Old White Guys Analysis

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Timothy Hayden Dennison Dr. Phill IMS 317 12/02/16 Old White Guys and Video Game Music Old, white, European dead guys (OWG’s) get a bad rap, but between 1650 and 1750 (the Baroque period), they laid the theoretical groundwork for the soundtracks to Super Mario Bros., the Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and other such classics, in the chiptune style. A polyphonic writing style, based on repetitive melodic fragments that develop and change, with a strong rhythmic drive and varied instrumentation: these are all defining characteristics of both chiptune soundtracks and Baroque dance suites. Additionally, modern composers use the rules of Baroque polyphony to create adaptive music engines for more immersive games. If Baroque music is a train, its…show more content…
Polyphony is the musical result of layering various separate melodies on top of each other such that they sound good together. Instead of chaining together fully-developed chunks of music, a composer can write a Baroque-style bassline and rhythm section, then add melodies on top using polyphonic rules. Some modern games even randomly generate the melodies based on the player’s movements and actions. For example, swinging a sword or collecting an item could each be associated with a separate melody that stacks onto the bassline in a pleasing…show more content…
Instead the bassline acquires a rhythm all its own, becoming the true melody of the piece, with repeating melodic fragments that propel the piece forward layered on top. This technique has been used by Nobuo Uematsu in writing battle music for the Final Fantasy series. The bassline (or other additional low instrument if the bass is extremely low) play alternating on-beat, off-beat patterns which produces an adrenaline rush. Though some OWGs might not be happy about their techniques being used for “frivolous entertainment”, most would be excited given how video games give modern composers innovative opportunities (and worthy compensation) they would never find in film or academia. The rules that underpin Baroque music provide structure and inspiration to modern composers to recreate the music of the chiptune era and create the future of video game soundtracks: adaptive music. VENUE NOTES I wrote this article to bring more attention to Baroque counterpoint theory, which I think is the future of video game adaptive music. It would be appropriate for submission to Gamasutra.com, where anyone can upload a blog post concerning video game development. Many blog posts in the audio department are in the 700-1300 word

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