, I did not entirely know what to expect at Ludo17. However, delegates and organisers alike were superbly welcoming. Being at the conference was a fun and intellectually stimulating experience from start to finish. With 40+ attendees across three days, 30 diverse papers were presented that ranged from musicological and music-theoretical investigations of music in video games to studies of game music history, composition, technology, and performance. Indeed, diversity of approach and subject matter was a hallmark of the event. In what follows I report on the conference via a series of personal highlights, summarising what I found to be among the most significant research presentations; I also tease out emerging trends, questions, and possible points of departure for future research. The report is organised loosely around four themes rather than by presentations chronologically. Please forgive my inevitably many omissions.

 

  1. Constraints and affordances: game music technology and composition

Blake Troise opened the conference by presenting his research on the technological and creatives affordance of 1-bit music: a sub-category of chiptune based on a single square wave. [3] As the name of 1-bit suggests, the synthetic process of 1-bit music imposes binary limitations—a square wave can only be produced at either a high or low amplitude (that is, and on or off signal). However, through a live demonstration, Troise showed how sophisticated polyphony, timbral variation, and even supra-binary amplitudes can be achieved with 1-bit chiptune—for example by exploiting the limits of perception (since discrete transients less than 100 milliseconds apart are perceived by the human brain as a single sound), and using techniques like pin-pulse modulation (which can help avoid the mutual cancellation of two overlapping signals).

Composer Ricardo Climent offered a different flavour of research on a similar theme, also on the first day. Climent presented his fascinating use of the freely available game-design software Unreal Engine to unfold musical narratives ludically. [4] Specifically, this took the form of an interactive work titled s.laag, which serves as a game-level replica of the World’s Fair held in Brussels in 1958; primarily the player-character takes on the role of a bass clarinet to navigate through various mini-games and around architectural icons. Kevin Burke’s presentation was also retrospective but took a different, more analytical approach, examining how composer Hitoshi Sakimoto—of Final Fantasy and Valkyria Chronicles fame—utilised a custom Terpsichorean sound driver in the 1990s to produce musical results that significantly surpassed late-twentieth-century expectations for 16 bit sound synthesis. Come day three, Richard Stevens and Niklos Stavropoulos dealt with video game music from a more explicitly design- and implementation-focussed perspective, presenting some valuable techniques for manipulating and performing pre-composed sound in games (also using, like Climent, Unreal Engine). [5]

Ultimately it was Kenneth ‘Kenny’ McAlpine, though, the first of Ludo17’s three keynote speakers, who most compellingly synthesised the many diverse strands making up this broad theme of game music technology, composition, and affordances/constraints. [6] McAlpine showcased some of the research behind his forthcoming Bits and Pieces: A History of Chiptunes (Oxford University Press). He discussed the various affordances of technologies like the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and more, presenting a broad range of historical and conceptual themes in a captivatingly personal way. Especially memorable was McAlpine’s emphasis on the idea that the near-total freedom of musical production available to us today, not least through digital audio workstations such as Apple’s Logic Pro, can be “crippling”. The goal of contemporary artistic practice—both within and beyond the realm of video game music—may not so much be a matter of “freedom of choice” as “freedom from choice”.

 

  1. Rule-bound musical play

What defines the “game” in “video game”? This was a question addressed by James Saunders, who highlighted Jesper Juul’s work on the topic (2003) as well as Huizinga’s important theorisation of play (1955), to pinpoint some insightful correspondences between rules in games and indeterminate music. [7] Saunders also noted how the structuring, constraining, and sometimes not immediately perceptible effects of video game rules can (re)present models of social interaction, and facilitate players’ agency by offering both choices and goals for game and music play. Two-way engagement between Twitch streamers and their often expansive audiences was raised as an example of such interaction in the discussion following Saunders’ presentation. Indeed, web audiences can significantly influence—and at times even determine—the structure and content of a streamer’s gameplay. Many streamers also publicly perform their musical taste by playing popular music as a kind of trans-diegetic underscore, that can be structured by audience interaction and be experienced as both external (non-diegetic) and integral (diegetic) to the streamer’s ludic performance. The 2015 article “From Mixtapes to Multiplayers” by Michael Austin (who also presented a fascinating paper on the participatory musical culture of “Automatic Mario Music Videos” on Day 2) certainly comes to mind, for Austin’s examination of how different kinds of social video gaming can serve as gamified “transmutation[s] of the mixtape” and displays of curatorial control. [8] As the professional players of massive online battle-arena (MOBA) games like Dota 2 continue to attract large streaming audiences, and video games become increasingly formidable icons in popular culture more generally, the realm of game-like musical interactions in virtual spaces seems ripe for further scholarly investigation. How, for example, are streamer-audience musical interactions shaped by the (in)formal rules that moderators enforce on platforms such as Twitch, perhaps contributing in turn to a broader fostering of online community?

