Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Golding, Dan. “Finding Untitled Goose Game’s Dynamic Music in the World of Silent Cinema.” Journal of Sound and Music in Games 2 (January 2021): 1-16.

The soundtrack of indie video game hit Untitled Goose Game (2019, House House) is a dynamic music system that adapts pre-recorded performances of six Debussy Préludes to react in real-time to players’ actions in the game, borrowing aesthetic language from silent film to create a novel approach to video game music. In Untitled Goose Game, the player controls an unruly goose wreaking havoc in an English-style village. The game’s slapstick humor sensibilities, in particular the ways that the music interacts with on-screen action, were inspired by both silent film music and Carl Stalling’s cartoon scores for Disney and Warner Bros. Debussy’s Préludes were selected for the soundtrack because they sounded like early twentieth-century silent film music to the developers, and the dynamic music system was meant to sound like a pianist Mickey-Mousing the player’s actions. To create this effect, the game’s composer, Dan Golding, recorded both “high energy” and “low energy” performances of six Préludes and split them into single-beat stems (the longest only 478 milliseconds). Depending on the players’ actions, either the “high energy” or “low energy” stem could be triggered in succession, rendering virtually infinite possibilities. While the soundtrack for Untitled Goose Game was inspired by cinema and animation, the technical possibilities of video games allowed it to take a different approach to musical adaptation.

Works: Dan Golding: soundtrack to Untitled Goose Game (9-14).

Sources: Debussy: Préludes Book 1, No. 12, Minstrels (9-14); Préludes Book 1, No. 5, Les collines d’Anacapri (9-14); Préludes Book 2, No. 9, Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P. P. M. P. C. (9-14); Préludes Book 1, No. 9, La serenade interrompue (9-14); Préludes Book 2, No. 19, Feux d’artifice (9-14).

Index Classifications: 2000s, Film

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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