City Research Online

Early music in the ‘early game’

Smith, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-5198-4076 (2024). Early music in the ‘early game’. In: Cook, J., Kolassa, A., Robinson, A. & Whittaker, A. (Eds.), History as Fantasy in Music, Sound, Image, and Media. Music and Visual Culture. (pp. 83-101). New York, USA: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003291725


The Sid Meier's Civilisation series is a set of 4X turn-based games where the player takes control of real-world empires, nations, and famous leaders to develop and rule their in-game world. In its sixth iteration, all civilisations begin the game in the “Ancient era” at 4000 BCE, yet these civilisations vary across times in history, represented by figureheads as diverse in time and space as Pericles of Greece and Teddy Roosevelt of the United States of America. Each civilisation has its own musical accompaniment, evolving between four main eras throughout the course of the game: Ancient, Medieval, Industrial, and Atomic. The game uses traditional folk melodies from each civilisation represented, performed on instruments that are typical for the culture of that civilisation, ranging from parlour songs to lullabies. This chapter will consider how folk and traditional music adapts across the game to represent an evolving civilisation musically. It also highlights the problematic tendency of the soundtrack to foreground an evolution from ‘early music’ to Western European orchestral music that disregards the diversity of the represented civilisations.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in History as Fantasy in Music, Sound, Image, and Media on 11 April 2024, available online:
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity
School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Early Music in the 'Early Game'.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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