Programmed Baroque ’n’ Roll: Composition Techniques for Video Game Music on the Nintendo Entertainment System
Gutierrez Rojas, F.M.
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The goal of this thesis is to explore the correlation between the advantages and limitation of the NES sound chip, and the released NES video game music. It appears that many musical scores of NES games rely on contrapuntal and polyphonic composition techniques akin to music from the Baroque and Classical period. The question is to what extent the sound chip’s limitations are the reason why NES video game composers used those composition techniques. How does the video game hardware affect the video game composer’s options to compose? While studies have been done on the music hardware of game consoles, they mainly answer the technological aspects of video game music, not the compositional aspects. This thesis wants to address the questions unanswered. To do this, several composition techniques that are possible on the NES hardware will be explored; they will give an overview of the counterpoint and harmony that is possible on the NES. Furthermore, the development of the sound chip and its purpose will be juxtaposed between a deterministic and voluntaristic view on technology. The remediated nature of writing new or pre-existing music for the NES will also be discussed. All the musical examples will include harmonic analyses and all the NES music that has been analysed will be available in the Appendix.