ESG Review the String Arcade

Anyone who has played video games knows how important music is. Music sets the mood, makes you feel anxious for a character, and anticipates the next set of adventure. Most of the music in games have an electronic sort of feel. In recent years, the songs and pieces featured in games have become more and more sophisticated. Much like movie soundtracks, these scores are composed and well-thought-out to match the feel of the game. Throughout the years, there have been numerous covers made of game songs. Aptly named “The String Arcade” a rather unique group brings a classical twist to modern games.

Fully funded in August 2013, The String Arcade started as a Kickstarter campaign. They’ve released a full album that is available on iTunes, Youtube, BandCamp, and their website. The album is a compilation of decades of video games spanning from classics such as TRON, Zelda, and more indie favorites such as Minecraft, to the futuristic, modern games like Portal 2 and Faster Than Light. The music is played by all string instruments featuring a cello and several violins, although a full string quartet plays one of their tracks. A full string quartet is composed of a cello, two violins, and a viola. The album was produced by Dren McDonald (an industry veteran) and arranged by both McDonald and Jason Poss.

The music works well as background study music as well as music to play while gaming. For an interesting effect, try muting your actual game music and playing The String Arcade in the background. The result is rather soothing gameplay. Although The String Arcade has brought the essence of the songs and games into their music, it is still a far more subtle feel to the overall game. Like all covers, this music best suits a certain subset of listeners. If you are not a fan of classical music, this may not be your cup of tea. Listening to more than a few of the songs lulls the listener into a placid state. While calming, this may not be the ideal feeling for a game packed with action.

While quite different from the original game songs, The String Arcade produces a great take on the more artistic and creative side of video game music. Certainly worth a listen to determine if this is your next go-to album. If you enjoy the music, purchasing their album supports the Alameda Music Project, a free after-school music program in the Bay Area.