Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Collins, Karen. “Grand Theft Audio?: Popular Music and Intellectual Property in Video Games.” Music and the Moving Image 1 (Spring 2008): 35-48.

Video games can capitalize on the popularity of source music through the subject or narration of a game, including a popular musician as composer for the game, and licensing popular music for the soundtrack. One of the ways that video game publishers can offset monetary risks is to use well-known intellectual property such as films, music, and musicians and actors. In the case of the audio in video games, this intellectual property could be a well-known voice talent, sound designers, or popular music.

Games with music as the subject or part of the narration, such as PaRappa the Rapper and Guitar Hero have been popular overall with players. These types of games can be divided into three categories: creative games, rhythm-action games (both categories in which music is the primary part of gameplay), and musician-themed games, where musicians or bands appear as characters. Many popular musicians were also involved in the soundtracks for other more general games, as well as recording or rerecording songs for games. Even more popular is to simply license popular music for use in video games. Earlier video games were not as concerned with the music tracks, as they were difficult and time-consuming to program, so many of these games made use of classical music. Once the environment changed and creators needed to address issues of copyright and licensing, there was a stronger tie to the musicians whose music they were borrowing, including cross-media promotions and the sale of game soundtracks. Oftentimes the musicians whose songs are featured gain a boost of popularity from the game.

Works: Milton Bradley (manufacturer): Simon (36); SCEI (manufacturer): PaRappa the Rapper (36); Red Octane and Harmonix (manufacturers): Guitar Hero (36, 38); Atari (manufacturer): Journey’s Escape (37); Midway (manufacturer): Revolution X (37); Sega (manufacturer): Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (37); Acclaim (manufacturer): Summer Heat Beach Volleyball (37); Vivendi (manufacturer): 50 Cent: Bulletproof (37); Codemasters (manufacturer): Music Generator (38); Harmonix (manufacturer): Frequency (38), Amplitude (38); Nintendo (manufacturer): Donkey Konga (38); Namco (manufacturer): Taiko Drum Master (38); Konami (manufacturer): Dance Dance Revolution (38); Time Warner Interactive (manufacturer): Rise of the Robots (38); id Software (manufacturer): Quake (38-39); SCEE (manufacturer): Wipeout Pure (39); Nintendo (manufacturer): Donkey Kong (40); Atari (manufacturer): Crystal Castles (40); Centuri (manufacturer): Vanguard (40); Sega (manufacturer): Dracula Unleashed (41); DTMC (manufacturer): Adventures of Dr. Franken (41); Blizzard (manufacturer): Rock’N’Roll Racing (41); Psygnosis (manufacturer): Wipeout XL (41); EA Sports (manufacturer): Madden NFL 2003 (41), FIFA 2006 (42); Neversoft (manufacturer): Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland (42); Reflective (manufacturer): Driver: Parallel Lines (42); Sony (manufacturer): SingStar (43).

Sources: Journey: Escape (37), Frontiers (37); Aerosmith: Eat the Rich (37), Sweet Emotion (37), Toys in the Attic (37), Rag Doll (37), Walk this Way (37); Michael Jackson: Thriller (37), Bad (37); Deep Purple: Smoke on the Water (38); Megadeth: Symphony of Destruction (38); Brian May: The Dark (38); Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture (40), Nutcracker Suite (40); Liszt: Mephisto Waltz (40); Anonymous: Turkey in the Straw (40); Scott Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag (40); Queen: “Vultan’s Theme” from Flash Gordon (40); Deep Purple: Highway Star (41); Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 (“Moonlight”) (41); Carl Orff: Carmina Burana (41); George Thorogood: Bad to the Bone (41); Steppenwolf: Born to be Wild (41); Black Sabbath: Paranoid (41); Good Charlotte: The Anthem (41); Selasee: Run (42).

Index Classifications: 1900s, 2000s, Film

Contributed by: Emily Baumgart

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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