The Impact of Sound Technology on Video Game Music Composition in the 1990s
Gutierrez Rojas, F.M.
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis investigated how far the ongoing improvements on sound technology democratised the compositional platform for video game music. The implementation of user interfaces for music software as well as the introduction of music data standardisations (such as General MIDI) and CD technology (which connected the process of the video game music production with that of popular music) in the early 1990s made the platform accessible for musicians outside the video game industry, as less programming skills were necessary to work with said technologies. However, since computer literacy was a characteristic of video game composers prior to the democratisation, defining what is a video game composer had become more complex. For example, it is not straightforward to regard film composers who scored music for video games also as video game composers. Other video game music characteristics that waned due to improving sound technology were the audible limitations of the sound hardware in use (such as the synthetic sounds that mimic real instruments). These limitations, a “deterministic” aspect of the technology (Taylor 2001, 16), became stylistic traits of video game music, a “voluntaristic” aspect (16). Both aspects were further observed to see whether video game music is a product of its sound technology or the other way round. Lastly, I compared the development of video game music production to that of film music for their production processes are very similar. With the comparison, film music research can easily connect to and be used for video game music. The research from musicologists in the field of video games and sound production as well as the interviews that I held with video game composers who had witnessed these technological developments were used for these findings.