NACVGM 2020 – Interpreting the Music of (8-)Bit Brigade: Speed Runs and Speed Metal

From the Abstract

Dickie Lee (University of Georgia)

Interpreting the Music of (8-)Bit Brigade: Speed Runs and Speed Metal

8-bit Nintendo music, with its driving rhythms and readily identifiable thematic characters, lends itself nicely for adaptation into a metal musical milieu.  And that borrowing, when paired with the visuals of the actual gaming experience, leads to a hermeneutics of video game music that is underexplored in theory and analysis- one that focuses on agency and subjectivity.  I analyze the performances of Athens, Georgia metal band Bit Brigade as participating in nostalgic mode of intertextuality (loosely defined as the act of relating various texts to one another to release meaning), and that nostalgia is underscored by speed run-through visuals of classic games (such as Contra and Metroid) by a professional gamer accompanied by the band performing the soundtrack.

To situate this analysis, I begin with a conceptualization of agency as the capacity for an interpreted being to interact with their virtual environment, and interpret how a venue can demonstrate an acoustemology of its space (an a priori association regarding that location and the culture/types of individuals that participate in it). I analyze how Bit Brigade accomplishes seamless transitions with the gaming scenery, ultimately reflecting a degree of agency within the ensemble and the gamer.  An intertextual network of associations connect game-to-music and music-to-game in an ever-unfolding act of nostalgia and simulation.  Bit Brigade at once teaches us about postmodern philosophy and why these games captured attention in the first place, all in the context of a metal unanticipated music experience.


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Source: Bardic Knowledge

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