Weeks 11–12: Game Audio Technology

Oct 31: Game audio technology

One of the ways in which game audio is notably different from film audio is that in its early days, game audio was highly restricted by technological limitations of the consoles’ sound chips. This impacts how we analyze this music.

Reading (due Wednesday before class)

  • Chapters 2 and 3 of Collins (2008)
  • Burke (forthcoming)

Guest expert: Kevin R. Burke (Associate Professor, Florida Tech)

Writing due Saturday at noon

Transcription practice! Use Audio Overload to make a four-measure transcription of some musical cue from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992). The VGZ files are available in Teams. I made a <6 min video tutorial on how to set up Audio Overload and use it to transcribe.

Instead of using “instruments” in your score as you would for a live ensemble, divide up your score into channels as shown in Burke Figure 7.

Submit this transcription, along with a short statement reflecting on how this process compares to other experiences you’ve had transcribing, or to traditional dictation tests given in a typical aural skills class. Save as a PDF and upload to your homework submit folder.

Nov 7: Timbre, topic, and technology

This week, I will be out of town presenting the winter topic paper at the Society for Music Theory national conference in New Orleans, so we won’t have a synchronous meeting this week, and I’ve made the work a bit easier this week.

Optional Reading

  • Lavengood (2019)

Writing due Saturday at noon

None! You may like to get a head start thinking about your final project.


Readings are always available in the Readings folder on Teams.

  • Burke, Kevin R. 2023. “Hard Limitations and Soft Possibilities: A ‘Systematic’ History of Early Video Game Sound Technology.” In The Oxford Handbook of Video Game Music and Sound, edited by Mark Nicholas Grimshaw-Aagaard. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Collins, Karen. 2008. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Lavengood, Megan L. 2019. “Timbre, Genre, and Polystylism in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.” In On Popular Music and Its Unruly Entanglements, edited by Nick Braae and Kai Arne Hansen, 209–34. London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18099-7.