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A Composer's Guide to Game Music (The MIT Press) Paperback – August 11, 2017

4.7 out of 5 stars 210 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


Although the text on the inside of the book's dust jacket explains that A Composer's Guide To Game Music offers 'indispensable guidance for musicians and composers', Phillips' book deserves a wider audience. Even with no formal music training and no real interest in video gaming, I found that there is much to enjoy. The content is well-balanced so that those who have an interest in composing music for video games and people who have a more general interest in the use of music in games, film and television can learn a lot from this book.—Reel Music

A Composer's Guide To Game Music is partly educational and partly inspirational...a great introduction to this specialist art.

Sound on Sound

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.

NY Film Music Examiner

The core of the book is a set of chapters that delve into the actual craft of writing game music in a way that few, if any, other books have ever done… tremendously valuable to composers.


A Composers Guide to Game Music is hands down a must have for everyone interested in game music.

The Audio Spotlight

Between the real life experiences and the step-by-step walkthroughs of how certain things work, this is essential material for budding musicians looking for their first big break—or perhaps veterans looking for fresh inspiration.

Push Square

Phillips does not simply set out to address how to be a video game composer. Her intent is that her readers will understand what it means to actually create and compose…A Composer's Guide to Game Music is set to become a touchstone academic achievement.

Film Score Monthly

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 Film Music Society

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.

Game Music Online

Award-winning game composer Winifred Phillips has written the definitive book on scoring for video games. A Composer's Guide to Game Music has been published by The MIT Press and is a thoroughly comprehensive guidebook to the concept, practice, art, and technology of providing music for this growing cinematic medium.


(Phillips) may be one of the most dedicated and articulate composers working today, and her latest work—a book-length intro guide to the highly specialized craft of game music—is a meticulously written tome in which every stage of her craft is contextualized with historical, philosophical, and personal examples… Rating: Excellent.


A Composer's Guide to Game Music, Phillips's 2014 book, offers a level-headed worker's tour of a fantasy-fueled world… 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, and to offer a sensible, clear, and methodically minded explanation of how work happens in an illusory world.

Los Angeles Review of Books


This book accurately illustrates the video game composer's task, which is to create music that perfectly complements an existing artistic vision. While the video game 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
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ The MIT Press; Reprint edition (August 11, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 284 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0262534495
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0262534499
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 13.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.75 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 210 ratings

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BAFTA nominated composer Winifred Phillips is one of the most successful and accomplished composers for video games. She is known for her compositional skill and stylistic diversity. Her dramatic large-scale works convey an “epic cinematic sound” (ScreenSounds) that “drives her music forward in grand orchestral fashion” (Film Score Monthly), while her more lighthearted scores are “captivating” (Washington Post).

Phillips has composed iconic music for titles from five of the biggest franchises in gaming: Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, Total War, God of War, and The Sims. She was most recently nominated for a BAFTA award for music she composed for the smash-hit game Sackboy: A Big Adventure. To date, Phillips has composed music for over fifty video games.

Phillips’ scores have received numerous awards, including the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Award for Outstanding Music Composition, six Game Audio Network Guild Awards (including Music of the Year), and three Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Her work has also been nominated by the NAVGTR Awards and the International Film Music Critics Awards.

Her television work includes PBS' NOVA, Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown on CNN, the network sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia starring Danny Davito, and the long-running Nature series on PBS. Her music has also been featured in trailers for such blockbuster movies as Avengers: Endgame and Disney’s The Jungle Book.

Phillips has released fifty nine albums. Her soundtrack album for the Legend of the Guardians video game was the first video game soundtrack album released by WaterTower Music – the film music record label of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Phillips is the author of the bestselling book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press), which won a GMA Book Award Gold Medal from the Global Music Awards, a National Indie Excellence Book Award, a Nonfiction Book Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association, and an Annual Game Music Award from Game Music Online in the category of "Best Publication." Singling out Phillips’ book for praise, film composer Harry Gregson-Williams said, “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.” Jon Burlingame, the film music reporter for Variety, hailed Phillips’ book as “a beautifully organized, intelligently written book about music for games,” and Film Score Monthly praised the book as "a touchstone academic achievement.”

As a recognized expert in the field of video game composition, Phillips has given lectures at the Library of Congress, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Audio Engineering Society, the Game Developers Conference, and the Montreal International Game Summit, among many others. Her music has been performed in celebrated concert halls around the world as a part of the Assassin’s Creed Symphony World Tour.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
210 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

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Anthony White Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book and very inspiring!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 10, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic intriduction
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on January 4, 2021
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Joshua Note
5.0 out of 5 stars Your Journey into Game Music Begins Here
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 18, 2014
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5.0 out of 5 stars Techie grandson actually liked it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 28, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing in-depth read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 21, 2017