Home » Analysis » Video Game Composers You GOTTA Hear!

Video Game Composers You GOTTA Hear!

Posted by Aegis On July - 28 - 2011 1 Comment

Two articles ago, I explored some of the most compelling songs from a couple of gaming franchises. But now, we are going to explore the guys behind the music. Get ready for a heaping load of music!


Yoko Shimomura


Yoko Shimomura got her music career started very early. At the age of 4, she was already playing on the piano and writing her own compositions. Her inspirations are of that of classical musicians such as Beethoven and Chopin. As you can guess, her compositions tend to be very orchestral, with great use of piano and choirs. Ever since she was a teen, she was an avid gamer, which got her to land a job over at Capcom in 1988, composing tracks for popular games such as Street Fighter II. However, in 1993, she switched over to Square (now Square Enix) to work on fantasy-role playing games as she was an admirer of the genre. However, it wouldn’t be until 2002′s release of Kingdom Hearts that the video game community who recognize her as a valuable asset to the video game musicians. A large fan base has developed for her, and who can blame her? Her compositions are whimsical and fluent that it actually makes you feel like you are indeed in a fantasy. Yoko’s still active and currently working on pieces for Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Kingdom Hearts 3D.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkailb3xcTI”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkailb3xcTI” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6fUohhJnfI”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6fUohhJnfI” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mawWW4MN9UI&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mawWW4MN9UI&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBDh3URp8Is”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBDh3URp8Is” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-sG3meUqig”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-sG3meUqig” />


Grant Kirkhope


Grant Kirkhope worked for Rare starting in 1995 as one of it’s finest composers. Before joining the video game business, he played in many other bands, and intended a North Yorkshire musical college. Kirkhope’s compositions tend to be friendly and light, but with a groovin-kind of beat that makes the music flow smoothly. Even if the track is meant to be dark and dismal, it’s usually still very light and pleasant to the player’s ears. However, as seen in Goldeneye 007, Kirkhope can also create a good paced action track filled with all sorts of intensity. He retired from Rare in 2008 and now works at 38 Studios.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyOi8FTGXgg”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyOi8FTGXgg” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d84N6Ie-DQ8&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d84N6Ie-DQ8&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfgZOTuu6J0&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfgZOTuu6J0&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owbVtwrO_TQ&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owbVtwrO_TQ&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkN3zZ-WEYo&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkN3zZ-WEYo&feature=related” />


David Wise


David Wise was Rare’s solo musician starting all the way back in 1985. He landed the job after founders Chris and Tim Stamper saw him experimenting with a Yamaha CX5 that was used to demonstrate music samples. Ever since his youth, he’s mastered at playing the piano, trumpet, and drums. He also played in a few bands, and is still active in the rock genre. Wise is notably known for composing 3 great soundtracks to 3 very well developed games. The Donkey Kong Country trilogy is arguably Wise’s best work. He applies various jungle beats and rhythms such as bongos and maracas into the mix, but depending on the environment, the music changes based on it’s style, like a techno beat in a factory setting or a calm and pleasant track in an underwater setting. Like Grant Kirkhope, Wise retired from Rare in 2009 to pursue an independent career. He currently built a new studio called David Wise’s Sound Studio and still creates musical hits in his free-time.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwU_WueGQQM”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwU_WueGQQM” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNKsL_Gr1qY”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNKsL_Gr1qY” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70jMX8qK7dY&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70jMX8qK7dY&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2IXKsYHGJ0&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2IXKsYHGJ0&feature=related” />


Mutato Muzika


Mutato Muzika was founded in 1989 by Mark Mothersbaugh and a few other composers. Ever since then, they are a big record/music producing company that have composed scores for many TV shows such as Rugrats, PeeWee’s Playhouse, Regular Show, and more. However, in the case of Crash Bandicoot, Mutato Muzika only consisted of two people: Mark himself and another composer named Josh Mancell. They were hired by Naughty Dog to give Crash an action-packed feel to the gameplay by adding rock elements. The first Crash game had very light music and was often seen as “too quiet”. This would change in the later Crash PS1 releases as it expanded into a more “tough” sound. Both composers also worked together to produce music for the Jak and Daxter series, however I haven’t played the series at all yet and therefore couldn’t find any music worth mentioning. Sorry folks! Looks like the orange fool has the floor for now.

