A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, now in Japanese!

 

A Composer's Guide to Game Music by Winifred Phillips, now on sale in Japanese! Published by O'Reilly Japan.

A Composer’s Guide to Game Music by Winifred Phillips, now on sale in Japanese!  Published by O’Reilly Japan.

I’m excited to share that my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, was released today in Japan in its newly-published Japanese-language edition!  O’Reilly Japan has published the Japanese softcover of my book in Japan under the title, “Game Sound Production Guide: Composer Techniques for Interactive Music.”

This is the Japanese cover of the book. In Japanese, A Composer's Guide to Game Music is titled "Game sound production guide - composer techniques for interactive music," by Winifred Phillips.

Side-by-side, these are the covers of the two editions of the book. In Japanese, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music is titled “Game sound production guide – composer techniques for interactive music,” by Winifred Phillips.

I’m very excited that the Japanese language edition of my book has already hit #1 on the “Most Wished For” list on Amazon Japan!

The Amazon Japan "Most Wished For" list.

The “Most Wished For” list on Amazon.co.jp.

Coincidentally, the English-language version of A Composer’s Guide to Game Music is now #1 on the Kindle Top Rated list, too!

The Kindle "Top Rated" list on Amazon.com.

The Kindle “Top Rated” list on Amazon.com.

O’Reilly Japan is located in Tokyo, and is dedicated to translating books about technological innovation for Japanese readers.  They are a division of O’Reilly Media, a California publishing company that acts as “a chronicler and catalyst of leading-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and galvanizing their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future.  O’Reilly publishes definitive books on computer technologies for developers, administrators, and users. Bestselling series include the legendary “animal books,” Missing Manuals, Hacks, and Head First.”

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From what I’ve gathered, my book – A Composer’s Guide to Game Music – is the first English language book about game music to be translated into Japanese and sold in Japan.  There are a few other books available in Japan on the subject – but they were all originally written in Japanese.  These include a book exploring game sound by the audio hardware designer and sound developer Shiomi Toshiyukia text on creating sound for games with the CRI ADX2 middleware by Uchida Tomoya, and a book on producing game music and sound design by the artist “polymoog” of the dance music duo ELEKETL (pictured below, from left to right).

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I’m tremendously excited about the Japanese edition of my book, and my excitement comes in large part from the venerable tradition of outstanding music in Japanese games.  From the most celebrated classic scores of such top game composers as Koji Kondo (Super Mario Bros.) and Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy), to the excellent modern scores of such popular composers as Masato Kouda (Monster Hunter) and Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts), Japanese video game composers have set the creative bar very high.  I’m incredibly honored that my book will be read by both established and aspiring game composers in Japan!  I hope they’ll find some helpful information in my book, and I’m excited to contribute to the ongoing conversation about game music in the Japanese development community.

I’ve always loved Japanese game music.  In 2008, I participated in a compilation album in which successful game composers created cover versions of celebrated video game songs from classic games.  The album was called “Best of the Best: A Tribute to Game Music.”  I chose the music by Koji Kondo from Super Mario Bros., and recorded an a cappella vocal version.  It’s currently available for sale from the Sumthing Else Music Works record label, and can also be downloaded on iTunes.  You can hear the track on YouTube here:

If you’d like to learn more about the rich legacy of game music composition in Japan, you can watch an awesome free documentary series produced by the Red Bull Music Academy, entitled “Diggin’ in the Carts: A Documentary Series About Japanese Video Game Music.”  The series interviews famous game composers of Japan, which means that the interviews and narration are both in Japanese (with English subtitles).  Here’s an episode that focuses on modern accomplishments by Japanese game composers:

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Studio1_GreenWinifred Phillips is an award-winning video game music composer whose most recent project is the triple-A first person shooter Homefront: The Revolution. Her credits include five of the most famous and popular franchises in video gaming: Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, Total War, God of War, and The Sims. She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. As a VR game music expert, she writes frequently on the future of music in virtual reality video games. Follow her on Twitter @winphillips.

Game Music Composers in the Top 300 (Classic FM)

ClassicFM

Classic FM is the only 100% classical music radio station in the UK.  Every year, they hold a poll to select Britain’s favorite pieces of classical music, listing the top 300 selections on their web site.  Over 100,000 people voted in this year’s poll. The final results include music from video games – 11 out of the 300 compositions are pieces of video game music, including three pieces that won places in the top 20.  To celebrate, I’ve gathered together some YouTube videos presenting the famous video game music that was voted into the top 300 in Classic FM’s poll.  I hope you enjoy it!

#9. Final Fantasy Series (Nobuo Uematsu)

#11. The Elder Scrolls Series (Jeremy Soule)

#13. Banjo-Kazooie (Grant Kirkhope)

#30. Kingdom Hearts (Yoko Shimomura)

#41. Viva Piñata (Grant Kirkhope)

#53. World of Warcraft (Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Jason Hayes, Tracy Bush, et. al.)

