A Composer's Guide to Game Music

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A Composer's Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press) won a Gold Medal Award of Excellence from the GLOBAL MUSIC AWARDS for an exceptional book in the field of music. Details here.

The 9th annual National Indie Excellence Book Awards selected A Composer's Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press) as a winner in the "Performing Arts" category. Details here.

The Nonfiction Authors Association presented a Nonfiction Book Award to A Composer's Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press) in the category "Arts, Music, and Photography). Details here.

A Composer's Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press) is a winner of an Annual Game Music Award from Game Music Online in the category of "Best Publication." Details here.


"Winifred Phillips’ passion and understanding of this medium comes to life on the page and is a direct result of her vast experience and accomplishment in composing for video games. This is not just compulsory bedside reading for budding games composers, but a fine achievement in itself. Bravo!"
Harry Gregson-Williams
Composer (Shrek, Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven and the Metal Gear Solid series)

"An important, deep, and rare exploration of video game music by one of the medium's smartest and most talented voices. You may not know the name Winifred Phillips but if you play games, you absolutely know--and love--her creations!"
David Jaffe
Director of God of War and the Twisted Metal series

"When I began writing for games over 20 years ago, I wish there had been a book like this to guide me through the process, art and business of scoring for games. Winifred Phillips’ book is an excellent combination of practical techniques along with the human touch of a game composer's real-life experiences."
Michael Sweet
Artistic Director Video Game Scoring, Berklee College of Music

"This book accurately illustrates the videogame composer’s task which is to create music that perfectly complements an existing artistic vision. While the videogame industry has its unique set of processes, for the aspiring composer, musicianship is the key to success. In the same manner, Winifred Phillips has excelled in this genre thanks to her musical talent."
Didier Lord
Head of Music, Ubisoft

Music in video games is often a sophisticated, complex composition that serves to engage the player, set the pace of play, and aid interactivity. Composers of video game music must master an array of specialized skills not taught in the conservatory, including the creation of linear loops, music chunks for horizontal resequencing, and compositional fragments for use within a generative framework. In A Composer's Guide to Game Music, Winifred Phillips -- herself an award-winning composer of video game music -- provides a comprehensive, practical guide that leads an aspiring video game composer from acquiring the necessary creative skills to understanding the function of music in games to finding work in the field. 

Musicians and composers may be drawn to game music composition because the game industry is a multibillion-dollar, employment-generating economic powerhouse, but, Phillips writes, the most important qualification for a musician who wants to become a game music composer is a love of video games. Phillips offers detailed coverage of essential topics, including musicianship and composition experience; immersion; musical themes; music and game genres; workflow; working with a development team; linear music; interactive music, both rendered and generative; audio technology, from mixers and preamps to software; and running a business.

A Composer's Guide to Game Music offers indispensable guidance for musicians and composers who want to deploy their creativity in a dynamic and growing industry, protect their musical identities while working in a highly technical field, and create great music within the constraints of a new medium.

MIT Press
FOR INSTRUCTORS: The MIT Press provides complimentary textbook examination/desk copies to qualified instructors of appropriate courses. When making a request, please include course information, including course title, size, and level. Contact: Michelle Pullano at or visit the FOR INSTRUCTORS page on the MIT Press web site.


Jon Burlingame, The Film Music Society A beautifully organized, intelligently written book about music for games... Gamers as well as composers may be fascinated by her thorough analysis of what music works, and why, in various game genres... The challenges unique to game composers are discussed at length.

The Los Angeles Review of Books Phillips thoroughly covers why music matters… and she calmly guides the reader through new and old world compositional problems... (Phillips’s book) simply aims to be transparent and generous...sensible, clear, and methodically minded.

Music Connection Magazine Already an acclaimed book, Phillips' hands-on insights and advice make this one a keeper.

Jesse Singal, The Boston Globe The first book designed to help experienced musicians brave the transition to the world of game composing.

Martin Walker, Sound on Sound Magazine Partly educational and partly inspirational... a great introduction to this specialist art.

Steven Kennedy, Film Score Monthly An excellent new book on game music...A Composer’s Guide to Game Music is set to become a touchstone academic achievement that should see many new editions with updates and expansions as Phillips, technology, and the industry itself evolve.

Robert Workman, Retro Videogame Magazine You won’t find a more comprehensive guide… approachable and enjoyable… this book is a welcome delight.

Marc Chait, Game Music Online I devoured the inside information... I have been inspired and informed a great deal... I will be returning to this guide frequently and keeping it close to my workstation to give me a point of reference when in need.

Mark R. Hasan, KQEK A meticulously written tome in which every stage of her craft is contextualized with historical, philosophical, and personal examples. Rating: Excellent.

Alan Rogers, Reel Music Phillips expertly details what’s involved in becoming a video game music composer… Excellent book.

Randall Larson, The definitive book on scoring for video games... a thoroughly comprehensive guidebook to the concept, practice, art, and technology of providing music for this growing cinematic medium.

Michael Hoffman, Original Sound Version A Composer’s Guide to Game Music is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read on the subject. Not only does Winifred Phillips provide information on everything you would need to know about entering the field of game music, she also shines light on the unique challenges and issues that a composer will face in the game’s industry.

Krzysztof Binczak, If you read between the lines of this book, though, you will learn much more about her than from a Wikipedia article. For hence emerges an image of a person who is consistent in her creations, well educated, and has a subtle sense of humor. A person who loves what she’s doing and wishes to share it...this book might just prove to be a catalyst for a paradigm shift in education concerning composing music for the new media.

Nate Combs, Original Music Stop! This book shouldn't just be read by aspiring composers... it should be taught in music schools... thorough detail with understandable explanations, evident passion, and quirky, witty comic relief.

Stephen Pollard, Leviathyn A Composer’s Guide to Game Music offers a plethora of information, advice, and tips... Phillips knows her stuff… If you’re looking to get into the game composing field, you absolutely need to check this out.

Danny Gonzalez, NY Film Music Examiner An excellent guide for a musician or composer…this is a very insightful and engaging book and a very solid read especially for aspiring composers looking to break into the industry.

Angelina Panozzo, Musically Notable Written with a refreshing upbeat realism, she explains the challenges and benefits that stem from writing video game music.

Jayson Napolitano, Scarlet Moon As a gamer and game music enthusiast, I found A Composer’s Guide to Game Music to be enlightening, and as a hobbyist composer, I found it inspiring.

Damian Kastbauer, Game Audio Podcast Really recommend her book... Regardless of whether you're a composer or not, she just has some really great insights, and just shares a very human perspective... Super cool!

Author Biography

Winifred Phillips is an award-winning game music composer and author. Some of her famous video game music credits include Assassin’s Creed III Liberation, Total War Battles: KINGDOM, The Da Vinci Code, God of War, Speed Racer, Shrek the Third, Spore Hero and six games in the LittleBigPlanet series, including LittleBigPlanet 3. She has received three Hollywood Music in Media Awards, four Game Audio Network Guild Awards, an Interactive Achievement Award, three Global Music Awards, and four Gracie Awards from the Alliance of Women in Media. She has released fifteen albums.

In her eleven years as a game music composer, she has been profiled in books such as Keeping Score by Tom Hoover, Cash Tracks by Jeffrey P. Fischer, In Her Own Words: Conversations with Composers in the United States by Dr. Jennifer Kelly, and in Music Connection Magazine, which described her as a “Superstar of video game music.”