Video Game Culture - Gaming and Popular Culture - Influences On Music

Influences On Music

Main article: Video game music

Video game music has been utilized by popular musicians in many ways. The earliest example was the electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra's self-titled album, released in 1978, which utilized Space Invaders samples as instrumentation. In turn, the band would have a major influence on much of the video game music produced during the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. During the golden age of arcade video games in the early 1980s, it became common for arcade game sounds and bleeps to be utilized, particularly in early hip hop music, synthpop, and electro music. Buckner & Garcia's Pac-Man Fever, released in 1982, featured songs that were both about famous arcade games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Berzerk, and also used the sound samples from the games themselves as instrumentation. In 1984, former Yellow Magic Orchestra member Harry Hosono produced an album entirely from Namco arcade game samples, entitled Video Game Music.

Aphex Twin, an experimental electronic artist, under the name "PowerPill" released the Pacman EP in 1992 that featured a heavy use of Pac-man sound effects. An entire music genre called chiptunes, or sometimes gamewave, have artists dedicated to using the synthesizer sets that came with past video game consoles and computers, particularly the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Entertainment System. These bands include Mr. Pacman, 8 Bit Weapon, Goto 80, 50 Hertz and Puss. The influence of retro video games on contemporary music can also be seen in the work of less purist "Bitpop" artists, such as Solemn Camel Crew and Anamanaguchi. Moreover, many gamers collect and listen to video game music, ripped from the games themselves. This music is known by its file extension and includes such formats as: SID (Commodore 64), NSF (NES) and SPC (SNES). Cover bands like Minibosses have been founded recently that perform instrumentations, and groups like The Protomen have written rock operas inspired by the Mega Man video games.

A comedy sub genre has developed increasing the popularity of several musicians including Jonathan Coulton, famous for the song Still Alive featured in the credits of Valve Software's title Portal, and Jonathan Lewis, songwriter and composer credited with the Half Life themed parody album titled Combine Road.

Full orchestras, such as the Symphonic Game Music Concert tour North America, the United States, and Asia performing symphonic versions of video game songs, particularly the Final Fantasy series, the Metal Gear series, and Nintendo themed music, such as the Mario & Zelda Big Band Live Concert. In Japan, Dragon Quest symphonic concerts are performed yearly, ever since their debut in 1987.

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