On the broader theme of music and rule-bounded play it is hard not to mention the work of Roger Moseley. [9] On Day 3 Moseley presented a superb keynote that resonated with the approach and several themes within his recently-published and open-access monograph Keys to Play (University of California Press, 2016). [10] The keynote was titled “Recursive Representations of Musical Recreation”, placing “recursion”—signalling basic repetition and looping, the successive executions that occur in computation, and more specifically a kind of historical ludomusical praxis—in the critical spotlight. One particular argument was for “recreation” as a potentially more critically rewarding notion than “reproduction” when dealing with the recursive nature of ludomusicality, since “reproduction” has been historically more closely associated with a decidedly “serious” “phonograph ideology” rather than intrinsically creative and performative action (an association no doubt spurred by, or at least reflected in, Adorno’s and Walter Benjamin’s famous twentieth-century critiques of commercial culture). The first known use of the term “ludomusicology” can be traced to digital-game researcher and music theorist Guillaume Laroche in 2007; nevertheless, Moseley’s contributions to our understanding of the implications of the term “ludomusicology”—broadly construed as the study of music and play—have been seminal. [11] This is eminent not only in Keys to Play, but also in the 2013 chapter “Playing Games with Music” which elaborates play theory by Huizinga and Roger Caillois in the context of Guitar Hero after a much-needed historicization of work and play. [12] Indeed, central to Moseley’s work has been the goal of putting “play on display” in historical terms within a “media archaeology” framework, illuminating the possibility that “notions and terminology associated with digital games are capable of enlightening historical ludomusical praxis, just as the latter informs the former.” [13]

 

  1. Video game music as performance and/or culture

Several papers dealt with video game music and broader notions of culture, performance, or both. Presenting on the first day, Donal Fullam discussed how video game music can be understood as an expression of “algorithmic culture”. [14] For Fullam this cultural expression is a relatively recent incarnation of a more long-standing impulse, one that “treats music as an algorithmically determined system” and can be traced to the twentieth century avant garde and even further, to the foundations of functional harmony (which in turn represents a more basic tendency to systematise musical sound as a “cultural articulation”). A similar theoretical view of music as performing cultural and aesthetic functions was explored on Day 2 by Edward Spencer. His study investigated the bass-music signification and broader sociopolitical implications of Major League Gaming Montage Parodies, or MLGMPs. These represent a specific music video genre that employs audiovisual memes and “canonic” dubstep tracks by the likes of Skrillex to parody montages of skillful first-person shooter gameplay. [15] As Spencer convincingly showed through a critique of recent postmodern theory around notions of meaningless in contemporary culture, MLGMPs should not be automatically dismissed simply because they may, at first glance, seem to represent “ultimate” instances of “media convergence and ludic semiotic excess”.

Melanie Fritsch presented and applied also on Day 2 a theoretical platform for the analysis of music in video games.  principally argue that music in video games may be, but so far largely has not been, studies through the lens of interdisciplinary performance studies—which generally favours an ontology of music that is necessarily behavioural and social. [16] Fritsch did note, however, that scholars such as Tim Summers, Kiri Miller, and Karen Collins (and, I would add, William Cheng) have started to investigate music in video games beyond the basic paradigm of musicological close reading; both Miller and Cheng have favoured ethnographic paradigms while Summers is broadly interdisciplinary and Collins has tended towards embodied cognition and performance analysis. [17] Fritsch also introduced the German terms aufführung and leistung for understanding performance in a novel and more multi-dimensional way, with the former referring to presentation, aesthetics, and artistry and the latter encapsulating notions of skillful display, effort, and efficiency. Fritsch’s transnational perspective resonates with Moseley’s valuable historicisation of work and play in that both serve as a reminder that fundamental terms in music scholarship like “performance” and “play” are historically and socially contingent. Indeed, what one group of gamers or scholars regards as “play”, whether ludically or musically or both, may take on dramatically differently meaning across different times, spaces, or sociocultural settings. Or, put differently, the somewhat taken-for-granted idea that both games and music are inherently playful may be more thoroughly examined in a more empirically grounded, historically and socially (and perhaps even politically) specific way.