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httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyHvUNSJ48M&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyHvUNSJ48M&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhf9dfwgNRU&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhf9dfwgNRU&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Y7k3eB2is”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Y7k3eB2is” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqZWL4xZDXE”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqZWL4xZDXE” />


Nobuo Uematsu


Nobuo Uematsu is arguably one of the best well-known video game composers in the world. He’s worked for Square Enix ever since 1986, composing for franchises such as Final Fantasy, SaGa, and Chrono Trigger. Uematsu is unique in the fact that he taught himself how to play a variety of instruments beginning at 11 years old, and that his styles varies from classical orchestral pieces to modern day genres of heavy metal and electronica. He cites that Elton John is his biggest influence, and in the classical stance, he states Pyotr Tchaikovsky as a major influence. 70′s bands like Pink Floyd claim to help him feel compositions for Final Fantasy installments. Today, many regard Uematsu as one of the greatest composers in video game history, and has even had his work played in a Summer Olympics Women’s Swimming event. His international fame was made possible by the many styles and themes he has put into many of his wondrous hits.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7wJ8pE2qKU”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7wJ8pE2qKU” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PQHM9UnX4″>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PQHM9UnX4″ />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn0T6Xh5VXY”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn0T6Xh5VXY” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVshR3ehxmE”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVshR3ehxmE” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrAeByY3C4E”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrAeByY3C4E” />


Stewart Copeland


Stewart Copeland was originally a member of the famous rock band, The Police. However, his solo career took a turn when he was recruited by Insomniac Games to work as the composer for the Spyro The Dragon series. Being of rock genre descent, his style tends to be rough but exciting. He makes a fantasy world filled with dragons into a rockin’ environment that’s filled with uppity beats and use of various sound effects to fit the atmosphere. Copeland has never made another video game composition after Spyro 4, and currently has no plans of doing so.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcCcmlZj0og&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcCcmlZj0og&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=netuTy39jCk”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=netuTy39jCk” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGYG_bV5q1Y&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGYG_bV5q1Y&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGYG_bV5q1Y&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGYG_bV5q1Y&feature=related” />

NOTE: If you listen on the Gulp’s Overlook track, you’ll hear that very familiar orchestral piece that’s on many TV shows and movies (you will notice it, it’s a widely circulated piece). Did it originate from Spyro? Well, yes and no. The reason why it’s not is actually because it’s a remix from another musical number (“Race To The Summit“) from another game called Jurassic Park Trespasser. Sound familiar? No? Didn’t think so. It was a mega failure of a game that was hyped up to be a revolution in PC gaming. After it bombed, the composer sold all the rights to his music to many other media studios. However, Spyro 2 was the first game/media to use the now famous Race To The Summit piece in a remix featured in the boss fight. Since then, many other kid shows like Cyberchase, Power Rangers, and even Pokemonused the Spyro remix piece in some episodes featuring intense action (For some reason, they don’t use the original, probably because many studios think Spyro was the first to use it). Of course, Stewart can’t gain any royalties to it since the piece wasn’t originally composed by him.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4i-cvK8s90″>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4i-cvK8s90″ />


Crush 40


Crush 4o is a band that was originally formed to perform music for the modern Sonic series, starting with Sonic Adventure 1. Composed of lead members Jun Senoue, who contributed 2 songs in Sonic The Hedgehog 3, and Johnny Gioeli, the lead singer of the band Hardline, the band gained fame when Sonic Adventure 1 and Sonic Adventure 2 hit the spotlights. They are also famed for being the first mainstream band to compose video game music. Crush 40 relies on heavy rock elements in their song, and with Sonic’s super speed, it’s common to have an intensity of a song go beyond extreme. Currently, they are working on producing music for the upcoming 2011 release of Sonic Generations.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9zZus_1_ag”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9zZus_1_ag” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6NaZrPQGfY&feature=related”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6NaZrPQGfY&feature=related” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEzXFuYN89k”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEzXFuYN89k” />

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw6KRkx0vNg”>httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw6KRkx0vNg” />


Categories: Analysis, Daily Feature

One Response so far.

  1. Nin3DS says:

    Nice list (and I love the inclusion of the various composers who worked at Rare, the music in Donkey Kong Country, Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 is fantastic), but please can you just link some videos? Nearly froze my browser tab.

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