Thursday, July 14, 2005



This is for my own kids and their friends. Great news! From the BBC:
The sound of leading orchestras playing the music from the Tomb Raider game, or the scores of Frogger and Pacman, may be heard all over the world if a new venture in the US proves a success.

Symphony orchestras will be playing the music from games like Halo
The dramatic soundtracks of today's video games are a far cry from the time when arcades resounded to the noise of repetitive bleeps and jingles.

Advances in technology mean music can now drive in-game action and stir players' emotions, much like the score of a Hollywood blockbuster. In the US, two renowned video game composers are trying to tap in to gamers' growing attachment to the soundtrack of their favourite software.

Last week, in the first of a series of nationwide concerts, an audience of more than 10,000 heard the famous Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra playing the hits of the pixelated world.

Against a backdrop of images and lights, classically-trained musicians turned their hand to the themes from sci-fi epic Halo, Tomb Raider, the Mario games, plus a medley of old-school favourites like Pong, Space Invaders and Pacman.
We have discussed this before, the puzzling inaction of orchestras taking advantage of real interest in music. I studied music as my minor at the university and I recall with horror the attempts to force me to listen to annoying, hellish modern stuff that was no fun to play and nearly intolerable otherwise.

I will note here that Japanese anime/game music has many modern components even using 12 tonality without being annoying because it is in small doses and fits the framework of what is happening. But I notice that my response to melody is as always, very strong, namely, when something divinely lovely happens, it causes joyous feelings to radiate from within which brings pleasure.

Ah, pleasure! The forgotten component of music!

As for the light show: my daughter and I got to see "The Wall" done to Pink Floyd in the NYC Museum of Natural History's planetarium with lasers and all sorts of fun stuff. It was fabulous. When I was a child, I saw Holst's "The Planets", a fun piece, done at night with a slide show of the universe and our galaxy. Loved it so much, when I choreographed one dance, probably one of the audiences' favorite if applause is a gage, where slides of Voyager photos were projected on a black stage with a black backdrop and you could only see it when I moved about with the 100 yards of highly reflective guazy cloth I used, recreating Loie Fuller's famous style of dances 100 years previously.

All done to "Au Clair de Lune" by Debussy.
"Video games have become a new way of telling stories, and music a fundamental part of that.Mr Wall began working in the industry 10 years ago, with an eye to the expanding area of game soundtracks.

In the early days, technology was a limiting factor. But as consoles and computers advanced so to did the sophistication of in-game sound. When Mr Wall composed the score for Myst III, he used a full symphony orchestra and choir.

The soundtrack was packaged on a separate audio CD with 250,000 special editions, while more than 30,000 CD's of the game's music were sold online.

"That's when I realised there was a big market out there," he says.
I am so pleased Mr. Wall and the other composers of appropriate music have found a place to grow and flourish. Video games and anime are the opera houses of today. I remember an early Final Fantasy environment. You could go to an opera house and watch a pig sing on stage. It was hilarious, outrageous and a great way to bring opera into a kid's life.

Warner Bros cartoons back in the forties and fifties had a resident composer who wove opera, symphonic music and his own, very modernist, creations into memorable wholes. The studio had a small symphony orchestra that rendered the music very beautifully.

We look forwards to the tours of Mr. Wall's show. We hope there will be more like it. Enjoy!

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