A personal history of game music

Mario Sheet Music

Despite writing quite a lot about game music, and listening to an awful lot of it, it turns out I actually know sod all about it – the history, the technology, the composers. Every now and then I’ll come across an article that touches on it and find it all fascinating. Inquisitive blighter that I am, this is going to change.

There is some debate about what counts as the first true video game. Whatever your stance, it’s reasonable to say that computer games have been around in one form or another since the early 1950s, while video games came along later in the decade, or in the early 60s. The first game to feature music is similarly hard to pin down – early arcade machines might have a built in phonograph or tape machine (e.g. Journey) but for the first game that generated its own music you have to jump ahead to the 70s for the likes of Gun Fight.

I had the privilege of being born right at the peak of the Golden Age and so have lived through and experienced first-hand the evolution of video game music from the very earliest chiptunes to the orchestral titans of today. But though I’m a big fan I know next to nothing about that evolution.

So what I’m planning is to actually look properly into the history of game music. But instead of a thorough and comprehensive exploration this is a series of posts specifically about the music that formed my own history of gaming: from my first computer, my first console, right up to the mighty onyx totem of power on which I write this blog. A series of games, each with their own soundtracks, and an examination of the technology and composers that made them happen.

Worry not, this isn’t going to be autobiographical unless you find the revelation that I played Lemmings as a child worthy of the term.

We begin with the ZX Spectrum.

Header image borrowed from the wonderful Mario Piano website

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