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The Big Index 2023: Articles for Game Music Composers

Game composer Winifred Phillips offers in-depth resource list of articles for game composers. Topics include dynamic music, VR, composition & production, business issues, and more.

By Winifred Phillips | Contact | Follow

Welcome! I’m game music composer Winifred Phillips, and just before the holidays, I was ecstatic to learn that my music for the Jurassic World Primal Ops video game was nominated for a Society of Composers & Lyricists Award! In all the excitement following the announcement of the SCL Awards nominees, many budding game composers reached out to me for advice regarding their own career trajectories. I found myself referring many of them to articles I’ve written in this space over the years – articles covering the widely diverse topics that interest us as game composers.

Since 2014, this series of articles has explored the evolving state of our industry and the tools and techniques that can help us make great game music. Over time, these articles have become a fairly deep repository of information. After referring so many budding composers to articles in this lengthy series, it has occurred to me that this sizable collection has become quite difficult to navigate – partially due to the many topics that have been explored over the years.

Discussions have included many of the creative challenges that make our profession unique. Through an examination of the structure of interactive music systems, numerous dynamic composition techniques have been investigated. Along the way, we’ve pondered how game music composition has been accomplished in the past, and where it might be going in the future. A profusion of resources have been collated in these articles – including the best methods to find gigs, and awesome networking opportunities that can benefit a game composer’s career. There have also been examinations of resources that can keep us inspired and creatively energized.

Together, these articles constitute a living document about game music composition. However, they definitely need an index at this point. With that in mind, I’m offering this ‘big index’ of articles I’ve shared over the years, organized by subject matter.

Dynamic Music in Games

This is one of the most-discussed topics among experts in the game composer community: dynamic music. These articles explore the various systems for dynamic music construction and implementation. We’ll also find discussions of the relationship between game music and game players, including ways in which gamers influence the music as they play. There are also a collection of case studies with real-world examples for discussion and analysis.

Dynamic Music Case Studies

Dynamic Music General Concepts

Dynamic Systems

Game Music Business

business-illustration-big-index_winifred-phillips.png

When we’re not considering the creative and technical aspects of our work as game composers, we’re consumed with the demands of maintaining our business and finding work. These articles focus on tips for keeping our business lives running smoothly.

Career Development

Resources

Game Music and Cognition

Cognition_Big-Index_Winifred-Phillips.png

One of the most intriguing topics of discussion has been the influence of game music on the psychology and intellectual performance of gamers. These are the articles that investigated the relationship between game music and a gamer’s psyche.

Mental Processing

Virtual Presence

Game Music Composition & Production

These are the articles directly relating to the nuts-and-bolts of our profession: the process of music composition. Topics range from expressing a musical style, to creating a memorable theme, to effective production and implementation.

Music Composition: Themes and Variation

Music Composition: Thoughts on Style

Music Composition: Research and Technical

Game Music Events and Interviews

Events-Big-Index-Winifred-Phillips.png

Live events featuring game music have proliferated over the years – from popular conferences and conventions, to famous concert tours. In this section, we’ll find guides and overviews for in-person game audio gatherings. This section also includes transcripts from interviews that took place during these events.

Events

Interviews

Game Music in Virtual Reality


Virtual reality profoundly impacted our work as game audio professionals. VR revitalized the disciplines of ambisonics and binaural sound. In the process, VR became a wonderful opportunity for us to change our thinking about what game audio can accomplish, and how ambitious we can be in our work as game composers. These are the articles that focused on Virtual Reality and its impact on our work in game audio and music.

VR Headphones

VR Physiology and Perception

VR Technology and Resources

VR Workflow

Further Reading


I wrote the book A Composer’s Guide to Game Music to explore the creative and technical issues facing video game composers, and this book remains a resource for more detailed discussions of many of the topics from the above index. The book is published by The MIT Press. It’s available in many university and public libraries, and is also available here.

Conclusion

That concludes this big index of articles! I hope you’ll find it helpful! Thanks so much for joining me as we explore the fascinating world of game music composition!


BAFTA-nominated composer Winifred Phillips is shown here in her music production studio. Phillips is the author of over a hundred articles on the art and craft of video game music composition. She is the author of the book A Composer's Guide to Game Music, published by the MIT Press.

Winifred Phillips is a BAFTA-nominated video game composer. The music she composed for her latest video game project Jurassic World Primal Ops is nominated for a Society of Composers & Lyricists Award for Outstanding Score for Interactive Media. Other recent releases include the hit PlayStation 5 launch title Sackboy: A Big Adventure (soundtrack album now available). Popular music from Phillips’ award-winning Assassin’s Creed Liberation score was featured in the performance repertoire of the Assassin’s Creed Symphony World Tour, which made its Paris debut in 2019 with an 80-piece orchestra and choir. As an accomplished video game composer, Phillips is best known for composing music for games in many of the most famous and popular franchises in gaming: the list includes Assassin’s Creed, God of War, Total War, The Sims, and Sackboy / LittleBigPlanet. Phillips’ has received numerous awards, including an Interactive Achievement Award / D.I.C.E. Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, six Game Audio Network Guild Awards (including Music of the Year), and three Hollywood Music in Media Awards. She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the MIT Press. As one of the foremost authorities on music for interactive entertainment, Winifred Phillips has given lectures at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Game Developers Conference, the Audio Engineering Society, and many more. Phillips’ enthusiastic fans showered her with questions during a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything session that went viral, hit the Reddit front page, received 14.9 thousand upvotes, and became one of the most popular gaming AMAs ever hosted on Reddit. An interview with her has been published as a part of the Routledge text, Women’s Music for the Screen: Diverse Narratives in Sound, which collects the viewpoints of the most esteemed female composers in film, television, and games. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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