Level Up Your Game A Beginners Guide On How To Make Video Game Music

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Hello and welcome! If you’re a gamer or a music enthusiast, you must have had those moments when you listen to a game soundtrack and get completely immersed in it. Maybe it felt like the music was telling you its own story, or maybe it felt like a powerful driving force. In this article, we’re going to cover how to make video game music so you can try your hand at creating an immersive experience for others.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to create captivating music that can tell a story and reflect emotions in a video game, and how to use music to complement and enhance the gameplay. Whether you’re a musician who has never tried composing for video games, or a game developer looking to understand the impact of music on players’ emotions and behaviors, this article will provide you with a valuable understanding of video game music.

The good news is that making video game music is not as hard as it may seem, and many people have already achieved great success in this field. In this article, we’re going to share some proven tips and techniques on how to create effective video game music that can enhance the gaming experience. You’ll learn about the importance of understanding the game’s narrative and context, how to create loops and themes that match the game’s pace and mood, and how to use different sounds and instruments to create varied and interesting music. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Basics of Video Game Music Production

If you’ve ever been engrossed in a video game and lost track of time, you know that music plays a critical role in capturing the gamer’s attention and keeping them focused on the action. Music sets the mood for gameplay, creates tension, and enhances the overall experience. So, how do video game developers create the music that complements their games so perfectly? This article aims to provide an understanding of the fundamentals of video game music production.

What is Video Game Music Production?

Video game music production is the process of creating music for video games. The music in video games varies in style, just as much as it does in traditional music. There is no fixed format or playbook for creating a video game soundtrack but it generally involves composing music that compliments and evokes the intended mood of the game.

Understanding the Role of Video Game Music

Video game music serves several important functions like evoking emotions from players, following the gameplay and the story, and creating a sense of immersion. A well-crafted and well-timed video game soundtrack can enhance the player’s experience and give them a greater connection to the game world. A poorly-designed soundtrack, on the other hand, can heavily detract from the experience.

Composing Music for Video Games

Creating music for video games requires specific skills and methods that differ from other types of music production. It requires a close collaboration between the composer and the development team to create a soundtrack that complements the game’s storyline, themes, locations, and characters. Below are the steps involved in composing music for a video game.

  1. Understand the game:
  2. The music in video games must contribute to the game’s overall experience, and this cannot happen without a full understanding of the game. The composer must analyze the game’s themes, storyline, characterisation, and gameplay, and work collaboratively with the development team to create a music atmosphere that fits the game.

  3. Set the tone:
  4. Video games have many different moods and settings, from serene countryside to intense battles. To create a fitting soundtrack for every part of the game, the composer must set a musical tone that matches what is happening on the screen.

  5. Timing and looping:
  6. Video game music loops because it must follow the player’s actions. If the player enters and exits different zones or battles, the music must change to fit that scenario. This means that the music must loop correctly and seamlessly.

  7. Creating a memorable theme:
  8. Having a memorable theme song is as essential to a video game as it is to a film. A catchy tune can evoke the memory of the game long after it’s finished, and add to its recognisability. Think of the classic themes to Super Mario or The Legend of Zelda, to name a couple.

Tools and Technologies for Video Game Music Production

As technology has advanced, so has the game development process. While there is no fixed way that video game music production should be done, there are certain must-have tools and techniques. Below are some of the most popular tools and technologies used in video game music production.

Tools Pros Cons
DAW Software
  • Provides a wide range of sound effects and virtual instruments
  • Offers real-time audio processing to the video game
  • Supports collaboration across multiple users
  • May have a steep learning curve for beginners
  • Requires a high-performance system to operate effectively
  • Can be expensive
MIDI Instruments
  • Provides realistic game sounds, while improving resource usage
  • MIDI sounds are highly customisable
  • Requires less data storage
  • May not sound as realistic as pure audio sampling
  • Requires a dedicated system to play in real time
  • Less control over some aspects of the sound
Audio libraries and samples
  • Provides pre-existing sound libraries and samples
  • Sounds are highly customizable
  • Allows creating original sound effects
  • Can be costly
  • Requires adequate storage capacity to store samples
  • Can lead to issues with sound originality

The Future of Video Game Music Production

As the video game industry matures, the creation of more complex music seems inevitable. Innovations in music software and hardware will enable the development of new and more sophisticated sounds. Newer technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) may also play a crucial role in creating immersive game soundtracks.