This last question may apply equally to video game music—that which is produced, performed, and listened to beyond conventional gameplay, such as in the concert hall. Video game music in this sense was explored in a concentrated and lively manner across four back-to-back presentations in Session 7, titled “In Concert”. In the first half of the session, Joana Freitas and Elizabeth Hunt drew attention to how notable organisations like Video Games Live have sought to “gamify” the concert hall in order to achieve “collaborative immersion and experience”. [18] James S. Tate and Ben Hopgood then dealt more specifically with music associated with Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) and Final Fantasy respectively; Tate presented convincing evidence for, and hypotheses to explain, the widespread popularity of JRPG soundtracks in concert performance, while Hopgood’s study was more analytical in discussing the easy-to-forget but nevertheless prominent “classical music identifiers” that video game music often carries as part of its dense semiotic baggage. [19] Though it was only mentioned in passing, an exciting and potentially highly rewarding direction for future research in this area is the ongoing global concert tour of thatgamecompany’s broadly well-received PS3/4 title Journey; the tour features Chicago’s Fifth House ensemble performing the game’s soundtrack in real time in response to the actions of four-to-six players on stage. [20]

 

  1. Learning music through games and vice versa: video game pedagogy

Talks on the role of video games—and principles of play more generally—in education only made up a small portion of Ludo17, however, the quality of research presented and potential for growth on this theme certainly warrants its own sub-heading. On day three Meghan Naxer brought to light the value of video game game principles and practices to be fruitfully manifested in the classroom. [21] A personal anecdote in this regard was especially revealing: after responding student email queries with indirect suggestions to literature and other resources, Naxer’s students interpreted the interaction as a game-like “side quest” and subsequently became all the more excited to engage in independent study. Jan Torge Claussen next presented his ongoing research with 18 students learning to play guitar through Rocksmith, the decidedly more education-oriented competitor of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. [22] Claussen’s students have been video recorded and completed journals detailing their experiences with the game; early findings tentatively suggest that Rocksmith may be a useful means to learn how to play guitar through Rocksmith rather than to gain guitar proficiency in general.

 

Concluding remarks

In closing, I would like to draw attention to three talks that were especially intellectually stimulating, but do not fall neatly under any of the thematic categories I use above. Firstly, Stephen Tatlow and George Marshall expertly examined complex questions of music and diegesis, through voice communication in the fantasy role-playing game EVE Online and popular music in the racing title Forza respectively. [23] Implicit in Tatlow’s discussion was the possibility for in-game diegetic voices to function musically, or rather for music to function as a player’s in-game diegetic voice—as music arguably already does in Journey, where the only means of direct communication involves performing short musical pulses in the absence of conventional text- and voice-based chat. Secondly, James Tate discussed the problematic potential of developing a video game music studies canon, an especially important issue that we need not inherit from popular music studies and the Western ‘art’ music realm. [24] As Tate’s research showed, though, nostalgia is already something of a potent structuring force in steering which titles are most prominent in the game studies discourse. How, going forward, will we negotiate our personal tastes with academic integrity and maintain a field driven by egalitarian values that emphasise the embracing of diversity? Thirdly, Michiel Kamp’s “Ludo-musical Kuleshov?” drew much-needed attention to the importance of understanding the psychology of video game music perception and affect, including how strongly our interpretations of music can be guided by on-screen and vice versa. [25] Kamp also presented the exciting potential of his ludo-musical (practice-led) research paradigm whereby a relatively simple game design allowed flexible and iterative reformulation of research questions as uncertainties were clarified or new questions arose. In turn this brought to light how empirically-grounded musicological study tends to exist at the broader intersection of the ‘hard’ sciences and the humanities, drawing on the principles and techniques of both.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the concert curated by Professor James Saunders (with thanks to Alex Glyde-Bates) held at the end of day two. Performed works included the playful and aesthetically engaging, as was the case with Troise’s chiptune piece “FAMIFOOD” and Clement’s live play-through of s.laag. More overtly unconventional and thought-provoking compositions by Louis d’Heudieres and Ben Jameson explored, by ludic means, the ontological boundaries of “authentic” live performance—through a rule-based approach and Guitar Hero respectively. [26] Jameson’s piece in particular stood out, as a novel, compositional and performative elaboration of the seminal Guitar Hero research carried out by Kiri Miller. I believe our broad and fast-growing field of video game music studies should continue to feature and therefore encourage more work in this vein of artistic practice as research, which includes the studies by Clement and Kamp mentioned above; it is an emerging paradigm that has long been accepted in the visual and dramatic arts as a valid means of producing knowledge but remains relatively under-theorised and under-developed in music. [27]

