Will Gibbons on Authenticity and Video Game Music

Last night, my 9-year-old son was reading a book about pirates. All of a sudden, he started singing a pitch-perfect rendition of…something. After he got through the entire tune, he told me it was the tune from a particular level of a game called Plants vs. Zombies. The level in question has a pirate theme, thus the connection in his brain. The book reminded him of the game, but the music helped him connect the two activities. (And by the way, he hasn’t played the game in at least 3 months, which says something about how strong music associations can be!)

I will admit here publicly that the world of video games is completely foreign to me. But I KNOW many of you are not only gamers, but also have video game soundtracks and their hyperlink-like associations memorized. You may also have strong opinions about what the music should sound like. If you nodded yes to these assertions, then you should definitely take a look our newest Avid Listener feature essay by Will Gibbons called “How It’s Meant to be heard: Authenticity and Game Music.”

Here’s a teaser:

“I never thought I would be listed as the ‘Dungeonmaster’ in a concert program, much less for one of the world’s leading wind symphonies. Nevertheless, that was my title last March, when The Dallas Winds generously invited me to provide some on-stage commentary during a live concert of video game music. It was a thrilling evening—not only did I get to experience the ensemble up close, but I also got to speak publicly about one of my favorite topics to a large, enthusiastic, and diverse audience.

After the concert, I chatted with some audience members about what they had particularly enjoyed about the program. Though the responses varied, one refrain caught my attention: many listeners were excited to have heard their favorite game music ‘how it was meant to be heard.’ They seemed to mean that they preferred the music performed by a large, live ensemble instead of the original, electronic version—they felt, in other words, that the orchestral rendition was somehow more ‘authentic’…”

Read the full essay here. And stay tuned, because we have another essay by Will Gibbons coming your way in a few weeks!

Next week: another essay by me called “Poetic Protest: Women, Hip-hop, and Islam.”

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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