Music show

“It’s a New Golden Age”: Radio 3 Launches Video Game Music Show | Games

Radio 3 is launching a new weekly program dedicated to video game music. Starting Saturday, October 26, the hour-long show will be presented by composer Jessica Curry, who won a Bafta for her work with UK studio The Chinese Room and created and presented the video game music program for Classic FM, High Score.

“[BBC presenter and journalist] Tom Service and his producer Brian Jackson came to interview me for Radio 3 at Chinese Room a few years ago, and we all really hit it off, ”said Curry. “Tom is an avid gamer and there was a real sense of excitement about the gaming scene and the music that is composed for the games.

“A lot of people think it’s all about fighting music and aggression. The show will prove that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Breathtaking music”… Jessica Curry. Photography: BBC

Video game music has experienced a boom in interest and appreciation over the past five years as the art form has grown and matured. The Distant Worlds concert, which features compositions from the Japanese role-playing game Final Fantasy, has toured the world for more than a decade, while video game-themed symphonic concerts dedicated to games such as Legend of Zelda, Mass Effect and Halo have taken place in the world’s greatest classical venues, including the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House. Meanwhile, a new market for vinyl video game soundtrack albums has grown with specialty labels iam8bit and Data Discs producing lavishly packaged records for new and retro gaming.

For fans, the appeal of music is often nostalgic and tied to their love of games, but Curry says video game soundtracks spark a wider interest in their own qualities. “I believe we are entering a golden age of game music,” said Curry. “The breadth of soundtracks this year has been breathtaking, and the quality and variety of game music is on the rise. Right now I’m in love with Lena Raine’s music for Celeste – it has such a lovely nostalgic nod but is also completely now. All of Grant Kirkhope’s music is mind blowing, and I have Olivier Deriviere’s incredible score for 11-11 Memories Retold on repeat.

Live video games at Hammersmith Apollo, London, in 2006.
Live video games at Hammersmith Apollo, London, in 2006. Photograph: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

Unlike film and television music, which is linear and requires specific sequences for specific moments, game soundtracks are more open and provide more space for composition. Speaking to The Guardian last year, composer Winifred Phillips said, “The games are structured so that there are long stretches where there is no dialogue. And the music that you create for those sequences, you have the opportunity to really develop musical ideas.

Curry also points out that since in-game music needs to be able to occupy long stretches of time while the player explores at their own pace, it can be more ambient and unintrusive, making it perfect to listen to while doing other things or relaxing. . “Todd Baker’s music for Monument Valley always goes on when I’m stressed and need to relax,” she says.

As symphonic scores flourish, experimental electronic soundtracks are also gaining recognition. “If you watch Sayonara Wild Hearts, this game is full of lush electronics. Berlinist’s score for GRIS was a magnificent blend of more traditional playing music and epic electronic reverie. Chipzel demolishes the house with his chip-tune bangers.

While many video game soundtracks are designed as discrete compositions, there has been an increase in “procedural” scores, which adapt to the actions of the player, increasing in tempo and urgency in action settings and becoming more ambient during exploration. Experimental group 65daysofstatic produced more than two hours of modular electronic music for the space adventure No Man’s Sky, while Matt Boch, associate professor of arts at NYU Game Center, created an interactive and hard-hitting jazz soundscape for the beat-’em-up game, Ape Out.

65 days off
Electronic Adventurers… 65daysofstatic

“Nostalgia gets you nowhere; AAA will stay true to the traditional cinematic orchestral model, ”said Curry. “But Ape Out’s success means the use of procedural music will continue to grow.”

She believes an influx of new talent, trained specifically as video game composers, will also challenge the status quo.

“Many of us older composers have been trained in film and television and have adapted our approach to composition, but young people are digital natives and grew up wanting to compose specifically for games. They have a very intuitive understanding of interactive media and this is one of the reasons music for games is getting better and better. It’s exciting to see more women breaking through, because traditionally it’s very masculine, and these different voices have inevitably led to new and exciting approaches.

Curry says his program will seek to showcase the variety of the medium, as well as explore how the scores for games are written.

“Every week we play a classic track – one that I think has stood the test of time – along with a new release and an interview with a game composer, lifting the veil on what it takes. to write music for games. For the rest of the series, I’ll be unabashedly partisan and just play songs that I absolutely love. “

Curry sees the medium evolve more as his profile increases. “More bands will write music for the games,” she says. “And with the increase in tours and performances of their work, game composers are going to become stars in their own right.”

Sound of Gaming is a recurring four-part series, airing Saturday, October 26, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., on BBC Radio 3. The program will also be available on BBC Sounds.