THE BLOG

History of Music in Japanese Video Games

02/12/2014 16:48 GMT | Updated 31/01/2015 10:59 GMT

I am the head writer for SignedRecordLabelDeal.com and also I am the host and producer of Captain SIB's amazing podcasts.

My days now are full of finding ways to help new musicians break into the music business with advice from my years of experience.

In doing this I am finding lots of interesting topics.

But before I delve into a world of musical advice, I wanted to bring to you this interesting subject.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been looking at how the composers of video game music influence today's music industry , with some fascinating results.

Do you remember rocking out to the blips and bleeps of classic computer games?

The 80's saw an explosion of video game consoles entering homes across the world.

Millions would be tuned to their TV sets transfixed in a new world of colour and sound. Games that were once only playable in crowded arcades were now interrupting dinner times and driving parents mad.

The industry would move so fast over the next 30 years.

The sights would become more eye melting. The stories and game play would become much more in-depth. The sounds would open up peoples ears to atmosphere, theater and music.

It is the music that has always fascinated me. Indeed we all have sat back, shook our heads and even had a small panic attack when listening to some of the original music on these old school games. But going back now, it is interesting to hear the influences that this world has had on today's music industry.

Until the creation of the 32bit consoles, the limitations game developers had were endless.

We are all used to the CD quality sounds from today's machines, but back in a time of the 8bit and 16bit system, our sounds were made from data boards to electronic pulses, possibly even spoons were involved.

Although there has generally been a soundtrack on most games, it wasn't until 1978, when Tomohiro Nishikado's Space Invaders came on the scene with the first continuous background soundtrack. With only 4 notes, this masterpiece would play on a loop, changing in pace depending on how close the enemies came to the player.

It would be 2 years before Namco would release Rally-X, which would be the first full game to have continuous background soundtrack, though still basically a simple tune played on a loop over the game play.

Once the 80's stumbled in though things would change and the art of making video game music would bring with it composers from all walks of life.

Thanks to entertainments systems like Nintendo, a whole new standard was brought onto the scene and game developers would find themselves having whole departments focused on creating the music score for their next big hit.

Whilst looking into the history of music in video games, I came across the Red Bull Music Academy.

Here I found an interesting series of videos looking at the history of music in Japanese computer games and how it reflects into today's society.

Did you ever stop to think about the minds behind some of gaming's most recognizable soundtracks?

Titled 'Diggin In The Carts', the series speaks to composers of some of the more popular Japanese titles. It takes you inside the music and introduces to you the people that influenced generations of video games composers.

The history is much more than I had envisioned.

"Every single chip and every single machine, whether it be a Famicom, or a PC Engine, or a Super Nintendo, had its own personality and its own charisma and its own charms" Nick Dwyer, Director of Diggin' in the Carts. Source IGN.

The amazing thing is that all the 8bit and 16bit game music would end up having an influence on the music industry itself. From hip-hop to dubstep, composers and producers would learn their art from hours of game play on their favourite systems.

Although it sounds dated and quite basic, the way this music was put together had a much deeper level of understanding.

Grab a glass of water and a slice of bread and journey into a forgotten world with Episode 1.

Here is a link to the complete series on the Red Bull Music Academy YouTube Channel, be sure to select the subtitles.

Thanks for reading and peace of jam to all.