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Dr. Christopher Hopkins
Dr. Christopher Hopkins works in the areas of music and video games.
Dr. Hopkins is a freelance composer for musical theater and video game projects. He holds a specialist certificate in Orchestrating and Producing Music for Film and Games from Berklee College of Music. His work is available via YouTube and Soundcloud.
Live Musical Entertainment
Dr. Hopkins appears in concert in New York and Long Island through song, piano, and dance from the Great American Songbook and the Golden Age of Broadway. His most distinguished performance on piano was as the featured soloist on George Gershwin’s "Piano Concerto in F Major" with the Long Island Youth Orchestra under conductor Martin Dreiwitz.
Writing & Research
Dr. Hopkins holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music History and Literature from Five Towns College. His dissertation titled "Chiptune Music: An Exploration of Compositional Techniques as Found in Sunsoft Games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom From 1988-1992" is a landmark work in honoring the composers and their songs which defined early game music. He looks to use his findings to educate students in music theory, composition, and multimedia production.
As a presenter at the 2013 Teaching with Technology Institute in Brookville, NY, Dr. Hopkins suggested blended teaching techniques in the physical and virtual classroom using sounds and music from video games. He shared his research on chiptune music as a guest lecturer at the 2015 North American Conference on Video Game Music in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dr. Hopkins is a licensed game developer for the Nintendo Wii U gaming system, currently developing games for the Wii U and mobile devices. He has interviewed game composers of yesteryear and the present, including Alberto Jose Gonzalez, Masashi Kageyama, Neil Baldwin, and Troupe Gammage. His research in game history and design is published as six video game strategy guides available from GameFAQs.com, covering games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, and PC. He has showcased original games at Indiecade East 2015 and 2016 and received accolades for his upcoming projects.
Dr. Hopkins is a member or participant of: LIU Post, Game Audio Network Guild, ASCAP, and College Music Society
View the CV of Dr. Hopkins. Resume
Years of College Teaching
Mobile Game Releases
Pages of Video Game Music Dissertation
Years as Church Organist
Abstracts from Publications
Mario Paint, the 1992 Nintendo game for the Super NES, remains an accessible environment for musical creativity and sound exploration within its music mode. Although developed for a gaming system, the game’s music mode is a streamlined tool built upon basic music theory and music composition. Through familiar video game sounds and icon and Western music notation, players are able to compose chiptune works and explore the nature of sound through an inviting interface. Similar music composition software upgrades the process of composition established in Mario Paint, allowing for digital distribution and dissemination. Mario Paint continues to inspire new projects in the areas of video games and scholastic studies. Mario Paint and its successors are very reasonable entry-level programs for chiptune composers and fledgling music students.
This study explores the compositional techniques of eight selected Sunsoft games in detail. Included are complete transcriptions from those games which incorporate common and novel techniques. The developments that established the chiptune style during the late 1980s lie in three primary areas: technology, the era of its popularity in video games, and the composers. This dissertation examines each area as it relates to chiptune music. First, it explores technology in the sound chips and sound programming techniques used by the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom. Next, it provides background information on prominent Sunsoft composers and other notable chiptune composers of the past and present. Lastly, it examines musical excerpts from Sunsoft games, other NES and Famicom games, and more recent games with chiptune soundtracks to identify and codify compositional techniques first as sounds and effects and later as larger musical elements. The findings provide the historical context to examine the direction of chiptune music and video game music in general.
This presentation explores surround sound technologies and their application in home console video games. Surround sound technologies began as analog signals which used matrix encodings to downmix multiple channels into two. The first-person shooter, racing, and horror genres lend themselves to immersive surround sound experiences through thoughtful sound design and balance of music and sound effects. The placement of surround sound speakers imitates the three-dimensional placement of sounds in the game world, mixed in real-time based on object coordinates and material types. Over time, the additional feedback to the player from sounds emanating around the player affects how the player approaches gameplay.
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