Music in Video Games

The Importance of Music

When you think of your favorite video games, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the gameplay, the graphics, or the fun times you've had playing them with friends. But for many games, the music is the ingredient that gives life to the game, and changes it from good to excellent. It's hard to think of the Super Mario games without hearing the catchy theme in your head. Imagine starting up Battlefield and not hearing the epic soundtrack prepare you for battle. Today, we'll be taking about the importance of music in video games.


Video game music has its roots in film music (we'll talk about film music in 7th grade). In the early days of film, movies were silent. There was no dialogue or music track to go along with the movie, so conversations were shown with text on the screen. To keep audiences more engaged, movie theaters would hire a person to play the organ or piano to accompany the film. When a villain would appear on screen, the organ player would improvise an "angry" sounding chord, and when the hero saves the day, a "triumphant" sounding melody would play.

Charlie Chaplin

Watch this clip from an old Charlie Chaplin silent film. This is the kind of music that would have been improvised by the organ or piano player in the theater. How does the music match the actions on screen?

Music in movies

Over the years, the use of music in movies has become more sophisticated. Film composers today. use musical themes for characters and locations to help draw the viewer into the story. One of the most famous and talented film composers is John Williams. John Williams has written the music for many famous films, and he still writes music today at the age of 86! Listen to this playlist of John William's famous themes and see how many your recognize. How do these themes work to draw the audience into the story?

John Williams Guess That Theme.mp4

Music in Video Games

In video games, a player is in charge of the actions, so there has to be different music for various levels, characters, and sections of the game. Usually, music is used for at least one of these things:

  • Creates an atmosphere for the game
  • Adds character to the game
  • Gives the game player a sense of emotion
C418 - Living Mice - Minecraft Volume Alpha.mp4
Pokémon Red & Blue Music_ Opening Theme.mp4
The Legend of Zelda 'Original' Theme song.mp4
OST Battlefield 1 - Main Theme (Classic Theme).mp4

Tomorrow's project:

Tomorrow, we'll be starting the Video Game Music Project. We'll be using a website called Beepbox. For today, play around with Beepbox and try to make an interesting song. Make sure to plug your headphones in.

If we have time, try to make a quick tune that would fit in with the game PacMan.