• Alex Park

Music Composition in Video Games

Video games have entertained many people with the gameplay, art style and original music composition. In particular, the music greatly enhances the gaming experience as it helps with the emotion that the game is expressing.


The tone that video game music creates in games gives one the experience that they are inside the game’s setting. For example, the songs from the game Cuphead, created by Studio MDHR, are mainly jazz. Cuphead is a game that resembles the cartoons from the early 1900’s, as shown through the storyline and the artstyle, and the music greatly helps give the feel. During the early 1900’s, jazz had become very popular and it was often used with the cartoons at that time. The creators of Cuphead decided to use this to give the players the feeling that they are in that period of time. Additionally, in Cuphead, there are many characters with their own unique stages and songs. In these stages, the songs serve to give the player that they are in that stage. Whether it brings a lively or an intense mood, these songs are able to effectively give the players that they are in those special stages. By adding songs for each specific character and stage and using jazz to create a time of the 1900’s, Cuphead effectively captivated players, and allowed them to experience a different time period at each game levels



Music has given players the emotion of the video games, but this is done by the thoughtful composition that the artists have done. By adding specific instruments and sounds and recording live or electronically, video game composers have been able to create songs that effectively captivate the players. For example, in the racing game Mario Kart 8, one stage has been able to bring much emotion to the players for its unique stage and soundtrack. In the stage Mount Wario, the players race through a course that goes only one direction, unlike most other courses where they repeat the same track three times. During the beginning of the song, there is a large build-up, and then drops down to only a couple instruments playing. The large build-up is to get the players to feel like they are in the start of a real race, where there is much excitement for the race. The simplicity coming right after gives the song more room to grow, like the race track in the game. The middle section of the song acts as the rising intensity of the race track, where the course becomes more difficult to steer in. Here, in the song, more instruments are added and certain instruments play the same parts to create unique sounds that give the player the intense feeling that they can focus with. As the player progresses towards the final section of the race track, the song also increases in volume, getting louder and louder with more instruments included, giving the player the intense and hurried feeling to finish the race quickly. This section also has many instruments having the main melody at different times to match many different obstacles in the race. As the player reaches the last section of the track, the build-up from the middle section is released, where it now plays the first section again, but with more instruments and more energy to signal that the player is at the homestretch and to finish the race strong. This strong intensity soon goes away as the player finishes the race track, giving them a sense of relief and accomplishment after playing the game. This feeling would not have been as rewarding if the music was not there to help bring out the emotion of the game in this stage.


The songs are not the only musical part to help give the audience the emotion of the game, but special sound effects also help with the one of the game. For example, in the Super Mario Bros. series, when the timer reaches a certain number, the song playing in the background will speed up. This gives the player the feeling that they need to quickly complete the level or else the timer will run out. Using this is an effective method to keep the players engaged in the games since the music will motivate them to continue playing and beat the levels.

Music has been a very large and important part of my life, and video game music is especially meaningful. Whenever I listen to video game songs, I always like to focus on the composition and the instruments used in the songs since it has always interested me how the composers were able to make such great music. Whenever I hear these songs, it always makes me feel better since it completely clears out my mind and makes me focus on only the music. Many people other than me also have this similar feeling when listening to video game music, since they are great pieces that are able to make them feel better emotionally and give them a better experience in the game.


Music has made video games more enjoyable since they have been able to give the players experience the story of the game more. From lively music that the players can have fun with to more ominous songs to give the players more suspense, music has been an effective way to tell the story of the game. Music has served to entertain the audience, so even without the game, music is still able to tell an emotion alone.


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