Game Music

Arrangement of the Week: Gemini Man

January 15, 2016 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Arrangement of the Week: Gemini Manon Twitter


There are some interesting approaches that composers and arrangers take in mixing instruments from different genres. 8-bit sounds have worked well in combination with rock instruments for chiptune rock arrangements, and there’s a healthy dose of dance and electronic genres that 8 bit sounds have meshed well with. Today’s selection for Arrangement of the Week combines the sound capabilities of the NES with upbeat jazz piano.

This peculiar concept comes from artist Shnabubula who has created an entire album, NES Jams, that features arrangements of game music for piano and the NES sound chip. Today we will be looking at one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Gemini Man.”

Like the other pieces on the album, the piano is the focus for the arrangement. The NES chip music acts primarily as accompaniment, performing much like the virtual members of a jazz quartet. The percussive effects act as drums, there are discernible 8-bit bass lines, and plenty of countermelodies are provided from the other 8-bit instrument voices to support the piano performance.

The piano gets a majority of the melodic material, with some occasional melody doubling from the NES instruments. There are also some great improvisation sections.  At the 2’00” mark, for example, the piano and a few of the NES instruments play some solos against each other. This works as a nice contrast to the earlier sections and it transitions smoothly back to the reprise of the primary themes for a great finale. All in all, it’s an interesting mashup of music elements that makes for a very memorable Megaman 3 arrangement.

Have you heard any interesting instrument combinations for VGM arrangements? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below. You can check out “Gemini Man” and the full NES Jams album on Shnabubula’s Bandcamp page.

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