Your host: Emily Reese
A host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio, Emily has a master’s degree in music theory and a podcast about composers and the music they make for video games. It’s called Top Score, and it’s part of the Infinite Guest network.
What was the impetus for starting Top Score?
ER: A touring show called Video Games Live came and performed with the Minnesota Orchestra in January 2011. I wrote an article on VGL’s co-creator, Tommy Tallarico. The success of the article encouraged a conversation about the popularity of video game music, and we noted a gap in that niche. Top Score started in April 2011.
Do you have an overarching goal for this podcast? Are there episodes you can point to and say, “Yes, this is what I’m aiming for?”
ER: I have primary, secondary and tertiary goals for Top Score! My primary goal is to highlight connections between orchestral music in video games and the vast world so deceptively named “classical music.” I feel my episodes with Jeremy Soule, Normand Corbeil, Christopher Tin, Garry Schyman and Jessica Curry demonstrate this goal, among many others. My secondary goal for Top Score is to highlight fabulous video game music of any genre, whether 8-bit, rock, jazz, funk — it makes no difference. There is a lot of great music out there that deserves to be heard by a wider audience, and I like to think I can provide that opportunity in some small way. My tertiary goal is to bring awareness of gaming culture to that wider audience I mentioned. Top Score broadcasts on Classical Minnesota Public Radio, and many of our listeners aren’t gamers. It’s fun to offer a side of gaming not often covered in other media.
Do you listen to other podcasts? If so, which ones and why?
ER: I’m a sucker for Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk. I always liked science when I was a kid, and it’s a nice chance for me to take a break from the music that normally consumes my mind.
You mention some of your favorite video game scores in this interview. What are your favorites with regards to the games themselves?
ER: My favorite games? Oh, my. You’re asking me for a window into my soul. A keen eye will notice I didn’t game much as a kid. Here goes: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Papo & Yo, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 3, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, the Mass Effect series, Diablo 3, Flower, Black, Call of Duty 4 and I adore the Silent Hill series even though I’ve only ever been brave enough to watch someone else play.
Do you find that your enjoyment of a game is affected by the music?
ER: Absolutely. Additionally, I find that my enjoyment of a game is affected by the implementation of the music –- something rarely controlled by the composer. If music bothers me, I’ll either turn it down (if that’s an option) or off. If I end up turning it off, I tend to use that opportunity to catch up on some of my classical listening while I game. I enjoy playing shooters, and sometimes that music can get a bit aggressive for my tastes. On the other hand, I’ve played horrible games to their finish just because the music was so great I didn’t want to stop.