Following a tip off from The Guardian at the beginning of the week, my attention skipped up to Nottingham. However, I was sidetracked from The British Art Show (it begins a tour in the city anyway, so I will be able to catch it in London at some point) in attending a concert of music put on by the city-based GameCity festival. Here's what the event looked like:
An insight into the machinations of the musical underscoring of games, the evening doubled as a celebration of the music of game composer James Hannigan. We heard a mixture of the prerecorded tracks (actually used in games such as the Command and Conquer series and The Lord Of The Rings) and a live choir (The Pinewood Singers) with a couple of instrumentalists and a soloist performing in synch. The music is exciting live, especially for those familiar with the games. I particularly liked Yuriko's Theme (from Red Alert 3) which sounds great live with its crazy violin meanderings.
What was most interesting though was hearing how the music is assembled. Considerable flexibility must be built in for the music to be able to respond to the playability (sorry, can't think of a better word) of the game. Hannigan talked about the orchestral recording process - whilst he was highly complimentary of British session orchestral musicians and singers he noted that the ideal, which is recording separate orchestral tracks for each part is unworkable due to cost. The ideal? Well, the music is designed in conjunction with the game to respond to the events in the game, providing an intuitive dramatic and emotional response to the action.
The event concluded with a first hearing of the music for the tie-in to the upcoming Harry Potter film (The Deathly Hallows), which conductor Allan Wilson undertook to direct with a wizard's wand given to him by the evening's host, John Broomhall. A fun evening.