Video games and the symphony

Enjoying video game scores revived concert halls and interest in traditional classical music.G

It seems that lost are the days of "Moonlight Sonata" and replaced with "Song of Storms." The popularity of video game soundtracks causes a shift in what music people decide to go out to enjoy in concert halls. 

Some even consider game scores and their ability to draw in crowds to have "saved" the modern symphony, and many establishments have replaced the works of great composers Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven to scores from game composers nearly everyone can recognize:

  • Koji Kondo - Composer for Nintendo known for the Super Mario series and Legend of Zelda series.
  • Jason Hayes - Composer for Blizzard, known for the World of Warcraft series.
  • Harry Gregson-Williams - Known for movies like The Chronicles of Narnia franchise and Shrek franchise, and games like the Metal Gear Solid series
Revolutionizing the Concert Hall

The music isn't just about setting the mood for game scenes, but are transformed, iconic scores that are as identifiable to fans as though the composers were their favorite rock band.

Fans have more than doubled the attendance of international concert halls that play Legend of Zelda tracks in their program compared to those who play only Classical works.

Attendees have also put away their tuxes and cocktail dresses for cosplay. Performers sometimes join them. Mock battles, marriage proposals, and even fireworks have accompanied these events.

Scores in games share the same purpose of the classics; to tell a story and be emotionally influential, but now perform for modern generations through an interactive platform.

A Saving Grace

It is the gaming platform that has even revived interest in classically instrumental careers and attending performance establishments.

In some cases, it even helped keep some afloat during the rough economy.

In 2010, the Nashville Symphony was struggling through a recession and flood, nearly closing them down. On top of performing game scores, they also sold action figures and other merchandise.

They received $13,000 and kept their doors open.

Larry Tucker, vice president of artistic administration local to Nashville, told The Wall Street Journal:

“Usually if you sell $2,000 or $3,000, it’s a good night for a pops performance. It’s a truly unique audience.”

The Big Picture

Today, people are being introduced to traditional music more frequently through the video game medium. It provides interest in music, its people, and performing establishments.

It eventually comes full circle: some video games place classical works in their soundtracks.

If you consider the game Eternal Sonata, then it is classic scores that are the foundation to build an entire game all around the composer Chopin.

So whether you game for the story or the action, music usually has something to do with your favorite part. Game scores have influenced a revival in a once dying interest in traditional instrumental concerts.

It brings people together; it provides entertainment, careers, and a sense of nostalgia. 

Does it do that for you? Something else? Name drop your favorite song from a game and why in the comments.

Published Oct. 20th 2015
View Comments
  • Thewritevictor
    It's about time video game music gains more recognition. It's been casually helping gamers save the world for decades, it will definitely wow at orchestras or concerts. I listen to the London Philharmonic play video game OST's all the time, and any other orchestra that plays them honestly. It's the best music to write to in my opinion.

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