By Christen Crumpler
The 2023 GRAMMYs is this February and there’s a new sub-category that’s being introduced–video game music. Video game music is finally being recognized under the Music for Visual Media category. Here are some highlights about this new sub-category’s nominees:
Aliens: Fireteam Elite by Austin Wintory, composer
Aliens: Fireteam Elite’s playstyle is similar to the game World War Z and the Gears of War titles–but you’re in outer space fighting the alien creatures from the franchise Aliens. Its music can be described as having a modern, militaristic sound with a gritty character that shows off its grungy aspects. The game’s composer, Austin Wintory, explains this best by sharing his approach to combine the action and sci-fi/horror scores from the previous composers of the franchise’s films. You can find more in-depth details about the composition process within the videos on Wintory’s YouTube channel.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok by Stephanie Economou, composer
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok is the final downloadable content (DLC) expansion for the title Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. You’re met with an atmospheric soundtrack that uses Norse music styles with elements of heavily distorted guitars and fast tempos from the black metal genre. In a Games hub article, composer Stephanie Economou says,
“One of the reasons it’s so rewarding to compose music for Assassin’s Creed is that you have these historically-driven narratives, and the music can echo the sounds of that time while still being hyper-modern and edgy and rule-breaking.”
Economou speaks more about how she made the soundtrack in the full article. If you want to listen to the full soundtrack of the DLC, click the video below.
Call Of Duty®: Vanguard by Bear McCreary, composer
Set during World War II, players join a special team of Allied soldiers to take down the last efforts of the Third Reich in Call Of Duty®: Vanguard. The game’s soundtrack takes a cinematic approach with orchestral and rock elements that put you right in the action. In order to match the personal perspective of the storyline, the musical foundation is laid with improvised melodies and then built outwards with the orchestral aspects. You can find more information on the creation of the soundtrack in a video with the composer, Bear McCreary. To listen to the full soundtrack, click here.
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy by Richard Jacques, composer
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy has you protecting the cosmos as Star-Lord with the other Guardians. Its music brings the heroism from the Marvel films straight into the game. There are various musical themes used throughout the soundtrack–embracing the decision-making gameplay to enhance the player’s experience. The game’s composer, Richard Jacques, goes into detail about the different themes used in this video here and the creation of the score here.
Old World by Christopher Tin, composer
Players are nation leaders preserving their legacy in the historical strategy game Old World–where each turn is a year of your dynasty. The soundtrack pays homage to the styles used within Arabic music. One way is through the music’s improvised nature–where the performers play a key part in the musical composition process. In a podcast episode, composer Christopher Tin mentions,
“The fundamental way that a lot of these musical forms are presented in Arabic music is actually more improvised–and its actually one that feeds off of a live performance where you get energy back from the audience, right? You sorta whip them into the state of like ecstatic-frenzy through your performance and they applaud and, you know, there’s a very interactive element to it. But if you take that idea–that authentic Arabic idea of a performance being the composition–where does that leave room for an outside composer like myself, if the performer is in fact the composer, right?”
Tin talks more about the process with the Lead Designer of Old World and the CEO of Mohawk Games in the full podcast episode here. You can find more about the game’s soundtrack on Tin’s Youtube Channel.
You can tune-in to the GRAMMYs on Sunday, February 5th, to see who wins. To see the full list of nominees, click here.
Pictured: Video game controller; Photo by Javier Martínez on Unsplash.