Andrew Schartmann, Ph.D. candidate in music theory, Yale University, will give a presentation entitled "Music as Problem-Solving: Transcribing Tunes for the Atari VCS" for the Hartt Music Theory Colloquium on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at 12:15 PM in Room 21 at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. His presentation is open to students and faculty of the University.
When the Atari VCS was released in 1977, there was no such thing as a video game composer per se. Sound design was left to programmers, most of whom had little or no background in music. With the Atari VCS, in particular, this lack of compositional expertise created a unique challenge for developers: although they could resort to music in the public domain, they still had to contend with the console’s severely limited tuning set. This being the case, programmers were often left with the awkward task of transcribing pre-existing tunes for an instrument that could not truly accommodate them. This presentation focuses on Atari renditions of music by John Williams and Edward Grieg to highlight some of the unusual ways in which programmers had to conceptualize music in order to minimize the ill effects of the transcription process. Not only do these examples invite listeners to think more deeply about how computer hardware influences the creative process itself; they also ask listeners to be more aware of the unspoken -- and oftentimes unexplored -- assumptions that color our aesthetic judgments.
Andrew Schartmann is an affiliate faculty member at The Center for Collaborative Arts and Media at Yale University, where he will receive his Ph.D. in May 2018. He also holds a B.Mus. and M.A. in music theory from McGill University, where he worked extensively with William E. Caplin on Analyzing Classical Form (Oxford 2013). He has taught courses on tonal harmony, counterpoint, musical form, composition, musicianship, and video game music. Andrew Schartmann is the author of Maestro Mario: How Nintendo Transformed Videogame Music into an Art (Thought Catalog 2013) and Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack (Bloomsbury 2015),which was reviewed favorably in The New Yorker and elsewhere. His forthcoming book, forBloomsbury’s Influential Video Game Designers series, details the creative contributions of Keiji Inafune. Andrew Schartmann currently serves as the assistant editor of DSCH Journal—a biannualpublication devoted to the life and work of Dmitri Shostakovich.
Andrew Schartmann's presentation is being sponsored by the music theory program of The Hartt School, University of Hartford and is a part of the Hartt Music Theory Colloquium which is a platform for undergraduate and graduate music theory majors and minors to present their analytical work and for visiting scholars to share their research and ideas with students and faculty of The Hartt School and the University of Hartford.