New Books Network

William Gibbons

Unlimited Replays

Video Games and Classical Music

Oxford University Press 2018

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in MusicNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and Society August 6, 2019 Kristen M. Turner

Video games are a significant part of popular entertainment in the twenty-first century. From Words with Friends to Grand Theft Auto, most people spend...

Video games are a significant part of popular entertainment in the twenty-first century. From Words with Friends to Grand Theft Auto, most people spend at least some of their leisure time with video games. In his book, Unlimited Replays: Video Games and Classical Music (Oxford University Press, 2018), William Gibbons examines the intersection between video games and classical music. From close readings of the scores of specific games to an analysis of games with characters related to classical music, Gibbons asks what happens when highbrow art meets lowbrow entertainment. Often classical music enhances the visual and storytelling elements of a game by sonically marking characters or situations as wealthy or sophisticated, as also happens in film and TV scores. Gibbons finds unexpected connections and layering of signification as video game scores exploit musical references from sources as far flung as Stanley Kubrick’s films to Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin. He ends the book with an account of how orchestras are trying to use the immense popularity of gaming to raise money and attract new audiences by playing concerts of video game music.

William Gibbons is an associate professor of musicology and Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Texas Christian University. His research centers on how canonical classical music repertoires function outside their initial time of compositions. In addition to his first book, Building the Operatic Music (University of Rochester Press), he has published numerous journal articles including in American Music, 19th-Century Music Review, and Opera Quarterly, and has co-edited a volume on video game music published in 2014 and another forthcoming later this year both from Routledge Press.


Kristen M. Turner, Ph.D. is a lecturer at North Carolina State University in the music department. Her work centers on American musical culture at the turn of the twentieth century and has been published in several journals and essay collections.