Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Music

Supervisor

Hodgson, Jay A.

Abstract

"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 dissertation demonstrates how game scoring is software programming that is structured by gaming technology, and that constitutes a unique kind of aleatoric composition, through case studies of the Nintendo Entertainment System sound hardware configuration, and game scores, including the canonic score for Super Mario Bros. (1985).

Summary for Lay Audience

Have you ever turned a video game into a musical instrument? That is, have you ever decided to — temporarily — change your competitive goals to musical ones, while playing a game? My guess is that I am not alone in indulging in this activity, because gaming is a mimetic art form that involves different modes of cognitive and sensory interaction. One of these modes of interaction is musical, but the musical experience of gaming is different from traditional music listening, and the way video game music composers, or “game scorers” write music for games is different from traditional musical scoring activities. 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, or “chance” compositional activity, the final score being determined as much through gameplay as traditional composition. In other words, game scorers arguably collaborate with players to produce the final score for a game. In "Understanding Game Scoring," I demonstrate this collaboration through case studies of the Nintendo Entertainment System sound hardware configuration, and game scores, including the canonic score for Super Mario Bros. (1985).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Saturday, August 28, 2021

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Musicology Commons

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