Ludomusicology and The New Drastic #crassh3c (Isabella van Elferen)

Rock Band – a score or a series of post-facto instructions?

Isabella van Elferen (Kingston University London):

Ludomusicology and The New Drastic

This paper proposes a New Drastic Musicology based on the ludomusical premises of play, multimediality, and interactivity. Ludomusicology offers the exciting perspective of going beyond even the pioneering historical and technological overviews, case studies, and explorations of genre conventions that the study of game music has produced over the last decade. It necessitates innovations in three levels: (1) musical analysis, (2) musicological research themes and (3) musicological critical theory.

Ludomusicology revolutionises the score analysis that musicologists have employed since the late nineteenth century. Since the concept of a score is obsolete in game music, ludomusicology must, rather, analyse the factors cooperating in the musical underlining of game plot and gameplay. I identify these as musical affect (connotation and identification), musical literacy (habituated signification), and musical interaction (play).
The integration of these three factors into musical analysis leads to the genesis of entirely new musicological research fields. How does musical literacy in games relate to that in other multimedial genres? How does musical play in games relate to music-historical notions of play and performance?
These new research questions, finally, evoke meta-critical reflections. Ludomusicology, with its pervasive attention to multimedial and interactive performativity, necessitates a rethinking of Abbate’s notion of “drastic” musicology.
Ludomusicology can alter an entire discipline. Innovating the discipline on the levels of object analysis, research themes as well as critical reflection, ludomusicology can engender “The New Drastic”.