A Composer’s Guide to Game Music

A Composer’s Guide to Game Music

Winifred Phillips

ISBN 9780262321334
288 pp.
March 2014

Content Publisher
The MIT Press

A Composer’s Guide to Game Music

Music in video games is often a sophisticated, complex composition that serves to engage the player, set the pace of play, and aid interactivity. Composers of video game music must master an array of specialized skills not taught in the conservatory, including the creation of linear loops, music chunks for horizontal resequencing, and compositional fragments for use within a generative framework. In A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, Winifred Phillips—herself an award-winning composer of video game music—provides a comprehensive, practical guide that leads an aspiring video game composer from acquiring the necessary creative skills to understanding the function of music in games to finding work in the field.

Musicians and composers may be drawn to game music composition because the game industry is a multibillion-dollar, employment-generating economic powerhouse, but, Phillips writes, the most important qualification for a musician who wants to become a game music composer is a love of video games. Phillips offers detailed coverage of essential topics, including musicianship and composition experience; immersion; musical themes; music and game genres; workflow; working with a development team; linear music; interactive music, both rendered and generative; audio technology, from mixers and preamps to software; and running a business.

A Composer’s Guide to Game Music offers indispensable guidance for musicians and composers who want to deploy their creativity in a dynamic and growing industry, protect their musical identities while working in a highly technical field, and create great music within the constraints of a new medium.


  1. Acknowledgments
  2. 1. Why Would You Want to Write Music for Games?
  3. 2. A Composer’s Creative Skillset
  4. 3. Immersion: How Music Deepens the Play Experience
  5. 4. The Importance of Themes
  6. 5. Music Genres and Game Genres
  7. 6. Roles and Functions of Music in Games
  8. 7. Preparation and Workflow
  9. 8. The Development Team
  10. 9. Music Needs of the Game
  11. 10. Linear Music in Games
  12. 11. Interactive Music in Games: Rendered Music
  13. 12. Interactive Music in Games: Music Data
  14. 13. A Game Composer’s Technical Skillset
  15. 14. Acting Like a Business and Finding Work
  16. Conclusion
  17. References
  18. Further Reading
  19. Index