Video game music lovers can probably recognize a video game track pretty quickly, even if it’s one they haven’t heard before. Even though video game music comes in a huge variety of styles and genres (which is part of why I love it), there are musical elements that tend to be very common in many tracks, common enough that many of them have become (well-loved) tropes. Today, I’ll be discussing rhythm, and specifically I’ll be taking a look at one of video game music’s favorite tropes: 5-beat patterns.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of film adaption of Mortal Kombat, which blew away screens on August 18th, 1995 and proved that game-based movies weren’t destined to be steaming piles of crap. (Its sequel, unfortunately, undid a lot of that progress but thankfully we’ve also seen other media depict MK favorably) It’s been two decades, and I still have a hard time thinking of any actor that could possibly portray the creepy badassedness of Shang Tsung more than Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, or a better fight scene in a game-based-movie than Johnny Cage vs. Scorpion.
In terms of the game itself, Mortal Kombat never had more than a handful of themes within the three titles it’d had by the point of the movie’s release that really stuck with me too much, other than tracks such as Mortal Kombat 2‘s “The Dead Pool” or Mortal Kombat 3‘s “The Pit”. The movie, on the other hand, sported an original soundtrack that really changed both how I felt about music in fighting games, and introduced me to some new genres of music I hadn’t explored before. It’s that music that I want to give props to after 20 years.
Based on our discussion about organizing video game music, it looks like a lot of us still keep folders and files meticulously arranged on our PCs. While that may seem like the obvious answer to this community question there are more services, software and sites to play music on than ever before. Some people want to take it all with them, some want to ditch the dedicated music player and stream solely from their phone. Some spend all day at a computer and stream from the web. So, how do you listen to your video game music? I’ll start.
Through the 90’s I used Winamp on PC almost exclusively. It provided a ton of customization and grew to support all kinds of file formats, visualizers and extensions. If I was driving I had an array of burnt CDs for every mood. In 2008 I got a Zune 120 because I wanted all my music with me at all times (and because I don’t love Apple). Commuting 30 minutes every day to and from a retail job, it became my daily driver for music and podcasts. The companion PC software is still one of the most beautiful music managers I’ve ever used but it was never as full-featured as I wanted. Soon I purchased MediaMonkey to rip, tag and organize my music and I have just recently started using MusicBee because — gosh — it’s pretty. I also use PowerAmp on my phone but I only keep a small contingent of new albums and 5-star favorites on there most of the time.
As the last decade has brought dozens of streaming sites and radio apps to every platform, I began dabbling here and there. Bandcamp has been a wonderful revelation for me, although I probably listen to full albums for too long before finally buying them. I’ve just recently begun using YouTube when I want to check out an unfamiliar game’s soundtrack and I even started using Spotify on the PlayStation 4, although that’s usually for non-video game music.
So that’s me, what about you? Fill us in on how you listen to game music and what you use to play it in the comments. I’m really looking forward to seeing how people do things completely differently than I.
Looks like it’s time to check out another new site that aims to collect and curate the world’s music. Soundsgood.co is a French site that’s been around since October of 2014 that emphasizes curated playlists and big, modern visual designs. It also hopes to minimize the work of those building playlists by matching up tracks across an array of services. Say you found a great track on Soundcloud but you’ve already built a playlist on Spotify. Or you’ve got a great collection on YouTube but some of your links mysteriously disappear. Soundsgood currently connects to YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and Deezer with support in the works for Rhapsody/Napster, Rdio, Xbox Music and Beats Music.
While it sounds great for French hipsters looking for a playlist of dream-pop for their Summer music festival, how does it fare for those of the video game persuasion? Surprisingly, Ubisoft is already there as a music label with playlists from Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity. Beyond that, the pickings are slim but the playlists are pretty good.
Galway to the Galaxy highlights Martin Galway’s Commodore 64 work which is almost completely foreign to me. Bit-nique is an eclectic collection of SNES, PC and arcade favorites from the 90’s. Chiptune Porn is a huge playlist full of the usual suspects and BAGARRE features 90 tracks from one-on-one fighters and character action games. If I may be so bold, I’ll include my own playlist I made while checking out the site for this post. Lounge Land 1-1 is a collection of original pieces and remixes with a jazzy lounge vibe. It’s a playlist I’ve been meaning to make for a long time and Soundsgood gave me the motivation to finally do it.
Despite the slight language barrier of some pages, Soundsgood is really easy to use. Playlists and channels are featured with huge images and the persistent player offers all the controls you’d expect including a little view of the YouTube videos. Something about it inspires artistic creativity even if you’re just pasting in links to Twisted Metal music; it’s very French in that regard. Have any playlists of your own to share? Maybe dress them up on your own Soundsgood page or just link us in the comments.
When he’s not busy producing some of my favorite bangin’ video game remixes, DJ Cutman can be found playing through a ton of games on his YouTube channel. It’s here that he’s launched a new series called SmashTalk where he chats with other personalities from the gaming community while they play a competitive game.
The pilot episode features comedian/songwriter Brentalfloss and is as amusing as you’d expect for an interview conducted during a game of Mario Kart 8. Alongside complaints about red koopa shells there’s a good discussion about Brentalfloss’ academic education, his favorite childhood games and a message to others trying to break into the YouTube scene. He also lays out the history behind Wario while winning a race; the guy is talented. Check it out up above or over on YouTube.
This is a plea for help as much as it is a conversation starter. When MP2s (and soon after, MP3s) took off in the 90’s I started converting cassette tapes and CDs to digital files. For mainstream music it was simple enough: Aerosmith is rock, Ace of Base is pop, and Tchaikovsky is classical. There’s loads of sub genres you can debate over but I think most would agree on the basics. When it came to video game music, though, I wasn’t sure how to keep things straight.
