View Full Version : Music Play! A Videogame Symphony

12th September 2007, 15:21
So most of you have heard about the Play symphony (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play!_A_Video_Game_Symphony), right? It's that thing where lots of videogame music is performed by a symphony orchestra, accompanied by images and video on several huge screens and is supposed to be a pretty cool performance. Well, it's coming to Norway (http://www.play-symphony.com/news.php?full=80) on october 26th, and guess who has a front row ticket! :)

I've been wanting to see this since I first heard about it, but never thought it'd ever be performed near here. Scandinavia is such a small market, so we don't normally get narrow things such as this on the grounds that not enough people will be interested. It actually was in Sweden not too long ago however, but I learned about it too late, something I was very annoyed with. So I was delighted to learn that it's coming here now, and didn't waste a moment in ordering a ticket for it.

The performance is going to last over two and a half hours, and in addition to its regular Final Fantasy, Castlevania etc repertoire it includes some C64 and Amiga medleys as well especially made for the european audiences, which I'm definitely looking forward to hearing.

It's still over six weeks off but allready I can't wait! :)

12th September 2007, 15:25
I've heard about this. There are other videogame music-related concerts as well, including rock bands playing Final Fantasy themes, Guilty Gear live concerts and so on. It'd be wicked to attend one at least once. I actually have some soundtrack CDs in MP3 format from VGM concerts. Fun stuff, and since they're played with live instruments, they definitely sound a lot different from synth.

Report back and tell us how you liked it :)

Demon Cleaner
12th September 2007, 15:30
and guess who has a front row ticket!No :hmmm:

Hope you'll enjoy it, lucky bast*** :lol:

12th September 2007, 15:44
Very nice. Have a great time. You think you never get anything like that in Norway! On the south coast of England we never get anything like this. It is always held in London (which is always expensive) or in the North, which is cheaper but a pain to get to.

30th October 2007, 19:24
So I did go to see this on friday. Mangled hand or no, not a damn thing was going to stop me from experiencing this. And believe me, it was worth every effort. There were some bad points, all to do with the arrangement itself. The location was fine, a huge warehouse with great acoustics. However, the audience were all sat on uncomfortable hard-plastic folding chairs while the orchestra was elevated on a podium. This didn't work at all, you couldn't see the orchestra or the choir properly. It should've been the other way around like a proper auditorium, and some proper chairs would've helped.

But once the music started none of that mattered anymore. There were three huge screens behind the orchestra shifting between images from the games whose music was being played, to shots of the orchestra, the conductor and so on. This worked really well.

As for the music, it was just wonderful. They started out with the theme from Battlefield, which isn't a game I've played much so I couldn't relate much to it personally. But it was a beautiful theme they played, and it also featured a guest performance by Rony Barrak, a famed percussionist. I hadn't heard of him before myself, but this man is damn good at what he does. He played one of those drums that you just play by tapping your fingers and striking with your hands - I've no idea what it's called in any language - and he had this great solo section in there that was just amazing to listen to. The way the guy played it you could've sworn that there were three or four guys playing together, that's how fast his hands were moving across the thing. He got a great round of applause for it too.

After that came the Commodore 64 medley. This was something I was very much looking forward to. Sadly I was obviusly in a minority at least where I was sitting, as the kids around me was busier commenting and giggling at the images they were seeing on the screens than actually listening to the music, which did spoil it a little for me. Aside from that, it was a great piece to listen to. It started with the International Karate theme (not the IK+ one), continued with Gianna Sisters' first ingame theme, then went on through the Last Ninja theme and then finished off with a hauntingly beautiful version of Forbidden Forest. Similar to the one found on the Back In Time 3-compilation only played live with a real orchestra, that last one was truly wonderful. As was the whole thing, really. Gianna Sisters with a full orchestra? Does it get better than that? :)

Then they did themes from Dreamfall, which featured the same vocalist that was used for the game itself. Sorry, I forget her name. Anyway, It's been a while since I played through Dreamfall and I couldn't particularily recall any of the music. But there's no denying that there are som brilliant moments in there, and what we got to hear was definitely worth coming there for. I liked it alot.

Castlevania was up next, and they did a medley of themes from a good number of the games. Most of them I've never played, but the music was great. The screens were showing images from both the modern and the classic games, so I expect there were songs from both in there. Not a bad listen this either.

Then none other than Machinae Supremacy walks on stage! I had no idea they were going to perform so that was a surprise for me. They and the orchestra do a great version of Theme of Laura for us (the Silent Hill 2 main theme), which was just fantastic. Allready I feel I've had my money's worth, and the concert isn't even halfway yet.

After that, Machinae Supremacy walks off and Rony Barrak and his drum comes back on. The orchestra then plays the main theme from Metal Gear Solid with Barrak providing the fast percussion and rhythms that are a trademark of Harry Gregson Williams' music. Again it is a great performance that was worth coming there for.

Then we got a medley of Super Mario themes. Just about every song from the first game was played, with a couple others from more recent titles that I haven't played. The audience went completely crazy during this but personally, I've never been a big fan of the music from these games. It enjoys such a high status because of the high status of the games themselves in my opinion. That's true for a lot of game music of course, but I think especially so in this case. Super Mario was the entrance to video games for a lot of people so of course it is very special to them. The orchestra did a good job again, and yes it was entertaining to hear these themes performed by a live orchestra, but in my opinion the songs themselves aren't much to be excited about. But obviously from the audience's reaction I was in a minority again in that hall.

