Music in Video Games

From the Always Learning list, October 12, 2007:

Sandra Dodd wrote:

Marty's sitting next to me playing Oblivion, an X-Box game. He said he thought he had played just about all the scenarios in the game, but discovered thirteen or so more. He was happy about that.

A certain theme came on and I said "I like that." The art's beautiful and the music, in that game. I've loved the music since the NES Mario games, though, when it was all tinky and beepy.

Marty said he could tell me in just a minute who wrote it, and I asked if he was at the end of the game. No, this game doesn't have an ending, but there's a credits link, so we watched the credits and talked about the people's names. American looking names. Maybe German and other northern European, or maybe just Americans with those kinds of names.

Down below is what we found, in just moments, along with pictures of the twenty or so video games whose soundtracks he's done, and lots of music on the site.

But I have two more stories first. A few years ago Dan Vilter, Kathy "sofar8" [Kathy Ward] and I did a workshop at the HSC conference in Sacramento. It was well received to standing-room only, but was also reviled by a few hecklers and I felt pointed not invited back for a couple of years (could've been my imagination, but part of the objection and negativity was definite). When people were coming into the room and leaving, we were playing music from Final Fantasy (IX, I think), which Kirby owned on CD and sent along with me.

When Holly and I were at the Traaseth's last week, Kelli had some piano music for something from Final Fantasy or Halo... (Kelli, fill in, please and could you post that YouTube link with the mood lighting? 🙂)

So here is something very thought-provoking and moving, from

Jeremy Soule began life as a passionate composer of symphonic music at a very early age. Since the age of five, Soule took an intense interest in the symphony orchestra. “The Orchestra is the ultimate instrument. I find that it has the ability to define nearly every human emotion in existence” stated Soule from his Cascadian studio in the Great Northwest of America.

Mastering the art of orchestration, melodic composition and emotional context was no easy task for the British Academy Award winning composer...

“Every day is a challenge. I am not able to take anything for granted when it comes to music. Music is a literal language that is a life study for me. I find that the natural inspiration behind sound starts with the beauty of the human spirit. Everything in music is a reflection of who we are in Creation. Composers draw from the same sorts of places as other disciplines of the Arts in that we are all connected to some greater cause and energy. Defining our place in this energy is the beauty of our Art.”

That video games could be considered “Art” was unthinkable over 30 years ago during the debut of the first game machines such as the Magnavox Odyssey. The sights and sounds of the mid-eighties machines also did little to hint at the coming revolution. Today, video games feature development budgets in the tens of millions of dollars and often command some of the top talent in an ever-growing $20 billion industry.

For over a decade, Soule has provided music for some of the most successful and admired games of all time. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Harry Potter, Total Annihilation, SOCOM: The Navy Seals and the Elder Scrolls series can all attribute music to him. His versatility as a composer has also been demonstrated from his critically acclaimed traditional Asian score for Guild Wars Factions to his work with children’s properties such as Rugrats and Lemony Snicket and the Series of Unfortunate Events.

The year 2006 witnessed one of the best years yet for Soule with such critical and commercial success coming from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Guild Wars: Factions/Nightfall, Prey and the World War II epic Company of Heroes. Soule won the inaugural MTV Video Music Award in August for “Best Score” and was honored with his third career British Academy Award nomination in October. In November, Soule won another “Best Score” award from Spike TV and was the recipient of numerous press awards such as Game Daily’s “most iPod- worthy score”.

In feature films, Soule’s Walden Logo was used at the start of the $744 million earning film: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. His work with Narnia also continued with director Norman Stone’s critically acclaimed film C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia.

In concerts, Soule’s music was a component of the successful “Play Symphony” tour that featured prominently Elder Scrolls as well as Prey as part of their concert program. Performances were conducted with symphony orchestras in Vienna, Stockholm, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Toronto. Future performances are scheduled in Stockholm, Sydney and Singapore. Visit for more information. A special note to our readers...

“I love my fans—especially young composers. I encourage anyone that wishes to contact me to write me here at this website. It may take me a little while to reply to everyone but be assured that I will respond.”

—Jeremy Soule

Kelli Traaseth responded:
***When Holly and I were at the Traaseth's last week, Kelli had some piano music for something from Final Fantasy or Halo... (Kelli, fill in, please and could you post that YouTube link with the mood lighting? )**** It's from Final Fantasy XI, To Zanarkand is the song, composed by Nobuo Uematsu. It is beautiful.

Here's the youtube with the version I'm trying to find music to, probably a lost cause though. I think this guy put some different arrangements together and added in some of his own. I've found a few different variations but not as good as his, (dang!) I'll keep working on it though.

The mood lighting that Sandra mentions is really cute 🙂 Final Fantasy X Piano Collections - To Zanarkand (see below)

I also like a lot of different music from video games. I liked Crystal Chronicles, Final Fantasies, and there's some Halo stuff that's pretty good too.

Thanks for the info on Soule Sandra, I'm going to check it out. We have Oblivion but Alec gets a little freaked out playing it. He says some of it is just too much for him.

And here's another video that Sandra shared with us that others might like too: Nintendo A Capella (or below and Kirby first showed that to me. —Sandra)

It's a Nintendo a capella piece, really amazing 🙂


Original discussion at Always Learning, October 2007


Benefits of Videogaming