As an aspiring composer, I can tell you with true passion that the "Three Decades of Music" panel at PAX Prime 13 was an inspirational hit and quite possibly one of the highest energy panels PAX had to offer at Seattle this past week. Featuring C418 (best known for Minecraft), Danny Baranowsky (best known for Super Meat Boy), Jimmy Hinson (best known for Mass Effect 2), and the "living legend" Grant Kirkhope (best known for Banjo Kazooie/Tooie), fans from all over were treated to the experience of hearing opinions and stories from a harmonious collection of indie as well as AAA title composers.
The mood was almost instantaneously set as the panel began; Hinson began humming a note, and before long Kirkhope, Baranowsky, and C418 joined in, creating a beautiful chord that began to change shape over the course of about ten seconds before slowly dying out. But in those few seconds, the audience and panelists became tied together by the silky yet forever mailable and indestructible thread that is music. Beyond nuggets of information handed out about breaking into the industry and the evolution that has taken place in game music, the overall atmosphere of the panel was very playful. From time to time, panelists would lovingly jab one another over different aspects of their careers or musical aesthetics. But the core of the discussion was much more than a friendly roast of C418's relatively young age and Hinson's success with the sometimes trod-on series, Call of Duty.
The information passed on to the FULL HOUSE was very heartfelt and meaningful. Kirkhope and crew touched on important subjects such as the in-determined importance of documented musical training as well as what life can be like composing music for a your bread money.
This was taken a few minutes after they capped the line; maybe about 30-40 minutes before the panel started
As a member of the composer (well aspiring composer) community, it was immensely inspiring to see the flocking of game music enthusiasts to this one panel among the masses. It's a reminder that music is becoming more and more and actively recognized part of what makes games great. And It's a reminder that there are others out there like me (and probably you) that have either a deep desire to get into writing music for the many game titles just waiting to be created, as well as those who just love the accompanying sounds and songs that are crafted to embellish the mood of a journey or classic gaming moment. It's not just some weird hobby that someone may have developed over the many years of playing games. IT'S A THING.
All of the panelists touched on their musical influences and favorite soundtracks; another grand insight into the minds behind the melodies. The panel felt tragically short, and the audience could have easily been captivated for many more hours by the collective charm that these four had to offer. If I had to share one gleaming moment of this panel with those who couldn't be there, I would share a funny, yet very real moment brought on by Mr. Kirkhope. In response to the in-determined necessity for documented musical training he replied resolute, "If you can hear it, you can write it"; a very simple yet eloquent idea that artists sometimes forget. This was later jokingly quoted by Baranowsky as having been the "most inspirational thing he'd ever heard you [Kirkhope] say". But it still rang clear and true a thought, reverberating within the hearts of the audience.
My opinion is probably a bit biased, being a person who has a deep and strong rooted love for not only Grant Kirkhope's many compositions, but also C418's "mine-bliss" he created for Minecraft as well as the work he did with FZ: Side F. But this panel in particular was one of the most rewarding experiences of PAX13. And if they do another next year with any composers from the industry, I would say simply this: DON'T MISS OUT! PUT THIS ON TOP OF YOUR PAX PLAYLIST! I've said before,and I'll say it again. Music is a language we all speak fluently, and what better a way to come together at PAX than through something as alive and binding as music?