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LONG BLOG

Video Games Live / "Metal Gear Solid Opening Theme" love

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Despite New York City being arguably one of the greatest cities in the world, it seems that video game concerts just don't seem to come here at all. Of course there was that one in nearby Philadelphia that conflicted with a trip out of the country, but I don't like to think about it.

As such, I am very happy that on Saturday, I will finally be attending my first video game concert to feature a full orchestra: Video Games Live at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. I will note that I did make it to the Eminence concert at Otakon last year, but that was just a string group and not the entirety of the orchestra, which I would have liked to see.

I do have some thoughts and preconceived notions of the concert series based on YouTube videos and bootleg recordings that I have had the opportunity to hear/see. Nonetheless, I intend to simply have a great time, content to know that after all these years of drooling over all the awesome concerts that Japan seems to get so many of, I have the opportunity to go to one myself. I may post some thoughts on the concert afterwards.

In the meantime, listening to Podtoid 50 as well as watching the video on the link reminded me of what a great piece of music the opening theme to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is. Much of what Reverend Anthony spoke of about the music in the podcast jogged my brain and got me thinking about this piece.

One of the things that always struck me about the MGS series plot was what seemed to be a massive contradiction of themes. On one hand, there is that sense of excitement and gung-ho patriot action that is often reminiscent of "24." Then there is that sense of the utter futility of war, the way in which war turns us all into pawns, and the sense that war only leads to the next war as opposed to any real sense of peace.

I suspect that a large number of people went into the MGS series with the expectation of gung-ho patriot action, completely unsuspecting that the plot was far from that. Therefore, I find it funny in retrospect, to see how the opening theme from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty actually teases and foreshadows the dual nature and complexity of the game's plot.

The music begins with the type of synth action music sound that Hans Zimmer pioneered in The Rock and Armageddon, teasing you into thinking that you are getting into an action plot. It should be noted that the MGS2 theme was actually arranged by Harry Gregson-Williams, who is a protégé of Zimmer.

When the main theme pops in, there is a quality about the melody that seems different from the usual action music. I think that it is because the theme seems reserved. It is not as bright, heroic, or badass as what you would expect from a gung-ho military action theme. Of course, from a technical point of view, I guess one could say that the theme is played in the minor key and not in a major key. However, I just remember hearing the theme for the first time and just finding it different from the usual heroic main theme.

It's only once I got to the end when the main theme is played elegically on the solo trumpet that I think I finally picked up on what seemed to be different about the MGS theme. Although the MGS theme definitely conjures the usual patriot action feelings of duty, honor, courage, the theme also seemed to express a sense of sadness and tragic loss. Therefore, the end of the piece seems to foreshadow the sense that the plot will go beyond action and war and go somewhere deeper and more complex.

It is interesting that the opening theme of MGS2 has this sense of dual complexity that mirrors the development of the plot as well. I cannot say if this is the reason why many people including myself enjoy this piece of music. However, I do think that when I listen to the music in retrospect, it is interesting to hear the added dimensions and qualities that the music perhaps possesses.

I know that the opening theme to MGS2 is one of the selections in the Video Games Live program. I am not surprised, seeing as it is arguably one of the greatest opening themes in video game music history. I anxiously look forward to hearing it live and sharing the experience with my fellow gamers.
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About Tascarone of us since 9:27 PM on 03.03.2008

Once upon a time, back in the 8-bit and 16-bit era, I was a "hard-core" gamer. Since that time, a variety of factors ranging from money to college to real life significantly cut into my video game time. Nonetheless, I have always retained my love and interest in video games, although to a lesser extent.

At present, my video game time is generally monopolized by World of Warcraft. I play a troll mage named Moor (WoW Armory profile here) on the Nathrezim server where I am a happy member of the guild Sanity.

Current-generation consoles I own include an XBox 360, a Ps3, a Wii, a Nintendo DS, a PsP, and a PC.

I am a huge fan of video game music. In fact, I confess that many of the games I own, such as the Halo games and Rygar: The Legendary Adventure are in my collection solely because I love their incredible musical scores. I have only been able to attend one VGM event, Video Game Live's New York concert on April 26, 2008 which was an amazing experience.

During middle school and high school, I was inspired to attempt music composition after hearing the reprise of Shadow's theme that appears in the ending of Final Fantasy VI by Nobuo Uematsu and "Angel's Fear" from Secret of Mana by Hiroki Kikuta, an attempt that quickly ended due to my lack of talent with little more to show than a crappy five-song musical. The highlight of my musical career as well as my journey through video game geekdom came during an impromptu musician meet-up at the Otakon anime convention in 2003 in which I had the honor of performing the violin solo in Yasunori Mitsuda's incredible "Scars of Time" from Chrono Cross.

I have been a lurker on Destructoid for some time. I am an especially huge fan of Destructoid's three excellent podcasts, which are not only the best video game podcasts I have heard but amongst my favorite podcasts of all time. I give much credit to these podcasts for bringing about a resurgence in my interest in video games and inspiring me to think more about video games. I also give them special credit for entertaining me during a series of hospitalizations in which the only thing I had for entertainment were these podcasts saved on my Zune.

I was particularly inspired by Podtoid and randombullseye and ended up composing the music to randombullseye's game Bonerquest, my first and last foray into video game composing as I quickly came to realize, as I did back in high school, that I lacked the training and talent for the art. Nonetheless, I am grateful to randombullseye for the opportunity to have contributed to a part of an actual finished product as opposed to the unfinished sketches that populate my desk and computer hard drive.

I love writing and I often find myself discussing and writing about video games on a variety of subjects and contexts. As a high school student, I had great difficulty writing long papers or long articles and so I began to force myself to write as much as possible. By the time I was in college, writing huge amounts of text for both school and school-unrelated purposes became not only easy but rather relaxing and unenjoyable. I therefore apologize in advance because I know that a great deal of my writing will probably be far far longer than what is probably necessary or appropriate. In the past, my writings on video games found themselves in a variety of places ranging from the WoW forums, a text file on my desktop, to my friends' Xanga and MySpace pages and for some time, I have thought about consolidating my video game writing at one place, which is why I am happy that I discovered Destructoid. The Destructoid staff and community have greatly influenced my thoughts on video games and opened my eyes to things that I never saw. I hope that many writing can give a fraction of that inspiration (or at the very least some entertainment) back to the Destructoid community.
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