A lot of the orchestral arrangements that have been covered here on Arrangement of the Week have been full orchestra affairs. This week I thought it would be nice to look at an acoustic cover that features only one type of instrument. In this case an arrangement from Final Fantasy: Tactics performed on a 12-String guitar.
This week’s Arrangement of the Week covers a handful of pieces from Final Fantasy: Tactics titled “Finding Somebody to Love in This Meager World.” The arrangement comes courtesy of artist, and longtime OC ReMix contributor, Level 99, aka Stevo Bortz. The piece primarily uses “Delita’s Theme” as the source material, but also incorporates bits of the “Main Character’s Theme” and the “World Map” track.
What I find truly impressive about this arrangement is how well the three different themes fit together. The themes flow from one to the other effortlessly, making the arrangement a joy to listen to. On top of this, the sound of the multiple guitar tracks works very well together. Rather than making an arrangement for a solo guitar, there are multiple parts to flesh out the harmony and allow for clear presentations of the melody in the lead guitar part. Each guitar can be heard clearly, so it never feels like the piece is overwhelming or chaotic.
What sets this Final Fantasy: Tactics arrangement apart for me though, is the fact that it’s a live recording. No sample instruments or artificial sounding effects are used in this cover. What results is a more expressive and moving arrangement. It’s a wonderful adaptation of the original source material and I found it a great piece to relax to.
Are there any interesting solo arrangements, covers, or remixes that you’ve discovered this week? Feel free to share them with us in the comment section. You can listen to and download “Finding Somebody to Love in This Meager World” on OC ReMix.
Those attending PAX Prime this weekend will have another chance to sit in and listen to five video game composers regale them with their experiences and stories. Held at the Sphinx Theatre, Sheraton at 5:30pm, the 60-minute ‘Maestros of Video Games’ panel marks its return in 2015 with Gareth Coker (Ori & the Blind Forest, Ark), Sarah Schachner (Assassin’s Creed series), Jason Graves (Until Dawn, The Order: 1886), Cris Velasco (Bloodborne, God of War) and Grant Kirkhope (Yooka-Laylee, just about every Rare game).
From 7-9pm at the Westin join the composers for a meet & greet and autograph signing session. Don’t forget to bring your transforming cleavers, plush Banjo dolls, commemorative wrist blades, and dying tree spirits. Pens will probably be provided.
Video game music lovers can probably recognize a video game track pretty quickly, even if it’s one they haven’t heard before. Even though video game music comes in a huge variety of styles and genres (which is part of why I love it), there are musical elements that tend to be very common in many tracks, common enough that many of them have become (well-loved) tropes. Today, I’ll be discussing rhythm, and specifically I’ll be taking a look at one of video game music’s favorite tropes: 5-beat patterns.
When LucasArts started ramping up for the release of the strategy game Star Wars: Force Commander in 2000, one of the things they did was release mp3 samples of the music. At the time, I held John Williams’ original scores in the highest regard and wasn’t familiar with the growing fan remix/arrangement scene. So what I heard when I first clicked ‘Play’ on “Imperial Rage (Leviathan Mix)” startled me. I couldn’t imagine that someone would ever take those perfect pieces of music and put a beat to it, back it up with guitars and throw in samples from the movies. Within seconds, however, I realized how great the mix sounded and never again questioned someone having a go at the revered source material. With the impending onslaught of all new Star Wars games and movies this Fall I thought I’d take some time to highlight my favorite unexpected spins on the classic compositions.
A few new tracks were dropped yesterday to be added to the current 60-some tracks currently bundled into the upcoming Rock Band 4 game. Among the likes of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Cake was an surprising inclusion of a band we’ve seen floating around the VGM scene for a while; The Protomen.
Best known to many within the game music cover scene as a band that is loosely based around the Mega Man franchise, they also sport a hefty amount of original concept albums, which seems to be what helped land them in Rock Band 4. The song featured, “Light Up The Night” is on their 2009 album Act II: The Father of Death. The album itself, while composed of original music, is meant to be a rock opera that tells the story of the relationship between Mega Man’s creator Doctor Light and his eventual nemesis Dr. Wily and how their relationship developed prior to Wily becoming a madman.
While not game music as we know it, it’s an interesting inclusion to something like Rock Band’s coveted lineup and perhaps could be a gateway for other game-inspired band inclusions in the future, outside of the modding scene.
Rock Band 4 is set to release for the PS4 and Xbox One on October 6th. If you want to learn more about The Protomen, check out our in-depth look at the band.
News announced for the upcoming Game Music Connect 2015 conference in London on September 15th is that Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound will be premiering an exclusive preview screening of it’s expansive look at gaming sound and music through the years. The preview, Beep: Big in Japan, will look at several different Japanese composers, such as:
Documentary director Karen Collins, associate professor for the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo, will be presenting her exclusive interviews with “Japan’s game music royalty”, all as a preview to the full documentary’s release in Spring of 2016. More about the project cane be read about on their website, as well as the Game Music Connect website, which still has tickets available for the show at The Purcell Room at London’s Southbank Centre.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Chrono Trigger, and thus some announcements of arrangement music projects have surfaced. One is from the same people who created the Secret of Mana arrangement album back in 2013, Spectrum of Mana. This project, called Chronicles of Time, will feature an obscene amount of tracks from some of the biggest names in the video game music arrangement community, much like Spectrum. Said to be spanning five disks, a 13-track preview for the project has just dropped, “A Premonition”.
