From the video game music of EA’s Spore Hero to Avengers Endgame: Composing the Hero Theme

Photo of composer Winifred Phillips working on the video game music of Spore Hero from Electronic Arts.

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The famous Avengers Endgame logo, from the article by video game composer Winifred Phillips.Hi!  I’m video game music composer Winifred Phillips, and sometimes my game music shows up in places I never would have expected.  A little over a week ago, while I was eagerly watching an awesome trailer for the just-released blockbuster Avengers Endgame, I was suddenly stunned to hear my own music in it!  (I’ve embedded the Avengers Endgame trailer that features my music at the end of this article.)  What made this moment even more jaw-dropping for me was that I had originally composed this music for the video game Spore Hero (a game from Electronic Arts’ popular Spore franchise).  Just as a reference, here’s what the characters look like in Spore Hero:

Detail from cover image of popular video game Spore Hero (from the article by Winifred Phillips, video game composer).

The style of Spore Hero couldn’t be further away from that famous Avengers style, as expertly displayed in the Avengers Endgame trailer.  Yet the same music was used for both projects.

The famous faces of Avengers Endgame depicted in the official poster (an illustration from the article by video game composer Winifred Phillips)

The Spore Hero music I was hearing in the Avengers Endgame trailer was my “Hero Theme,” which functions essentially as a leitmotif within the Spore Hero score – it’s the central recurring melody in the game.  By virtue of the theme-and-variation technique, the melody undergoes a gradual transformation from invitingly cute to heroically epic.

The Avengers Endgame trailer featured the most dramatic iteration of this theme.  When I recovered from the initial surprise, it occurred to me that a mini-postmortem of this particular melodic theme might be the best way to explore an interesting topic: how does a single theme transform itself from an amiable melody to an avenging one?

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A Composer’s Guide to Game Music wins the Nonfiction Book Award!

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I’m excited to share some awesome news!  My book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, has been selected as a Gold winner of the Nonfiction Book Awards!

The Nonfiction Authors Association presents Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards in its Nonfiction Book Awards competition to honor the best book-length publications in an array of nonfiction genres.  A Composer’s Guide to Game Music was recognized with a Gold award (the top honor presented by the awards competition) in the “Arts, Music, and Photography” category.

Here’s how A Composer’s Guide to Game Music was described by Stephane Chandler, the founder of the Nonfiction Authors Association:

Winifred Phillips presents music composition for a specific genre and audience in an easy-to-understand way, whether for seasoned composers or self-taught music enthusiasts looking to create a beautifully composed work for the video game market. Phillips goes above and beyond, guiding her reader through not only the composition process, but everything else tied to producing music for video games, including but not limited to working with teams and how to understand key audience demographics.

My most sincere appreciation goes out to the judging panel of the Nonfiction Book Awards for this honor!

This is the fourth award presented to A Composer’s Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press).  To date, the book has also won a National Indie Excellence Book Award, a Global Music Award for an exceptional book in the field of music, and an Annual Game Music Award from the popular site Game Music Online in the category of “Best Publication.”

A Composer's Guide to Game Music won a National Indie Excellence Book Award in the genre of Performing Arts (Film, Theater, Dance & Music).

A Composer’s Guide to Game Music won a National Indie Excellence Book Award in the genre of Performing Arts (Film, Theater, Dance & Music).

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The Global Music Awards presented a Gold Medal Award of Excellence as a GMA Book Award to A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, which was judged as exceptional in the field of music.

 

The staff of accomplished music journalists of Game Music Online has presented awards in many categories that acknowledge the diversity and range of the video game music genre.

The staff of accomplished music journalists of Game Music Online presented a “Best Publication” award to A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, acknowledging its “accessible yet deep insight into the process of making game music.”

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Studio1_GreenWinifred Phillips is an award-winning game music composer with more than 11 years of experience in the video game industry.  Her projects include such famous games as Assassin’s Creed Liberation, God of War, the LittleBigPlanet franchise, and many others.  She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.  Follow her on Twitter @winphillips.

