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2022 Summer Game Composition Bootcamp

July 5–July 29: Tuesdays and Fridays at 4:30 PST
(class meeting times subject to change depending on enrollment)

The Game Composition Bootcamp is a first-of-its-kind course providing a foundational curriculum through the survey of great VGM, from chiptunes to Final Fantasy to Touhou. It is an analysis, repertoire, and technique course all in one. We will break down legendary video game music and treat them with the same seriousness of study as we typically find in jazz and classical music courses. We'll be doing an in-depth study of the literature through every medium of score study available to us: 1) lead sheets and sheet music, 2) form charts, and 3) MIDI transcriptions. 

Looking at the repertoire through all the elements of music (harmony, form, melody, and arrangement), you'll deepen your understanding of how video game music is constructed while acquiring a toolbox of fundamental techniques seen across different styles that you can apply to your own compositions. By the end of the course, you should have a solid foundation on game composition (with heavy emphasis on Japanese VGM), and know how to continue your own studies. 

Composers and titles studied include: Castlevania, Nintendo music, Masashi Hamauzu, Yasnuori Mitsuda, Junya Nakano, Nobuo Uematsu, Jeremy Soule, Silent Hill, Touhou, and Manabu Namiki.


About the Instructor

My name is Eric, and I am a composer, performer, and educator based in San Francisco and a mentor at the International Game Developers Association. I grew up obsessively listening to video game soundtracks and started out writing my own game tracks on a DAW. I eventually ended up studying music at SF State University, where I'm now finishing my last year as a composition and piano performance major. A passionate educator, I've taught multiple music courses at the college level and want to help transform the field of game composition pedagogy.

In 2021, I taught a semester-long course called Writing Japanese Video Game Music at SF State to fill a void in game audio education: the study of game music repertoire itself. Video game music has had a long enough history that it's developed its own body of great works deserving serious study, as with classical, jazz, and film music. However, due to the challenges of VGM being an electronic art form, the study of game compositions itself is not always addressed in the college classroom setting, even though it should be at the forefront of a video game composer's education. Furthermore, because many of the great works in our genre originate in Japan, not all of it comes through across cultural and geographical distance. In teaching this course, I hope to help educate the next generation of video game composers by promoting serious study of VGM literature and also making some of the great VGM from Japan more accessible.

Course Schedule

The course is four weeks long, two classes per week (1 hr–1.5 hrs long) held in the month of July. A study pack of materials will be sent to you for each class session, including suggested listening and additional transcribed resources I've made. Each week, there will be a Weekly Exercise for you to practice an essential skill, which you may submit for feedback.

Week 1

Analysis Exercise

Class 1: Chiptunes
Class 2: Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross

Week 2

Transcription Exercise

Class 3: Dewprism
Class 4: Sigma Harmonics

Week 3

Model Exercise

Class 5: Final Fantasy
Class 6: Bullet Hell

Week 4

Final Composition

Class 7: Orchestral and Misc VGM
Class 8: Composition Workshop

Examples of past student work from the course are shown below.