By Mudassir Raja
Music moves people emotionally. There are no borders or boundaries; it helps people get into their own imagination.
Eimear Noone, an award winning Irish composer and conductor, believes music is a binding force for human beings and helps bring different cultures and peoples closer.
Noone was recently in Doha to conduct ‘Video Games Live’ — an immersive concert event that featured music from the most popular video games of all time. A day before her performance with Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) at Qatar National Convention Centre, Noone, who is slated to be the first woman ever to conduct orchestral music at the Oscars today spoke to Community about her orchestral as well as video game music.
Noone, a resident of Malibu in California, splits her time between composing music for video games, feature films, television, and commercials, and conducting classical and game music concerts. Most recently, she composed and conducted for the iconic video game, World of WarCraft and its new expansion, Warlords of Draenor. The score for ‘WoD’ received the 2014 Hollywood Music in Media Award for ‘Best Video Game Score’ and was nominated for 5 Annual Game Music Awards, and the ASCAP Composer’s Choice Award for Game Score. She also composed the score for the feature film, The Donner Party (2009) starring Crispin Glover, among others.
As a conductor she has led many of the world’s great ensembles such as The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Dallas Symphony, The Royal Philharmonic, The Sydney Symphony, The National Symphony and Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra just to name a few.
Arguably, the world’s current premier conductor of video game scores — both in the studio and concert hall — her credits include the most respected in the genre, including games such as Heroes of The Storm, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Reaper of Souls, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. Diablo III, as one example, smashed the record of game sales by selling over 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours alone. It also won the 2012 GDC award for best audio.
In response to a question about how she manages to play classical orchestra music for video games, Noone said: “Throughout history, composers have collaborated with other media — opera, early ballet. Today’s world poses for collaborations with video games, films, and every possible visual media, including opera and ballet. So, really, it is music that is expressing the emotions or creating a world that is very much attached to people’s imaginations.
“It is really programmed music, if you want to use classical music terms. The programmed music of 21st century composes of video games. The job of the video game music composers is to extract the emotions from the player and create an environment and energy inside the specific area of a game.”
About how different it is to play for orchestra from playing for video games music, the world class composer said: “Well, certain principles are the same. However, like any music, knowing the background is important. We also synchronise with the pictures on screen, which is an added element. We synchronise to certain sonic elements that may not be available on stage; we bring the whole sound world of the game together with the orchestra. It surprisingly mixes when you are there.”
When asked what the benefits of playing video game music are, Noone said: “It is very much music of the moment. In the 21st century, if you are going to be connected with people on what is current and what is happening now, this [video game music] is the great way to do it. Orchestra music is hundreds of years old yet it is as relevant and current today as it ever was. This is just a different context. The audience is a different audience. It is not just a concert. It is an experience bringing people together who are passionate about video games.
“It is very emotional for the audience. When people play games, they kind of capsulate a particular period of time for them or a particular person for them that they played with and that person may or may not be with them. There are differently abled people who get fully abled inside a video game. For the music, it is very much music of 2020.”
For the female conductor, the orchestra can serve different audiences. “There are different kinds of audience and my job is to serve the audience. I do not think that it is a good idea to say that the orchestra only belongs to classics. Just bear in mind that the classical music that we know today was the music of people at the time. People talk about standards of music. We do not know the classical music. We got the best of the best that survived. I believe in every genre of music; the best is going to survive. We have got everything. It is a chance to be heard, to breathe and to live in its time. I think there is room for everything.”
Noone, who performed with QPO at the annual UN General Assembly meeting last year, feels at home while working with the orchestra. “It is like coming home. On musical, intellectual, and personal level, I absolutely love them. I love the attitude in the orchestra, the standard of the play. I love the smiling faces. I love the diversity in the orchestra. This is a unique orchestra. This is perfect for Doha. One of the objectives of the orchestra is to bring east and west together. We did that at the UN. It was so moving for me to be there in the centre of the group which had traditional classical instruments and traditional Middle Eastern instruments playing together the music of Dana Alfardan, a Qatari composer. It was incredibly emotional. I think that performance represented everything that the QPO is about.”
When asked what about the video game music she likes the most, Noone said: “I am endlessly fascinated by music. I will never know everything about it. It is not possible. There are many extraordinary musicians and artistes around the world and they pull me and push me in different directions that are good for growth as an artiste and person. It is like seeing the score in front of me in three dimensions. It is like living some virtual reality.”
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