Pixelophonia: Tribute to the Amazing Symphonic Orchestra

Pixelophonia
Pixelophonia!

Okay, instead of a book review this week we’re doing a tribute to the fantastic French musical group Pixelophonia. It does excellent video game concerts—really, the musicians deliver world-class performances.

Pixelophonia

The symphonic orchestra has its base in Paris, but tours around the country putting on performances of video game music—old and new soundtracks.

Our favourite is the above Rayman Origins soundtrack by Christophe Héral, who also attended the event and performs with them.

French musician Tsuko G. is the guy giving it everything on the yazoo—that represents a mosquito in the game.

Around 45 musicians participate in the live shows. If you live in France you can, indeed request to join them! They’re very open about all that.

The charismatic conductor has the stage name Exelodia—real name Robin Melchior (we think that’s what it said on the site).

But everyone involved looks like great fun. It’s really life-affirming stuff and we’re very impressed by their commitment and gaming knowledge.

Really, the main things we love about Pixelophonia are the joyous sense of enthusiasm and absolute quality of the various renditions.

They’re all really terrific—have a listen to this Chrono Trigger soundtrack performance.

The orchestra is a  side project for everyone involved. They all have other jobs to get on with—as Pixelophonia explains on its site:

"Although many of our members are professional musicians in life, we are nevertheless an associative orchestra and this is not a condition to join us. We have in our ranks students, researchers, engineers, administrative agents, teachers, in short, people from all walks of life united by the same passions: music and video games."

The shindig has been in operation for about six years now and they’re getting increasingly ambitious with their performances.

Last Saturday, we were delighted to watch the below live performance at Prouvé lors de l’Anim’Est 2019. That’s in Nancy, the North East of France.

Everyone really puts on a fantastic, energetic show. And there are some incredible renditions of music from games such as Super Mario RPG and the ever amazing Final Fantasy VII.

The performance begins at 22 minutes. There’s a fablous rendition of some of VII’s iconic soundtrack at 27 minutes.

Video game music is booming. The likes of the BBC has caught on and is introducing a radio show dedicated to it soon.

Whilst non-gamers may sneer at the hobby as childish, to do so is terribly ignorant.

And it also denies yourself listening to a field of music that’s really quite astonishing in its creative breadth.

So, we’re hoping Pixelophonia make it to Manchester one day, if some venue in the city hires them already!

The Bridgewater Hall would be a terrific venue for this. And the French orchestra seems totally up for international events:

"Yes. We are very happy, when we can, to export Pixelophonia internationally (if Japan hears us)."

Zut! Nous voulons que cela se produise plus rapidement que les pluies qui tombent sur la ville de Manchester. Fais-le, dieux du jeu!

Hats

One of the most notable habits of the Pixelophonia orchestra are the various hats the musicians wear throughout performances.

These are all from video game franchises such as The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon. They take the hats very seriously. And rightly so!

"The question that comes up very often! We even sometimes wanted to steal them! Each member of the orchestra must find his hat when he or she joins the ranks of Pixelophonia. It's sort of a mandatory rite of passage. We buy them most often on the internet, but also on the stands during conventions, and some are also homemade."

Now if you’ve ever played The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening you’ll know theft gets you killed. So don’t do that, yeah?

But you can celebrate gaming hats by getting one for yourself.

And you can also support the excellent Pixelophonia by subscribing to the channel. Attending the events. And generally ranting wildly about how great they are to anyone within earshot.

Do so, as they’re brilliant and deserve all the recognition they can get.

2 comments

  1. Hats are important (apparently particularly so in Team Fortress 2, but I digress). It’s astonishing how good some of the video game music is, by any standards. From the compositional viewpoint I figure it’s more akin to ‘ballet’ than ‘symphonia’, in the sense that it’s deliberately written to be part of an experience but not the whole of that experience. So the fact that some of it can be performed without the gaming part and still be astonishing underscores the quality of what has been written. Some of my favourites in the past have included some of the tracks off ‘Caesar 2’ and most of the lounge-jazz on ‘Sim City 3’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very impressive how it’s all advanced since the 1980s, when it was rather primitive. Rayman Origins, Skyrim, and Ori and the Blind Forest are favourites of mine! Can’t beat a bit of jazzy interludes, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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