Author: Tim Summers

Book Just Published! Understanding Video Game Music by Tim Summers

New monograph book on video game music released from Cambridge University Press.

Cover of Understanding Video Game Music

 

This month sees the publication of a new monograph by Tim Summers (Royal Holloway, University of London) on video game music. The book is called Understanding Video Game Music and provides methods and concepts for investigating music in the video game.

You can view the introduction and index free at the Cambridge website. The foreword for the book was written by leading game composer James Hannigan, who was a speaker at Ludo14 conference at Chichester University. You can read the foreword here.

The book is highly influenced by the whole Ludomusicology conference community and owes a great debt to the thoughts and discussions that have been circulating in that environment over the past five years. It also draws upon research from further afield, both in terms of geography, and in terms of disciplinary landscape.

Receive 20% off your first order when subscribing to Cambridge Alerts.

 

Here is the publisher’s commentary on the book:

Understanding Video Game Music develops a musicology of video game music by providing methods and concepts for understanding music in this medium. From the practicalities of investigating the video game as a musical source to the critical perspectives on game music – using examples including Final Fantasy VII, Monkey Island 2, SSX Tricky and Silent Hill – these explorations not only illuminate aspects of game music, but also provide conceptual ideas valuable for future analysis. Music is not a redundant echo of other textual levels of the game, but central to the experience of interacting with video games. As the author likes to describe it, this book is about music for racing a rally car, music for evading zombies, music for dancing, music for solving puzzles, music for saving the Earth from aliens, music for managing a city, music for being a hero; in short, it is about music for playing.

  • Develops musicological understanding of game music, explaining concepts step by step without requiring extensive previous knowledge of musicology
  • Offers a wide range of examples ranging from the 1970s to 2010s, from puzzle games to role-playing games, and from well-known games like Final Fantasy VII to lesser-known games
  • Provides a useful appendix as a systematic guide to investigating game music

‘This outstanding book does much to establish an ‘extended techniques’ musicology, allying close analysis of music with crucial knowledge of gaming construction and procedures. Tim Summers’ years of ‘deep research’ into the subject make this a book of extreme sophistication and erudition that will define the field for years to come.’ K. J. Donnelly, University of Southampton

‘Tim Summers’ Understanding Video Game Music is among the most innovative musicological studies published in recent years. Combining musicology, game studies, and media theory, Summers provides an authoritative analytical framework for video game music. This book is timely, playful, and lucid. It will without doubt become a standard work in the field.’ Isabella van Elferen, Kingston University

 

Contents:

Introduction: Beyond the Candelabrum

Part I Analysing Video Game Music

1 The Video Game as a Source

2 Methods of Analysis

Part II Critical Perspectives

3 Texturing and the Aesthetics of Immersion

4 Music and Virtual Game Worlds

5 Communication for Play

6 Hollywood Film Music and Game Music

7 Musical Play and Video Games

Epilogue: Fun, Play and Music

Appendix: How to Hear a Video Game: An Outline

Editing ‘Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play’ by Michael Austin

Michael Austin gives us a little insight into his new anthology of essays on video game music,

Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play.

 

Austin_Cover

Thanks to the hard work of a handful of dedicated ludomusicologists (from a variety of academic fields), I’m very happy to announce that Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, and Play was released last month by Bloomsbury Academic Press!

The book is the first anthology dedicated solely to the genre of music video games, stretching well beyond Guitar Hero and Rockband to include handhelds (such as SIMON from the late 1970s), to mobile music games, to music making and the representation of musicians in games in which performing music or rhythm matching isn’t necessarily the main objective. Other chapters investigate themes of composing with video games, authenticity and “selling out,” and pedagogical uses for music games.

The book is part of Bloomsbury’s Approaches to Digital Games series (Gerald Voorhees and Josh Call, series editors).  It was released on July 28, along with Gareth Schott’s Violent Games: Rules, Realism, and Effect – a monograph that investigates the mediation of violence in video games and gameplay.

In addition to excellent chapters by an international collection of scholars, Music Video Games also includes a “Glossary of Gaming and Musical Terms”  – for the benefit of non-specialists in either field.

