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Media Music Games Entertainment

Video Game Music Is Saving the Symphony Orchestra (wsj.com) 111

An anonymous reader writes: As music distribution has flourished, the popularity of live performances in certain genres has begun to wane. Symphony orchestra attendance has been dropping for years. A new report says ticket sales have dropped by 2.8% annually for the past decade. The downward trend has caused many performing groups to experiment with ways to appeal more to modern audiences. One way they're finding success is by including music from video games. "Orchestral videogame concerts first gained a following in Japan in the mid-1980s and spread to parts of Europe in the early 2000s. They began appearing regularly in pops repertoires in the U.S. about a decade ago as orchestras sought younger, more diverse audiences. Unlike classical-music performances, videogame shows feature arrangements that blend looping tracks of music designed to match various moments in a game, such as a slow, eerie medley of piano, percussion and string as the videogame character navigates a castle dungeon. ... The story of The Legend of Zelda isn't a far cry from such classics as Mozart's The Magic Flute. Both tales involve a brave fellow in a quest to rescue a damsel from a villain's clutches
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Video Game Music Is Saving the Symphony Orchestra

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  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] Almost ten years ago, still kicks ass.
  • Then came the game. There perhaps will be one day when orchestras are going to be extinct and Games are going to have an "orchestra theme" in them .
  • It's called "pops" (Score:5, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @10:58AM (#50725933)

    When attendance is down, symphonies, theatre groups and other live performers retrench around the "pops" that they know the general population finds popular and puts people in the seats: Christmas songs, Broadway musicals, movie scores, adaptations of rock classics for Baby Boomers, and now video game music for Gen X and Millennials.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      They could fix that if they weren't charging $50-250 per ticket to go listen to them.

    • At one time, pop music *was* what the symphonic orchestras were playing.

      Live music was either what you heard live, or played yourself. And what you played yourself was either traditional (folk) music, or something you heard. And most of what you heard was folk music, or a professional musician, or a knockoff of a pro.

      When attendance declines, symphonies, theatre groups and other live performers retrench around their origins.

  • https://youtu.be/Nq_aXq7DT7k [youtu.be] I loved this show. Not that I go to see an orchestra often, but seeing people cheering during a performance was quite a thing. Those geeks got excited there!
  • I remember going to see "Video Games Live" back in 2010 and it got me hooked, I bought season tickets to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra a few years back and never regretted it. YMMV but I was surprised at how inexpensive tickets were, and how much music you got...

    A lot of games incorporate an orchestral score, hearing the music live though is absolutely worth checking out (even if you don't play the games.)

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@noSPAM.smokingcube.be> on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @10:59AM (#50725953) Homepage

    It's the cost of the damn tickets. My local orchestra hall is always complaining that only ~10-20 people attend their 1000+ capacity hall. I wanted to attend one for a date night out: $50/ticket. That is just absurd for a weeknight second rate (mostly student) orchestra.

    • Jeez that's nuts. I live in Saint Louis which has one of the top 5 symphony orchestras in the world and 50 bucks can buy me a good seat on a Friday night show in a theater that is sold out.

      • St Louis has one of the country's rising orchestras.
        St Louis seems to be rising in a lot of ways, actually.
        • Saint Louis has had a very vibrant arts community for a while mostly due to free admittance to most of the city museums, parks, and our zoo (all of which are located in Forrest Park within easy walking distance of each other). I think this results in a much wider variety of people becoming exposed and involved in the arts community which drives demand for payed programs like the symphony and opera.

          Funny enough the people here are very proud of our free attractions. We have the only free zoo in the world,

      • While St. Louis has a wonderful orchestra, it would be more accurate to say it's one of the top 50 in the world - there are a LOT of really good orchestras out there! Top 5 in the midwest United States, I'll grant you that, but there are a number of better orchestra in the US alone.

        I would also say that $50 for a great orchestra ticket, to ANY top 50 orchestra, is a great bargain. Have people seen the prices of tickets for rock concerts or sporting events? Sure you can gt bleacher seats for a baseball game

    • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @11:25AM (#50726263)

      Your local orchestra appears to have little idea how to price tickets. If they charged $2 and filled the hall, they'd make twice as much money.

  • midi based music in games 80's to 90's was good. The Arcade BSMT2000 lasted a bit to long by the time games stopped using it midi based music was dated.

  • I would go to one of these, if they'd advertise them better. I had a friend who flew out to NYC from Texas to see an orchestra play the entire score of LOtR live to the movie (with the score cut out and just the dialog and sound effects left in) somewhere in Manhattan. That is a really cool idea and they sold out all of the performances months in advance and only played at a handful of venues worldwide. I would pay good money to go see that if I'd known about it. I always find out about the Final Fantasy sy

  • Music is music. Turns out the songwriters that vg studios hire are usually MUSICIANS, who have a history of writing various musics for various purposes. Even though those various purposes usually end up attempting the same thing - to invoke emotion. Turns out this shit ain't all that different. Music is music.

    To be fair, most video game music has a narrower invoke scope, and your CoDs, your loldotas, your Flappy Crush games aren't really music'ing because they have no narrative. But many other games ARE
  • The Civililization IV theme - first videogame music to win a Grammy.

