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Tips for Making Instrumental/Video Game Music?

A topic by jonlevi created Nov 18, 2016 Views: 367 Replies: 2
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Hey folks,

I'm a singer/songwriter who's used to making music that I can play in front of people, with a pretty strong focus on lyrics. However, though I have a lot of influences that fall into that same category, like Paul Simon, Josh Ritter, Paul McCartney, The Clash, and Springsteen, video game music was a huge influence on me from a compositional standpoint (I have a strong love of the IV V vi V and IV V iii vi chord progressions common in game music, to this day, and can hum entire Mega Man soundtracks by memory).

I was just wondering if anyone would be able to point me to any resources on what to think about when composing instrumental music, especially with a focus on video game music and chiptunes. After some practice and some learning I'd love to join a game jam here and provide some tunes, as having my music in a video game would be completely surreal and an enormous hug for my inner child.

Thanks from the past and the future,



I found a lot of things I hadn't thought of before in the PxTone manual. Half the manual explains how to use the program (a free sequencer program made by the developer of Cave Story) and the other half goes into how to think about video game music, as well as specific examples from songs that come with the program/manual. It also shows how to work with chiptune arpeggios like it was done in the 4-bit and 8-bit eras.

Other than that, from my own experience I like to look for an existing track that has the right mood for what I'm working on. And then try to do something original using a similar tempo and a similar speed of melody, often listening to only the first couple of chord changes to get a feel for the dynamics of the track.

PxTone manual (including the software) can be found at:

I bought Chance Thomas' book on composing music for videogames and it has been helpful:

I also do music for live performance (and tracks), so I understand where you're coming from, I think.