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Course welcome and Interview with Scott Donald

Dr Kenny McAlpine introduces his new short course on video game music and talks to Scott Donald about combining drumming and audio engines.

Welcome to my new short course, A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll explore the music of video games and the hardware platforms that defined it. We’ll be looking at and playing some classic games, we’ll be listening to and analysing some wonderful game soundtracks, and we’ll be hearing from some of the people who helped define the video game sound.

During the course, I’ll be using some terminology from computing and musicology as we discuss different hardware platforms, software, and soundtracks. I’ve included a glossary of terms for you in the supporting documentation, which you can download below. Do please have a read through if you’re not familiar with any of the terms that you come across.

Once you’ve completed the course, you should have a good understanding of the development of video game soundtracks, from the very first generation of microcomputers and consoles through to the present day. You should be able to explain how the technical constraints of early game consoles and home computers shaped the qualities of the music that was written for them, and you should be able to discuss different approaches to writing and implementing interactive music for video games.

We’re going to begin by hearing from Scott Donald, a drummer from Dundee who performs all over the world with his technology-infused kit, and combines audio loops and layers with an intelligent sound engine to create music in real-time in response to his player input.

If that sounds similar to what happens with the soundtrack in a modern video game, you’d be absolutely right: Scott got the idea from games like Band Hero and wondered if he could use game audio technologies to help improve his rhythmic timing.

It’s an interesting application of game audio outside of video games, and it’s a great place to start…

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Video Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music: Video Game Sound and Music

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