In conclusion, creating music for video games requires a specific set of skills, tools, and technologies that differ from traditional music production. Video game music production is essential for evoking emotions from players and immersing them in the game world, and as technology advances, we can expect to see more complex and innovative video game soundtracks.

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Choosing the Right DAW for Creating Video Game Music

Creating music for video games is a unique and exciting process that requires certain tools and resources. One essential tool that every video game composer needs is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). A DAW is a software application that enables users to create, record, mix, and master audio tracks. When it comes to creating video game music, choosing the right DAW is crucial to achieving a professional and polished sound. In this subsection, we will discuss the key factors to consider when selecting a DAW for creating video game music.

Functionality and Capabilities

Before selecting a DAW, it is essential to consider the functionalities and capabilities that you require. Video game music is composed of different layers, including sound effects, voice-overs, background music, and more. Therefore, it is crucial to select a DAW that can handle all these different elements. Some of the essential features to look for when selecting a DAW include:

  • Ability to import and export different file types
  • MIDI support and sequencing capabilities
  • Ability to manipulate and edit audio files
  • Plugin support to access more sounds, effects and instruments
  • Real-time collaborative features to enable team working

The DAW should be well suited to the composer’s workflow and be able to handle various functions with ease. There are several DAWs available in the market with various functionalities and capabilities, including Logic Pro, Cubase, FL Studio, Ableton Live, and Pro Tools.

Cost and Pricing Models

Cost is a crucial factor to consider when selecting a DAW. When starting out as a video game composer, it is important to consider the level of investment you are willing to make. Some DAWs can be expensive, while others offer a free or low-cost option. It is essential to define a budget range and select the DAW that best suits your requirements within that budget limit. Some of the pricing models available for DAWs include:

  • Free – some DAWs offer a limited version of their software free of charge, but with certain functionalities restricted
  • Paid one-time fee – some DAWs require an upfront, one-time payment for a full version of the software
  • Subscription – some DAWs are available on a subscription basis, which might suit video game composers who do not require the software all year round
  • Add-ons or plugins – Some DAWs are available for free, but any add-ons or plugins would come with a cost

Table: Comparison of Cost and Pricing Models for DAWs

| DAW | Pricing Model |
| Logic Pro | Paid one-time fee |
| Cubase | Subscription or paid one-time fee |
| FL Studio | Subscription or paid one-time fee |
| Ableton Live | Subscription or paid one-time fee |
| Pro Tools | Subscription or paid one-time fee |
| Reaper | Free or paid one-time fee |

User Interface and Ease of Use

When composing video game music, it is essential to use a DAW that provides an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. The DAW should be designed to enable users to access and use the functionalities with ease. An excellent DAW should also provide tutorials, documentation, and customer support to assist users in mastering the software. Some of the factors that make a DAW user-friendly include:

  • Intuitive user interface with clear icons and menu structures
  • Tutorials and documentation available from the developer or the community
  • Accessibility of features with a single click on the screen without too many menus
  • Error-free workflow with a low number of bugs and crashes

Plugins and Add-ons

The DAW you select should have access to a variety of plugins and add-ons to help you achieve the desired sound. A plugin is a piece of software that extends the functionality of the DAW. Therefore, when selecting a DAW, consider the plugins and add-ons available, and ensure that they are compatible with the DAW. Some of the essential plugins and add-ons include:

  • Synthesisers to create sound effects and virtual instruments
  • Effects for reverb, delay, compression and EQ
  • Sample libraries for pre-recorded sounds
  • Third-party plugins or add-ons

In conclusion, choosing the right DAW for creating video game music is essential in achieving a professional sound. Consider the functionalities and capabilities required, cost and pricing models, user interface and ease of use, and plugins and add-ons when selecting a DAW. Furthermore, utilize the free trial options available to select the best choice that suits your requirement, workflow, and budget.

Exploring Different Musical Genres Suitable for Video Games

Video game music is a unique genre that is both versatile and challenging. It requires an appropriate blend of different musical genres to create enjoyable and exciting music that meets the needs of the game. As a video game music composer, it is essential to understand different music genres and their characteristics to compose suitable game music. In this section, we will explore different music genres suitable for video games, how they work, and the dos and don’ts of using them in game composition.

