Melodies of Life

By Nightsong

Music. No one can deny its effect on humankind - how many people do you know of that like no music whatsoever - even if we disagree on its importance/what said effects are. It is an accepted and respected art form among all types of people.

Music in video games. It is - in our country, at least - generally ignored, and is looked on by the masses (when they bother to think about it) as some sort of 'hack' work with no real artistic depth. In short, it's seen as a sort of soulless medium, designed to fill the silent tedium of video gaming with some sort of noise.

That's a stupid opinion, isn't it? The music in video games may have once been created as simple static, but times have changed since the Commodore 64 was the cutting edge of entertainment (a number of younger gamers I can think of in fact have never even heard of this system). Now this music is a cinematic tool, inspiring and creating moods ranging all across the spectrum of emotion.

Now, some say that in this way it emulates the music played in American cinema today. I couldn't disagree more. Today, most films fall into one of two categories as far as music is concerned: one, they simply license outside artists for use of songs typically heard on popular radio and TRL (the latter, of course, being hell personified and given an idiot to host it), or two, get some 'cinematic' composer to write a score for them. This score usually involves 'true' classical; many french horns and clarinets are required, and you can't have any sort of melody. Nay, melody would detract from the movie... nevermind the fact that they cue the music so low as to make it nigh-impossible to ehar anyway. Video game music is nothing like this, specifically not in the RPG. These songs are not all about having discomforting chords played for extended periods of time, nor are they intended for play below the audible range of human hearing. They create a mood by action; basically, they grab you early on with their key signature, then dance you through their complex melodies and bridges and choruses.

And this is the 'soulless' music? This is the art form that's being placed below easy-listening muzak and NPR-quality 'classical'? What insanity is this?

I will grant that this... idiocy is mainly limited to our own continent. In Japan, albums featuring video game music hit top ten lists. Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda are recognized, respected names. Albums of their work are available to be bought... albums that the more fanatical gaming fans such as myself are forced to import for extravagant prices because of the fact that not all countries realize the value of game music.

In all seriousness, it's opened up people to kinds of music they would not have otherwise liked. I've introduced friends who only listened to Alt-Rock to RPGs like Chrono Trigger or FF VI, and watched as they asked me if I knew track titles, so that they could download the songs. They burn CDs of the stuff constantly. Sure, they won't play it loudly in their car with the windows rolled down, but they'll still play it in their car.

And that's my main point. These people go to movies. They hear the 'film music' that's played in them (admittedly, it takes a bit of effort to hear much of it, but they catch some). Do they then turn around and go buy the overpriced soundtracks to these films? Not if it's got classical music on it. No no. That would be boring, and probaly result in bleeding ears. Sad thing is, even as a fan of most classical music, I couldn't agree with them more. But video game music is different. It stirs your heart, inspires you, moves you.

So get to those import sites and start buying video game soundtracks! Sure, it probably won't make anyone take them more seriously here in America, but if I know you, it'll give me something to borrow!


WARNING: Mr. Nightsong realizes you may not have appreciated his rant. But before you flame him, stop to realize that he may not appreciate Kefka's laugh effect from FF VI. If you manage to figure out how the hell that has anything to do with the flaming him, you may proceed to do so.

The Freezer Archives

This Page © Copyright 1997, Brian Work. All rights reserved. Thanks to Sax for his help with the layout. Do not take anything from this page without my consent. If you wish to contact an author, artist, reviewer, or any other contributor to the site, their email address can be found on their index page. This site is link-free, meaning you don't need to ask me if you'd like to link to it. Best viewed in 1024x768.