We’re still hard at work, but you can expect even more diversity than what Spectrum of Mana offered at the same level of quality. In celebration of Chrono Trigger’s 20th anniversary in North America, we submit to you…a full 13-track preview of what’s to come!
Join us as we wish a Happy Anniversary to one of the greatest videogames ever created and celebrate one of gaming’s greatest composers, Yasunori Mitsuda!
Chronicles of Time is currently slated for a December release, with the preview being free to download (or throw some coin at, if you wish). We’ll keep you posted as news of the album is released.
One of the classic yet frequently overlooked soundtracks of the early CD era of consoles has to be Rayman. The music is just as vivid and clever as the imagery and gameplay it accompanies. There’s also a ton of it with nearly 50 tracks that touch on jazz, rock, new age and atmospheric soundscapes all with a playful arrangement of piano, synth and percussion.
Rémi Gazel, one of the lead composers of the original fifteen-person music team, is now putting together a live performance project called Rayman 1 Music. Since February he’s been posting meetings, rehearsals and clips on the project’s site as things have progressed. Back in April a live session was recorded to produce a four-track EP which seems to have solidified their efforts. Though the album hasn’t been released yet, work continues on expanding the setlist and incorporating a visual component to mimic the levels in the game. For now we’ll have to settle for the tantalizing montage above and the few clips that Gazel has posted to this YouTube playlist.
News has quieted down since April but fans continue to gravitate towards the project as word spreads. I didn’t know a thing about it until just this week when I caught an interview with Gazel at Ongaku Concept. It’s a good read and I’m especially appreciative of Josh’s work for turning me onto the Rayman 1 Music project. You can keep up with the project at Gazel’s official site or on facebook and hopefully we’ll get to see and hear much more soon.
Today’s Arrangement of the Week track led me to the discovery of an odd game from the late NES era. Kabuki: Quantum Fighter was a game released by HAL in 1990. The 2D side-scroller stars a character who enters a computer system to fight an evil virus as a kabuki warrior. Your character’s primary attack consists of whipping his hair at the enemies. The game has a bizarre premise, but features an interesting soundtrack by Masaki Hashimoto and Takahiro Wakuta.
Naturally, a game this obscure hasn’t received much attention, especially in the game music remix department. However, a few arrangements do in fact exist. The arrangement for this week comes from Aureolius with a cover of “Round 1” titled “USB Mindlink.”
The original track had a very repetitive set of beats and rhythmic motifs, so it really feels like a perfect fit for this techno arrangement. Aureolius’s approach with the material is pretty straight forward. The repeating bass motive establishes itself before being joined by a heavy kick and clap rhythm combo. The arrangement continues building up until around the 1’30” mark, at which point the piece drops out a majority of the instruments.
There are some nice little melodic moments, such as the flute-like lead that enters at 2’33” and actually remains in the mix as the music returns to the primary music riff. There are some cool atmospheric effects as well, which become especially noticeable in the quieter sections. Overall, a well done arrangement of a relatively unknown piece of game music.
Have you had a chance to listen to any remixes, arrangements, or covers of obscure videogame music? Let us know in the comment section below. You can listen to and download “USB Mindlink” by Aureolius on OC ReMix.
There are some games that are so difficult, they are nearly impossible to finish. But there’s always something that keeps you coming back for more punishment as you try to get further, or finish the game. There are also games that your friends love, and you absolutely hate because you’re either terrible at them or just don’t see the appeal. Sometimes though if the music is great it makes it easier to get back in the game.
In this edition of Game Soundtracks For Your Soul I’m heading back to the 90′s to look at the music of two games. One was a game a played for countless hours on the Super Nintendo and I still consider to be very difficult to complete. The other is a PC game that I played with a friend using the magic powers of my 14.4K modem. This is my look back at the music of SeaQuest DSV on SNES, and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness/Beyond the Dark Portal on the PC.
Volume, the new game from Thomas Was Alone creator, Mike Bithell, is out now and it’s accompanied by an elaborate and eclectic soundtrack from David Housden. The game is a near-future, sci-fi retelling of Robin Hood with a stark visual style and stealth-based gameplay but the music harkens back to something a little more medieval.
“By juxtaposing period instrumentation with more contemporary cinematic elements and ambiences, I created something which hopefully compliments the visuals of the game at face value, as well as alluding to its roots in the past,” says David Housden.
“Recordings taken from banging swords and suits of armor [at Sherwood Forest] make up a lot of the percussion, and we even went as far as to go to an archery range and record a variety of sounds from the flight of an arrow, to the impacts on targets, in order to create some unique cinematic sound design potential.”
The press release elaborately calls it a fusion of “medieval instrumentation, with contemporary percussive beds and synths, post-rock type ambiances and cinematic grandeur.” I haven’t played the game yet but that’s a fitting description of the samples and clips I’ve heard so far.
Multiplayer II: Co-Op, the follow-up to last summer’s video game remix album, is out now with all proceeds going to the Child’s Play Charity Network. The 26-track album collects the efforts of over 50 artists working together on unique collaborations to put new spins on classic video game themes.
There’s String Player Gamer working with Tera Catallo & xclassicalcatx to arrange “Metal Man’s Theme” from Mega Man 2 for orchestra and rock band. A ukulele and electric guitar rendition of the Crash Bandicoot Warped theme by Motion Ocean and Knife Mom. Josiah McDaniel & RichaadEB’s ultra-fast metal version of Gauntlet. An incredibly smooth acoustic and synth take on Streets of Rage from Mitchell Cairns & Songe. A metal rendition of “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII by LittleVMills complete with a choir of ten other collaborating composers.