Video game music has evolved from the early sounds of sound chips in the early 1980s, to full-blown orchestral scores that jump out of the small screen and take on a life of their own, in the concert hall. From the soundtrack to Yoko Shimomura’s Kingdom Hearts to Jeremy Soule’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the popularity and fan base of the genre is growing.
Soundtracks to early video game music was made up of simple melodies from sound synthesizer technology, which inspired the ‘Chiptune’ style of music.
Video game music has now grown to become as complex and as popular as film and TV scores.
Japan, notably, has a long and celebrated history of video game composition, producing some of the most popular titles in the world from Sonic the Hedgehog to The Tales series.
In the Classic FM Hall of Fame 2021, Japanese video game composer Yoko Shimomura’s music for ‘Kingdom Hearts’ was the chart’s highest climber at number 86. And in our 2016 poll, Japanese maestro Nobuo Uematsu’s ‘Final Fantasy’ soundtrack reached number 17, making it into the top 20 for the fifth year running.
In 2017, as part of Classic FM’s 25th birthday celebrations, we launched the UK’s first radio show dedicated to video game music, hosted for the first three series by ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’ composer, Jessica Curry. High Score has since returned for a fourth and fifth series, fronted by composer Eímear Noone, who has written for ‘World of Warcraft’ and made history in 2020 as the first woman to conduct at the Oscars.