CD GOLD : SOUNDTRACK PLAYBACKS TAKE MUSIC TO NEXT LEVEL.
Byline: P.J. Huffstutter Daily News Staff Writer
While stationed in Bosnia, soldiers often amuse themselves with video games See video game console. . Grid Runner. Tomb Raider. Cyber Speedway. Whatever titles they can get.
And when they get bored, the soldiers can turn off the game, take out the CD and play it on their stereo.
``I keep getting e-mail from these soldiers saying, `I love that Bygone Dogs song you hear while you're driving the car in Cyber Speedway. You should have put more of their stuff in the game,' '' said Spencer Nilsen Spencer Nilsen is a video game music composer. He is best known for his soundtracks to the Sega CD versions of Ecco the Dolphin and , as well as the United States version of Sonic CD , a music director for Sega of America.
The soundtrack for the next millennium may be found in computer games. From Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat (commonly abbreviated as MK) is a popular series of fighting games created originally by the Midway Manufacturing Company. Mortal Kombat to Super Mario 64, American companies are warming to a concept that has worked in Japan for years: They can extend the life of their latest title by releasing a soundtrack.
Older game tunes might sound dinky - think Ms. Pac-Man Ms. Pac-Man was an extremely popular arcade game released by Midway in 1982 and was created by Doug Macrae and Kevin Curran. This unauthorized sequel to Pac-Man differed from its predecessor in the fact that this Pac-Man is female. and the sound of an ice cream truck stuck in an eternal groove - but more sophisticated vibes have arrived on the digital screen.
``The music gives the emotional backdrop to a game,'' said Dan Forden Daniel Warren Forden (born September 28, 1963 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American sound programmer, music composer, and the lead on several high-profile arcade and pinball games. The most notable he has worked on is the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. , a Chicago-based musician who wrote all the music for the Mortal Kombat series. ``Without it, you're not going to get the same overall adrenaline charge.''
For years, video game music languished as software companies focused more on flashy effects and less on setting a mood. Programmers developed the technology to add sound, but were unable to create catchy tunes on the limited memory devoted to music on a typical game cartridge. The original Nintendo and Atari machines utilized chips that could only generate simple tones.
As technology evolved, the processor inside these game machines sped up and the capability of the sound chips expanded. With the advent of next-generation systems like Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn The Sega Saturn (セガサターン Sega Sataan and the Sony PlayStation Sony Playstation - Playstation , musicians could now toy with sampled audio clips in digital sound. Nevermind the blips, here come the symphonies.
``It's a thrill having kids know my music who may never have heard me play any other way,'' said blues guitarist Ronnie Montrose Ronnie Montrose, (born November 29, 1947 in Denver, Colorado) is an American guitarist.
Montrose has worked with a variety of musicians over the years, including Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, The Beau Brummels, Boz Scaggs, Beaver & Krause, Gary Wright, Tony Williams, The , whose blues-infused work is found on the Mr. Bones Sega game and accompanying soundtrack. ``At least it gets the music into the house. And it's cooler than hearing your music playing in an elevator or in the grocery store.''
By 1992, video game music had become a multimillion-dollar business in Japan, where record stores devote entire sections to this genre of music. Instead of one soundtrack, game companies often release three or four versions of the same tunes, but interpreted in different musical styles: techno, classical, jazz, rock and blues.
``The composers are treated like rock stars,'' said David Halverson, editor in chief of GameFan magazine GameFan Magazine (originally known as Diehard GameFan Magazine) was a publication started by Dave Halverson in 1992 that provided coverage of domestic and import video games. It was notable for its extensive use of game screenshots in page design. in Agoura Hills. ``Their concerts sell out and when they release an album, the lines around the stores wrap around the block. It's like what you would see out here in Hollywood at a movie premiere.''
This adulation ad·u·la·tion
Excessive flattery or admiration.
[Middle English adulacioun, from Old French, from Latin ad comes primarily from older consumers. Unlike the American game market which attracts mostly prepubescent prepubescent /pre·pu·bes·cent/ (pre?pu-bes´ent) prepubertal.
Of or characteristic of prepuberty.
A prepubescent child. and teen-age males, Japanese consumers' fascination with games crosses several generations, Halverson said.
``Over there, you'll see grown men playing games against little kids,'' Halverson said. ``The older audience pays attention to what they hear as well as what they see. It's a lot more difficult to make an impact in the U.S. because people here consider gaming a hobby for kids.''
In the competitive American market, game companies hope soundtracks will extend the shelf life of their titles. Sony made overtures toward its American record company The American Record Company was a United States record label, in business from about 1904 to 1908.
The American Record Company was founded by Ellsworth A. Hawthorne and Horace Sheble (formerly dealers for Edison Records who had been blacklisted for their questionable subsidiaries to tap artists for its multimedia titles. And Nintendo, which creates most of its music in-house, has released stand-alone audio CD soundtracks from Donkey Kong Country For the television series, see .
