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The rise and fall of game audio

Posted by lorien on Wed, 13/07/05 - 11:33 PM

A really good read (though rather long) by Matt Barton @

I've been doing some research because I'm chairing a freeplay panel on game sound v/s film sound.

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 13/07/05 - 11:41 PM Permalink

Incidently La Trobe music department (closed down several years ago) used to produce the "composer/programmers" the article refers to, as does- I believe- ACAT (the Australian Centre for the Arts and Technology, now renamed the Centre for New Media Arts). I went to both [:)]

Submitted by Morphine on Thu, 14/07/05 - 9:25 AM Permalink

Speaking of music in games, is there such a discipline in any institution at all in Australia that concentrates on music in the gaming/movie industry? (Please don't say "The Con").

Submitted by Mick1460 on Thu, 14/07/05 - 5:39 PM Permalink

Hey Guys!

Errr...'The Rise and Fall of Game Audio' is quite an odd title for a report which seems mainly focused on creativity with a digital medium.

There is no Diploma of Game Audio that I have been able to find ANYWHERE in Australia which is only because the industry is young. We are spoiled that QANTM and AEI even offer courses geared towards other aspects of game design. If you want to do a great correspondence course out of the UK I recommend you check out They offer a Diploma of Media Composition and cover a wide range of media audio. The second unit is Music For Games which Tommy Tallarico helped put together (for a cool note, the lead audio engineer at Rareware got his job after 11 months of the course).

I personally would not recommend the Con. If we ever meet in person I will tell you why ;-)

Mick Gordon
Lead Audio Engineer
Lava Injection Studios

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 14/07/05 - 9:43 PM Permalink

I think the basic argument in that paper (that's bring the "rise and fall" into the title) is that there is almost no GAME audio anymore- it's been replaced with something designed to be more like film sound, but it doesn't work to well- no offence Mick :)

IMHO it's actually a good thing that there are no diplomas in game audio here. Why? Because as far as I've been able to tell there are very few people employed full time doing it.

I wouldn't recommend Sydney Con either (though I haven't been there, I know plenty who have). I would however strongly suggest a composition major BMus, particularly one with a tech focus- like the Canberra School of Music and La Trobe's were. Mind you studying 20th/21st century electroacoustic composition could well cause you to become very bored by commercial music...

If anyone is interested in honours level comp-sci specialising in audio programming I'm able to be a co-supervisor.

I'm not going to say much about the article on sumea yet- after the panel.

Submitted by Mick1460 on Fri, 15/07/05 - 2:36 AM Permalink

Yeah, the Video Games Live concert was well received. I wish I could be there!!!

Jack Wall and Tommy Tallarico - Legends and my 2 favorite game composers

Mick Gordon
Lead Audio Engineer
Lava Injection Studios

Submitted by Morphine on Fri, 15/07/05 - 3:45 AM Permalink

Have you heard of Jeremy Soule Mick? He's worked on Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, and even Morrowind (I think). I love his work, and when I start composing some big orchestrations, I'll be composing in a similar adventuristic style.

Problem with the Gaming industry's music is that the industry is so closely linked to and structured like the movie industry, just will different Job titles. I find that like most music for movies, the music is quite emotive, much like what game music requires (for example, a dark creepy house should have sliding tremolo strings with quick accent changes and such, including rolling chromatic timpanis, which i love).

Submitted by Mick1460 on Fri, 15/07/05 - 5:39 PM Permalink

I totally agree with you Morphine, but I think games are looked on nowdays as an interactive movie. The biggest trick for me is to score the game in such a way that you enhance the gameplay and emphasize the story whilst keeping the interactive spontaneity aspects that makes games, games.

Jeremy Soule is fantastic and I also really like Chance Thomas, Andy Brick, Jesper Kyd and Vladimir Simunek. Vladimir's soundtrack for 'Mafia' is one of my all time favorite scores.

Mick Gordon
Lead Audio Engineer
Lava Injection Studios

Submitted by awx on Thu, 07/09/06 - 4:22 AM Permalink

I was actually considering studying to secure a job in this type of field. But from what I have heard in this thread it sounds like a lost cause.

I was considering studying Diploma of Screen (Digital Sound and Music For Media) at Southbank Tafe in Brisbane

I was searching around and found that to be my best option.

If anyone could offer any opinions or advice on this course it would be greatly appreciated


Submitted by petervien on Wed, 13/09/06 - 10:11 PM Permalink

That was a good article which raised some interesting points, especially about the philosophy of innovating as opposed to imitating.

I guess in the end it's whatever works, if it supports the storyline, interactivity, gameplay and the game elements then does it really matter?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/09 - 9:24 PM Permalink

Depends. If you are a game player then no, if you are an audio developer - particularly if you are one of the mutant freaks talked about in the paper with a combination of "classical" composition training and computer programming, and you want to advance the state of the art along with making games that actually sound like games, then yes it does.

But it's an industry that doesn't give a crap about sound really, and the very few composer/programmers who taught me this stuff and that I studied with who were interested in video games have got the hell away from the industry. Every one of them has been ripped off, exploited and burnt, and mostly they advise people to steer clear of the games industry- as do I.

Also as far as I know there isn't a music department/music school/conservatorium left in Aus that still properly teaches composers how to code.

Lorien (and my 1st post on sumea in many years)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/09 - 10:30 PM Permalink

You should have a read of "The Decline of Improvisation in Western Art Music" by Robin Moore (do a library database search, it's in Jstor and other places- journal paper rather than book) if you are curious about why conservatoriums might be particularly unsuitable places to study this stuff. It's hinted at even in the name "conserve". There is a huge load of stuff people won't have told you about why conservatoriums were created in the first place, oddly enough it WASN'T to develop amazing musicians.

Its a paper that's likely to upset you quite a bit- it did me, but the conservatoriums do some good too.

Lorien (signing off sumea for another few years most likely, games and game developers bore the living daylights out of me these days)