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A Critical Ear: Analyzing Music In Video Games


My article on Final Fantasy VI’s “Dancing Mad” got a lot more attention than what I was expecting, and it seemed like a lot of the readers in the comments wanted to see me write more on the subject of video game soundtracks. So I finally decided to start a regular, monthly series here in my blog doing just that. In this column, called A Critical Ear, I plan on analyzing specific soundtracks and songs in games that are particularly memorable or well-crafted, and explain why they stick with the player even after the game has been finished.

Like any audio-visual medium, video games rely on music to build a specific atmosphere, mood, or impression that the player can understand and respond to emotionally. By having a better understanding of the music underlying the main action of the narrative or gameplay, one can arrive at a deeper understanding of characterization, general mood, or even foreshadowing that may not be readily apparent otherwise. Through this series, I hope that I can give you all a new way to enjoy playing through games, and better illustrate how the background music fits into that experience as a whole.

The (official) first episode of the series should be up later this week. I just wanted to provide a quick introduction here to explain the purpose of this series before jumping straight in.
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About SWE3tMadnessone of us since 6:04 PM on 01.10.2008

-About Me-

A recent graduate in Biology, neverless my first love in entertainment and media has always been video games, even though I don't get a lot of time to play recent ones now. I still enjoy following the industry and gushing about the latest Nintendo releases.

A Critical Ear: Analyzing Music in Video Games

If there's one thing that I like more than talking about video games, it's talking about music in video games. As a classically trained pianist that has been playing for more than twelve years, I take a look at some of my favorite soundtracks and how they contribute to the gaming experience as a whole.

#0: Introduction
#1: Villain Themes and Leitmotifs (April, 2010)
#2: Anti-Music (June, 2010)
#3: They Wasted a Perfectly Good Song (July, 2010)
#4: Fight On! (August, 2010)
#5: More Than Just Noise: Nostalgia and Homecoming (September, 2010 Monthly Musing)
#6: While I Play Unfitting Music (November, 2010)
#7: Thinking Outside the Soundchip (December/January 2010)

-Other Promoted Articles-

Using Post-Modernism to Reinvent the Horror Genre
Final Fantasy VI's Dancing Mad - A Critical Analysis
The Wrong Thing: The Root Of All Evil
Other Worlds Than These: Pokèmon
Music and Rhythm Games: A Classically Trained Pianist's Perspective
Feel the Hatred: Zant (Twilight Princess)
Instant Replay: Guitar Hero III
The Start of the Affair: Super Smash Bros. 64