According to someone with much more musical authority than myself, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would have loved composing videogame music. That’s it, that’s the twee-, I mean, article. That’s according to Eímear Noone, the film and videogame composer who hosts the Classic FM show about videogame music, High Score (I couldn’t have punned better myself).
Speaking with the Guardian, Noone discusses what makes videogame music so amazing and diverse – not that I’m biased, or anything. The discussion covers everything from why there aren’t electric guitars in Azeroth despite their present in the soundtrack, to the nostalgic impact of the Legend of Zelda’s themes, and it’s particularly interesting to get the perspective of a proper composer on these topics.
You might have heard Noone’s music in games like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo III, but she didn’t actually intend to get into the videogame music scene. In fact, she only became aware she was part of it when her brother called her to tell her she was in the credits of Metal Gear Solid. As a favour to a peer, she had done some choral work for a project he was working on, but little did she know she was contributing to a Kojima game. A vocation has never called so clearly.
Musical Mr Mozart came into the discussion was after a comparison between film scores and game scores. A film score, after all, can be composed in the full knowledge of what will happen next and even synchronised precisely to events. The story never changes and the music can exactly reflect what you see on the screen, literally beat for beat.
Music in games, however, needs to be far more flexible, and Noone explains how that’s possible. “If our character triggers something in the world, perhaps a battle, we can land the woodwinds or brass on top of that to increase the intensity”, but this also has to work with strings or other layers of instruments. “It’s like a Rubik’s cube puzzle! This is the kind of thing Mozart would have enjoyed – he loved puzzles”.
I’m not exactly sure how Mozart would react to a Rubik’s cube, however it’s cool to hear a fellow professional suppose that he’d have liked making music for a medium of the highest sophistication.