Club celebrates video game music and discusses new GE course
The Video Game Orchestra (VGO) will be holding its spring concert on June 2 in the Theatre and Dance Hall. The concert will feature a lineup of large, well-known open world exploration games with vast amounts of content like “Skyrim” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” to fit the theme of “Out of This World.” The event is free for all to come and enjoy what video game music has to offer and to witness the important role that music plays in creating an atmosphere fit for any situation on screen.
Ziad Asadi, a third-year biomedical engineering major and current president of VGO, spoke about the club and how it began just over two years ago.
“It started out as just something I wanted to do, which was play video game music with my friends,” Asadi said. “We got together, decided to play and it turned out to be really fun, so we decided to make it a club. We put on our first performance in March of 2018, and it was only nine of us.”
Although the first performance only amounted to about 30 minutes of music, Asadi was proud of the production he and his fellow members were able to put on. The club was able to garner a lot more attention from that event; over 50 members have joined the club since.
“It’s always just been about getting people who love playing video game music,” Asadi said. “Even if they don’t play video games, we encourage people to join because the music is a lot of fun to learn.”
For Asadi, one of the main things he emphasizes about the club is that the music played is not like the traditional orchestral music students are normally exposed to.
“It’s different because the context has changed,” Asadi said. “It’s not something that you’ve been trained to think is great. Our style is also different, but a lot of music from certain games, like ‘Super Mario Galaxy,’ takes inspiration from classical music, so there definitely is influence.”
In addition to the performances of video game music, Asadi also highlighted a special collaboration he and his members are excited to unveil.
“We’re also going to be showcasing our VGO debut game,” Asadi said. “We’ve teamed up with another group, the Game Development and Arts club, and they have been making a game for a while. We had some of our composers create music for it. At our concert, we will showcase the game as we are playing the music for it.”
Asadi expressed great excitement in being able to work with another group and continue expanding the club in such a short amount of time. There is great potential for the future of the club.
Diane Le, a third-year biology major and current event coordinator of VGO, spoke about the growth of the club since joining alongside Asadi, mainly focusing on the course offered through VGO.
“Since this Spring Quarter, we have been a course here on campus,” Le said. “It’s a GE music course. In the course, we have mandatory rehearsals every Friday from 6pm to 8pm.”
The course is offered mainly as an extension of the club activities while offering students the ability to obtain credit for their work. Members involved in either the club or course are still able to frequently collaborate and prepare for the various performances put on by VGO throughout the school year.
Le also explained some of the trials the young group faced during their first performance and how that experience helped her and the rest of the members prepare for this upcoming concert.
“That first concert was very scary,” Le said. “Ziad provided a lot of the music we played, which was a good mix of everything. Even though we had two quarters to prepare, getting off our feet finally was difficult. When things got back to normal a bit entering Winter Quarter, that’s when we started doing a lot more of event planning. That’s always been something I’m comfortable with, so it was easy for me to get everyone focused on the same goal. For me, it’s about planning something well enough so it works and not necessarily planning for perfection.”
Since that first event, Le has been much more confident in being able to coordinate an event that students are sure to enjoy.
Two composers for VGO, Kyle Chuang, a first-year environmental science and management and music double major, and Savita Pereira, a first-year biomedical engineering major, spoke about their experiences composing music for a large scale performance.
“Part of the reason I really wanted to join VGO is because my dream career is to write music for video games and movies,” Chuang said. “Being in a club where I can surround myself with music from video games would be a great way to learn. To be able to write music, alongside Savita, especially for the game being created by [the] Game Development and Arts club, is a great experience because I think her and I have an understanding of the wide range of music video games cover.”
Like Chuang, Pereira was amazed after seeing VGO perform during one of their early events. She was inspired to become a part of the club and help in any way she could, mainly through composing and arranging music.
“After being really interested in movie music and making my own arrangements, I started to make music that reflected a lot of what I was seeing,” Pereira said. “I just became obsessed with the idea of writing music for movies. Being in VGO has allowed me to start that journey. Since joining, I’ve been able to create a medley for ‘Super Mario Galaxy.’”
One of Pereira’s main goals in creating her own music is making sure it matches with the theme of the game to create a full experience for listeners.
“The music for video games really has to be more atmospheric,” Pereira said. “You want it to set the tone for the scene. The music has to be smooth as well and work with what the player is doing. It’s challenging to try and strike that balance, but it’s important for the game overall.”
Chuang shares Pereira’s sentiments about the stressfulness of creating music that captures the essence of a video game but finds enjoyment nonetheless in doing something he knows will be shared on a greater scale.
“When I write music, especially when going off of inspiration, I try to use a variety of songs so I can get an idea of the full genre,” Chuang said. “With the game being created, we were working off of a few songs that the game designer really wanted us to pull from. That was new for me. One thing that helped me was trying to pick apart the different elements that each song presented and how to capture that genre.”
When writing their respective pieces, Chuang and Pereira both described the process as trial and error, continuously playing with what works and finding out the best patterns for their vision.
“In an orchestra, you have to be familiar with so many different types of instruments,” Pereira said. “It’s also about finding what isn’t crazy for certain instrumentalists to play, which sometimes means writing something and having them come back to you like ‘Hey, this is too much, can you change it?’ Since Kyle had a lot of experience in orchestra, he was teaching me along the way, which was really helpful.”
Now that the music has been created and the performances are being perfected, students can expect a strong display of music inspired by some of the biggest names in the gaming industry and also hear original work by young, talented composers.
Written by: Vincent Sanchez –– email@example.com