#59. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Grant Kirkhope)

#84. The Legend of Zelda Series (Koji Kondo)

#118. Blue Dragon (Nobuo Uematsu)

#163. Starcraft II (Glen Stafford)

#244. Halo Series (Martin O’Donnell)

My fellow speakers at the North American Conference on Video Game Music

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The North American Conference on Video Game Music begins this Saturday, and I’m definitely looking forward to giving the keynote speech there!  It will be great to talk about some of the concepts from my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, and  I’m also very pleased that I’ll have the opportunity to meet such a wonderful collection of scholars in the field of game music study.  Since not everyone will be able to travel to Fort Worth for the conference this weekend, I thought I’d provide you with some of the stimulating ideas that will be enlivening the forthcoming conference.  Below you’ll find a collection of links to research papers, articles, essays, PowerPoint presentations and YouTube videos that some of the speakers from the upcoming event have previously created on the subject of video game music.

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Guitar Hero: “Not like playing guitar at all”?

by Dominic Arsenault

(Profile on Academia.edu)

Dominic Arsenault is an assistant professor in the fields of video game design, history and musicology at the University of Montreal, Canada.  This weekend he’ll be presenting a paper at the conference entitled “From Attunement to Interference: A Typology of Musical Intertextuality in Video Games.”  Below you’ll find a link to his 2008 research paper from Loading… The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association.  This article explores the mechanics of guitar playing in the music simulation videogame Guitar Hero, comparing this gameplay mechanic to the musicianship of playing a real-world guitar.

Link to research paper at the Simon Fraser University Library

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Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams: Popular Music, Narrative, and Dystopia in Bioshock

by William Gibbons (Twitter @musicillogical)

William Gibbons is the organizing chair of the North American Conference on Video Game Music, and teaches musicology at Texas Christian University.  This weekend he’ll be presenting the paper “Navigating the Musical Uncanny Valley: Red Dead Redemption, Ni no Kuni, and the Dangers of Cinematic Game Scores” at the upcoming conference in Fort Worth.  Below you’ll find a link to his research paper on the music of the video game Bioshock, as published in 2011 in Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research.

Link to the research paper in Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research

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Links to Fantasy: The Music of The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and the Construction of the Video Game Experience

by Julianne M. Grasso (Twitter: @_juliannemarie)

Julianne M. Grasso is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, pursuing her degree in music theory.  She’ll be presenting the talk “Intersections of Musical Performance and Play in Video Games” this weekend in Fort Worth.  What follows is a link to a fascinating and entertaining essay she wrote in 2009 about her experience writing her undergraduate thesis on the music of Zelda and Final Fantasy for her music degree from Princeton University.

Link to Essay on the Princeton University Website

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Maps and Legends: FPS-Based Interfaces for Composition and Immersive Performance

by Robert Hamilton (Twitter: @robertkhamilton)

Professor Robert Hamilton teaches in the Department of Music at Stanford University, and is also a lecturer at the California College of the Arts on Experimental Game Development.  His presentation this weekend will be “Designing Game-Centric Academic Curricula for Procedural Audio and Music.”  Below, you can read his 2007 paper exploring a new interactive music composition system triggered by a gamer’s position and actions within an in-game virtual space. This paper was presented at the International Computer Music Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Link to Research Paper at the Stanford University Web Site

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SOUNDS Like Fun and Games: Exploring the Role and Development of the Video Game Sound and Music Designer

by Christopher J. Hopkins (YouTube: hopkinschris)

Professor Christopher J. Hopkins researches chiptune music while teaching in the music department of Long Island University in New York.  This weekend he’ll be presenting a paper entitled “Compositional Techniques of Chiptune Music.”  Below, you can read an interesting PowerPoint presentation from a speech that Professor Hopkins gave about the discipline of video game sound and music at the 2013 Summer Teaching with Technology Institute.

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There’s Always a Lighthouse: Commentary and Foreshadowing in the Diegetic Music of BioShock Infinite

by Enoch Jacobus (Twitter: @enochobus)

Professor Enoch Jacobus’ fields of research include ludomusicology and music theory pedagogy.  He teaches advanced musicianship and orchestration at Asbury University in Kentucky.  At the upcoming Fort Worth conference he’ll be presenting a paper on BioShock Infinite entitled “Lighter Than Air: A Return to Columbia.”  Happily, Professor Jacobus has previously given a speech on the music of BioShock Infinite at the inaugural North American Conference on Video Game Music that took place last year, and we can enjoy that speech via the YouTube video below:

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The Origins of Musical Style in Video Games: 1977 – 1983 (Chapter 12 of The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies)

by Neil Lerner (Email at Davidson College: nelerner at davidson dot edu)

Neil Lerner teaches a wide assortment of music courses as a professor in the music department of Davidson College in North Carolina. At the conference in Fort Worth this weekend he’ll be giving a presentation entitled “Teaching the Soundtrack in a Video Game Music Class.”  Neil Lerner has been active with several scholarly journals in the field of musicology.  He has served on the editorial board of Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, and is currently the secretary for the Society for American Music.  He also had the honor of holding the position of president of the American Musicological Society-Southeast Chapter.  Below is a link to a chapter he contributed to The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies, as excerpted on Google Books.

Link to Chapter on Google Books

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Chaos in the Cosmos: The Play of Contradictions in the Music of Katamari Damacy

by Steven B. Reale (Twitter: @StevenBReale)

Steven Reale is a music theorist, ludomusicology researcher, and associate professor at Youngstown State University in Ohio.  At the Fort Worth conference this weekend he’ll be serving as the program chair. Here’s a 2011 research paper he wrote on the music of the video game Katamari Damacy for the journal ACT, published by The Research Institute for Music Theater Studies in Thurnau, Germany.

Link to Research Paper at the University EPub Library Bayreuth