'You can't relax for an instant': Ensemble to score video game soundtrack in real time

Imagine watching someone play a video game with all sorts of variables, and scoring a soundtrack for it, responding to the game play, on the fly.

It’s the first video game soundtrack ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award

A scene from the 2012 video game Journey. Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble will be live scoring the soundtrack at a Calgary concert on Friday. (Austin Wintory/YouTube)

Imagine watching someone play a video game with all sorts of variables, and scoring a soundtrack for it, responding to the game play, on the fly.

That's exactly what members of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble are tasked with Friday evening when gamers play the 2012 indie hit Journey at a Calgary concert hall.

"We have four to six game players that actually join us on stage," Eric Snoza told The Homestretch.

Melissa Snoza and Eric Snoza are with the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble. The group will live score the soundtrack to the video game Journey as people play it on stage. (fifth-house.com)

Eric plays bass with the ensemble and his partner, Melissa Snoza, plays flute.

"They are as much a part of the chamber music experience as the other musicians. They will be playing the game live from the very beginning. Austin Wintory will be joining us as conductor and he will be relentlessly watching the screen, watching for those cues as they travel to different areas or encounter a new person," he said. 

"That will guide us through the music. He has various hand signals and facial gestures that will be telling us when to move forward or move background, go up or go down."

It's a challenge like no other for musicians and conductors, says Melissa.

"When you play the game it sounds like there is this beautifully composed soundtrack just for you, but what you don't know is that behind the scenes, the music is responding to every move you make," she said.

"When you go left, the music goes left. When you jump on the bridge, the music changes. It is so intricate that even the viola doesn't play at all unless the two players are within a certain distance of one another. That's what made it so perfect for this live experience and being interactive on the stage."

Journey is a video game that will become a live interactive concert at the Bella Concert Hall on Friday. Chicago's Fifth House Ensemble will play the score as others play the game. Eric and Melissa Snoza from the Ensemble joined Doug Dirks in studio. 8:54

Eric says the video game Journey was a perfect fit for this type of event.

"It's one of the first of its kind that is less about shooting them up or gathering or collecting things and more about an experiential game," he said.

"You are given very few instructions if any and there is no communication. It's just really experiencing the game."

Journey Live at Mount Royal University starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Bella Concert Hall.

With files from The Homestretch