Rich Shemaria

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Richard Shemaria
Rich Shemaria - 1.jpg
Born ca. 1955
Birth Place Long Beach, California
Nationality American   USA.svg

Richard Shemaria is an American composer, arranger, and musician. He has been active in the industry for decades.

Rich got into the game industry around the late 80's when he worked at a friend's exercise studio. He sometimes took attendance at the entrance, and therefore got to know many of the people who frequented the studio. Two of these people were Nick Eastridge and his wife. After finding out Rich was a musician, Nick asked Rich if he wanted to write video game music and Rich took the job. Rich served as the main composer for Nick's software company Eastridge Technology, and there he scored probably his best known game, Paperboy 2. However, Rich didn't work for Eastridge Technology full-time, as he was hired as a freelancer. Because Eastridge Technology never put credits in their games, he was never credited in any of the games he worked on. Eventually, Rich stopped getting calls from Nick to produce video games, and he has not worked on video games since.

Today, Rich continues to write and play music, and currently plays in the Rich Shemaria Big Band.





How did you get into doing music? I didn't get into music, music got into me. From a very early age I loved singing and listening to music. My parents had a diverse record collection of all kinds of stuff. I heard a lot of live music too. There were always lots of concerts in Southern California in the 60's. But when the Beach Boys and the Beatles hit, I was totally sucked into music. My parents bought me a guitar and I was off!
How did you end up working at Eastridge Technology, and what time did you work there? I don't recall the exact year I began working with them but it was around 1988-90. I moved to NYC in January of 1985 and like a lot of musicians I needed to support myself at first with something other than music. I took a job with a friend of mine who ran an exercise studio downtown in Tribeca. One of my duties was to take attendance at the door and I got to know a lot of the clients. Nick and Kate Eastridge were members there and they knew that I was a composer. One day, they just said, "Say, have you ever written any music for video games?". That's how I got started.
When you did the music, how did you come up with ideas for the songs? Did Nick Eastridge give any input? The Eastridges were very good at giving me free creative reign. I never saw the games in advance because they were still working on them! For Mad Max, I came up with my own music. I had seen the movie of course and I just kind of wrote something that had a similar kind of feel (although, it's pretty difficult when you only have 3 "beep" tones to work with
For the Last Starfighter, we used the theme music from the film.  Paperboy ll is original music.  People note the similarity to the "Seinfeld" theme but I was not a regular viewer of that show so I doubt it had any influence on me.  Probably just coincidence.
The input I received from Nick was mostly technical stuff like segment times and such.  We probably also talked about what type of music might fit the various parts of the game.
How long did you usually have to write the music? It depended on how many different segments I had to write. I think could knock out a game in a few days to a week. I would sketch out the music on staff paper and then convert the pitches and rhythms into a numerical code that I would give to Nick. He would then program the code into the game and they would be translated as the tones you hear in the game.
What was your favorite platform to write on and why? What was your favorite game? My favorite game was Paperboy ll. Game technology had just upgraded from 3 simple computer-generated tones to 8-track recording. It's like only being able to write for a trio and then all of a sudden you have an orchestra available to you.
What were/are your musical influences when you wrote video game music? Good question! There weren't a lot of other games out there to be influenced by so that wasn't in the mix. I think for the most part it was themes from action films. I had to really condense the themes. Like I said, it's hard to write "action" sound tracks with only 3 tones!
Did you get to hear your music on the consoles you worked on? Yes. I always heard the final versions. I had recorded Paperboy ll at home on my Yamaha DX-7 and Roland 505 drum machine. I handed the recording over and somehow, something got lost in the translation and when I heard the final piece, many of the sounds were different and much of the rhythms had been quantized.
Why did you leave Eastridge Technology? I took on projects from Eastridge on a freelance basis. I don't recall why they stopped coming in.

It wasn't anything serious.

Paperboy 2 is probably your best known soundtrack. When you wrote the music back then, did you think it would get the popularity it has now, or for any of your game soundtracks? I never thought about that at all! When videos of the games are posted on YouTube people leave comments and often talk about the music. I chimed in once and said that I had written the score. People are now tracking me down and sending me emails asking "are you really that guy?" Well, yes. I am that guy. I also never thought I would be on a Wiki page like this Nick!

One more thing. It's cool to note that a lot of these people were just kids when they played the games.

What do you do currently? Are you still making music, and do you have any final words? I am currently active as a working composer in New York City. I continue to work at New York University where I am a professor of composition and composer-in-residence as well. I also write and perform with my own jazz big band and am a member of the group Combo Nuvo (you can find videos of both groups on YouTube).

Music Development


We used a numerical code that Nick gave me. The numbers co-responded with the pitches and rhythms. I converted the music into numbers which I gave to Nick and he put them into the game.

With the exception of Paperboy 2, Rich wrote his music on sheet music paper, and gave it to Nick Eastridge to implement into his sound driver. To help with the implementation, Nick gave Rich the numerical values for the note pitch and length, which Rich would write next to the notes in the sheet music.

Paperboy 2

Rich said this about Paperboy 2's soundtrack:

Actually, I wrote and performed the music for this game. I worked for a small independent company here in NYC called Eastridge Tech. (Nick Eastridge, owner). We would get gigs by larger companies to produce games. At the time, 8 track technology had just become available (prior to that, you only had 3 tones to work with). I did it all on my DX 7 and Roland 505 drum machine. Hard to recall but, I probably was influenced by Seinfeld but to be honest, I never watched the show. I had listened to the original Paperboy and tried to stay within that sound.


Released Title Sample Notes
1990-06-?? The Last Starfighter (NES)
Arranged Craig Safan's The Hero's March.
1990-07-?? Mad Max (NES)
Arranged by Nick Eastridge.
1991-02-?? Conan (NES)
Arranged by Nick Eastridge.
1991-11-?? Paperboy 2 (SNES)
Arranged by Nick Eastridge.
1991-??-?? Paperboy 2 (DOS)
Arranged by Nick Eastridge.
1992-04-?? Paperboy 2 (GB) Arranged by Nick Eastridge.
1992-04-?? Paperboy 2 (NES)
Arranged by Nick Eastridge.
1992-10-?? Miner 2049er (GB)
Arranged by Nick Eastridge.
1992-??-?? Paperboy 2 (AMI) Arranged by Nick Eastridge.

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