Yep, Video Games Are Still Big For Classical Music

Just in case anyone was thinking that the value of promoting classical music in video games was a passing fancy, the video game business recently sent a big reminder in the promotional material for what will likely be one of the largest grossing video games of this decade, Halo 3…

I don’t watch a lot of television and since I’m not a TiVo owner, I don’t enjoy the satisfaction of flipping past commercials. Instead, I usually push the mute button and read a nearby magazine or play with a nearby cat. However, a few weeks ago I left the volume on during a commercial set and in the middle of enticing Carmen, one of my cats, with a peacock feather, I heard my absolute favorite piano piece; frankly, I found it startling.

I was startled because the music wasn’t embedded behind a voice over for some new high end sedan or arranged into some awful orchestrated version but it was being pumped out at commercial strength volume in all of its glory. The entire advertisement consisted of nothing but Chopin’s Prelude No. 15 in Db Major, The Raindrop, and a series of what looks like a diorama of still images from the game (talk about old-school). Click the video below to watch the commercial in its entirety.

Here’s the real kicker, the music works every bit as well for Halo 3 as it did for the 1950 Bugs Bunny cartoon, Water, Water Every Hare (which you can watch below). It would be difficult for anyone to deny the impact all of those wonderful Carl Stalling arrangements of "Classical Music’s Greatest Hits" had on exposing what we now call the cultural consciousness to classical music. As such, don’t write off the value of video games as the "Bugs Bunny Delivery System" for this generation’s children.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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2 thoughts on “Yep, Video Games Are Still Big For Classical Music”

  1. Drew- this is great stuff. There is such a connection here in so many ways. Young to old, high tech to low, and classical world to the pop. What made me laugh is that both my dad and I each emailed you article to each other, both of us had a connection to the piano piece and both of us had experienced it in different ways and times. Classical music is not dead, dying or anything of the sort. It is just being passed down in unique and young ways. Thanks for bringing this to the attention of the young readers out there. Keep it fresh, man!

  2. Exercise your German skills or Google Language Tools to check out Die Haydns von heute.

    >From the lead-in: “Auf erstaunlichen Wegen kehrt die klassische Musik zurück in die Jugendkultur: Von den Feuilletons weitgehend unbemerkt, wächst im Videospielemarkt eine neue Komponistengeneration heran.”

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