I sat around for a long time debating an introduction to this website and literally, came to the realization that it is much better to just dive right in.
It’s smart for a musician to have an iPod. Or anyone for that matter. I was talking with a colleague a couple weeks ago and we were comparing recordings of Fountains of Rome. He noticed the other tracks on my iPod and was confused. (Paraphrased a bit)
Colleague: Wait, you have the soundtrack to Megaman 3… on your iPod?
Me: Yeah. Hey, this is great stuff- the amount of sound output composer Bun Bun (Yasuaki Fujita) was able to get with only 4 channels of sound (1 of which was a Noise channel exclusively) was and still is impressive.
Colleague: I played that game. I mean, the music was okay but it’s just electronic sounding. Don’t you think that the composer, given the choice, would rather have used guitars for the melody, a bass for the bassline, and a real drumset instead of a noise machine?
Me: Actually, that’s an interesting question. Was he just writing for the synth parts or writing with guitar in mind, attempting to create a guitar sound using squares? Also, how does this relate to the fidelity of the music? Is this music, played on guitar, better or worse than the original? Does it even matter? Would Bun Bun care?
Colleague: No one ever talks about this stuff. You should blog about this. You seem to actually care.
Me: You’re right.
This is right out in the open and no one is talking about it. I know it is a lesser known composer and a subculture genre but why hasn’t anyone ever interviewed Bun Bun to ask him a question like that? The music community interviews many composers – including game music composers – but they seem to forget about a lot of the older ones or less memorable ones. The video game community interviews game music composers regularly but the interviews lack any analysis of the music itself. It’s usually questions like “Did you like working on such-and-such a blockbuster game?” So the music community thinks the game composer is not a real composer (perhaps) and the video game community treats him like he’s part of the production team and not a musician. I think this is kind of a big problem.
Compound all of this with the fact that the interviews that DO happen are only for today’s modern game composers. I feel like gaming magazines (and perhaps even gaming culture in general) are glorifying the talking picture and forgetting about the silent film- you need both. The games themselves, such as Rockman/Megaman 3, are considered classic. The music is PART of what makes that game. So though the composer wasn’t Jack Wall (Mass Effect 1 & 2) with a symphony orchestra, a big budget, and today’s modern equipment, a legacy game composer (such as Bun Bun) made a contribution that paved the way. We should be talking to him, we should be asking him about his creation process, and we should learn from what he did. I consider it akin to ignoring Jean-Phillip Rameau and promoting Christoph Willibald Gluck. We needed Debussy, in 1903, to finally point out that Rameau wrote some pretty great stuff too. And that we wouldn’t have Gluck without Rameau. We wouldn’t have Jack Wall without Bun Bun? I can’t make a case either way- we should talk about it.
This blog does not intend to call out the music community or the video game community. It does, however, intend to open the discussion between the two communities who, for whatever reason, rarely talk. The music community has the knowledge to help answer many interesting questions about the evolution of game music. The gaming community has the knowledge and power to open the door to let the music community in. I say, let’s work together and see what we can find.