If there is one aspect in gaming that tends to be glossed over, it’s the music. This has always disturbed me in particular; as if I needed more fodder for my hatred of the music industry giant it has become. I tend to take it as a personal slight. After all, why shouldn’t music get the respect it deserves, regardless of the medium?
Both my parents were very musical people. My mother taught me how to sing, and my father taught me to play piano. I have fond memories of sharing music with both of them. Now, I never became the next Liberace or Callas, but I did grow up with a fond appreciation for a variety of music.
Before the advent of greater technology and a more cinematic way of presenting games, there were MIDI’s. I think most of us remember those good old days, and think back fondly on those times when music in gaming sounded more like a robot than a full symphonic, or even just a piano. Whereas our imagination can fill in the blanks visually, it is much harder to accomplish aurally. After all, our most valued sense is sight.
Remember SoundBlaster? I do. I remember coming home with my father one day in early 1996, Warcraft 2 in tow. It was an exciting prospect and we both opened the box ever so gingerly, as if the sanctity of the moment would be smashed by our clumsy appendages. The game survived, however, and I watched in awe as he loaded the disc into the drive. What wonders would await us? I could barely contain my excitement.
The wonder of the moment was dispelled when we ran into a problem with our soundcard – there was no sound. Nada. Kaput. Nyet. It was out of date, as far as Warcaft 2 was concerned. Frustrated, and after many expletives said, my father packed us off to the nearest CompUSA to buy a brand new SoundBlaster. I forget what make, model or what have you. I was twelve at the time and only concerned with ever playing the game. We eventually did, adding many Father-Daughter bonding hours killing the Horde, and sometimes each other.
Over the years, music in gaming has become more and more polished. We, of course, always have those memories of nostalgia. Even today, upon hearing the Legend of Zelda theme, I begin weeping immediately. It is an exciting time to be a composer in gaming today. I have many songs of video game music I listen to frequently (and even as I type this, I am listening to a beautiful piano composition from a game). More people are sitting up and taking notice. Soundtracks to games are garnering attention, and the quality of those compositions can be put on the same level as movie soundtracks.
We associate so much more emotional impact with sound, and it can be argued that could be due to the fact our hearing is much more advanced than our vision as newborns fresh from the womb. But whatever the reason, I will continue to download game soundtracks and enjoy them, not merely as “game music”, but as solid masterpieces to add to my growing library of compositions.
“Mother, remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body?”