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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 07:53 GMT
Symphony for the digital age
Music from the Halo franchise will be played
The music used in videogames has come a long way since the days of mono beeps and blips in the 1980s. A live concert of videogame music played by a symphony orchestra in London is the latest sign of maturation for the art.

"Non-gamers might think that videogame music still sounds like a merry-go-round anthem," says Tommy Tallarico, composer and co-founder of Video Games Live, a music and interactive concert which debuts in the UK on Saturday.

He describes VideoGames Live as the "intensity of a rock concert combined with the emotion of a symphony and the fun and interactivity of a video game".

The format is certainly proving to be a success: 13 concerts have been performed so far, mainly in the US with two concerts at the world famous Hollywood Bowl.

Mr Tallarico says: "The reaction of the crowd was incredible. To see people from all ages to come together and celebrate videogames is really quite special.

"It's ushering in a whole new generation of people to a symphony. But it's also about bringing people into contact with videogames for the first time."

Revitalised live concerts

The composer, who has worked on more than 250 videogames over the last 16 years, likens the concerts to the advent of opera, which revitalised live concerts for classical music.

We are like the film industry in the 1930s and 1940s and have growing to do - we haven't reached our technological or creative limits
Tommy Tallarico

"I've always said that if Beethoven were alive today he would write music for videogames," says Mr Tallarico, who wrote the music for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Spider-Man, Munch's Oddysee and Knockout Kings.

The live concert features music from across the generations of games - from Pong in the 1970s through to Tetris in 1988 and Halo 2 in 2004.

There is a nostalgic connection but hearing all of the newer stuff, the emotion and power there is immense," says Mr Tallarico.

The audience is not expected to sit at the concert passively, simply listening to the music.

There is a strong interactive element - mixing scenes from videogames and special effects.

Game music being played live includes
Mario Bros
Metal Gear Solid
Final Fantasy

Mr Tallarico says: "It's important to show the visuals and explain the storylines and have the interactivity on the stage. Every piece we do is 100% synchronised with all of the video, lights and stage show production.

"Even if you are not into videogames people will get a sense of exciting video games are and how emotional the music is."

Zelda games
The Zelda games have enduring popularity

He adds: "I grew up on videogames, Star Wars and MTV - it's a very visual culture. We're combining that visual culture with a full symphony orchestra."

The music for videogames has come a long way in 30 years. Blockbuster titles now have bespoke soundtracks composed by classically-trained musicians, often performed by full orchestras.

The music for games such as Final Fantasy and Halo have enjoyed huge success beyond the off button of the console - selling thousands of copies of soundtrack CDs and sparking the illicit trade of MP3s on the net.

Mr Tallarico says: "When I started we had blips and bloops as our palette. But when CD-Rom came along in the 1990s then the walls were torn down and the barriers were let loose.

"We could hire real guitar players and orchestras and choirs and vocalists. That's when you saw the production quality going through the roof.

"Now we can use live orchestras and have that music changing on the fly from within the game in real time by mixing different ways we have recorded the music."

He adds: "We are like the film industry in the 1930s and 1940s and have growing to do - we haven't reached our technological or creative limits."

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