8-Bit Symphony - you should come

by Paul Morrison

There’s a concert happening in Hull, on Saturday 15th June, 2019. It’s not like any concert you’ve ever attended, though. Nor is it like any concert you will ever attend in the future. It’s a one-off*, like nothing you’ve ever dreamed of in the past. And yet, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

What is it? It’s called 8-Bit Symphony. Mentally, what does that phrase conjure up? A symphony of 8-bit music, perhaps? If it does, then well done because that’s exactly what it will be.

We were blessed with incredible composers in the 1980s; incredible composers who were also excellent programmers, and who fused those skills to provide the soundtrack of our teenage lives. Computer games were our pastime of choice, and the music we heard in those games transported us to other worlds. Some pieces were incredibly atmospheric, tailored to the action in the game to maximise our immersion. Other pieces were simply great melodies which have stuck with us for over 30 years.

I know there are those of you who like your retro just as it is, and that’s fine. If it ain’t broke, don’t bloody mess with it. Musically, much of it still sounds amazing today. These tracks may have been fashioned within the limitations of Commodore’s SID chip (or others less powerful), but that only goes to show how powerful it was for its time. However, sometimes it’s nice to have our retro pushed outside its neat little box. The original SID/POKEY/AY tracks will always be there for us to love and cherish and listen to and enjoy. You need never fear that they’ll go away.

One of these seats is waiting for you.

One of these seats is waiting for you.

Just imagine if you will, though, an event that takes all our favourite computer games music and does something remarkable with them. Something spectacular. Something that maybe even the composers themselves could not have envisioned even as they wrote those pieces. Imagine if they were reworked, from the ground up, for an orchestra.

It’s not that mad. There are orchestral concerts of video game music happening all the time. The difference is that they play orchestral versions of orchestral game tracks. Sure, it must be nice for Final Fantasy fans to hear their favourite music in a live setting, but it’s not that remarkable. 8-Bit Symphony? That’s remarkable.

Imagine how fleshed-out these pieces will sound with a full orchestra behind them, rather than just three channels of a chip. This isn’t going to be a concert; it’s going to be an event. It’s something for us; for all the computer games fans who tire of hearing Nintendo this and Final Fantasy that. This is for me, it’s for you, it’s even for your weird Speccy-owning mate. It’s for those of us who knew that the groundbreaking music accompanying our games was not just bleepy-bloopy sound effects, but real, genuine music. It’s for those of us who held our tape recorders up to the telly and made compilation tapes of our favourite computer games music. It’s for those of us with a very specific taste; and there are thousands of us. And many of us will be in Hull that night, hanging out with like-minded folks and luminaries of the day’s scene and enjoying what has been put together just for us. It’s been put together for you, too. Come along and join us on June 15th. It’s going to be magnificent.

*might not be a one-off, but get to it just in case.