05-25-2016, 05:47 AM
I've been thinking about how to approach tagging video game music. I have an entire history of game music to catalog, but the vocabulary we use to describe music hasn't really caught up with video games. Whether this is a problem of vgm largely being a novelty to even hardcore music enthusiasts, or its misrepresentation as being exclusively for younger audiences... well, that's a discussion for another time. For now, I was curious how you go about approaching tagging your video game music.

For the moment, I tag video game soundtracks as Game, and film/tv/broadway soundtracks as Soundtrack. My reasoning for separating vgm into its own 'Game' genre is this: Soundtracks for stage, TV, movies... they often share a similar-enough compositional style... cinematic, orchestral. And while these qualities are definitely present in video game music, vgm is very much its own unique genre, sharing similar compositional styles that aren't really present anywhere else. Or where inspiration from other popular music genres does creep in, the music is often still composed and executed in that very unique, "gamey" sound. That, and the fact that there's historically-relevant 'video' game music in games that primarily don't use video, like pinball, and it just makes a lot more sense to me to categorize the genre as its own unique thing.

BUT, then you have things like the soundtrack to the Godfather, and the soundtrack to Miami Vice, which despite being strongly different in general composition, are both quasi-officially categorized as Soundtrack/Stage & Screen. So would that make vgm, regardless of its style and composition, fall under the Soundtrack/Stage & Screen genre? I think I'd still lean towards vgm being its own genre, but maybe more for the vehicle of delivery? For me it's easy to look at a shelf full of cartridges and imagine them as cassettes or LPs, published and sold music albums by recognized and cataloged authors... but for now, I'm interested in your thoughts on the subject, and I have a few questions for anyone willing to share!

1) POLL: What genre do you tag your vgm with?
2) Do you tag official CD soundtracks as Soundtrack/Stage & Screen, or your vgm tag?
3) What genre would you tag Streets of Rage? Techno? Game?

05-26-2016, 10:50 PM
TL,DR: If it was synthesized by the console: chiptune; If it's a prerecorded or "tracked" with decent samples: Score

For me, it really depends on a couple of things. Say were talking about a Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo game's soundtrack [or anything else older], I'd put it under "Chiptunes". Now if we're talking something newer, say Metal Gear Solid 4, I'd probably put it under "Scores" . Once you venture into the consoles from the 90's [e.g. the N64, PSX] you kinda hit a bit of a grey area. This is mostly because these were "transitional" consoles, and as such, you kinda get a mix between chiptune and score. On playstation, you'd have games with "Redbook Audio" Like Twisted Metal and Earthworm Jim [Actually, that was SegaCD, but same deal]; but then you had games like Chrono Trigger and the various Final Fantasy games, that synthesized their music. On The N64 front, you had games that [I]MOSTLY used samples to make the music, but there were a couple of exceptions here, too, Like Tony Hawks Pro Skater and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, which used actual prerecorded songs [THPS64 actually had looping video** snippets, but still, it was pretty impressive for the time!].

Actually, as a secondary thought, THPS probably wasn't the best example, as that soundtrack would get labelled as such.

*Why do I use score? It's pretty simple. Whenever I think "Soundtrack", I think, "From/Inspired by". Whenever I think "Score" I think of the actual cinematic/thematic music played in the background.

**THPS Video? Some time ago, I managed to rip the "Music" from THPS64, and assumed I had just music [what was I supposed to expect, right?]. I dropped them into WMP and I had a very tiny [I think the resolution was LITERALLY 8x8 or 16x16] video playing.

05-27-2016, 08:52 AM
All my game soundtracks are just labeled as 'Game', but that's mostly for practical reasons, I don't think of video game music as a whole as a genre. Streets of Rage is a good example for this: the music is not simply 'techno' but covers multiple electronic genres, so the classification would have to be done on a track-by-track basis. I would be busy for years if I had to do this for my whole collection, and in the end it would probably still feel pretty arbitrary in many cases.

What I found more useful, is to keep track of things like 'System' and 'Sound Source' that I store in custom tags. 'Sound Source' is basically the sound chip/module used and I also try to differentiate between recordings from original hardware and emulation.

06-14-2016, 07:16 AM
I don't like to use genre tags as so many music genres exist... and genre tags are not something I need. I don't use 'em.
game music is hard to pin as an actual genre, it can be one or it can be many. I don't feel like "game" is really a genre. but that's me.
since it's so conflicting, even if I cared about genre tags, I don't know if I'd bother with them for video game music.