Covering a Tune: Shining Force 2 “Boss Attack”

Part of what I want to do is to open discussion on HOW to actually cover the music from video games.  This is meant to be a window into the creative process and completely speculative.  I believe it will be a good exercise in arrangement.   Let’s say you have a brass quintet and you want to arrange an NES track for the group.  If you have 3 wacky synth sounds and something that sounds like tearing/crumpling paper, which one is the tuba?  Or is there a certain point where you have to say:  Uh, maybe this should be done by a different type of group ?

Nonetheless, there are many video game themes arranged for professional recitals, gigs, and small concerts that may not be suited particularly well for the ensemble in question.  Why is it still played then?  Is this a mistreatment of the artist’s true intentions for the track?  Or is this something completely different – more of a tribute than a re-creation ?

I want you guys to help me explore these ideas.  I will be posting tracks that I find interesting once or twice a week for your examination.  Today, it is Shining Force 2’s “Boss Attack”:

As you can see, it is an interesting, high tempo work.  The next step will be to get both musicians and gamers to comment on the piece.  If you respond, please specify to which questions you are answering.  The questions are just guidelines.  Any comments are welcome.  Thanks guys and let’s see what we can come up with!

Questions for musicians:

What kinds of considerations would have to be made in terms of arranging to make this performable?  What would be the instrumentation?  Would it be possible to play at the same speed and with the same level of clarity as the synth version?  And if not, why?  I’m interested in your feedback.

Questions for gamers:

What kind of musical group should be covering this (a rock band or an orchestra etc.)?  Is there anything in the music that, if removed or changed, would absolutely ruin the experience for you?  I’m interested your feedback.

About Classical Gaming

Steve Lakawicz holds an MM in Music Performance from Temple University as well as a BM in Tuba Performance from Rutgers University . His teachers include Paul Scott, Scott Mendoker, and Jay Krush. His love of video game music has lead him to form a blog, Classical Gaming, to promote discussion both casual and academic about the music of video games. He is the co-founder of the video game/nerd music chamber ensemble, Beta Test Music and regularly composes/performs chiptune music as Ap0c. He currently resides in Philadelphia where he teaches college statistics at Temple University. View all posts by Classical Gaming

One response to “Covering a Tune: Shining Force 2 “Boss Attack”

  • ben mulholland

    Hey chief, I’m going to comment on all questions and talk for way to long, hope its bearable😀

    The worst thing I’ve had to consider when presenting arrangements of video game music (i guess they call them chip tunes these days) is ‘are any of these musicians going to treat this as serious music’? I made a very tasteful (and easy) medley of The legend of zelda, roughly 2 minutes of the opening music, into the dungeon theme (5/4 tuba solo, the two trumpets (muted) traded the dim 7 16th notes) a little game over fairy trumpet music with a nice german 6th augmented chord later and we’re into a little finale of the original theme. easy right? No Friggen way! the 1st trumpet said this was a waste of time, and simply refused to play ‘the ink’. I thought this was an isolated incident of obstinate musician thought, but my friends in their ensembles face the same brick walling I’m mentioning.

    I hear a overly eager woodwind quintet with a snare drum.

    a lot of flute and clarinet together and some very french horn like stuff in there, stopped horn for the pedal tone nasty stuff, and the bassoon if coaxed could handle this bass line with ease. at the same time I could hear a 9-12 piece brass ensemble tearing this one down.

    As to the practicality of arranging it, This tempo, and even the key, I feel are very approachable. just a little wood-shedding up to speed and enthusiasm should do the trick.

    I’ll stop before my opinionated hard-boiled self- righteousness takes over my entire body and I scream worship me out the window until i burst a vessel.

    As for the question for the gamers: I like hearing video game music in almost any setting, minibosses-philharmonics.

    me: I’ve had a raging music boner for video games ever since I layed my precious little hands on the Legend of Zelda and Megaman 2

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