We’re continuing our spotlight on women in video game composing with one of the components of the Donkey Kong Country musical experience and beyond with Eveline Fischer! (Eveline Novakovic if you’re looking her up under her married name, but we’ll be referencing her under the name she used when composing the majority of the works we’ll be listing) We’ll also highlight some of her non-composing works, including some voice work you may not have known was her!
And what good timing too, as the DKC Mix’t Ape ’94 arrangement album just released today with much of Fischer’s work arranged by several artists! How’s that for relevance?
The current climate of the video game world has been speckled with a fair bit of controversy over the role of women in the industry, both in-game and outside of games. No doubt, women have been involved with video games since the beginning, and one particular facet of the gaming industry that hasn’t gotten a lot of focus in regards to its diversity is video game music. Due to the fact that video game music is not as easily identifiable as being male or female-influenced, it’s sometimes very easy to go by without knowing just how much an impact female composers have had in gaming through its entire lifespan. Indeed, it in essence makes little difference what gender, race or creed a composer is, as their musical ability is what makes the games they compose for and creates their legacy with video game fans.
Thus, I decided I wanted to make a small series of spotlight features over the next couple of weeks, highlighting some of those female composers whose works are either well known or obscure, but nonetheless important to the history of gaming.
The first composer I wanted to focus on briefly doesn’t have a huge repertoire of game compositions under her belt, but the quality more than makes up for the quantity when it comes to Japanese composer Michiru Ōshima.
Here on OSV we primarily focus on soundtracks and remix albums for videogames. However, every once in a while we like to take a look at some of the music software that’s available for composers to implement in their virtual instrument libraries. Such is the case with today’s review. This time around we will be looking at Impact Soundworks new percussion library Rhapsody: Orchestral Percussion.
The software, as the name implies, is focused on providing a realistic orchestral percussion library for composers and musicians. You won’t be dealing with any synth or electronic drums in this program. The primary focus here is on acoustic instruments, both from western and eastern parts of the world. Impact Soundworks has created and released various types of instrument libraries over the years. These have included guitar libraries, vocal ensembles, and a hybrid synth program, the latter of which we reviewed on OSV earlier this year. This new instrument library was designed by Dickie Chapin & Andrew Aversa. Like their previous products, the program is designed to work with any DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) through the software application Kontakt 5. For this review, I’ll be examining the program, analyzing how well the instruments work, and the overall quality of the product for the end user. With all of that said, let’s take a look at Rhapsody: Orchestral Percussion. (more…)
It’s that time of the year when creepy music is what’s blaring on everyone’s stereos, be it from games, movies, television or what have you. Halloween is perfect for that niche portion of those who love all manner of spooky and scary to really indulge in the excessive amounts of what the season has to offer. What equally great about this time of year is that you usually get at least one new album from a band or group that focuses squarely on horror and scary-themed music, and The One Ups have decided to be the forerunner this season with Songs for the Recently Deceased.
This album features an assortment of tunes from a variety of games that are either fully immersed into the spooky and the horrific, or select stages that sport a creepy feel and fall into the category. It’s not just your Resident Evils and your Silent Hills, either; though they do make appearances. And of course, everything sports that smooth and chill tone that The One Ups are known for dishing out in high quality. So sit back, relax and let your brain switch to the mellow macabre.
In the mood for some Halloween themed remixes? The newest Danse Macabre album from Viking Guitar may have exactly what you are looking for. If you follow the videogame cover music of Viking Guitar, you may be familiar with their tradition of releasing a horror music album every October around Halloween. Each of the previous Danse Macabre volumes has covered music from horror games, horror movies, and even music of other bands. This latest entry aims to follow in that tradition.
This year’s new album, Danse Macabre III, includes covers of music from The Ring, Dead Space, Silent Hill, and Goosebumps. As with the previous entries, a wide collection of music artists and groups are contributing tracks to the album. A decent mix of music styles and genres are present as well, including classical, rock, and chiptune. This year’s contributors include the Videri String Quartet, Chernabogue, and Phonetic Hero among others. If you’re a fan of music from horror games and movies, this is an album you’ll want to check out. Danse Macabre III and the previous Danse Macabre volumes can all be found on the Viking Guitar Bandcamp page.
If you’re a big Nintendo fan, then chances are that you spent most of this past weekend playing the latest Super Smash Bros. game on the 3DS. To celebrate the newest installment of the franchise, a number of talented game composers and remixers have released a massive arrangement album for free. Here’s a little sample of their work below.
The album Harmony of Heroes covers music from the Super Smash Bros. franchise and the music from the games represented in the series. It’s a large and diverse library of game music to cover and this collection delivers. The album is a colossal 101 tracks of music. Styles range from light jazz and rock to electronic and orchestral. There’s over 7 hours of music for you to listen to and enjoy. You can check out the album at the Harmony of Heroes site, or grab it on their temporary torrent link, since the main site has been having issues due to the high levels of traffic.