    The official trailer [youtube.com]
    Video Games Live orchestra and choir on PBS [youtube.com]
    views of performances on the Dubai Fountain [youtube.com]
    and lots more performances [youtube.com]

    It's a (WTF!) musical setting of The Lord's Prayer translated into Swahili - and well enough done to be a regular performance on a premier art attraction in the United Arab Emirates.

    I've probably watched/listened to this more than any other thing on You Tube.

  • So what's the best examples of this on youtube?
  • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @11:34AM (#50726403)

    The first orchestra concert I ever voluntarily attended was in 1978. It was a concert of Star Wars and Star Trek music, complete with laser show (lame by today's standards, but awesome to 14 y.o. me in the 70's) and WILLIAM FREAKIN' SHATNER hosting...and reading poetry about whales.

  • by Clomer ( 644284 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @12:01PM (#50726715)
    I am a performing professional classical musician who also happens to enjoy video games.

    I am saddened by the attitude that many people have that by performing music such as what comes from games that the orchestras are somehow "cheapening their brand" or that it is "diluting the culture." To claim this is to completely ignore why people listen to music in the first place, and where much of "classical" music came from. This elitist attitude is what has significantly contributed to the decline in attendance numbers seen over the last few decades.

    Mozart was a party animal. He was essentially a 18th century rock star, complete with the fame and lavish lifestyle that implies. As much as he was a musical genius, he was terrible at managing his personal affairs and died penniless, buried in an unmarked grave.

    Beethoven, who is often called the "Father of the Modern Symphony" (thanks to his groundbreaking work in his 9 Symphonies), was also very much involved in the popular music scene of his day. His Egmont is music that was written to be performed alongside a production of a play of the same name (only the overture is performed with any regularity today, as the play itself is pretty awful). This makes it essentially 19th century movie music.

    When Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was first premiered, a riot broke out among the audience. This wasn't just because of the nature of the music itself, but because that was the culture of performance at the turn of the 20th century - the audience was looking for something to get riled up over, and the music hit that emotional chord perfectly.

    Modern performances are often formal affairs that remove the context of the music from its original conception. This isn't always a bad thing, as a good performance of a Mozart Symphony can be very exciting, but to try to stick to that because of some idea that it's meant to be that way is to ignore what the music actually is. Modern orchestral composers don't compose symphonies any more, they compose for movies and video games. That movie and video game music of today will be tomorrow's classical music. I've already seen performances of movie music from 50 years ago or so programmed into classical performances (not the pops concerts where such music usually resides), and such will become more and more common as time goes on.

    In any case, something that increases awareness of the medium is a good thing. Today's kid that attends a video game concert performance might be tomorrow's grandmaster concert soloist, inspired by the music they heard when they were young. Even someone just making the leap from attending a video game concert to deciding to attend a classical concert isn't a very big one, but is extremely important to the long-term health and survivability of the genre.
    • by mbkennel ( 97636 )
      I agree with nearly all of your points except perhaps some color on this one:

      | When Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was first premiered, a riot broke out among the audience. This wasn't just because of the nature of the music itself, but because that was the culture of performance at the turn of the 20th century - the audience was looking for something to get riled up over, and the music hit that emotional chord perfectly.

      That premiere was of course a ballet, and that riot had quite a bit more to do with the co
    • Mozart was a party animal. He was essentially a 18th century rock star, complete with the fame and lavish lifestyle that implies.

      A long time ago I once took an interdisciplinary class that combined history with literature with music, very enjoyable. It was a bit of an experiment by 3 professors (who implied they were drinking buddies)

      The Music professor involved said outright that Mozart was the Elvis or Michael Jackson of his day and that if we didn't believe him, read the reports written about his concerts at that time.

      Modern orchestral composers don't compose symphonies any more, they compose for movies and video games. That movie and video game music of today will be tomorrow's classical music.

      I've said that myself, I'm reminded of a scene from Singin' in the Rain.

      Cosmo Brown: Talking pictures, that means

  • Numerous artists are doing covers of video game music. One successful one is Taylor Davis. Search for her on youtube.

  • Somehow, symphony orchestras have managed to survive 50 years of the rock and roll era. I seriously doubt video games are going to suddenly "save" them.

    Is it possible that attendance at the symphony is down because nobody's got any goddamn money?

    • I happily plonked down $60 to go to a Distance Worlds (Final Fantasy) concert. The house was sold out that night.
      • I happily plonked down $60 to go to a Distance Worlds (Final Fantasy) concert. The house was sold out that night.

        That's cool. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is sold out most nights. The Civic Opera is also sold out most nights.

  • I have loved classical music all my life and have been to literally hundreds of concerts over the years. Playing this type of music is fantastic and a great discovery! It's different for the musicians and the audience as well.
  • Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack is a lesson in how it should be done. Symphony with digital mixing.
  • Tommy Tallarico makes entire world tours out of orchestral video game music. He sets up the shows with orchestras local to the venue, often youth orchestras with help of professional musicians. I saw them once live and it is one of best and most entertaining concerts I ever been to and except for one or two songs I had no idea what the songs were since my gaming days are long gone. I still whistle the theme song, well, more theme tune of Indoor Sports....

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