Orchestras that Play Video Game Music

Posted by Conor Murphy on December 12, 2012 in Game News -- Share:

Are you a fan of epic video game soundtracks? To some gamers, the music in the game is just as captivating as the gameplay and plot. While a video game’s soundtrack can add to immersion (ever play a great Mystery game with spooky music?), there has been a growing number of ways to experience the music on its own.

For example, a 75-musician orchestral performance at the Ohio Theater recently put on a show called “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy.” The performance features music from the popular role-playing game series, according to an article by The Columbus Dispatch.

Final Fantasy Orchestra

“The composer, Nobuo Uematsu, decided early on he would write light motifs for each character, so you have some of the basic themes that have been with us for 25 years,” said Arnie Roth, music director of the Final Fantasy concert series, who was quoted in the article. “As the data capabilities increased, he was able to graduate to full-orchestra tracks.”

While the latest performance occurred in Ohio, orchestras play the concert series worldwide. Following the August 25 show, the composition will be performed in London on November 2, Australia on November 25 and many other locations throughout the year. The next time the concert comes to the United States will be in Chicago (December 7 – mark your calendars). The Chicago event will be something special because it is the only official 25th anniversary performance to happen in North America.

The program includes an orchestral performance of “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII, and several musical themes common throughout the series, including “Swing De Chocobo” and the franchise’s iconic victory fanfare. Fun fact: Many of the Latin lyrics for “One-Winged Angel” come from Carl Orff’s 1930s composition “Carmina Burana.”

The sound of (video game) music
Final Fantasy isn’t the only game franchise that has drawn the attention of professional performers. There’s an entire orchestra dedicated to playing modern arrangements of video game music. The group has performed at several venues since its first show in 2008, including the video game expo PAX East in 2010.

There’s also “Video Games Live,” a game-themed concert that continues to tour worldwide. Video Games Live features a wide selection of music from the early arcade game Pong to the more recent first-person shooter Halo.

“Whether it’s the power and passion of the more recent blockbusters or the excitement of remembering the sentimental classics you played growing up, Video Games Live will truly be a special night to remember,” the VGL website states. “Meet and bond with new friends as you help to celebrate a pastime which has truly evolved into our culture. Even if you have never played a video game you’ve never heard or seen an orchestral performance quite like this. [The] show includes synchronized performances of the music, video and specially designed special fx & light sequences showcasing over 60 different games in a wide variety of styles.”

The full “Video Games Live” experience offers more than just music. The multimedia concert features video footage synchronized with game sound. Some of the segments also include live stage performances, complete with synchronized light shows. Oh, and there’s also a pre-performance festival that gives visitors an opportunity to meet composers and game developers.

It’s a pretty interesting time to be a gamer. Not just because games are fun, but also because groups are starting to find whole new ways to enjoy them. Between music and art inspired entirely from video games, there has been a growing number of ways for even non-gamers to enjoy the wonderful world of gaming. So, if you find yourself trying to explain your love of video games to a friend who doesn’t play, why not introduce him or her to a few orchestral soundtracks?

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Conor is a Marketing Manager with Big Fish, working out of the Seattle office. In his spare time he enjoys watching science documentaries and playing old school adventure games. Get in touch with him on Twitter! or Google+