Source: Harmony of Heroes
Over the past few months, there were a fair number of gaming conventions and festivals being held. MAGFest had a new event with MAGFest 8.5 in Washington DC; Portland, Oregon had the XOXO Festival, covering arts and technology; and of course PAX Prime was held at the end of August in Seattle, Washington. There was however another small festival that took place on September 14th in Boston, Mass. This was the Boston Festival of Indie Games.
This was the third year that the Boston Festival of Indie Games has been running. Held only on one day, the event is focused on board games and digital games from the local Boston indie game scene. The event also hosts lectures on various industry subjects, with a diverse collection of guests. This year had plenty of great stuff to see and do. While it was impossible to see and cover absolutely everything that happened this year, I would like to give a brief overview of the event. So with that said, let’s take a look at what the festival had on offer this time around. (more…)
A little over a week ago, OSV ran a story regarding Red Thread Games, the studio behind the upcoming Dreamfall Chapters, and a fan-requested music submission contest they had put together. We posted this article based on incomplete information; it didn’t take long before a storm hit our comments section, some sharply criticizing our site, others doubling down in an ill opinion of Red Thread Games.
Now, we at OSV generally don’t hold Masters or PhDs in Communication or Journalism, but we do pride ourselves on getting the story straight, even if that means having to give it a second go. It’s within that spirit that we now present to you our interview with Ragnar Tørnquist, director of Dreamfall Chapters and founder of Red Thread Games. I urge you to read it, especially if you were disappointed by the music contest’s existence and/or cancellation and all the rumors floating around it. We hope to set everything straight in this interview. (more…)
Creators of a new game documentary have launched a Kickstarter. The project titled Beep is intending to take a look at the history of game music and sound. Everything from the old school sounds of arcade games all the way to the games of today. The focus isn’t just on the music of these games. The documentary will also be an exploration of audio design, voice work, and the use of chiptune and other game sound technology outside of the gaming medium. A book will also accompany the documentary to supply more detailed information about the various subjects covered in the film.
There are already plans for interviews with major members of the game audio community. Raising money through Kickstarter will aid the creators in being able to travel and interview composers and sound designers. Several composers have already been named for interviews including Tommy Tallarico, Winifred Phillips, Shota Nakama, Peter McConnell, and many more.
Rewards for backers include copies of the documentary, book, soundtrack, t-shirts, and many other physical rewards. The Kickstarter has already raised over $15,000 of the needed $40,000 pledge goal. If this sounds like a project you’d like to see made, definitely check this Kickstarter out.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this album. I have listened to and reviewed game composers remixing game music before, but I have never reviewed an album of original compositions by game composers, that aren’t attached to any games. I admit I was dubious. Also, looking at the list of composers, I was only familiar with a few of them, most notably Akira Yamaoka, composer for the Silent Hill series. This album raised another question for me. Do I listen to game music because I associate the music with the game, or is the music good in its own right? I personally believe that there are elements of of both and I find an album comprised of original music from game composers to be very interesting. Will the music follow gaming tropes and conventions, or will the composers write music purely for the album and allow their music talents to flourish. Let’s find out what this “East meets West” album had to offer. (more…)
Last month we reported on a lawsuit being filed against the game developer Bungie by composer and audio director Marty O’Donnell. Bungie had fired O’Donnell “without cause” back in April and was refusing to pay money owed to the composer. Much of this pay included unused paid time off, sabbatical time, and other benefits. This past week, the two parties reached a settlement over the matter.
According to VentureBeat, O’Donnell will be receiving $38,385 for his unpaid time, including vacation time, plus another $38,385 for double damages, something that O’Donnell was seeking in his original suit. Adding up all of the legal fees on top of this, Bungie will be paying out $95,019.13 to the Halo composer.
Bungie has still not given a reason for firing O’Donnell and has declined to officially comment on the matter, as of this writing. Bungie’s newest IP Destiny, which O’Donnell was working on, is set to come out this fall. It will be interesting to see what has happened with the music and audio on the game in O’Donnell’s absence.
I feel that I must get one thing very clear before you continue to read this review. My speciality is piano music. I am a pianist, I listen to a lot of piano music, from Mozart to Debussy, and I go to piano concerts in London. I’m also as close to an expert on the use of the piano in games as you might get, from the triumphant fanfare like riff from Halo 3 to the myriad of Final Fantasy Piano albums. As a result, my standards may be unrealistically high. I also have a confession to make: I’ve never played Journey! I know I know, it’s on my to-do list. This is particularly heinous of me as not only is the game supposed to be amazing, but the soundtrack is said to be excellent as well. However, this might not be a bad thing for this review, as I will not be influence by the game or the original soundtrack. I will take the music at face value, in its own right, separate from its related media.
It’s interesting to note that the composer, Austin Wintory, seems to have had little to do with this album. Transfiguration has been arranged by the Laura Intravia, the singer in the last track, and performed by Robert Thies. In general I think this is a good thing because, as a composer myself, I know how hard it can be to separate myself from my own compositions. I prefer to arrange for other people so I can focus on the advantages and disadvantages of the instrument, rather than being influenced by my own work. So with that said, let’s take a look at Transfiguration. (more…)