Saturday, January 10, 2015

The North American Conference on Video Game Music with Winifred Phillips

You all remember Winifred Phillips, award-winning author of the book "A Composer's Guide to Game Music" and the musical mind behind hit games such as Little Big Planet 3, Assassin's Creed Liberation, God of War, and much more. Well, in just a few days—that is January 17 & 18—she will be honored as the keynote speaker for this year's North American Conference on Video Game Music (press release below). This is a big deal, so be sure to congratulate her and offer her your thanks for doing so much good for the world of video games and for the world of music!

I got to do a short interview with Winifred, and here is what she had to say:

1) What is your wildest dream in video game music? Live concerts, best selling titles, teaching and awareness, something else?

All of the above!  Game music is a vibrant genre with an extraordinarily diverse musical vocabulary and a huge community of devoted fans.  There are many live concert series and bestselling sound track albums, and conferences such as the North American Conference on Video Game Music are a great step towards making the subject more available within academic institutions.

2) What advice would you give to others who look up to you and aspire to achieve similar goals?

I actually write a lot about that in my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press), which was published last March. In my book, I discuss what steps an aspiring composer should take to secure gigs in the competitive field of game music composition.  It’s important for an aspiring composer to grab the attention of decision makers at a game developer or publisher.  After developing an excellent demo reel, the aspiring composer can begin researching what new development studios are forming, or what new game projects may be reaching the production stage. Timing is everything, so game composers have to stay alert and keep reaching out to potential clients. The subject can be pretty complex, and I discuss it much more thoroughly in my book.

My thoughts on the interview:

I have many wild dreams in video game music and other artistic areas as well, but my most outlandish one involves founding a massive festival / competition…on par with the world cup or the Olympics.

I was a bit silly to ask the other question without being more specific since Ms. Phillips gives a lifetime of advice in her book, but, luckily what I had hoped would happen, happened! Out of all of the advice she has to give, she chose to share getting the attention of decision makers and researching projects in production. I've heard both of these things time and time again in my own career and cannot stress how important they are. Of course, though they are two of the most difficult areas to establish a skill in at first, they are nothing without that excellent demo reel.

Thanks again to Winifred Phillips for her interview. You can learn more about her on her site at winifredphillips.com. 

I also got to interview William Gibbons, the conference organizer, and here is what he had to say about similar topics:

1) How do you believe the study of video game music could further the development of the rest of the music world?

I think the study of game music is important in a lot of ways, and to many different groups of people. Some of the most innovative and interesting compositional techniques happening in music today comes from games. Technology and player expectations change so quickly that composers and audio designers really have to come up with solutions to new and unique problems constantly, and even those scholars and composers who don’t work on games can really learn from exploring how those problems get solved.

But most importantly, millions of people listen to game music every day, whether while playing the games or just listening to the soundtracks for enjoyment. I’m a big believer in being educated consumers of music, and learning a little about the music we enjoy listening to. That applies to us as scholars and composers, but also to our students and the people who read the articles and books we write.

2) What is your wildest dream in video game music? Live concerts, best selling titles, teaching and awareness, something else?

We’re already seeing game music take a much more prominent position in music culture. Live concerts of game music are selling out around the world, people are buying and listening to albums of original and remixed music, and sheet music for performers is even available for some games. For me as an educator, I’d like to see game music become more common in schools, both in performance and in classrooms, right alongside “classical” music, jazz, film music, and the other musics we teach.

3) What advice would you have to others who look up to you and aspire to achieve similar goals?

To any music students or professionals that want to study game music, I say go right ahead! There’s so much left to research for musicologists like me, or music theorists—we’ve really only started to scratch the surface of what’s there, and there’s a constant new supply of great new music to study (and enjoy). And for composers, studying at least the basics of game music is absolutely one of the smartest things you could do career wise.

My thoughts on the interview:

I completely agree! As one who listens to game music a lot (perhaps even more than I have time to play the actual games), and as one who is always writing video game tunes, I can easily say innovation and passion in studying and applying game scoring techniques leads to educational advancements, and, quite frankly, creative freedom.

I am just finishing up my thesis semester in graduate school for film and game composing, and I am one of the lucky few students who has had teachers and courses present us with game music in class!

And now, the press release for the NACVGM:

Conference Brings Leading Game Music Scholars and Composers to Texas

Fort Worth, TX – Video game music has come a long way from bleeps and bloops. Today’s game soundtracks often equal film scores in quality, and this music is consumed in large amounts by millions of players every day: studies suggest that 58% of US citizens—and 97% of young adults—play video games, with an average weekly play time of around 8 hours. Concerts of game music regularly play to sellout audiences across the globe, as orchestras and bands cater to audiences eager to hear live versions of their favorite tunes.

Game music has also emerged as a major topic of academic study, and on January 17-18 many leadings game-music scholars and composers from across the US and Canada will gather in Fort Worth, TX on the campus of TCU for the North American Conference on Video Game Music. This conference will feature two days of presentations and discussions on all aspects of music in games, including new composition techniques, approaches to the analysis of game music, and case studies of specific games.

The keynote address will be given by Winifred Phillips (Twitter: @winphillips), the award-winning composer for games including Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, God of War, Speed Racer, Total War Battles: KINGDOM, and six games in the popular LittleBigPlanet series, including LittleBigPlanet 3. Phillips is also the author of the bestselling book, A Composer's Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press, 2014), which recently was awarded the 2014 Global Music Award Gold Medal for an exceptional book in the field of music. (http://www.winifredphillips.com/composersguide)

More information about the conference is available at http://vgmconference.weebly.com.

For further information or interviews, please contact:

William Gibbons
Assistant Professor of Musicology
TCU School of Music
Email: william.gibbons@tcu.edu
Phone: 919.357.1769
Twitter: @musicillogical

1 comment:

  1. Loved this article, Winifred is one of my main role models. Thank You!