I remember, when I was a wee little one, playing an old Atari 2600. The sound was nothing more than blips or bloops with no music. Then along came the NES days; now I had blips and bloops for music too! It was a couple years after this when I started playing around with computers (I got my first one in 1992 as a communion present), so I was watching both the evolution of games for the PC and consoles at the same time. The PCs were always further ahead graphically until, I would say, this generation of consoles.
I also remember playing games on my PS and marveling at the fact that it had REAL music. No bloops, BEEEPs, or anything of that nature. One time, I was up at the cottage playing Return Fire and hearing “Flight of the Bumblebee” playing in all its glory. But then along came Final Fantasy 7 and Metal Gear Solid, both of which had music composed explicitly for them; Final Fantasy wasn’t really a surprise, they’ve had Nobuo Uematsu making music for quite some time, but now it was original REAL music. Then along came MGS2 with Harry Gregson-Williams, a full-on movie composer guy, and with a proper orchestra too.
It’s amazing because now music wasn’t just an afterthought, it had its own production team, editing, big names, and soundtrack releases. In some cases they’ve put together shows that highlight that music; we had one at Uihlein Hall not too long ago if my memory serves me right. Uematsu went on tour playing some of his songs from the Final Fantasy series with a complete orchestra, and there has been a release of that soundtrack too. It’s just astonishing that it’s at that level in a relatively short period of time.