“So many students have come up to me to express how gratifying and validating it is to have a space which recognizes their interests and which allows them to meet and hang out with other people who are passionate about similar things.” -Michael Klinberg
With their concert coming up on Saturday, we thought this week was the perfect time to feature our April Entrepreneur of the Month: Music in Video Games Society (MGS)!
MGS is one of the newest student organizations here in the Jacobs School of Music, and their membership is already just shy of 50 student members. Their goal is “to create an interdisciplinary platform for students and faculty to express their interests in game sound and game design.” MGS’s current project is funded by the inaugural Jacobs School of Music Grants.
We caught up with MGS’s founder, Michael Klinberg, a current Masters student in Music Education, to find out more about his inspiration behind the organization and both the challenges and rewards of starting this new project, and to find out where he sees video game music headed in the future. In addition to Michael, MGS leadership includes Alex Price, Brandi Quinn, Gabriel Priem, Ava Andrews, and Aaqil Abudullah.
- Check out this recent blog post to learn more about MGS: JSoM Innovation Blog Feature
- You can livestream their concert on April 8 at 6:30pm EST via the link on their Facebook page
Can you tell us more about how the idea for MGS came about? What prompted you to realize that there was a need for this organization?
I’ve loved video game music since I was a kid (Legend of Zelda scores were some of the first I remember listening to on a daily basis), and I equally loved traditional classical repertoire—otherwise I wouldn’t have pursued conservatory training as a violinist. However, after so many years in higher education I realized that there was a part of my musical experience and identity that was simply being overlooked in my education, and I wished to bring that out somehow. MGS was the natural next step that came from my desire to engage in more research, education, and performance centered around video game music. I was inspired by the additional support that came from seeing how many students surfaced to express their equal love for video games.
What were some of the challenges you faced in the early stages of founding MGS?
My biggest challenge was understanding exactly what steps to take or projects to start in the beginning. I reached out to so many people—not limited to IU faculty or students—to collect ideas on what my options might be for delving into video game music endeavors. I had a lot of questions: Who do I talk to make this happen? Who would care if I made this happen? Who has done anything similar to this? Look at all this amazing music people are making online—can we do this too? From there, the next obstacle has been finding a unique voice for the project and figuring out what all the logistics might be to get it going. Along the way, I would say the challenges have morphed into finding the time to consistently work on all the scheduling, communicating, advertising, logistics, etc., while also still being a full-time student and teacher. But the project and group has been incredibly rewarding, making that challenge worth meeting.
What was it like applying for the Innovation Grant and being an inaugural winner? Do you have any information for students applying for funding in the future?
Applying for the Innovation Grant was a great experience to help me home in on exactly how the project would shape over the year. Since receiving the grant, the project has of course grown into something much bigger and much more complicated. I am incredibly grateful to have received the award because it’s enabled many students to create works that are meaningful to them on a personal level. Our members are also excited to perform these works for the same reason. The grant has created a path to this sort of expression, and I am constantly thankful that I get to work on something related to video games every day. For students applying in the future, I would say go for whatever idea you have, and don’t be overwhelmed by how much you don’t know yet. So many of the pieces start to fall into place once you start and find others to help. I would encourage students to apply regardless of what stage their idea is in.
MGS has a performance at the FAR Center (4th Street and Rogers Road) on Saturday, April 8 at 6:30 pm. What can attendees look forward to at the event?
Attendees can look forward to an exciting night of many video game favorites being represented through original arrangements made by IU students and performed by a variety of wonderful chamber ensembles featuring IU student performers. Each composer has chosen a track from one of their favorite video games and arranged that music for an ensemble of their choosing. For example, we’ll have performances by a piano quartet, vocal quintet, brass quintet, and more. Anyone who identifies as a gamer or a lover of video game music will certainly enjoy this. But I think even people who enjoy traditional chamber or classical concerts and anyone who enjoys amazing concert experiences in general will, too!
What’s been the most exciting part of the planning process so far?
The most exciting part, aside from getting to hear everyone’s pieces realized by the dedicated performers working with us, would be all the conversations I’ve had along the way. So many students have come up to me to express how gratifying and validating it is to have a space which recognizes their interests and which allows them to meet and hang out with other people who are passionate about similar things. Though the logistics of planning this have certainly been laborious and time consuming, it usually results in meeting more people or paving the way for more conversations in which even more people get to be excited for this video-game-centered organization.
Where do you think the future of video game music is heading?
The future of video game music is incredibly and inevitably bright. The field has been an immense source of inspiration and innovation for decades, and it continues to grow as technology advances and as more and more composers and music makers enter the scene. It is an incredibly important field and there is so much to explore as it stands right now. As far as education goes, I think this organization is an amazing first step towards shining a light on professional pursuits, ways of making music, and personal interests that have often been set aside in more traditional spaces. I would love to see video game music make its way into our courses in theory, history, education, performance, and scoring. It could be a beacon for collaboration across programs. Hopefully the future is filled with opportunities such as these.