1. Classical Music

Classical music is a popular music genre in the video game industry, and many popular video games have used classical music in their soundtracks. This genre is known for its emotional depth and versatility, making it an ideal choice for dramatic and action-packed games. Here are some factors to consider when using classical music in video games.

  • Appropriateness: Classical music is best used in games that require a more serious and sophisticated atmosphere, such as adventure or dramatic games. It is also ideal for games that need a romantic feel.
  • Instrumentation: A traditional orchestra is often used in classical music, but there are other possibilities, such as using MIDI or synthesizers, to achieve the desired sound.
  • Mood: Classical music can evoke various emotions, from melancholy to joyous. The composer should choose pieces that suit the mood and atmosphere of the game.

Using classical music in video games has notable advantages, such as providing distinct and well-known melodies that players can easily recognize. The downside is that classical music requires a certain level of musical knowledge to appreciate, which not all players possess.

2. Electronic Music

Electronic music is an innovative and dynamic genre that has grown in popularity in the video game industry. Its unique sound and ability to incorporate various sub-genres make it an excellent choice for action-packed games that require high-energy music. When composing electronic music for games, the following factors should be considered.

  • Appropriateness: Electronic music is best used for fast-paced games, including racing, fighting, or action games. It is also an excellent choice for futuristic games that require a cutting-edge sound.
  • Instrumentation: Electronic music comprises synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, drum machines, and other electronic equipment. The composer needs to have actual electronic music knowledge to create music that sounds professional and modern.
  • Mood: Electronic music can evoke different feelings, such as excitement, tension, or anticipation. The composer should choose the appropriate mood based on the game’s atmosphere and gameplay.

One advantage of electronic music is that its numerous sub-genres provide a wide range of options for composers. Its disadvantage is that it can be challenging to compose and requires a certain level of skill and knowledge of electronic music production.

3. World Music

World music is a diverse genre that encompasses traditional music from different cultures and regions worldwide. Its unique sound and cultural significance make it an ideal choice to add a unique flavor to video game soundtracks. When composing world music for games, the following factors should be considered.

  • Appropriateness: World music is best used in games that have cultural or historical themes, such as role-playing games that take place in different regions worldwide.
  • Instrumentation: World music comprises different instruments, depending on the culture and region of origin. Composers should consider which instruments to use based on the game’s theme.
  • Mood: World music has several moods, including joyful, melancholic, and festive. The composer should choose the appropriate mood for the game and the cultural significance it represents.
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One of the advantages of world music is that it can add depth and cultural significance to the game. It can make the game’s characters and environment more relatable and provide a unique game experience. On the other hand, world music requires cultural sensitivity and knowledge to avoid cultural appropriation, stereotyping, or misrepresentations.


In conclusion, video game music is a crucial aspect of game development that requires considerable thought and consideration. Exploring different music genres is essential to create an enjoyable and immersive game experience. When composing game music, it is essential to consider the appropriateness, instrumentation, and mood of the different music genres to create an outstanding soundtrack. Classical music, electronic music, and world music are only a few examples of the various genres suitable for video games, and composers can experiment with different genres to create a unique game soundtrack.

Utilizing Sound Effects in Video Game Music Production

Music is a vital component in video games, as it sets the mood and enhances the player’s gaming experience. In addition to music, sound effects (SFX) are also integral to video game development. SFX are used to provide immersion, feedback and enhance gameplay. In this subsection, we will discuss how to utilize sound effects in video game music production to create an engaging sound design that complements the musical score.

Sound Design: A Crucial Element of Video Game Music

Sound design in video games is an art form that encompasses a wide range of technical and creative skills. It can be thought of as the creation of sounds that bring the game world to life. Sound design is critical because it affects the player’s perception of the game environment and the emotions they experience during gameplay. Excellent sound design can transport players to a new world, allowing them to get lost in the gaming experience and immerse themselves in the game’s world.

Although SFX and music are separate elements, they work together to create the soundscape of a video game. When you create music for a video game, it is vital to consider how it interacts with the sound effects. The goal of sound design is to make the music and SFX work together cohesively so that players can have an enjoyable and immersive gaming experience.

Types of Sound Effects in Video Game Music Production

There are many types of sound effects used in video game development. Sound effects can be divided into three categories based on their function:

  1. Environmental SFX (Ambient Sounds)
  2. UI (User Interface) SFX
  3. Action or Real-time SFX

Environmental SFX (Ambient Sounds)

Environmental SFX are sounds that are found in the game environment that help create a sense of realism. These include:

  • Wind
  • Footsteps
  • Rain
  • Thunder
  • Fire Crackling

Environmental SFX are often used to create a sense of immersion in the game world. The sound of rain and thunder can make players feel like they are in an actual storm. Wind sounds can make them feel as though they are sitting on a mountain cliff’s edge. These sounds are essential to create a believable world for the player.

UI (User Interface) SFX

UI SFX are sounds that are used in the user interface. These include:

  • Button Clicks
  • Mouse Hover
  • Menu Sounds
  • Dialog Boxes

UI SFX are critical because they provide feedback to the player’s input. When a player clicks a button, the sound effect creates a sense of consequence to the player’s decision. UI sounds are also essential for giving players clear interface feedback, making it easy to navigate menus and other UI elements.

Action or Real-time SFX

Action SFX are sounds that are triggered by gameplay elements. These include:

  • Weapons
  • Explosions
  • Player and AI Audio
  • Impacts and Collisions

Action SFX are often dynamic and are one of the most critical aspects of a good video game audio experience. Action SFX are used to provide feedback to the player, adding an extra layer of excitement or fright to a game. Effective action SFX can make or break whether a game feels immersive or flat.

Pros and Cons of Sound Effects in Video Game Music Production

Like any other tool or technique, sound effects have their pros and cons when used in video game music production.


Pros Explanation
Enhances the game’s immersion Sound Effects add depth and detail to the video game environment, enhancing player’s immersion in it.
Provides feedback on the game action Sound Effects give audio feedback to player’s actions,, improving the player’s engagement and satisfaction.
Expresses emotions and themes SFX helps evoke emotions and convey themes for the character, setting or the game’s overall mood.


Cons Explanation
Can be overused Excessive use of SFX may lead to sensory overload and distract players from the core gaming experience.
Inconsistent Quality SFX are often made by multiple designers, and each designer may have different standards of quality and techniques used.
Time-consuming process Crafting sound effects takes time, including sourcing, editing, and processing sound clips.


Sound effects are critical when it comes to creating engaging, immersive video game music. They help evoke emotions and express the game’s themes while also providing feedback on the player’s actions. Understanding the different types of sound effects and how they work together is essential when creating video game music. As with any technique in video game music production, it is important to balance the pros and cons of utilizing sound effects to ensure an optimal gaming experience for the player.

5. Utilize Music Theory Techniques to Create Harmony

Music theory is a crucial element in creating amazing video game soundtracks. It provides a set of principles and tools that you can use to harmonize the different melodies in your game’s music. Here are some techniques that you can use to enhance the harmony of your video game soundtracks:

1. Chord Progressions

Chord progressions are an essential part of music theory, and they create the framework for a song’s harmony. In video game music, chord progressions can provoke different emotions and set the tone for each level or scene. Here are some chord progressions that you can use in your video game music:

  • Major I-IV-V
  • Minor i-iv-V
  • Modal Progressions
  • Blues Progressions

For example, the use of a minor i-iv-V chord progression in game music can evoke feelings of melancholy and desperation. On the other hand, a major I–IV–V chord progression can evoke feelings of happiness, excitement and determination.

2. Counterpoint

Counterpoint refers to the use of two or more melodies playing simultaneously in a music piece. This technique can make your video game music sound more complex and interesting, as it creates different harmonies and textures that work together. To use counterpoint in video game music, you begin with a simple melody and add another melody that plays at the same time, with the two melodies interacting and complementing each other.

3. Modes

Modes refer to the different scales that can be used to create music. Each mode has its own unique flavor or mood, which can be used to create different atmospheres in your video game music. Here are a few modes to consider using when creating music for your game:

  • Dorian
  • Mixolydian
  • Phrygian
  • Lydia

Using modes can create a different harmonic language altogether and can make your video game soundtrack stand out.

