Not long after the inception of the video game medium, music was introduced to enhance the gaming experience. As the video game medium evolved, video game music has flourished into a distinctive genre. In this course, we will address questions such as “What is the unique sound of the video game music genre?,” “How is music integrated into video games?,” and “How has video game music changed over time?” We will analyze common structures in video game music and their relationship to their context, both in-game and historically. A previous familiarity with basic music theory will not be assumed but will be a helpful background for this course.
We will begin the course with elements and examples of early video game music and proceed to study music of multiple eras simultaneously, structuring each session around the analysis of a particular facet of the genre. As the course progresses, students will develop a basic musical vocabulary, collection of examples, and repertoire of analytical tools through which they can understand and appreciate video game music. The course will not focus on the influence of notable examples of video game music on the genre; rather, representative examples of musical elements and historical trends will paint a more general picture though which students will be able to determine the significance of video game music pieces not discussed in class.
The course sessions will consist of lecture and discussion portions; participation in class discussions will be required. During the class meetings, we will listen to and discuss musical excerpts, including examples from Super Mario Bros., Kingdom Hearts, Hollow Knight, Halo, Pokemon, Cuphead, Undertale, Donkey Kong, and more. Homework will consist of active listening to pieces listed in the syllabus. The class will meet for one hour each week.
This course will be offered for 2 unit on a Pass/No Pass basis. To receive a Pass, students must regularly attend class and reasonably complete the course assignments listed below. A passing grade will correspond to a 70% or higher in the course. Classes are Tuesday from 7:30-8:30pm.
The syllabus can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/VGMF20App
The grade will be comprised of 4 components:
Attendance and Participation during in class discussions
Weekly Response Assignments about a page in length
In-class Analyses, two throughout the semester about a page in length
Final Project about 4 pages in length
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