When I ask someone what kind of music they like the usual response is: Pop, Rap, Hip-Hop, K-Pop; or they will answer with an artist’s name like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande or BTS. Surely, these genres are probably the biggest in the world right now and everyone knows these names. They get a lot of attention whether it is positive or negative and they receive a lot of recognition. While I personally listen to a bunch of different artists and genres, which also includes (American) Pop and K-Pop, I believe that Game Music is extremely underrated and I barely hear someone mentioning it. The same also applies to Movie Music, but in this blog I will exclusively focus on Game Music.
Unlike ‘regular’ music that we listen to on Spotify or on the radio Gaming Music mainly is there to set an atmosphere depending on what you are playing, what the vibe of the game itself is, or what kind of scene is currently playing at the game. Sometimes, you do not even realize the music in a game, because it seems natural to have some sound in the background. Think about playing Super Mario on your Nintendo DS or Switch. You know the song, you recognize it and it is fun, but while you play it you do not seem to pay attention to it and most will not even bother to think more about than merely a background music to the game.
However, every game soundtrack is unique and there a different levels of complexities to it depending on what the composer is creating and it is definitely not an easy job that every musician could do. First of all, they have to be familiar with the game itself, they need to know what kind of game they are dealing with and what the overall vibe of the game is. For many story-based games even orchestras and vocals are used to create songs. If you actually pay attention to the music you will realize how good they can be.
Sometimes, it is necessary to be aware of the game’s history if they are dealing with one that has had a history of series. For example, having a look at the Final Fantasy game series, there are approximately 57 games of it of which the first one was released in 1987. In this case, when working with a game with such a long history composers have to focus on evolving the music, but at the same time try to keep the element of the original one.
Appreciation section for Masayoshi Soken and Final Fantasy XIV
Definitely, game music is quite underrated and it does not receive the recognition that it should. As the final part of this blog I would like to appreciate the soundtracks of Final Fantasy XIV of which most (iconic) songs are produced by Masayoshi Soken. Final Fantasy XIV was released in 2010 and Soken has been creating soundtracks for it ever since and still does, though he was not the main composer from the beginning. Earlier this year, Soken and the production team of the game have revealed that Soken was fighting cancer, but still worked on making music for the game while in hospital. A very iconic song he produced while fighting cancer was “To the Edge” for Final Fantasy XIV which became a gem for all FFXIV fans.
If you are reading this post I hope you come to appreciate the composers of game music more and perhaps pay more attention to it. There are truly many amazing soundtracks from video games out there that should get more appreciation!