 

Many thanks to scholars who contributed chapters to the project. Their chapters are listed below.

You can get your own copy of the book here. You can get 30% off of the price of your copy when you use the code “game studies” at checkout.

For more information about Bloomsbury’s Approaches to Digital Games Studies series (including current and pending volumes), or to propose a volume of your own, visit the series website here.

 

 

Introduction – Taking Note of Music Games (Michael Austin, Howard University, USA)

Part One: Preludes & Overtures
Chapter 1 – SIMON: The Prelude to Modern Music Video Games (William M. Knoblauch, Finlandia University, USA)

Chapter 2 – Mario Paint Composer and Musical (Re)Play on YouTube (Dana M. Plank, Case Western Reserve University, USA)

Chapter 3 – Active Interfaces and Thematic Events in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (1998) (Stephanie Lind, Queen’s University, Canada)

Chapter 4 – Sample, Cycle, Sync: The Music Sequencer and its Influence on Music Video Games (Michael Austin, Howard University, USA)

 

Part Two: Virtuosi, Virtues, & the Virtual
Chapter 5 – Consumerism Hero: The “Selling Out” of Guitar Hero and Rock Band  (Mario A. Dozal, University of New Mexico, USA)

Chapter 6 – Beat It! Playing the “King of Pop” in Video Games (Melanie Fritsch, University of Bayreuth, Germany)

Chapter 7 – Virtual Jam: A Critical Analysis of Virtual Music Game Environments (David Arditi, University of Texas at Arlington, USA)

 

Part Three: Concerts, Collaboration, & Creativity
Chapter 8 – Guitar Heroes in the Classroom: The Creative Potential of Music-Games

(David Roesner, University of Kent, UK, Anna Paisley, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, and Gianna Cassidy, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK)

Chapter 9 – Rocksmith and the Shaping of Player Experience (Daniel O’Meara, Princeton University, USA

Chapter 10 – Rhythm Sense: Modality and Enactive Perception in Rhythm Heaven  (Peter Shultz, University of Chicago, USA)

Chapter 11 – Pitching the Rhythm: Music Games for iPad (Nathan Fleshner, Stephen F. Austin State University, USA)

 

Afterword – Toadofsky’s Music Lessons (William Cheng, Dartmouth College, USA)

 

Glossary of Gaming and Musical Terms
About the Contributors
Author Index

Game Index

General Index

 

 

BEEP: A History of Game Sound – Documentary Project

BEEP Logo

We’d like to draw your attention to a fantastic new project directed by Karen Collins – BEEP: A History of Game Sound. It’s an ambitious documentary project that will produce a book, a film and a companion website. The website is up at http://www.beepmovie.com and the kickstarter at http://bit.ly/KickBeep.

Here’s how the producers describe the project:

“This documentary film will take viewers on a rich audio-visual journey through the history of game music and sound, from the minimalist sounds of 1970s arcade classics through to the surround sound orchestral soundtracks of 2014’s latest epics. It will be published together with a book that will provide an in-depth perspective on the evolution of game audio, packed full of interviews with the pioneers of game sound.”

While we’d love everyone to donate to this, even if you can’t, please spread the word on the twittersphere, blogosphere and any other ‘sphere that needs a dose of game sound goodness.

Collins and the team say that the BEEP: A History of Video Game Sound documentary film and guidebook will feature:

  • interviews with numerous influential game composers: from the famous composers of the biggest Japanese and Western franchises, to the lesser-known names who have innovated behind-the-scenes
  • a complete history of the game sound: from the Victorian mechanical arcades and pinball machines through to today’s orchestral performances and full surround soundtracks
  • current and classic tools and techniques used to create game music and sound
  • insight into the psychology of game sound
  • behind the scenes making-of footage for sound effects, voice and music
  • chiptunes and current uses of game sound technology outside games

Find out more on the website and kickstarter pages. We can’t wait to see how this develops and look forward to reporting on the progress.

Gears of War 3 writer Karen Traviss on the art of game narrative

While this isn’t about video game music, this is an interesting interview about storytelling in games: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2011/oct/03/gears-3-karen-traviss-interview

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