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Top 10 Video Game Music Composers

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Peter Sotiriou It takes a talented individual to capture the player’s attention with a game’s musical score. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Video Game Music Composers. For this list, we’ve chosen the best and brightest music composers who take us on a musical journey from the first note we hear. We’ve excluded composers such as Hans Zimmer and Gustavo Santaolalla who, despite working on “Crysis 2” and “The Last of Us” respectively, are mostly regarded as movie composers – plus they’ve really only done one game a piece. Special Thanks to our users " jkellis" "mac121mr0 "SMC0DT" "piplh" "Tony Brown" for suggesting this topic on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Peter Sotiriou

Top 10 Video Game Music Composers


It takes a talented individual to capture the player’s attention with a game’s musical score. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Video Game Music Composers.

For this list, we’ve chosen the best and brightest music composers who take us on a musical journey from the first note we hear. We’ve excluded composers such as Hans Zimmer and Gustavo Santaolalla who, despite working on “Crysis 2” and “The Last of Us” respectively, are mostly regarded as movie composers – plus they’ve really only done one game a piece.

#10: Darren Korb

The multi-talented Darren Korb was selected to write the soundtrack for the indie games “Bastion” and “Transistor” bygame designer and director Amir Rao, who just so happened to be childhood buddies with Korb. His musical style blends different genres together, lending an impressive sound design to the games: “Bastion” has its unique narration element with acoustic sounds evoking wonder in the exotic fantasy world the gamer is discovering, while “Transistor” offers something more futuristic and electronic to fit its world. Much like the games themselves, both soundtracks have received great reviews.

#9: Jesper Kyd

What do the “Hitman”, Borderlands and the earlier Assassins Creed games all have in common? Besides being fantastically fun yet violent games, their score was composed by Jesper Kyd. The Danish composer beautifully crafts emotional yet ominous music pieces that fit the atmosphere of his games. Using both acoustic and electronic elements as well as an orchestra and a choir, Kyd gets your heart pumping as you’re about to assassinate someone as Agent 47, a member of the Creed or as a Vault Hunter. Kyd also composed the soundtrack for the vastly underrated “Darksiders II”.

#8: Harry Gregson-Williams

Before Hideo Kojima approached him to score the much anticipated “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty”, Harry Gregson-Williams was a big-time Hollywood composer who never thought he’d work on a video game. Luckily for us, he agreed, spawning a new age of high-quality production values with a cinematic feel in video games. Williams has since worked on all “Metal Gear Solid” games, as well as composing the main theme for “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”. Grandiose and epic, Williams’ scores set the stage for heart-pounding action and tense drama.

#7: Manami Matsumae

Composing the soundtrack for one of the most influential games of all time, Manami Matsumae also created the iconic sound effects and the title screen jingle in “Mega Man”. She was employed with Capcom in the late ‘80s to early ‘90s, lending her musical talent to games such as “Mega Man 2”. She began freelancing soon after her departure, most notably her guest work contributing to indie darling “Shovel Knight’s” soundtrack. She eventually reunited with Capcom and worked on “Mega Man 10”. Fittingly enough, her next work will be featured in the spiritual successor to Megaman, Mighty #9.

#6: Jeremy Soule

Synonymous with Western RPGs is Jeremy Soule. The man behind the music in “The Elder Scrolls” and “Guild Wars” series, Soule started his career off in Square, joined Humongous Entertainment and eventually formed his own music production company, Artistry Entertainment, with which he has found his greatest successes. He mixes various styles of music, including orchestral arrangements and tribal influences. Soule has won multiple awards, has a Bafta nomination to his credit, and, most prestigious of all, has been called “the John Williams of video games” for his epic soundtracks. Now that’s a compliment.

#5: Yasunori Mitsuda

With the help from legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda got his first job at Square as a music composer, although he was really a glorified sound engineer. He gave then Vice-president Hironobu Sakaguchi an ultimatum: let him compose, or he walks. Mitsuda was officially assigned to work on a little game called “Chrono Trigger”. His career took off and he never looked back, composing music for games such as “Chrono Cross”, “Xenogears”, and “Soul Sacrifice”. With keyboard in hand, he keeps a minimalist approach when it comes to creating musical masterpieces.

#4: Austin Wintory

The soothing sounds of “flOw” and the emotional melodies of “Journey” are Austin Wintory’s claim to video game fame. The dynamic musical interaction between player actions and the gaming environment in “Journey” is a marvel to behold. Wintory makes it high on our list because he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for “Journey”. That is the first and only instance where a video game was nominated at the most prestigious awards show formusic, giving video games everywhere the recognition they truly deserve. You can also hear his work in the The Order: 1886, but to do that you’d have to play it…

#3: Yoko Shimomura

You’re going to make it high on our list when your body of work consists of video game excellence such as “Street Fighter II”, “Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars” and “Kingdom Hearts”. The talented Yoko Shimomura has worked with legendary gaming companies Capcom and Square, honing her craft and creating fantastic musical scores, mixing classical music with electronic elements. We’re anxiously awaiting for the next titles she’s currently working on, RPG behemoths “Final Fantasy XV” and “Kingdom Hearts III”.

#2: Koji Kondo

Super Mario Bros & The Legend of Zelda. We dare you to envision these things and not hum their tune in your head. Arguably the most iconic video game music composer, Koji Kondo has created masterpiece after masterpiece for gaming’s greatest franchises. If it’s a major release for Nintendo, you can bet your bottom dollar that Kondo composed the music, showcasing his ability to create something magical and memorable. His legacy goes hand in hand with Nintendo’s unending success: Koji Kondo is to Nintendo’s music what Shigeru Miyamoto is to the company’s game design.

Before we reveal our number one Video Game Music Composer, here’s a look at some of our Honourable Mentions:

Mark Mothersbaugh
David Wise
Jack Wall
Martin O'Donnell
Jake 'Virt' Kaufman

#1: Nobuo Uematsu

Hundreds of masterpieces have been gifted to the gaming world from Nobuo Uematsu’s incomparable imagination. We still get chills every time we hear “Final Fantasy VII’s” One-Winged Angel. His compositions demand attention, mixing electronic guitars with classical and orchestral pieces, blending European and Japanese influences. But it’s not all heavy handed mellow drama, since he also composed the theme for Smash Brothers Brawl. Uematsu’s body of work in the “Final Fantasy” series transcends anything we’ve ever heard in gaming history: he didn’t just make catchy tunes, he elevated game music to unparalleled heights, creating unforgettable art that will forever be carved in our minds. Cue the victory theme!

Disagree with our list? Let us know which video game music composer you would include on your list. For more awesome Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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