The Beat Goes On

The Beat Goes On
Play On: The Composers Behind Today's Game Music

Russ Pitts | 16 Jan 2007 07:00
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"If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die."
-William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

That game music and popular music are two separate beats, banged out on two separate drums, sounds, at first, like one of those obvious truths that are impossible to ignore. Like the fact that Liberace was gay. Popular music is what you listen to when you have a choice. Game music is what you turn down so that you can listen to your popular music instead, right? But to anyone with an appreciation of the myriad musical techniques and influences at work in even the most pedestrian pop jingle, the line begins to blur.

Music is music, whether constructed for the benefit of a game developer, a toothpaste manufacturer or a record label. The techniques, the mathematics and aesthetics of the thing - the songs, if you will - remain the same. And no matter who you are, no matter what music you're making, it's all hard work. It's all effort.

The myth of the musician who taught himself to play guitar, in a garage, without ever learning a single phrase of notation, is mostly that: a myth. The legend of the open-shirted, flared-cuff-wearing rock god, spotting a blonde bombshell across the crowded bar and composing a power ballad in her name, right there on the spot, is just that: a legend. And the clich

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