Archive for December 11th, 2008

Lest my grumbles about EA, Guild Wars and the industry at large give the impression that I’m just a grumpy codger who hates games, I’ll go in a different direction today.

I happened upon this article from the Escapist magazine, and couldn’t help but love it:

Sephiroth Saves the Symphony

I’ve been a fan of Arnie Roth ever since I found out he was connected to Mannheim Steamroller.  I’ve loved their music since I was growing up.  These were the Fresh Aire and Classical Gas days, before they decided to focus on Christmas iterations.  Their Carol of the Bells is still my favorite version of the song.

The article is partially an interview with Roth, who has been recently working with the Play! concerts, kin to the Dear Friends concerts.  Ah, I wish I could go to those concerts.  I have an Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mistuda music collection, as well as several other CDs of game Original Sound Tracks and variations (like Final Fantasy Potion Star Ocean/Valkyrie Profile and Yoko Shimomura’s Kingdom Hearts).  I’m unabashedly emotional about FFX’s To Zanarkand‘s pure sound, and the haunting emotional resonances of Aerith’s Theme.  Hearing them performed by a full orchestra is a delight.

I loved Roth’s collaboration with Patrick Stewart and the Anima Eterna Orchestra on The Compleat Four Seasons by Vivaldi.  I have Mozart, Bach, Schumann and Handel in my rotation of music, along with these game composers.  To me, they have always been siblings in music.  I love classical music, I love Mannheim Steamroller, and I love these examples of game music.  Uematsu and Mitsuda are spiritual successors to those greats of history.

It’s heartening to see Arnie Roth take game music seriously, and to hear stories of professional orchestra musicians finding value in the music and the performance of it.  This is precisely the sort of positive influence that keeps me interested in games.  They can be uplifting, ennobling and inspiring.  They make us feel in ways that no other medium can.  That their music can and has been taken seriously by professional conductors and musicians gives me hope that the medium still has vast potential.  Yes, the music alone can stand on its own merit, but it really has such emotional resonance because of the games.

The loss of Aerith and the impact that has on the gamer.

The innocent dreamlike lilting of To Zanarkand and the dreamlike genesis of Tidus (and the repurcussions thereof).

The famous opera from FFVI.  Of itself, not the pinnacle of opera, but certainly unique in games, and beloved for playing it straight.

In a world where Shrek and sarcasm feed callous and cynical generations, it’s nice to find something simple and uplifting.  There will inevitably be those who mock the music for its lineage, or those who will look down on something sweet and pure, but for me, music like this is a refuge.

It’s very encouraging to see others take game music seriously, getting past the superficial prejudices and finding something of value in the work of Uematsu and Mitsuda and their fellows.

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