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Three famous musicians behind some of the best loved games


When we think of musicians, most people imagine rock stars on stage, or possibly session musicians working behind the scenes, but in today’s digital world a number of musicians and composers make their living from writing scores for games.

Director Steven Spielberg famously remarked that John Williams’ musical composition for Jaws (1975) was responsible for 50% of the film’s success at the box office, and with their blockbuster budgets – modern games are no different.

Inon Zur

Israeli-American composer Inon Zur started off as a composer for television and film, but soon moved into writing scores for games, starting with a number of Star Trek titles. He is recognised for his use of full orchestras and choirs, and has been known to experiment with lesser known instruments to give a game a more authentic feel, such as with his use of Arabic flutes and the woodwind duduk in his score for Prince of Persia.

Notable scores: Men of Valour (2004), Fallout 3 (2008), and Prince of Persia (2008)

Jesper Kyd

Danish composer and sound designer Jesper Kyd has worked on the music number of film and television shows, but is perhaps best known for the music on the Hitman and Assassin’s Creed games.  His electronic and symphonic score for the Hitman: Contracts won him the Best Original Music award at the 2005 BAFTA Games Awards and his rich, cinematic score for Altair’s Middle-Eastern story in the Assassin’s Creed tale has won him further plaudits from the industry.

Notable scores:  Hitman series, Assassin’s Creed series

Koji Kondo

Japanese video game composer and sound director Koji Kondo has been involved with the creation some of the most widely heard music in the world, due to his involvement with Nintendo and their games such as Mario and The Legend of Zelda.

Kondo was the third person hired for music and sound design by Nintendo, but the first that specialised in musical composition. So as Nintendo grew to become one of the world’s leading video games companies, his music became irrevocably linked with the Japanese brand.

Notable scores: The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros

So next time you hear the music while playing a game, whether it’s the next blockbuster title like Grand Theft Auto, or a smaller-scale smartphone game, then have a think about the time and effort that has gone into the sound design. As it is this that has a large role in adding to the depth and level of immersion you get in the game – whether that is finding yourself on the floor of a casino at, racing around the streets of LA with 2XL Racing, or shooting at some Nazi zombies with Call of Duty Zombies.

Photograph by Ninac26

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