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Take Note: Video Game Music Being Recognized As Art Form

Music scored for the game Bastion is described as "an acoustic frontier trip-hop."

Cincinnati game developers are preparing to launch Match Point, an eSports-inspired party game, Thursday at 16-Bit Bar + Arcade. Not only is the team that created it local but so is the music composer who scored it, Jon Brennan. Increasingly, people are noticing these computer game composers and are finding their music on Spotify.

This is veteran composer Brennan's first video game score and he admits there were some challenges. "It's the first time I've had to write loopable music," he explains. "If they're just sitting on that menu screen the music just keeps on playing forever. Or if they're in a really long game the music will continue to play to that exact length."

This is the theme music for Match Point scored by Jon Brennan.

Video game music so fascinated University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Ph.D. candidate Sarah Pozderac-Chenevey she decided to do her dissertation on it. "I was born in the late '80s and we had an NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and a N 64 and a Sega Genesis and I played a lot of Zelda as a kid."

She explains in the Super Mario days there wasn't much storage for music but today, with digital downloads and blue-ray discs, there is plenty of memory. "They were really constrained and a lot of creativity grew out of those constraints," she says. "We have a lot of really iconic tunes from that time period like Super Mario Brothers. Everybody knows the 'game over' music."

One of her more recent favorites is the cello and flute music scored by Austin Wintory for the independent adventure game Journey.

Darren Korb is known for Bastion, another one of Pozderac-Chenevey's favorites. Korb describes his sound as "an acoustic frontier trip hop."

Big budget video games have entire symphonic pieces composed like the Legend of Zelda series.

Pozderac-Chenevey doesn't expect video games and its music to slow down. There's even an opera about it that just opened in Boston.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology