Video game soundtracks have come a long way from being used as simple teasers during the intro screen. Today, professional individuals to vast orchestras are often employed to shake the emotional core of players whether it’s to deliver an adrenaline charged cue during a thrilling battle or a subtle pause before a dramatic reveal. Music has become as much a part of gaming as the sound effects whether it’s in a shmup or an RPG, and with the Smithsonian’s exhibit on the Art of Video Games honoring its pioneers, has reached a new plateau of recognition.
Game soundtracks had also exploded in popularity in Japan over the years with companies regularly offering boxed sets of their music focusing on a single title, individual CDs, or compilations of their own greatest hits. As for the West, at least in a commercial sense, that kind of market had never really developed forcing fans to import their favorite tracks as opposed to walking down to the local store.
Though the West still seems hesitant to offer the kind of soundtrack support that Japan’s market is addicted to, there have been efforts to try and “break the ice” over the years with collector’s editions and even standalone offerings such as for Bungie’s Halo.
Years earlier, in ’94, this ad ran for a compilation published by Capitol Records of Tommy Tallarico’s work. It focused on Virgin Games’ titles such as Terminator CD and Robocop vs. The Terminator, though it’s only a tiny fraction of the work that the prolific and immensely talented musician has done.
In 2008, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized his work with a two page interview.
Today, his career spans a little over two decades and 300 or so games mixed in with shows, production duties, writing, and a host of other activities that show no signs of slowing any of his enthusiasm down even after being featured at the Smithsonian’s Art of Video Games exhibit alongside other luminary contributors.
One of my favorite Tallarico pieces? The opening to Advent Rising. Sure, the game had issues, but the soundtrack is incredible stuff.
When he’s not doing music, he’s doing his part to promote the art of video game music with the Video Games Live concerts. It really is an incredible experience. Hearing the music in a game can’t compare to hearing it live, especially in listening to Christopher Tin’s Baba Yetu sung onstage or Martin Leung’s rendition of popular themes such as from Super Mario Bros. on the ivory keys.
So here’s Tommy in ripped jeans and his rock star shades with a varsity jacket emblazoned with a red “V”. Even this early on in his career, he was already earning accolades pioneering work that would continue to influence many others within the industry to do the same.