A Composer's Guide to Game Music

A Composer's Guide to Game Music

By Winifred Phillips

A comprehensive, practical guide to composing video game music, from acquiring the necessary skills to finding work in the field.





A comprehensive, practical guide to composing video game music, from acquiring the necessary skills to finding work in the field.

Music in video games is often a sophisticated, complex composition that serves to engage the player, set the pace of play, and aid interactivity. Composers of video game music must master an array of specialized skills not taught in the conservatory, including the creation of linear loops, music chunks for horizontal resequencing, and compositional fragments for use within a generative framework. In A Composer's Guide to Game Music, Winifred Phillips—herself an award-winning composer of video game music—provides a comprehensive, practical guide that leads an aspiring video game composer from acquiring the necessary creative skills to understanding the function of music in games to finding work in the field.

Musicians and composers may be drawn to game music composition because the game industry is a multibillion-dollar, employment-generating economic powerhouse, but, Phillips writes, the most important qualification for a musician who wants to become a game music composer is a love of video games. Phillips offers detailed coverage of essential topics, including musicianship and composition experience; immersion; musical themes; music and game genres; workflow; working with a development team; linear music; interactive music, both rendered and generative; audio technology, from mixers and preamps to software; and running a business.

A Composer's Guide to Game Music offers indispensable guidance for musicians and composers who want to deploy their creativity in a dynamic and growing industry, protect their musical identities while working in a highly technical field, and create great music within the constraints of a new medium.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262026642 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 42 b&w illus.


$24.95 T ISBN: 9780262534499 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 42 b&w illus.


  • Although the text on the inside of the book's dust jacket explains that A Composer's Guide To Game Music offers 'indispensable guidance for musicians and composers', Phillips' book deserves a wider audience. Even with no formal music training and no real interest in video gaming, I found that there is much to enjoy. The content is well-balanced so that those who have an interest in composing music for video games and people who have a more general interest in the use of music in games, film and television can learn a lot from this book.

    Reel Music

  • A Composer's Guide To Game Music is partly educational and partly inspirational...a great introduction to this specialist art.

    Sound on Sound

  • An excellent guide for a musician or composer…this is a very insightful and engaging book and a very solid read especially for aspiring composers looking to break into the industry.

    NY Film Music Examiner

  • The core of the book is a set of chapters that delve into the actual craft of writing game music in a way that few, if any, other books have ever done… tremendously valuable to composers.


  • A Composers Guide to Game Music is hands down a must have for everyone interested in game music.

    The Audio Spotlight

  • Between the real life experiences and the step-by-step walkthroughs of how certain things work, this is essential material for budding musicians looking for their first big break—or perhaps veterans looking for fresh inspiration.

    Push Square

  • Phillips does not simply set out to address how to be a video game composer. Her intent is that her readers will understand what it means to actually create and compose…A Composer's Guide to Game Music is set to become a touchstone academic achievement.

    Film Score Monthly

  • A beautifully organized, intelligently written book about music for games... Gamers as well as composers may be fascinated by her thorough analysis of what music works, and why, in various game genres... The challenges unique to game composers are discussed at length.

    The Film Music Society

  • I devoured the inside information... I have been inspired and informed a great deal... I will be returning to this guide frequently and keeping it close to my workstation to give me a point of reference when in need.

    Game Music Online

  • Award-winning game composer Winifred Phillips has written the definitive book on scoring for video games. A Composer's Guide to Game Music has been published by The MIT Press and is a thoroughly comprehensive guidebook to the concept, practice, art, and technology of providing music for this growing cinematic medium.


  • (Phillips) may be one of the most dedicated and articulate composers working today, and her latest work—a book-length intro guide to the highly specialized craft of game music—is a meticulously written tome in which every stage of her craft is contextualized with historical, philosophical, and personal examples… Rating: Excellent.


  • A Composer's Guide to Game Music, Phillips's 2014 book, offers a level-headed worker's tour of a fantasy-fueled world… Phillips thoroughly covers why music matters… and she calmly guides the reader through new and old world compositional problems…(Phillips's book) simply aims to be transparent and generous, and to offer a sensible, clear, and methodically minded explanation of how work happens in an illusory world.

    Los Angeles Review of Books


  • Winifred Phillips's passion and understanding of this medium comes to life on the page and is a direct result of her vast experience and accomplishment in composing for video games. This is not just compulsory bedside reading for budding games composers, but a fine achievement in itself. Bravo!

    Harry Gregson-Williams

    Composer of Shrek, Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven, and the Metal Gear Solid series

  • An important, deep, and rare exploration of video game music by one of the medium's smartest and most talented voices. You may not know the name Winifred Phillips but if you play games, you absolutely know—and love—her creations!

    David Jaffe

    Director of God of War and the Twisted Metal series

  • When I began writing for games over 20 years ago, I wish there had been a book like this to guide me through the process, art, and business of scoring for games. Winifred Phillips's book is an excellent combination of practical techniques along with the human touch of a game composer's real-life experiences.

    Michael Sweet

    Artistic Director, Video Game Scoring, Berklee College of Music

  • This book accurately illustrates the video game composer's task, which is to create music that perfectly complements an existing artistic vision. While the video game industry has its unique set of processes, for the aspiring composer, musicianship is the key to success. In the same manner, Winifred Phillips has excelled in this genre thanks to her musical talent.

    Didier Lord

    Head of Music, Ubisoft


  • Awarded the Global Music Award Gold Medal for an exceptional book in the field of music, the National Indie Excellence Book Award, the Nonfiction Book Award (Gold Winner), and the Annual Game Music Award (Best Publication)