Why spend your summer playing video games when you can learn to write music for them? Video game music has really taken off around here in the last few years—you can even minor in the subject now. This week, for the first time, Berklee is offering not one but two summer programs for aspiring video game composers. We caught up with faculty member Michael Sweet before students arrived.
– What video game summer programs is Berklee offering?
MS: This year we have two different programs for video games. The Video Game Sound and Music Workshop is a three-day program for beginning to intermediate level, and the Video Game Composer Institute is an intensive five-day program for experienced writers. All participants learn the fundamentals of writing and producing audio for video games by Berklee faculty and professional guest composers from across the industry. People enrolled in the Institute write interactive music for a video game, then have their worked produced and performed by musicians from Boston’s own Video Game Orchestra. Institute participants are individually mentored by our Berklee faculty and guest composers, then their work is critiqued by our guests.
The video game summer programs started in the summer of 2008, but the VG Composer Institute is brand-new this year.
– How is the Composer Institute different from the Video Game Sound and Music Workshop?
MS: The Institute is a very intensive five-day writing program, where students are immersed in lectures about techniques and fundamentals, while actually writing music in our high-tech writing labs.
– Describe a typical(ish) video game summer student.
MS: Workshop participants come from all different levels, from high school to professional level. The Institute participants are more experienced writers who have already written for other mediums and are interested in learning how to write adaptive music for video games.
– What artists, events, etc. are you looking forward to this year?
MS: Berklee brings in many guests every semester. We had a really fantastic event last year with Sony’s Chuck Doud (’88) and Clint Bajakian. Clint is also one of the guests at this year’s institute. I’m really hoping to continue to bring high-caliber talent to the school for students to gain a real understanding of what it’s like out in the industry.
– The schedule looks like really long hours for you, with students in music-writing sessions until 10 or 11 at night. . . what keeps you excited?
MS: There are a lot of jobs out there that are not fun. Music isn’t one of them. When I was working in video games full-time, the hours were always super-crazy, so this week actually doesn’t feel too bad. If you love video games and music, the hours go by really quickly.