In summary, Ludo17 was diverse, fun, and intellectually stimulating; it featured student and early-career researchers alongside established scholars; and it did what arguably most ‘good’ scholarship should do: open up, rather than close off, new and exciting lines of inquiry. To the curious reader I highly recommend visiting the #Ludo2017 twitter feed as well as the booklet of abstracts, for a more comprehensive look into the diversity of research that was presented beyond what I have been able to discuss here. I very much look forward to next year’s conference and wish to thank the organisers for organising a fantastic event.

 

Notes

  1. Ivan Mouraviev, BMus/BSc in musicology and biological sciences; currently undertaking a BMus (hons) in musicology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
  2. For the organisers’ biographies please see http://www.ludomusicology.org/about/.
  3. Blake Troise, University of Southampton.
  4. laag was composed especially for Dutch bass clarinettist Marij Van Gorkom, as part of the http://dutch-UK.network project started in 2015. For more information see www.game-audio.org.
  5. Richard Stevens, Leeds Beckett University; Nikos Stavropoulos, Leeds Beckett University. Stevens has co-authored with David Raybould the monograph Game Audio Implementation: A Practical Guide Using the Unreal Engine (Waltham, MA: Focal Press, 2015).
  6. Kenneth McAlpine, University of Abertay, Dundee.
  7. James Saunders, Professor of Music, Bath Spa University.
  8. Austin, “From mixtapes to multiplayers: sharing musical taste through video games,” The Soundtrack 8/1–2 (2015), 77–88.
  9. Roger Moseley, Assistant Professor in Musicology, Cornell University.
  10. Keys to Play is freely accessible at http://www.luminosoa.org/site/books/10.1525/luminos.16/.
  11. See Tasneem Karbani, “Summer research project was music to student’s ears,” folio, University of Alberta, published 7 September 2007, accessed 23 May 2017, https://sites.ualberta.ca/~publicas/folio/45/01/04.html.
  12. In Nicholas Cook and Richard Pettengill (eds), Taking it to the Bridge: Music as Performance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013), 279–318.
  13. Keys to Play, 7.
  14. Donal Fullam, PhD Candidate, University College Dublin.
  15. Edward Spencer, DPhil Music student, University of Oxford.
  16. Melanie Fritsch M.A., PhD Candidate, University of Bayreuth.
  17. See, for example: Miller, Playing Along (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012; chapter four of Cheng, Sound Play (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2014); and Tim Summers, “Communication for Play,” in Understanding Video Game Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 116–142.
  18. Joana Freitas, MMus, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa; Elizabeth Hunt, University of Liverpool.
  19. James S. Tate, PhD Candidate in Musicology at Durham University; Ben Hopgood, Musicology at University of Goldsmiths.
  20. A recent review with Fifth House performers by CBC news is particularly illustrative of the unique challenges and interactive components of Journey: Live. See http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/calgary/journey-game-soundtrack-live-1.4100542.
  21. Meghan Naxer, Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Kent State University.
  22. Jan Torge Claussen, PhD Candidate, University of Hildesheim.
  23. Stephen Tatlow, MMus Royal Holloway; George Marshall musicology University of Hull.
  24. James Tate, BMus University of Surrey.
  25. Michiel Kamp, Junior Assistant Professor in Musicology, University of Utrecht.
  26. Louis d’Heudieres, Bath Spa University; Ben Jameson, composition PhD Candidate, University of Southampton.
  27. For an up-to-date account of artistic practice as research in music in both theoretical and practical terms, see: Mine Dogantan-Dack (ed.), “Introduction,” in Artistic Practice as Research in Music: Theory, Criticism, Practice (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2015).

 

How to Find Work Online as a New VG Composer

Contributor: Chris Lines (http://www.gamecomposeradvantage.com/) shares his advice on becoming a successful video game composer. This is a short version of a longer series of articles from Chris’s site to help game composers. You can check out the longer in-depth versions here.

Many composers have either studied music formally for a long time or are self-taught to a pretty good level, and yet they haven’t actually worked on any video games at all, let alone been paid for one.

