Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Popular Music and Culture


Jay Hodgson


“Game scoring,” that is, the act of composing music for and through gaming, is distinct from other types of scoring. To begin with, unlike other scoring activities, game scoring depends on — in fact, it arguably is — software programming. The game scorer’s choices are thus first-and-foremost limited by available gaming technology, and the “programmability” of their musical ideas given that technology, at any given historical moment. Moreover, game scores are unique in that they must allow for an unprecedented level of musical flexibility, given the high degree of user interactivity the video game medium enables and encourages. As such, game scoring necessarily constitutes an at least partially aleatoric compositional activity, the final score being determined as much through gameplay as traditional composition. This thesis demonstrates this through case studies of the Nintendo Entertainment System sound hardware configuration, and game scores, including the canonic score for Super Mario Bros. (1985).

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