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Thinking Outside the Music Box

With just one day left of my Postgraduate degree in Composition for Screen, I've been reflecting on the past 12 months that brought me to this point. It's been quite an adventure! Funnily enough, my decision to pursue this course came about after listening to a piece of music... Yes, I was inspired to pursue a Masters degree all because of one little piece of music: the theme from the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition.

I remember there being a huge buzz around the music for this game, more so than I can remember ever happening for any other video game. Intrigued, I took a listen. Let me tell you, I was blown away. As soon as the main theme began, I got chills. It was, and remains to this day, one of the most inspiring pieces of music I've ever listened to.

It was from listening to that little piece of music that I suddenly thought, "I want to do that. I want someone to listen to my music and feel like I just felt." That day, I started exploring my options for composing music for video games. I came across the Composition for Screen course at the University of Edinburgh, and it sounded exactly like what I both wanted, and needed, to pursue this dream.

Over the past twelve months I have worked harder than I've ever worked in my life, I've learned more about myself and my music, I've conducted my own music (!), and I have made some dear friends. Friends all motivated, like me, to write music to inspire.

It's so funny to me that this life-changing, eventful year all came about because of one piece of music. A piece of video game music. A category that probably doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

Video game music is the dark horse of the screen music world, and sadly it often feels like it's overlooked in favour of film and television scores. Don't get me wrong - there are some breathtaking scores to come from those genres! My point is that, unless someone plays video games, they're unlikely to ever experience video game music. We've yet to hear a weekly radio show dedicated to video game music (hint hint, ClassicFM!) and this means a lot of people are missing out on some amazing pieces of music. Take Jessica Curry's stunning music for Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, for example. It's breathtaking. Or Austin Wintory's music for Journey, which is simply magical. You don't necessarily have to play the video games they were written for - I know gaming isn't for everyone! But perhaps, every once in a while, you can step out of your musical comfort zone and try something new. There's a whole world of music out there just waiting to be discovered. Some pieces will take you on adventures, others will take you home. Mine took me all the way through a Masters degree. Who's to say where your chosen piece of music might lead you?

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