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
, 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.