Ultimately, I decided that whichever platform I played a game on was where its music would go. Want to listen to Aero the Acro-Bat? Navigate to ‘Music > Game > Sega > Genesis’ and there it is. Nevermind that it also came out on the SNES. This scheme has stuck with me for nearly twenty years but as game music evolves I think it may be time for a change. Remixes, covers and chiptune artists who are inspired by their favorite games make it harder to organize by console alone. My system gets even muddier when a console exclusive like Peggle 2 debuts on Xbox One — where I go crazy tracking down the music and cataloging it — and then jumps to Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and eventually PC.
I’ve never had many people to bounce this off of so now that I can address the OSV audience I’m curious: how do you organize your game music collection? Alphabetically? By style, composer, platform? Or does it even matter with software that searches through file tags by whatever criteria you throw at it? Let us know in the comments, I’m really interested in how everyone keeps it all straight.
One of the ladies behind the scenes of the music of several games and films has released her sophomore concept album full which details a sci-fi epic journey through music.
Penka Kouneva has credits to several games, including score production on Gears of War 3 and the co-composer of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands as well as orchestration of several Hollywood films including Elysium. Having released her first concept album, A Warrior’s Odyssey in 2012, Kouneva successfully Kickstarted her second album, The Woman Astronaut last year, with the album releasing through Hollywood soundtrack label Varese Sarabande.
“THE WOMAN ASTRONAUT is an original concept album, presented in a cinematic orchestral-electronica style, telling the story of the life journey of an astronaut: adolescence-homeland, young adult, and maturity.”
The 14-track album is still on pre-order, but will release on July 10th on the label’s website for $14.95.
The Woman Astronaut - Website
To learn more about the composer, visit her website.
We’re in that age where we want everything at our fingertips without the need to go searching too extensively. We subscribe to feeds and bookmark databases so we always know where we can go for all of our information and news on any particular topic.
Streaming has become a popular thing in this age where traditional radio is becoming quickly antiquated. When you have the ability to create and stream nearly any amount of any genre of music, why limit yourself to stations that cater to a larger demographic? Video game music is no different, with entire online stations dedicated to just game music and VGM arrangements. So where are some of the best places to go to get your steady game music fix?
The last day of the Unraveled: Tale of the Shipbreaker’s Daughter Kickstarter is about to start, and with only about half their goal made, they’re looking to attract any RPG fans into taking a look at what they’re all about.
The game sports a $15,000 goal with musicians Tarissa Tavelier, Brian Coffi, and Mattias Verbinnen providing for the basic game’s soundtrack. Stretch goals feature more musical talent entering in to provide their expertise. At $40,000, Dale North (Silent Horror, Dragon Fanatasy Book II) will provide composing for the game and at $50,000, Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta will throw his talent into the game’s soundtrack as well.
Kikuta-san has his own thoughts on the game project and the opportunity to compose for Unraveled:
The project has many tiers for donation rewards, but for those looking to bust through the stretch barriers and get legends like Kikuta-san onboard with the project, you’ll want to give the project a good look-through.
Unraveled: Tale of the Shipbreaker’s Daughter – Kickstarter Page
The laddies (and lassies) over at Sumthin Else Music Works seem intent on saving you a bit ‘o the green this March (Okay, that’s as far as I’ll take the St. Patrick’s stuff). Until March 31st, you can get 25% off any video game soundtrack under their label by using the promo code: “sumthinglucky“. This is a pretty sweet deal, as they’ve got a lot of good game soundtrack albums to offer, as we’ve touched upon in past news and reviews. Game OSTs such as:
There’s a ton more than those listed too including a bunch more vintage OSTs, so be sure to take advantage of the sale and bolster your soundtrack collection.
Sumthin Else Music Works – Website
Over the past couple of years I have been growing my soundtrack CD collection and picking up things that I always wanted but missed out on because they were out of print, or a limited edition release. There are game music collectors around the world that occasionally decide its time to thin out their collection or start to convert to digital because they don’t have the space for CDs anymore. In this article I will share the locations of where I’ve found some great deals, and where you can too. I also want to know where you’ve found a rare item, or your experience buying game music online. It’s time to start shopping, click here to find out
One thing I love about the video game and VGM community is the often overwhelming outpouring of support for fellow fans and enthusiasts. In this case, 16-year old music and video game fan John (aka:DarthAurelius) was diagnosed with inexplicable total renal failure. Neither of John’s kidneys are working properly and he has been confined to needing regular dialysis treatments to help flush toxins out of his blood like his kidneys should be doing. Now, this is an ailment that afflicts many, young and old, within our world every day. John, it appears, has some guardian angels looking to help at least this one young man have a second lease on life.
Operation 1-UP is a charity arrangement album looking to help contribute to the raising of funds that John needs to help acquire a new kidney. Medical treatment both prior to and after receiving a new kidney is not cheap, especially when waiting on a donor list and needing dialysis multiple times a week for several hours. Thus, a group of musicians and gaming fans have created a 21-track arrangement album dedicated to helping raise awareness of John’s condition and help bridge the gap between well-wishers and John’s medical treatment goals. Artists such as Super Guitar Bros., MissionGuitar, Motion Ocean and several others have donated arrangements from Super Metroid, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy VII and more towards the cause.
You can check out the album and cause for yourself and either pick up the album or throw a bit of money towards John’s treatment and help out.
You can also learn about other programs to help fight Kidney Disease and organ donation at the National Kidney Foundation.