Interview about Game Music on The Note Show!

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I’m excited to share that I’ve been interviewed about my career as a game music composer and my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, for the newest episode of The Note Show!

The Note Show is a terrific podcast that focuses on interviews with professionals in creative fields.  I’m very proud to have been included! Famous guests on The Note Show have included Hugo and Nebula award-winning sci-fi author David Brin, actress Kristina Anapau of the HBO series True Blood, video game designer Al Lowe (Leisure Suit Larry), actress Lisa Jakub (Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day), and Steven Long Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle, creators of the NBC series The Pretender.

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This is my second time being interviewed on The Note Show, and I’m so glad to have been invited back!

In this interview, I talk about my work on the LittleBigPlanet and Assassin’s Creed franchises, my latest project (Total War Battles: Kingdom), how composing music for a mobile game differs from composing for consoles or PC, and how my life has changed with the publication of my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music.

In the podcast, we also talk about the National Indie Excellence Book Award that my book recently won, as well as the importance of optimism for an aspiring game composer.

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You can listen to the entire interview here:

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Here’s some official info from the creators of The Note Show:

The Creative Professional Podcast – Music & Arts Interviews

The Note Show is a creative journey where host Joshua Note returns to chat life and art with creative people across the world. We interview musicians, artists, comic book creators, novelists, directors, actors and anyone creative and bring you new people and experiences every week!  The Note Show is a Podcast for and featuring Creative Professionals from all walks of life. As long as it’s creative, it’s here on The Note Show.

The show’s host, Joshua Note, is a terrific interviewer who is also the author of a children’s book due for release in 2015.  In addition, Joshua studied classical composition and orchestration at Leeds College of Music and Leeds University, and in 2012 he produced a for-television animated series and worked on several projects for television and cinema.

Joshua Note, host of The Note Show

Joshua Note, host of The Note Show

In his role as the host of The Note Show, Joshua asks intelligent questions about what it means to be a creative person in modern times, and his interviews are always fascinating!  My thanks to Joshua and the staff of The Note Show – I had a great time!

A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC wins a Global Music Award (GMA Book Award)

The Global Music Awards has presented a Gold Medal Award of Excellence as a GMA Book Award this year to the book that has been judged as exceptional in the field of music.  I’m very proud that my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, has received the GMA Book Award!

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As the GMA Book Award winner, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music has been awarded the Global Music Awards medallion.  The GMA medallion was designed for the GMAs by the Northwest Territorial Mint, creators of the official US Presidential Inaugural Medals, the Medal of Honor, the National Medal of Science and the Pulitzer Prize. GMA Awards feature the art of Thomas Hart Benton, who is considered the “Mark Twain” of American art.  The Global Music Awards is an international awards program honoring the music industry through the recognition of unique voices and talented international musical artists.  

Thanks so much to the judging panel of the Global Music Awards for this wonderful honor!  I’m very excited to be a recipient of the GMA Book Award!

A second printing (ALREADY!!) for A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC!

Friends, I’m very proud to announce that my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, has just gone to the printer for its second printing!  The first printing has already depleted, and now it’s nearly sold out — so the MIT Press will now be sending a whole fresh batch of books to retail outlets everywhere!

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Around nine months ago, my book made its first appearance.  It’s been a fantastic journey this past nine months, and I’m grateful for the numerous appearances on the Amazon bestsellers lists, dozens of enthusiastic customer testimonials on Amazon, and wonderful reviews from publications like Music Connection Magazine, Sound on Sound and music journalist extraordinaire Jon Burlingame!

As my book now enters its second printing, I am thrilled to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to everyone who has supported my book, as well as those tremendously generous souls who have spread the word about it!  This second printing is a direct result of your enthusiasm and support, and I can’t thank you all enough!!

It’s the second printing, everybody… let’s PARTY!!!