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Eminence Orchestra: Classical Music from Video Games

Eminence Orchestra wants to open up classical music to new listeners, especially younger people who think that a symphony is either a milk chocolate bar or music for old people. So they don't play Bach or Beethoven - rather, they composed and play music straight out of video games!

If young people won't come to the orchestra, then Eminence Orchestra will bring music to them ... through YouTube. I'll skip the oft-played Super Mario Bros. theme song (though it's good) - rather, let's listen to something from ...


Metal Gear Solid [YouTube Link]

... or from a year ago:


Final Fantasy VII (One Winged Angel) [YouTube Link]

Link: Eminence Orchestra website | YouTube Profile - Thanks Noel!

Previously on Neatorama: 10 Operas You Didn't Know You Already Like


Ultimately - this is the wrong thing for orchestras to do, unless they want to continue to be the museums of the musical world. What's interesting about game music isn't the traditional notions of melody and harmony, and when this music is reduced to those elements, it reveals itself as far less interesting (IMHO, of course).

The music is interesting in its interactiveness - it's ability to change with the action, and in its timbral qualities. Otherwise these are campy arrangements, not unlike pressing the demo button on a Casio keyboard.
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We saw the Final Fantasy music performed by the San Diego Symphony at Comicon. The kids loved it. They also got to see the LOTR music performed another year, and Star Wars one year.

The music IS good on its own. Nothing campy about it.
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The way I see it, classical musicians playing game themes helps to bridge the gap between the modern and orchestral world. It helps people understand the link music creates between genres and dispels the generalizations of stuffy, old classical music that only music nerds (like me! :D) still listen to.

On another note, a student in my graduating class arranged our choir, orchestra and bands to perform 'One-Winged Angel' for his senior project. All of the gamers were practically giddy with joy.
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LOTR and Star Wars are little more than pretty versions of Mahler and Wagner, unfortunately. I'm not trying to be an elitist. I can't deny that the music is catchy and appeals to a broad spectrum. But so do museums.

I admit I'm completely biased. I'm a composer and I know first hand that bigger audiences are drawn to tonal music. It's the catch-22 of modern orchestras. In order to stay in business they have to play the same old things over and over. But many/most of the players get bored with that repertoire.

*sigh* It's also partly due to my attitude about art. To me, art isn't interesting unless it is challenging us to think about our world in different ways. Hearing Mario Bros on Bassoon just doesn't do it for me, sorry.
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Well ultimately it would be wrong for orchestras to stop playing, especially when attendance has been low. Hopefully when people of our generation or even younger hear their favorite anime/game music through a live orchestra like Eminence, eventually it will sparkle an interest in them to start listening to traditional classical music. Even possibly to play an instrument.
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