Then followed a 20-minute intermission. And after the crowd settled the orchestra started playing some music from World of Warcraft. Again, I have no relation whatsoever to that, but the music I heard definitely wasn't bad. Probably meant a lot for 80% of the audience though, considering how many are playing this game. It was a good listen, some really nice themes there I thought.

Some themes from Halo followed after that. I've only played the first of these games, and that was ages ago so couldn't even place which themes we heard were from that, if any. But again, the orchestra did a fine job and we were listening to some really nice music there, so it was a good experience.

Then came the Amiga medley, which definitely brought several smiles to my face. But again, that damn Nintendo generation that was sitting around me couldn't relate to what they were seeing or hearing and couldn't keep their mouths shut through this either. I nearly told them to shut their holes, but I didn't want to start an argument on top of everything as these seemed like spoilt kids that would definitely have started talking back if talked to. And it wasn't like they were talking constantly, just dropping five or six comments throughout but it was really annoying. Apart from that this medley was great, using Alien Breed 2's ominous theme to start it off. Then they went on to the ingame theme from James Pond 2, a great tribute to late Richard Joseph I thought. After that they did the ingame track from the Partyland table from Pinball Fantasies, definitely a strange but fun choice. After that it continued into the Lionheart theme, doing a great version of that. They then moved on to Lemmings (the one game with images the kids around me actually recognised but hardly realised the significance of), doing the intro music strangely enough and then one of the more recognisable ingame themes that I know has been remade several times for later versions. They then finished the whole thing off with the main theme of Turrican 2. Wonderful and simply great fun to listen to all in all.

The orchestra then followed with a medley of themes from Oblivion, which was nice. These themes are good and were performed well, but they are after all written for a symphony orchestra in the first place so you can hardly go wrong there. It was nice to hear them performed live though.

After that came the theme from Super Shinobi, on the Megadrive judging from the images on the screens. Never played the game or heard that music before. And I think this is one piece of game music you have to be able to relate to in order to enjoy, as I didn't get much from it. The orchestra played it well though, and the music definitely wasn't bad so all in all an ok experience.

Then comes a weird thing. The next piece is music from Guitar Hero, of all things. Namely One by Metallica. Why on earth would they choose to do a song that has nothing to do with videogames other than being licensed to one? There was a lot of murmuring and confused faces in the audience when this was introduced. Still, Machinae Supremacy came back on stage to perform it with the orchestra, and another norwegian vocalist who was introduced as being some famous person. But I'll be damned if I knew who he was. Don't remember his name anymore either. He performed well though, as did the orchestra and Machine Supremacy. It was a lot like hearing the S&M version performed live which certainly wasn't a bad thing in itself. Just a really strange choice for a videogame concert.

Then follows a medley of Zelda themes, again to much excitement from the audience. The only theme I recognised was that of the first one, as I never played any of the others. Yeah yeah, I know. Anyway, there was a lot of nice melodies in this and it was performed well, same as everything else.

Then it's time for the grand finale. And as soon as the first few notes of One Winged Angel is heard, the crowd just goes nuts. And no wonder. One Winged Angel, being the final battle theme from Final Fantasy VII, is definitely one of the most powerful themes around. And to top it of, Machinae Supremacy joined in on key parts giving it an even darker and more ominous tone than it allready has. All in all the orchestra, choir and band performed this flawlessly and with tremendous power, and it was an amazing experience to hear this performed live. Almost worth the price of admission alone.

And with that it was all over. Much too soon I thought, even though it had lasted two and a half hours I still definitely wanted to hear more. But there were no encores, so that was it. A great experience that I'm glad I didn't miss, and which I'll gladly go to again if it ever comes back here. Hopefully at a more proper location. I'm absolutely recommending that you go to one of these events if it should appear near you.

If you want to hear some of these pieces, a few are up on youtube. Just search play symphony oslo there and you should find them. I watched a couple and they definitely don't do the event justice, but for just hearing what the pieces were like I guess they're ok.

Also, dagbladet, a leading norwegian paper said in its article about the event that the whole thing was recorded with a future official DVD release in mind, so there's still a good chance you can see this event in proper quality yet.

31st October 2007, 00:36
That sounded like it was really good. I hope it does come to somewhere near me as I will definitely go.

It is a shame about the younger kids not realising the significance of the older games and music. Just shows how the youth of today are so clueless and missing knowledge of anything outside of their little bubble of existence.

31st October 2007, 10:07
Rony Barrak, a famed percussionist. I hadn't heard of him before myself, but this man is damn good at what he does. He played one of those drums that you just play by tapping your fingers and striking with your hands - I've no idea what it's called in any language

Like 'bongos'?


Or the bigger version? The name of which eludes me right now, but I call most hand-played drums bongos, using it as more of a generic term for a drum(s) hit with the hand.

Or maybe it's one of these 'goblet drums' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goblet_drum)

31st October 2007, 11:39
Yeah I thought about calling it a bongo, but I knew that's not what it was. After some searching, it's called a Darabouka. I was going to link to this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti8O5RbsQxg) youtube clip of the Battlefield piece showing him playing it, but the idiot who uploaded it has cut Barrak's drumming session away from it. His playing with the orchestra is still there but that great solo of his is gone. Can't find any other videos of it on short notice either.