The virtual-musical other : creating unique worlds through musical sound in videogames

French, Jeremiah Sundance
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
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The post-apocalypse is a narrative context that focuses on the destruction and rebirth of civilization, society, and culture. Familiar signs are mixed with the unfamiliar to create something new, a unique post-apocalyptic Other as the decontextualization, recontextualization, and resignification of sound breed new possibilities for identity. Videogames allow players to explore this new identity as an expressly interactive and immersive medium, while eclectic digital music embodies and communicates this identity within the medium in ways that it cannot in others. In this work, I analyze the musical approaches in three post-apocalyptic videogames, Borderlands, Bastion, and Fallout 3. In these games, the eclectic musical approach aims to evoke an ambiguity and originality achieved through digital production using synthetic and instrumental sounds found in sound library software. Also, preexisting music from a specific time period is recontextualized in the futuristic postapocalypse, establishing a temporal Other through temporal displacement. Both are possible due to the global digital database, a growing, easily accessed digital archive epitomized in sound library software and digital composition. It is in this database and through the use of technology that sound becomes a simulacrum of its former self, and the barrier created by terms like "Western" and "non-Western" decays. The virtual Othering in these three games draws attention to the value of sound in music-making and, consequently, to the redirection of meaning in musical sound and the virtual world.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
post-apocalypse, digital music
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Music.
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