Baroque music and video games may ostensibly feel like strange bedfellows, but they are intertwined in more ways than meets the eye, and their connection is historical and ever-present.
In the early days of the medium, video game soundtracks shared many ideas with baroque music. Game technology could only support a few channels of sound at the time, and composers would turn to baroque techniques of contrapuntal writing to creatively get around the limitations. Despite the endless possibilities of today’s game scores, the baroque still acts as inspiration and influence for composers evoking the past, experimenting with tradition, and expanding their sonic tapestry.
Technically speaking, composing baroque music can be like solving a puzzle, just like writing interactive music for a video game. Composers create musical figures that fit together in a multitude of ways, adapting to however a player acts in a game. In this way, baroque influence in video games is both incredibly clear and deceptively subtle. In Portal 2, a game concerned with solving technological puzzles, composer Mike Morasky weaves together his own musical puzzle with interlocking layers of arpeggiating instruments. He even creates baroque music with a modern twist, with a harpsichord underscoring the taunts of a Machiavelli-reading robot voiced by Stephen Marchant.
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