FGI was in a similar position until a few years ago… I’d always written music since I was fifteen, been in bands, had my own studio set up for years. But apart from a small amount of production music, and the odd student film, I had never really achieved that much. I decided something had to change…

I noticed that there were plenty of game composer websites talking about VSTs and DAWs but none on the actual hard work of freelancing. So I invested thousands of pounds in the best freelancing courses and books I could, and learned about positioning, pitching, selling and running a freelance business in general. What I learned wasn’t specifically tailored for musicians – most of my fellow students in fact were designers, photographers, web developers or other freelancers, but I found universal lessons that could be applied to music too.

What Most Composer Do Wrong

It’s all too common to see posts on game developer forums where composers are offering their services – and often for free. I have never done this. If a composer does get an answer, they’ll generally be asked to write for free, or for ‘exposure’. More likely than not they just won’t get a reply. When they don’t get inundated with offers to write music they then get disappointed.  “Why on earth not?”, I hear them cry, “I’m offering to write for free! What could be better than that, right?”

Most composers don’t see things from a developer’s perspective though. Try it for a moment – why would they trust this person who posted on a forum offering to work for free? Is this the way a professional composer would act?

There Is Another Way

What I quickly learned from my studies is that rather than posting adverts on forums and waiting for the phone to call, I came to appreciate the power of the hustle. By spending time upfront researching the most suitable developers, picking the games I really wanted to work on, and only then contacting the developers directly, things seemed a lot more hopeful.

Now I rather glossed over the part where I mentioned research – but this is essential and is where most of the effort should go. There’s no point pitching just anyone who is making a game. You need to choose carefully – take your time. The best places to look are game developer forums where devs are posting about what they are working on, but there are also sites like Kickstarter. Here’s a link to Quora with some suggestions of game developer sites.

And once you have found a game you like the look of you need to find the developer’s email address. Sure you could contact them via the forum, but I think email is best. You might have to do some digging and Googling to get an e-mail address, but again it’s worth it. Once you have an e-mail address you can then quite honestly tell them who you are, what you do and genuinely offer to help. It’s not magic – just maybe a bit braver than the average composer, and that’s the point. You don’t want to be the same as everyone else.

Get Used to Hustling

It has to be said, 9 times out of 10 a cold pitch doesn’t work. Game devs either already have a composer or they have settled on an alternative approach to the music. Or they just weren’t a good fit in the first place and just don’t reply. Don’t worry! Keep trying and occasionally… just occasionally… it does work.

Now it has to be said that cold pitching (even with the right research) is a numbers game. You’ll send out dozens and dozens of e-mails before you get any interest. And even when you do, you might only get a ‘maybe’. It’s then your job to keep in touch, keep pitching, making contacts and eventually something good will happen.

The point of this article is to show one method of finding work online. There are others, and I
should make the point that real life meet-ups, conferences and networking are just as important – they just aren’t the focus of this article.

What If You Aren’t Ready?

I’ve found a lot of composers are put off getting themselves out into the market because they feel they aren’t ready. This could be for a variety of reasons:

  • they don’t have a good enough website or portfolio,
  • they don’t know enough about games in general or interactive music
  • plus many other reasons.

You should at the very least have some kind of portfolio showing off your music, even if this is just a SoundCloud page. Otherwise how on earth will a developer hear what you can do? More than that is obviously nice, such as a smart, clean website with a dedicated portfolio section and maybe a blog, but it’s not needed in the beginning.

As for having expert knowledge of interactive music and middleware? In reality for your first few gigs as a game composer you aren’t going to need to know much of this stuff, if anything. Don’t wait till you are ready… take action now and learn as you go.

#Ludo2016 Conference Review

We are proud to publish the following review as part of our contributor articles series. Feel free to leave comments, and do let us know if you would like to send us articles to share with the wider community!

Contributor: Sebastian Urrea

I came into Ludo 2016 as a newcomer, not knowing quite what to expect. I was coming down from an extraordinary experience visiting London and the surrounding area during the week leading up to the conference, and I was excited to see what it would be like. I didn’t know anyone, I wasn’t in academia, hadn’t done research, and I didn’t have any papers to present. I just loved video game music. I had studied music, and enjoyed theory and musicology, and had applied it to video game music on my own. I was thrilled when I learned that there were others who were doing similar things in an academic setting. I had been planning a trip that happened to align perfectly to allow me to be in England at the time of the conference. So on a whim I had registered, hoping to see what I could learn and who I could meet.

