[…] Although my parents had classical music on LP’s in the house, the childhood music I remember the most vividly is fragments from either live performances or, strangely, video games at my friends’ houses1.
For me, living in the country, playing a video game was sort of like music minus one: The actions of my hands informed, in a strange way, the things I heard. Collect a coin, and a delighted glockenspiel sounds. Move from navigating a level above ground to one below ground, and the eager French chromaticism of the score changes to a spare, beat-driven minimal texture. Hit a star, and suddenly the score does a metric modulation. All of these things come to bear in a later musical education; I’m positive I understand how augmented chords change an emotional texture because of Nintendo music.
Don’t miss the clip embedded at the bottom of the post, either: it’s only three minutes long, and exhilarating at precisely 1:50. Oh the glory of the horn.
1. I really think “memories of video games at your friend’s house” are, like, a thing. Very special; very distinct. Maybe such memories are no longer produced; maybe every kid has a video game system nowadays. (But probably not?) All I know is I can remember Ninja Gaiden on Chris Hayes’ NES (he lived down the street) with crystal clarity. Note that I never actually played the game; it was too difficult, and I couldn’t make it past the first screen. So I would just watch Chris play, utterly rapt.