Saturday, October 8, 2011

Composers Gone Gaming

Composers of video games typically tend to stay in the genre, similar to television composers.  But there have been a handful of composers that made the transition from gaming to the big screen, or well known film composers writing for the interactive media. 

Certainly one of the first names that come to mind is Harry Gregson-Williams.  Around the same time as his film score career took off, he signed on to compose the music for 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.  He wrote mainly for the cutscenes (with gameplay music by Norihiko Hibino), and arranged the original Metal Gear Solid theme.  Harry followed with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in 2004.  He contributed again to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in 2008. 

Michael Giacchino is one of the few composers to start in video games and eventually end up scoring for film.  He gained attention with the video game score to The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997.  One of the early full orchestral games, Giacchino’s scores have set the precedent for future orchestral scores.  His work for DreamWorks led to Giacchino composing the game Medal of Honor in 1999.  He followed that score up with several other games in the Medal of Honor series and other WWII games like Medal Of Honor: Underground (2000), Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault (2002), Medal Of Honor: Frontline (2002), Secret Weapons Over Normandy (2003), the original Call Of Duty (2003), Call Of Duty: Finest Hour (2004), Medal Of Honor: Airborne (2007), Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty (2008).  In addition to these original scores, his game and film themes were used in other scores or adaptations. 

One of the biggest video game scores was for Lair in 2007, composed by John Debney.  Asked to bring his full scale techniques to the video game world, Debney’s music was recorded in Abbey Road Studios.

Christopher Lennertz
is another name, known for film, television and games composed for the Medal of Honor series following Giacchino in Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (2003), Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (2004), Medal of Honor: European Assault (2005).  He also composed scores for the James Bond adaptations of From Russia With Love (2005), Quantum of Solace (2008) and The Godfather II (2009).  He was also one of the composers for Mass Effect 3 (2012)

Hans Zimmer and his collaborators have made their way to the video game aisle.  He started with
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009), which he composed with Lorne Balfe.  Zimmer also teamed with Lorne Balfe, Borislav Slavov and Tilman Sillescu for Crysis 2 (2011).  Zimmer recently composed the theme while Lorne Balfe composed the music for Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (2011).  James Dooley, who worked with Zimmer many times in films, has also expanded into gaming.  He worked on several SOCOM games as well as Infamous (2009) and its sequel and Epic Mickey (2010).  Ramin Djawadi, best known for the first Iron Man film, composed the score for the most recent Medal of Honor (2010).  Steve Jablonsky, known for his work on the Transformers series, worked on Gears of War 2 (2008) with Clay Duncan and Gears of War 3 (2011).

Brian Tyler is another composer who recently turned to video games.  In 2010 he composed the fun score to Lego Universe, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011), 
Far Cry 3 (2012) and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2013).

Other composers of note:

Bruce Broughton - Heart of Darkness (1998)
Stewart CopelandSpyro the Dragon series

Patrick Doyle - Puppeteer (2013)
Greg Edmonson - Uncharted series
Paul Haslinger - Far Cry Instinct (2005), Rainbow Six: Vegas (2007)
Clint MansellMass Effect 3 (2012)
Bear McCrearyDark Void (2010), SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALS (2011)
Mark MothersbaughCrash Bandicoot series
Graeme Revell - Call Of Duty 2 (2005)

Like film scores, video game scores have slowly made their way on to the concert stage.  Some of the first concert arrangements were of the extremely popular Final Fantasy series, music by Nobuo Uematsu.  Not only do the albums sell in large numbers, but concerts of music sell out quickly.  Video Games Live in concert has toured the world, performing everything from Tetris, Halo, Medal of Honor and The Legend of Zelda.


  1. Greg Edmonson is crying because of your snub...

    Happy to see some video game score love though!

  2. What about the first orchestral score for a video game - Heart of Darkness - by Bruce Broughton? The music is quite good (better than the game).