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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Le Roux

Mario Meets Mozart: Live Orchestras Level Up Game Soundtracks

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Video games have grown from simple pixelated graphics and electronic sounds to stunning, immersive worlds that transport players to new realms. One of the most integral parts of this evolution is the game soundtrack, which has become an art form in its own right, utilising complex compositions and cinematic scores to enhance the overall gaming experience.






Over the years, video game soundtracks have produced some fantastic pieces that are still celebrated by fans today. Some of the most notable game soundtracks include the sweeping orchestral scores of the Final Fantasy series, the epic music of Tsukasa Saito in Elden Ring, and the hauntingly beautiful music of the indie game Ori and the Blind Forest.


Other notable soundtracks include the emotional and moving music of The Last of Us by Gustavo Santaolalla, the heroic score of God of War by Bear McCreary, and the timeless tunes of The Legend of Zelda. Each of these soundtracks demonstrates the power of music to enhance the gaming experience and leave a lasting impression on players.


3 People playing Double Bass during a Cinemagic Scoring session
Double Bass during Cinemagic Scoring Shared Recording Session

Game developers are taking their soundtracks to the next level by incorporating live orchestras into the recording process. A live orchestra can add depth and emotion to the music that is difficult to achieve with digital instruments alone. Hans Zimmer also ventured into video game music and composed the main theme for the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2", which was performed live in a video game concert.



Many gaming concerts have been held worldwide, featuring live orchestral performances of classic game scores such as Super Mario and newer games like the Final Fantasy series. These Video Game Music concerts help bring orchestral music to new ears.



Benefits of Live Orchestration


Authenticity

There are several benefits to using a live orchestra in a game's soundtrack. Live orchestras can provide a level of authenticity to the music. This can create a more immersive experience for the player, as the music feels like it's being played specifically for them.


Emotional depth

Live orchestras can bring a level of emotion and depth to the music. When a composer writes a piece of music for an orchestra, they have access to various instruments and sounds that can create a rich and complex composition. The nuances of each instrument and the way they work together can add a layer of complexity and emotion to the music that can be difficult to achieve "in the box".


French Horn being recorded at Cinemagic Scoring Recording Session
French Horn at a Cinemagic Scoring Recording session at Milestone Studios


While using a live orchestra in a game's soundtrack can be incredibly rewarding, there are also some challenges to consider.







Challenges of Live Orchestration:


Recording sessions for live orchestral scores can be complex, but the result is a beautifully crafted orchestral score that elevates the game's overall experience. Game composers work tirelessly to create compositions that match the game's aesthetic and enhance the player's immersion.


Cost

Live orchestras can be expensive to hire, and recording sessions can take a significant amount of time. This means that usually, only large studios or developers with significant budgets can afford to use live orchestras in their soundtracks. However, with Cinemagic Scoring, composers have different options, including shared sessions at affordable rates.


Logistics

Recording sessions with live orchestras require a lot of planning and coordination. There are many different instruments and musicians to coordinate, and the recording space needs to be set up specifically for the orchestra. This can be a complex process that requires a lot of time and attention to detail. This is where Cinemagic Scoring makes the process seamless and less stressful.


Incorporating live orchestras into game soundtracks is a challenging but rewarding process. While it may not be feasible for every game, the benefits of using live orchestration can be significant for those with the budget and resources, from adding depth and emotion to the music to creating an immersive and authentic experience for the player.


The future of video game music is exciting, with endless possibilities for game composers to create beautiful musical pieces that will continue to enhance the gaming experience for years to come. Contact us today to take your video game soundtrack to the next level.



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