Kinect and Classical Music: A Match Made in Disney Heaven?

Rock Band maker Harmonix will bring interactivity to Disney’s Fantasia franchise on Kinect. Image courtesy Disney Interactive

In creating his masterpiece Fantasia, Walt Disney hoped to use gorgeous visuals to enhance audiences’ appreciation of music. In creating games like Guitar Hero, game developer Harmonix hoped to use interactivity to accomplish much the same thing.

Is it any wonder that the two companies have gotten together to produce a Kinect game based on Fantasia?

Harmonix and Disney have high hopes for Fantasia: Music Evolved, to be released on Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2014.

“The inspiration is the moment of Mickey on the cliff, conducting the heavens and conducting the sea,” says the game’s creative director Matt Boch, referencing the classic “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment from the 1940 film. The game aims to put players into that oversized starry blue hat of Mickey Mouse’s, letting them conduct a virtual orchestra with their hands in front of the Xbox camera, changing the feel of the music to fit their whims.

Today, Wired can exclusively reveal that “Night on Bald Mountain,” the classical piece by Modest Mussorgsky that ends the original film with a dark, demonic climax, will be playable in the game. But Harmonix and Disney aren’t limiting themselves to the pieces of music found in the film, which was classical music from the likes of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Players will be able to conduct orchestral performances of contemporary music like Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

...  “When Disney came to us and said hey, what about doing a game around Fantasia, I immediately had this moment of awe and excitement that was a great spark,” said Egozy.

Nicholls, too, is a big fan of the original film. “I think it’s the most beautiful representation of Disney storytelling in existence,” he says. “It’s much more allusive than any other movie that we did.”

Creative director Boch, who says he is such a big Disney fan that he wears a Mickey Mouse necklace every day, hopes Fantasia: Music Evolved‘s creative features will make gamers into classical music fans.

“Exposing the complexities there, and taking something that people can often ignore, or think is elevator music, and expose to them all of the interesting nuances that are in there is I think a big part of what the game will be able to do for people,” he said

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