What I found exceeded my expectations in many ways. First, the papers. The presentations included discussions and examinations of a very diverse body of music, and everyone had a different way of examining their chosen interest. Papers included discussions of classic JRPGs and Nintendo games through old arcade games, indie games, hip hop, horror games, and new virtual reality games. Some papers looked backward, at history and culture, and some looked forward, to innovations in the field and new possibilities for integrating music and games. I learned about music that I had never really listened to (for instance, arcade music of the 70s and 80s), and I learned about new music that I didn’t even know about (Elise Plans and David Plans’ discussion on new developments in music and biofeedback in games makes me excited to see what the future of video game music holds).

At first I was disappointed that the presentations didn’t include more subjects with which I was familiar. But really, that would have been less interesting. I learned a lot more from the really diverse set of presentations than I would have otherwise. The topics discussed had a great balance across different aspects of video game music, and I am certain that anyone in attendance would have found things both familiar and new.

Amongst such diverse music, everyone focused on something different. Discussions ranged from the analytical (James Tate’s examination of the musical style of Jeremy Soule, or Morgan Hale’s analysis of the music of Undertale), to cultural/ethnomusicological (Hyeonjin Park’s discussion of musical representations of deserts across games, or Keith Hennigan’s critique of Irish music in video games), to technical (Blake Troise’s discussion of compositional techniques with NES hardware), and more. It made me really appreciate how diverse and expansive video game music really is, and how much opportunity there is to delve into different topics and explore and discover new things.

The choices of keynotes were excellent. Having someone like Andrew Barnabas in attendance with such a history of work in the industry was thrilling to everyone. It allowed for a bridge between the theoretical and academic to the practical, and was a good learning opportunity for everyone involved. It also gave rise to some great discussions (did you know he was responsible for adding the snippet of singing in “A Whole New World” in the video game version of Aladdin?). Neil Lerner’s talk of Pac-Man and its sounds was a great reminder of the technical aspects of video game music, and how it can be important to consider how they factor in to composition and production.

Spending time with everyone outside of presentations was equally as fun. Many of the attendees were already friends from previous conferences or from shared work. But most importantly, Ludo 2016 provided a friendly, open atmosphere to everyone involved. After all, we were all there because we were critically interested in a pretty geeky and new area of music, and this conference created a unique opportunity for everyone to explore that interest freely and openly. The fact that any of us could immediately go up to someone and express our interests, by saying something like, “Hey, have you played this game?” or “Did you ever listen to the soundtrack from this other game?” made for a really unique and refreshing experience. When presenting, the whole group was engaged in every talk, giving positive feedback and sharing knowledge from their own areas of specialty. And I think everyone who attended the pub trivia quiz night enjoyed being stumped by the questions that were just as diverse as the presentations that were given.

Looking back at the conference, my biggest takeaway is my impression that the field of video game music is really a lot broader than I had realized. I had my own interests that I had honed in on, but seeing so many people studying such a range of topics was inspiring. I left feeling that there is a lot of potential to be explored in studying music from a range of games larger than I had realized, and in ways that I had never even considered. I have a lot of faith in the people who attended the conference and who are dedicating themselves to studying it, each in their own way and with their own perspectives, and it makes me excited to see what the future of Ludomusicology will be as it continues to grow. I look forward to what future Ludo conferences will bring!

GameLark Records Volume 1 Released

Contributor: Allen Brasch, GameLark Records

GameLark Records is a new record label specifically for video games remixes and covers. The first album, GameLark Records Volume 1, features 19 tracks from 19 different artists in the video game remix community. I fell in love with the video game remix community while working on my Youtube channel, GameLark Remixes. As I scoured Youtube looking for new artists and remixes, I was astounded by the sheer diversity of the community.

Eventually, I was inspired by collaborative charity albums such as ‘Multiplayer: A Tribute to Video Games’ and ‘Operation 1-Up’ to create my own label. The goals were simple: find the most diverse group of artists possible, produce top-quality music, and build a platform for the selected artists. Believe it or not, most artists are busy making music and don’t always have the time to promote their work. The album helps to bring attention to all the artists on the label, both big and small, and new fans are created in the process.

This is just the first album from GameLark Records, but I believe the label has a bright future. Every song on this first album stands on its own, but I believe the myriad genres complement each other rather than detract from the album’s cohesion. After all, this album is as diverse as the community that it represents. GameLark Records Volume 1 releases today on Loudr, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon Music and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy it.

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