1. Develop musicianship as they sing and/or play a variety of music The Video Game Scoring Minor continues to develop musicianship skills as many scores are sequenced and played live into a DAW. Additionally, composers work with musicians in recording sessions for their scores.
2. Compose, arrange, and transcribe music in a variety of styles The Video Game Scoring Minor is focused primarily on music composition and so through the coursework students will complete mastery or advanced understanding of this competency. Students compose, arrange, orchestrate, and sequence in a variety of styles in the three most common interactive music techniques used in games: branching, layering, and cross-fading. As students explore prominent game composers music, they will transcribe and learn about various styles and techniques used in video-game scores, and how to study them to be able to imitate a specific idiom or genre of music. Finally, because there is such diversity in types of video games, students will be exposed to and practice writing in a wide and eclectic range of complementary musical genres and styles.
3. Improvise music Although improvisation is not taught in the traditional sense, in many instances game music is written in real time to the action of the player inside the game itself. This mimics how we might think of improvisation as a response in real time to the events that we hear. Music in games is built as the drama progresses from parameters that the composer has established. In some forms of interactive scoring, the computer has a set of rules to compose algorithmically in real-time that can be viewed as a form of improvisation.
4. Read and notate music Students in the Video Game Scoring Minor utilize and hone these skills by analyzing prominent scores and by notating music for the musicians who will play the cues at the mandated recording sessions.
5. Listen to, analyze, and describe music Much of the curriculum revolves around critiquing each other's compositions, as well as analyzing the scores of video games. The emphasis is not only in how the composition works harmonically, rhythmically and melodically, but also how the music is actually implemented in the game itself.
6. Relate music to history and culture Video games in their very nature are part of pop-culture. Even in the relatively brief 30-year history of video games, there is much that can be gleaned about cultural phenomena through games. Beyond being touch points, some games are becoming more culturally relevant as the lines between virtual worlds and reality become blurred. Various games like The Sims also have user created content that touch on more difficult subjects like domestic violence. Students explore these connections through their course work.
7. Develop professional skills needed to participate in the music industry Students who take courses in the Video Game Scoring Minor learn many skills including composition, running a scoring session, arranging and orchestration, implementation and programming, sequencing, business and networking skills, and technology.
8. Evaluate music and music performances representing a variety of musical styles From the earliest classes in the minor, students are analyzing and evaluating music on many levels, including composition, performance, implementation into a game, and production. Later, students write in a variety of styles for different games that they research.
9. Lead and collaborate with musicians in rehearsal and/or performance settings Currently in the curriculum for the minor there are four separate scoring sessions where students must contract musicians to play on their video-game compositions. They must conduct and rehearse their ensembles in an effort to extract good performances for the final recordings. Composer/musician interaction skills are taught, and students are taught and encouraged to fully exploit the talent of their musicians.
10. Employ technology as a learning and music-making instrument Technology is a key component to all video games and an important tool in the creation of their music. Many sequencer technologies are used in the creation of the compositions, as well as various game audio middleware to implement music into games themselves. Many of the scores created are hybrid scores that combine live instrumentation with sequenced virtual instruments. These technologies are taught throughout the curriculum for the minor and lead to an advanced mastery of this competency.
11. Demonstrate information literacy using a variety of research tools There are three components of research that are integral to the minor. The first is when students do a take-down of a video-game score. They analyze its components and creation. Second, when students are asked to compose in a certain style, they research composers or artists who are influential in that genre. Lastly, since technology is such a focus in learning how to compose and work on games themselves, students must be adept at learning new technologies and researching their use.
12. Develop a breadth of intellectual knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences Video games are part of pop culture, and they explore a wide range of human activities. These connections are explored through the earlier classes of the minor in which overviews of video games are given and researched. For example, there are games that focus on life and death, or as in the Sims example (see above), issues such as domestic violence are explored.
13. Think logically, critically, and creatively From the earliest classes to the final semesters, students in the Video Game Scoring Minor learn to analyze modern techniques in interactive composition and implementation of music into video games, as well as assessing their ability to tell stories. We teach students to think critically and have perspective about their own work as well as allowing them to comment on other students work. We study various professional composers' works and bring in industry professionals to expound upon their own work and critique student efforts.
14. Communicate (musically, orally, and in writing) At various points during the curriculum for the Video Game Scoring Minor, students are asked to give both oral and written presentations that explore interactive compositions and video games. In addition, students are asked to examine their own work and the work of others with critical listening, discussion and feedback.
15. Make ethical choices In specified areas of the curriculum, we explore ethical issues in two areas specific to business. The first area is on copyright issues and plagiarism, and the second examines licensing, deal making (including contract negotiation), and adhering to standards and practices.
16. Develop a global perspective for music and society The Video Game Scoring Minor only touches on this when we study the use of music as a storytelling device in many cultures. This increases students' global perspective.
17. Apply skills and knowledge in real-world settings Collaboration and functioning in the real world play a direct and key role in the Video Game Scoring Minor. There are many projects in which Berklee collaborates with other universities that develop video games. For instance, we already have an ongoing relationship with USC's Game Innovation Lab and MIT-Gambit. Next fall we are slated to work with the Savannah College of Art and Design. Students work actively to compose music for games that are developed at these universities, simulating an actual work setting where they must collaborate to create a final product. Also, within Berklee, scoring students work with sound design students to complete full projects together, employing their complementary specialties. This simulates the real-world audio production process for video games, which includes all areas of audio production, including scoring, orchestrating, dialogue, sfx, supervision, editing, and implementation.