How does one create a sonic world on something that is such common place to our homes today? Video games are such a large part of our popular culture, and with their popularity come a lot of baggage. Most of us have played video games, whether it is in the arcade or at home on a console, so we certainly know their sound.
Sadly dating myself, I remember playing my first video game at home. It was Pong–feel free to laugh–but it was an event that I have never forgotten. Even with the very simple graphics it had an unmistakable sound. As time went on and I got more technically advanced games, the sounds changed, as did the music. I never forgot those old electronic sounds.
When reading the script for Molotov Theatre Group’s show, Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (through August 2 at DCAC in Adams Morgan), I was intrigued by the opportunity to mix the old electronic sounds of my youth with the new orchestral sounds of today’s video games. This became my launching point.
Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, is dark, full of excitement, and contains a lot of fear, and blood (it is Molotov, of course). I set out to create a world for our video game, complete with the musical tag heard at the start-up of all of today’s current games.
My choice of a sonic pallet was to include a lot of percussion. Who does not like to hear a beat when there is violence on stage? However, in the background of all of the bombastic percussion there is always an element of older electronic sounds. I just could not let go of my old pong and Atari sounds.
To add to the elements of the sonic world I created sounds that most modern gamers are expecting to hear, like the sound of the picking-up and selecting of weapons, or the sound of game play with its static music and ambient sounds. You would be surprised what these sounds really are, but I won’t tell.
I had the fortune, luckily for Molotov Theatre Group, of studying video game music composition with a composition teacher in the mid-1990s, at a time when the gaming industry was beginning to capitalize on the use of music to make game play more of an intense experience. I was able to apply that knowledge to Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, so I could give the audience a more intense experience when seeing our characters faced with the situation of a video game coming to life in their small, gated community. It was an experience for myself, to create a world that would engulf the audience in our video game world, and scare the health points out of them.
Hint, stay until the very end to hear a beloved favorite sound finish the performance, if you hear it beware it may induce some sort of fever.
Gregory Thomas Martin is a composer and musicologist. His compositions have been heard throughout the DC Metro area and in New York. His recent choral work was premiered in San Francisco. Mr. Martin’s opera Life in Death was performed on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. His works are published by Westphalia Press.
2015 Capital Fringe Preview #32: Part 1: Video Preview of ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’ by Jennifer Haley.
2015 Capital Fringe Festival Preview #39: Part 2: ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’: Part 2: The Curious Incident of the Zombies in the Neighborhood’ by Alex Zavistovich.
2015 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Neighborhood 3: Part 3: Requisition of Doom’ on DCMetroTheaterArts by David Dieudonne.
2015 Capital Fringe Preview #53: ‘Neighborhood 3: Part 4: ‘What’s a Nice Mom Like You Doing in a Play Like This? ‘ by Annette Mooney Wasno.