Originals: Close to Good X Ap0c – “Solstice”

I’m delighted to announce the release of the first track from Close to Good X Ap0c: “Solstice”.

To hear it, go to the: Close to Good X Ap0c – “Solstice” Official Page

The brainchild behind this project is Close to Good’s drummer, Kevin Ragone.  He thought it was be really cool for me  to cover one of Close to Good’s tracks via chiptune with the idea that both their track and my track would be released together.  The listener would be allowed to listen back and forth between the tracks and enjoy two different interpretations of the same melodic material.  He sent me a track that C2G had been working on and I instantly agreed.  Thus, the Close to Good X Ap0c project began.  Enjoy!


Close to Good’s version of “Solstice” is damn catchy.  The track is based off one clean, live take (here’s the original video).  Geez.  I know a lot of classical musicians who would need a ton of takes to get a solid recording.  Talented dudes.

Kev had informed me that the theme was done in such a way that it should invoke the feeling of a video game title screen, perhaps even for a game named “Solstice” or something along those lines.  The track certainly invokes a video game element- perhaps a title theme or even a world map theme remix of the title theme, etc.  I spent a lot of time listening to the nuances of the piece.  I wanted to figure out exactly how to interpret the lines in such a way that didn’t completely change the meaning of the work.

The version by me is done in Famitracker with 2a03+VRC6 sound.  This presented many challenges to me, the biggest being the genre of chiptune itself.  There’s different standards for rock bands and chiptunes, of course, and  I had to find a way to navigate creating a chiptune remix without it… well…. becoming an “untz untz untz” dance version of the original.

I started out by transcribing the whole piece from start to finish.  I labeled the “A” section, “B” section, intro, and outro accordingly and then began to arrange.

My first version included an expanded intro that covered and realized each of the chords in an almost a latin feel.  I wasn’t too happy with it.  I realized that I had fallen directly into the dance hell of chiptune remix by accident.  It’s so easy to do that somehow.  I scrapped this version completely and started all over again.  I ended up starting over about 5-6 times.  There’s a lot of other smaller and varied versions with weirder changes and stuff.  Going from Solstice v 1.1 to 1.2 to 1.3 etc, I had to go all the way to “Solstice v 2.0” before I was happy with the product.

The final version is technically “Solstice 2a.”  There was a “Solstice 2b”, which included a fade out similar to Close to Good’s track (and an extra “C” section that contained some new melodic material) but after consulting with the Close to Good themselves, they really liked my “2a” version.

I think my favorite part of my own piece is from :17-:44.  This is 2a03 alone.  I tried to see how much I could squeeze out of the limitation, as both an exercise and for the aesthetic principle.  It’s amazing how much sound you can get from the 2a03- it makes me feel like I’m wasting the extra 3 VRC6 channels sometimes.

We’re working on exchanging some more tunes in the future and the next entry appears to be a cover of one of my tunes, realized by Close to Good.  I’m pretty psyched about that!

Close to Good and I hope you really enjoy “Solstice”!

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

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