4. Dynamics

Dynamics are the changes in volume and intensity of your music piece. This technique can create different moods and feelings in your video game music. For example, using soft dynamics with piano and high dynamics with trumpet can evoke different emotions from the player. You can use dynamics to create tension and release in your music, making it more captivating and memorable for the player.

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5. Sound Effects

Sound effects can be used to add depth and texture to your video game music. They can be added to reinforce the story or to signal to the player that something important is happening. Examples of sound effects that you can use in your video game music are ambient noises, percussive hits, or voice samples.

Pros Cons Comparisons
  • Creates complex harmonies in soundtracks
  • Helps to evoke different emotions in the player
  • Requires time to study and understand each technique
  • May be too expensive for smaller studios to hire music theorists
  • Chord progressions are more essential while counterpoint & modes are optional
  • Simpler harmonies might cause the soundtrack to be boring

In conclusion, utilizing music theory techniques can create harmonies that make all the difference in your video game soundtracks. Chord progressions, counterpoint, modes, dynamics, and sound effects are essential elements to creating engaging, memorable video game music. By using these techniques creatively, you can create an immersive audio experience for your players.

FAQs: How to Make Video Game Music

What software do I need to make video game music?

You can use Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) like FL Studio, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and Reaper to compose and create video game music. These software packages have built-in virtual instruments, plugins, and sound libraries that can help you create professional-sounding music.

How can I learn music theory?

You can learn music theory from online courses, books, or tutorials. There are many free resources available online, such as YouTube channels and websites that can teach you the basics of music theory. You can also take online courses from websites like Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare.

Do I need to know programming to make video game music?

It is not necessary to know programming to create video game music. However, it may be helpful to learn programming languages like C++, Java, or Python if you are interested in composing music for specific game engines. Understanding programming can also help you communicate with developers and better integrate your music into their games.

How can I make music that suits the game’s theme and mood?

You can start by playing the game and understanding its storyline, characters, and setting. Use the mood, tone, and emotions of the game to inspire your music. Use specific instruments, tempos, and melodies to convey different moods and emotions in your music. You can also use sound effects and ambient sounds to create a more immersive experience.

How do I create sound effects for video games?

There are different types of sounds you can create for video games, such as gunshots, explosions, footsteps, and background noises. You can create these sounds using sample libraries, synthesizers, or recording your own sounds. You can also edit and combine existing sounds to create unique sound effects. Use sound editing software like Audacity, Pro Tools, or Adobe Audition to create and edit your sound effects.

How can I get feedback on my video game music?

You can get feedback on your video game music by sharing it with other composers, gamers, or developers online. Join music forums and communities, such as Reddit’s /r/GameAudio or Discord servers that are dedicated to game audio. You can also submit your music to indie game developers who are looking for music for their games.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when making video game music?

Common mistakes include using too many instruments or too many melodies, creating music that is too repetitive or predictable, and not considering the game’s technical limitations, such as memory and CPU usage. Avoid using copyrighted material without permission, and ensure that your music fits well with the game’s overall audio landscape.

How can I make my video game music more memorable?

You can make your video game music more memorable by creating catchy melodies, using recognizable motifs, and repeating them throughout the game. Use music to enhance the players’ emotional experience and make it an integral part of the game’s design.

What is the ideal length of video game music?

The ideal length of video game music varies depending on the context and purpose of the music. Some pieces of music may be short and looped continuously throughout the game, while others may be longer and only played during specific cutscenes or levels. As a general rule, try to keep your music under five minutes, and ensure that it fits well with the game’s pacing and structure.

How can I make my video game music stand out?

You can make your video game music stand out by being creative and innovative. Experiment with different genres, instruments, and techniques. Create music that reflects the game’s unique style and mood. Collaborate with other musicians, sound designers, and voice actors to create a more immersive and engaging experience for players.


In conclusion, making video game music requires a combination of technical and creative skills. You need to understand music theory, composition, sound design, and game design to create music that is both memorable and immersive. The key tips to make great video game music are to experiment with different sounds, work collaboratively with developers, sound designers, and gamers, and always keep the game’s mood, style, and story in mind. After reading this article, you can start practicing your skills, learning new techniques and software, and connecting with other game audio enthusiasts to improve your music. Don’t be afraid to create and share your music with the world. Good luck, and have fun making video game music!

Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more interesting articles, check out our other content on music, video games, and technology.