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In order to complete the game audio analysis, please refer to the Game Music Framework for ListeningPreview the document. You may also find it useful to read this Online LecturePreview the document and the Scale SupplementalPreview the document helpful in illustrating some of the melodic concepts. Or, for more on video game music specifically, try reading through Chapter 2 of Tim Summers’s book preview the document Understanding Video Games for some ideas on how to approach game audio analysis, or refer to his handy AppendixPreview the document (in outline format) of how to listen and classify what you are hearing!

1. Choose a video of pure gameplay footage, without commentary or voiceover walkthroughs. This playlist (Links to an external site.) has a few examples to get you started, but you are welcome to choose your own. This channel (Links to an external site.) also has a ton of great footage.

Searching the name of the game you’re interested in, followed by the word “long play” on YouTube will get you the best result–these videos tend to be free of commentary.
If you choose a video, not on the playlist, please link it at the top of your post.
2. Choose approximately a 5-10 minute snippet of the video and provide the timestamps at the top of your post (e.g., Legend of Zelda long play, 2:50-7:45). Try to pick a section where there is an interesting use of music or sound or the game transitions between sound in interesting ways.

Note: You may use a cutscene for one (but not all) of your Game Audio Analysis posts–cutscenes are pre-rendered and the music is composed to fit specifically to the image, much like in a film. Therefore, cutscenes are not as good of a representation of the different ways that sounds can function in video games since there is no gameplay.

3. Next, perform an analysis using the FrameworkPreview the document as a guide. You do not have to answer every question, but strive to capture as many musical details as you can over multiple listenings, and record them here. There is no penalty for misidentifying something; I would rather see you try, and then I have something to work with you individually on, to help you improve.

Need help? Not sure quite how to get started? See below for an introduction to some of the important elements of musical analysis, or this introduction to musical analysis lecture from my history of rock and roll course offering: Online LecturePreview the document. There are many examples of pop and rock songs listed–you can hear all of them on this Spotify playlist (Links to an external site.).

4. As you’ll see, the framework will have questions that don’t apply to every song (e.g. for an instrumental, you can ignore the lyrics section), so you’ll only answer what is relevant, but you should try to answer everything that you can. The post length will vary based on whether you answer in short sentences (like filling in the Framework as a worksheet) or in full paragraph prose to organize your thoughts. Either is ok–I’m looking for strong content and analysis, not a particular arbitrary length.

5. The goal is to capture as much musical detail as possible, so I can see how you are listening and analyzing what you hear and help you grow into the level you’ll need to do the analysis portion on the final paper. Grading in these posts is participation-based so that I can help you become more comfortable with the terminology and the technique of this style of listening.

Intro to Analysis

This course asks you to do a great deal of critical listening and analysis. To the non-musician (and even to the seasoned performer!), this can be quite daunting. Critical listening involves knowledge of how music is put together, and to a lesser extent, elements of its cultural significance and historical development. When we listen critically, we usually rely on tools of music analysis. This is an approach to music listening that might be new to you. To help, let’s break critical listening down into six musical elements or parameters that you can refer to throughout the semester:

Soundprint– the unique qualities that distinguish one performer, style, or genre from another. The sound print entails the more or less immediate effect the music has on your ear, the elements that enable you to tell the difference in just half a second between 8-bit and 16-bit sound, or between music composed for the Super Nintendo vs. the Sega Genesis. In describing a particular “soundprint,” you can talk about five specific musical aspects:
Timbre (tone color): the characteristic sound of an instrument or voice, as determined by its frequency and overtone components (the high, virtually inaudible secondary tones that accompany any musical pitch); we talk about a timbre as bright or dark, pure or dirty, smooth or rough. Any evocative adjective will do!
Instrumentation: for instance, in popular music we often differentiate between acoustic and electric (electrified) sounds, or note the presence of unusual instruments in a certain musical context or genre, such as flute or marimba in a rock song.
Texture: the interaction of different layers of sound. We can have simple blocks or more complex, woven textures
Dynamic levels (volume): soft, loud, or somewhere in between?
Inflection: the note-to-note shaping of a musical line; for instance, many popular musicians slide expressively into and out of notes rather than hitting them neatly head-on.
Harmony — the simultaneous occurrence of two or more musical pitches, and how hose note sets are arranged and deployed
Melody — the main (sung) line, the horizontal aspect of the music
Rhythm — how music moves through time
Form — the organization of music, its structure, its basic building blocks, & the ways in which they are combined
Text — the words or lyrics of a track, if applicable

Here are the link of game audio you may use: 1. https://www.youtube.com/user/cubex55/playlists
2. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6ZnuzbKYI4CLW9WvEUXStKoC5uhekgYj

 

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