While many music lovers associate orchestral arrangements with formal concert performance, or, in more recent times, evocative soundtracks for cinema, the orchestra has found a new home. However unlikely it might have appeared at first, the medium of videogames is now home to some talented composers creating rich, evocative music for people that sit down in front of a TV and pick up a controller.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still here, and that means exercising caution with activities like large scale gatherings, such as performances. But if you're interested in orchestral arrangements you probably haven't been paying attention to, here are some videogames with scores worth a listen.
God Of War
Composed by Bear McCreary, the orchestral arrangements for God Of War are rich, complex, and surprisingly evocative. In addition to conventional instruments such as 50 strings and 17 brass instruments, McCreary also engaged the talents of a 48 singer choir from Iceland to complete the Nordic feel of this game about a former Olympian god now living in the Norse pantheon and trying, with great difficulty, to raise a son.
McCreary established a name for himself in popular culture, providing music for popular genre television series, such as Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead. Now his distinct arrangements can be heard by people who love videogames.
Composed by Austin Wintory, the videogame Journey is unlike most action-oriented games that focus on violence and conflict. Journey instead is, as the name implies, a more experiential game about reaching a destination, sometimes alone, something with a traveling companion.
The game itself won accolades in the year of its release as another argument that games are making legitimate artistic contributions. Wintory's score was part of that experience garnering a Grammy nomination for his work. Wintory's creative process was a mix of surprisingly easy for the game's first piece and excruciatingly difficult for its final composition. The result, however, is a vibrant, thoughtful, melancholic musical journey.
Yoko Shimomura has the distinction of not just being a Japanese composer but also one of the few women composers working today. Kingdom Hearts is a unique project, combining characters and elements of the famed Japanese role-playing game series Final Fantasy with characters from Disney and Pixar films.
Shimomura's compositions for the game are at times boisterous other times more subtle, but always unapologetically sentimental as a celebration of friendship. They provide a crucial bridge between the familiar invocations of certain Disney melodies and the often melodramatic tone of the game's story.
While it's possible to enjoy this music online and even purchase soundtracks to listen to at higher digital fidelity, videogame soundtracks have also become popular enough that orchestras tour and perform them. The Final Fantasy series, for example, has orchestral performances that take place regularly around the world.
If you're interested in knowing more about orchestral performance, or even wondering if videogame orchestral performances are coming here, we can help. Contact Multicultural Arts Exchange and find out about concerts or other events we have to experience.