Donkey Kong Country, released in Japan as Super Donkey Kong ( and Mario 64.
``This is serious music done by serious artists in all different genres,'' Nilsen said. ``You're not doing justice to the industry if you say there's on`ly great techno music coming out of this.''
Sega Japan and Sony Japan regularly use the London Philharmonic Orchestra The London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), based in London, is one of the major orchestras of the United Kingdom. It is based in the Royal Festival Hall. History
Early years for soundtrack work. The Saturn title Panzer Dragoon features work by the Warsaw Philharmonic, while one of the Final Fantasy games offers players bits from an Italian opera.
Yet electronic music continues to dominate the game market. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, an avid fan of Doom, created the industrial sound effects for the game's sequel, Quake. Thomas Dolby wrote the atmospheric and Gothic sounds for Rocket Science's Obsidian obsidian (ŏbsĭd`ēən), a volcanic glass, homogeneous in texture and having a low water content, with a vitreous luster and a conchoidal fracture. . Guitar virtuosos Steve Vai and Joe Satriani developed the rock soundtrack for the Sony PlayStation title Formula One. And British techno artists Pop Will Eat Itself added tracks to Loaded, a Saturn game.
Psygnosis's Wipeout XL marks a popular example of electronic bands crossing into the game world. A sequel to last year's hovercraft Hovercraft: see air-cushion vehicle. racing game, this PlayStation title features songs by some of rock's most hip techno bands: the Future Sound of London, Photek, the Prodigy and Orbital.
But according to Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, making music for multimedia has its constraints. Technology only goes so far, and a rich aural experience can become a thin squeaky one when played on different sound cards and different hardware.
And unlike the linear format of film, a game requires music that can move backward, forward and sideways. Some players finish a level in one minute, while others may take 10 minutes or more. The music must be able to capture an emotional feeling - be it excitement, fear or anxiety - and maintain it as the same section is played over and over again.
``It was like writing music from a car chase scene that kept changing in a sci-fi movie,'' Hartnoll said. ``(The game developers) left everything in our hands. We worked with a video of the game. All they asked for was a six-minute track that built up over time.''
Yet on the original Wipeout, some Orbital tracks were taken off the U.S. release because record compani`es and publishers could not resolve licensing and royalty issues. That conflict continues to plague game developers.
Last year the British firm Gremlin Interactive wanted techno-rockers and avid gamers Pop Will Eat Itself to write several songs for Loaded. Though the band eagerly accepted the job, the group's music publisher balked balk
v. balked, balk·ing, balks
1. To stop short and refuse to go on: The horse balked at the jump.
2. over royalty issues.
``Everyone's after a slice of the profits,'' said Mark Mattocks, marketing manager for Gremlin gremlin, in American folklore, malicious, airborne supernatural being. Gremlins were first heard of during World War II as creatures responsible for unexplainable mechanical failures and disruptions in aircraft. . ``But the fact is you can't get as big of a royalty cut on a video game as you would on an audio CD. If the programmers are only getting 6 percent, it's outrageous for the publishing companies to ask for more.''
The U.K. game company and the music publishers eventually compromised, allowing Gremlin to promote the band to a new audience, and Pop Will Eat Itself to give the game firm musical credibility.
Despite corporate interest in video game music, artists say the American market remains limited to a subculture of the computer game community.
Fans can search Japanese specialty stores, like Asahiya Bookstores USA in downtown Los Angeles Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of Los Angeles, California, located close to the geographic center of the metropolitan area. The sprawling, multi-centered megacity is such that its downtown core is often considered just another district like Hollywood or , which provide vast selections of soundtracks imported from Tokyo.
They also can turn to the Internet, where mail-order companies like Game Music Online (http://www.gamemusic.com) and the Game Cave (http://www.gamecave.com) offer fans a chance to browse through extensively on-line audio libraries before making their selection.
Though some national record store chains carry these soundtracks, video game music enthusiasts still might have difficulty finding them. Tommy Tallarico, who has written game music for six years, discovered this after Capitol Records released his debut album in 1994. One Tower Records store carried it in its sound effects section. Another placed it in the pop and rock racks.
When Tallarico released his follow-up ``Games Greatest Hits, Vol. II'' this month, he decided to bypass the record stores, and sell the album at software and video game shops.
``I know people w`ant to buy this kind of music,'' said Tallarico, an Orange County-based musician who has written soundtracks for such game companies as Virgin Interactive Entertainment, Electronic Arts and Disney. ``It's just a matter of putting it in a place where the public can find it.''
Drawing: (1--color) No Caption (Sonic the Fighters Sonic the Fighters (Sonic Championship in US arcades), is a fighting game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The game's original title is used in North American and European releases of Sonic Gems Collection. )
(2--color) No Caption (Super Mario)
(3--color) No Caption (Video game system)
Bradford Mar/Daily News