Hello there! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and it’s time once again for our yearly collection of top resources for game audio practitioners! The following article contains an expanded and updated collection of links on an assortment of subjects important to the game audio community. We kick things off with a list of concert tours and annual game music events. After that, we check out the online game audio communities that we can join for support and assistance. We’ll take a look at the software applications currently in use by game audio pros. Finally, we’ll look at what’s going on in the world of game audio conferences and academia.
On April 6th I was honored to give a lecture at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington DC (pictured right). As a video game composer, I’d been invited to speak by the Music Division of the Library of Congress. I’d be delivering the concluding presentation during their premiere event celebrating popular video game music. My lecture would be the very first video game music composition lecture ever given at the Library of Congress. I was both honored and humbled to accept the invitation and have my lecture included in the 2018-2019 season of concerts and symposia from the Library of Congress.
In my presentation, I included many topics that I’ve written about in previous articles. My lecture topics included horizontal resequencing, vertical layering, and interactive MIDI-based composition. I explored the various roles that music has played in famous games from the earliest days of game design (like Frogger and Ballblazer). I also discussed how music has been implemented in some of the awesome games from the modern era (like one of my own projects, Assassin’s Creed Liberation).
My lecture was supported by a full house in the Whittall Pavilion at the Library of Congress. The audience gave me both a warm welcome and lots of great questions following the conclusion of my lecture. Afterwards, the discussion continued during a book signing event that was kindly hosted by the Library of Congress shop. During the book signing event, I was pleased to sign copies of my book A Composer’s Guide to Game Music. I also got to talk personally with quite a few audience members. Such an engaging and insightful crowd! It was a pleasure getting to know these lovely people. I really enjoyed the lively conversation – I had the best time!!
Hi! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and today let’s spend a little time discussing the allure of composing music for virtual reality. There are a lot of reasons why we video game composers might be excited about creating music for VR games. The technology of immersive virtual experiences has the potential to offer an intensity of emotional involvement transcending most other forms of entertainment. What game music composer wouldn’t be inspired by that? However, it’s tough to be inspired by something we may not have experienced yet. Becoming a VR gamer can be a fantastic rush, but the financial barriers to entry can be pretty high. The top VR headsets and gear require a VR-ready computer, and purchasing the computer and the VR hardware together can easily exceed two thousand dollars. While there are lower-cost VR options (such as headsets designed to work with mobile phones), the virtual experience provided by these economical VR systems can offer only a fraction of the spectacle delivered by the high-end models. If we want to take our first steps into a dazzling virtual world, but we don’t have a bucket of cash on hand, what do we do?
This week I thought we’d check in with some of the top orchestral video game music concert tours currently underway. We’ll take a look at some reviews of 2015 performances from the respective tours, and we’ll also take a look at video from some of the most recent concert performances.
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses
Originating as a simple four-minute overture performed at a Nintendo press event in 2011, Symphony of the Goddesses kicked off as a full-fledged concert tour in January 2012 and currently has 33 dates scheduled for 2016 that will take the popular tour all around the world. The concert’s program lineup focuses exclusively on famous music from the Legend of Zelda games. In a review of the September 25th 2015 performance at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island, Broadway World critic Andria Tieman wrote, “Overall, this was a night of fantastic music, excellent people-watching and a fun, visual performance. This is something that Zelda fans should certainly seek out.” Here’s a video clip from the Oct. 30th 2015 broadcast of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in which the Symphony of the Goddesses tour performed their Legend of Zelda Medley:
In this blog, I thought we might take a quick look at the development of the three dimensional audio technologies that promise to be a vital part of music and sound for a virtual reality video game experience. Starting from its earliest incarnations, we’ll follow 3D audio through the fits and starts that it endured through its tumultuous history. We’ll trace its development to the current state of affairs, and we’ll even try to imagine what may be coming in the future! But first, let’s start at the beginning:
3D Audio of the Past
In the 1930s, English engineer and inventor Alan Blumlein invented a process of audio recording that involved a pair of microphones that were coincident (i.e. placed closely together to capture a sound source). Blumlein’s intent was to accurately reflect the directional position of the sounds being recorded, thus attaining a result that conveyed spatial relationships in a more faithful way. In reality, Blumlein had invented what we now call stereo, but the inventor himself referred to his technique as “binaural sound.” As we know, stereo has been an extremely successful format, but the fully realized concept of “binaural sound” would not come to fruition until much later.
Happy Holidays, everyone! 2015 has been a really memorable year for me, and a successful one for my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music. Writing this book not only allowed me to express my excitement about game music, but also opened up my world to a huge community of game music enthusiasts that I’m now proud to call friends.
I’ve been delighted to meet so many people who have read my book – from aspiring composers, to scholars and educators, to game audio pros. It’s been tremendously gratifying!
I’d like to spend this blog recapping the events of 2015 as they related to my book, and I’ll also be sharing some book-related resources and tutorials that I created in 2015 (in case you missed them). Happy Holidays, everyone, and thank you so much for your tremendous support this year!
The Beep documentary is an awesome upcoming crowdfunded film consisting of interviews with top game composers and sound designers from around the world. Leading up to the film’s world premiere in Spring 2016, the Beep Documentary team has been releasing webisodes of interview footage with selected composers and sound designers who will be featured in the documentary. I’m pleased to share that a webisode of my interview has just been posted by the Beep documentary team!
Beep has been described as “the most comprehensive documentary of game music/audio history ever made,” and “a huge and culturally significant undertaking to document the history of video game sound and music through interviews with composers and other game audio professionals from around the globe.” The Beep documentary is described best on the project’s website: “Relive the moments of your childhood, and hear the stories behind the songs and sounds of your favorite games from the people who created them. Help us to give the composers and sound designers throughout game history a chance to tell their own stories, to share the truly amazing things that they achieved.”