Soaring Through the Sky: Topics and Tropes in Video Game Music

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Sean Atkinson


In this article, I explore the analytical potential of musical topics and tropes in the study of video game music. Following Neumeyer (2015), Almén (2008), and Hatten (1994), I establish a methodology with which to approach musical topics in video game music. By way of a case study, I begin by defining the soaring topic through a historical and cultural examination of flying in cinema and video games. Flying, and more specifically soaring, has been a staple in film from the earliest days of cinema, and the music that accompanies it is also found in video games that prominently feature flying. I then engage the music of flying sequences in two specific video games, Final Fantasy IV (1991) and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011). The resulting analyses demonstrate that this approach helps to unpack the complex narratives found in video games.

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