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Old Sep 27, 2012, 07:54 PM
Xenofan 29A Xenofan 29A is offline
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Default Atonality in Video Game Music

Atonality is often used negatively, and in fact the term was invented in criticism as a derogatory one. People point to the music of modernist composers such as Schoenberg, Boulez, and Stockhausen and think that it's a kind of academic exercise or hoax, created with an anti-musical mindset divorced from expression or color. Some people use it as a synonym for "dissonant", which is not, strictly speaking, terribly accurate, although understandable. There is a certain level of dissonance in all music, but the less predictable it is, the more dissonant it seems to the ear, as one expects to hear typical resolutions to tonal "conflicts". The violent reaction among many to certain kinds of atonal music has led to their being used in movie scores to reflect danger or horror, and this usage has been passed on into video game scores as well, in games like Bioshock or Dead Space.

Exhibit No. 1

Inspired by the style of: [Not for the faint of heart]

That's not what I'm interested in. Frankly, Penderecki-lite has become so routine in certain contexts that it has become predictable and not terribly creative, artistically.

I'm far more interested in creative uses of ambivalent, denied, or effectively eliminated tonal centers, a process which actually began far earlier than the 20th century, and reached an early apex in Impressionism, the odd modal inflections of which did not sit well with early audiences.

Exhibit No. 2

Inspired by:

And as much as people may denigrate Schoenberg and the "Second Viennese School", he was a great composer and his twelve-tone method far less restrictive or mechanical than it has been made out to be by certain of his critics. And it too has had undeniable influence on video game music.

Exhibit No. 3

Yes, that opening line is a 12-tone theme, using all of the notes of the chromatic scale.

Inspired by:

The following Dragon Quest example is even more explicitly Schoenbergian:

Is anyone else interested in this topic as much as I am?

Last edited by Xenofan 29A; Sep 27, 2012 at 07:57 PM.
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