It would appear that a couple of the major YouTube sources for the music on this website have gone dark. If you happen to find any dead links, please let me know here and I will fix them. I just fixed Over Horizon and a couple others. What a shame!
In my first post, I discuss the issues surrounding arranging game music for our instrumentation as well as the considerations I made when covering “Ground Theme” from Super Mario Bros. Please check it out- ARRANGING VIDEO GAME MUSIC FOR A VERY BETA CHRISTMAS – PART 1.
Hope to see some of you there this weekend!
So today is my birthday!
I’ve decided, as a birthday present to myself, to post 5 of my favorite video game tracks of all time… or just 5 really awesome tracks that come to mind. And of course, they are mostly battle themes. But what do you expect?
Track 1: “The True Mirror” – Baten Kaitos – by Motoi Sakuraba
Motoi has always turned up the intensity to 11… sometimes to a fault perhaps. Still, this used to be my favorite “getting onto the subway” music when I was doing my MMus.
Track 2: “Feldschlacht I” – Saga Frontier 2 – by Masashi Hamauzu
Part of Hamauzu’s 4 “Feldschlacht” set for Saga Frontier 2, not including the orchestral “Feldschlact V”. I had trouble picking my favorite- I or IV. I love the part where the bass just rocks out for a while at 1:15. As a bass player, very satisfying! I spend a lot of time trying to play that line as a kid, with very little success. Really fun though!
Track 3: “Intrude Upon Happiness, Plunder the Future” – Wild Arms XF – by Junpei Fujita
Probably wasn’t expecting to see something that’s just straight-up electronica here. This theme plays during some of the most intense battles in Wild Arms XF. The bassline and chords at 1:40… well, it’s probably one of the best 10 seconds I can remember in a battle theme. The rest isn’t… that innovative. Honorable mention from this OST: “Twilight of the Anti-Hero”. If you haven’t heard the OST to this game, you probably should go listen. It’s pretty ridiculous.
Track 4: “Fighters of the Crystal” – Final Fantasy XI: Rise of Zilart – by Naoshi Mizuta
For those of you who don’t know me well, I used to be a pretty active member of the Final Fantasy XI community. I played on Quetzalcoatl as “Valus” and eventually “Zalus” (long story)- here’s my old FFXIAH.com profile. Gross. At any rate, I was a BRD and DRK for a big endgame linkshell. This theme ALWAYS got to me… it played during a very difficult and desperate battle against the Crystal Warriors. To win, you needed 18 people…. perfectly organized for a massive fight. Oh yes, the ol’ “wipe and reset” strategy of the level 75 days of FFXI. I raise a glass to old friends and the memories of Vana’diel.
Track 5: “Armed Boss” – Super Mario RPG – by Yoko Shimomura
Don’t judge! I’ve always liked this track. Yes, it’s not really Shimomura’s best work… but it’s always got me pumped for battle. It’s short and simple and utilizes a lot of the tricks that can be produced with the playback from the SNES.
Anyhow, thanks for listening!
Sorry guys! It would appear that MANY of my embedded links for music have gone dark or are messed up due to changes in the way YouTube embeds into WordPress. I’m going to spend the day looking through old posts and trying to fix it. I’ll post an update below! Thanks for pointing it out!
UPDATE: Okay, I THINK everything is fixed now. Let me know if you find any broken/mislabeled links!
This is essentially the culmination of a long life dream. And a dark alliance between myself, Ellis Jasenovic, and Doug Laustsen. Well, that sounds a bit more epic than it is, really.
For years, I’ve criticized live performances of video game music. While I “liked” the older recordings of the Orchestral Game Music series, they always seemed clunky, mistaken ridden, and ultimately lacking in the spirit of the games. I haven’t highlighted many of these… adaptations (mainly because I’ve been so busy lately) but I plan to do so in the future. In most cases, the simplicity of the original music is lost and the character of the music decays. I’ve always wanted to bring some legitimacy to game music- an academic treatment rather than a Hollywood treatment… if that makes sense.
So, naturally, when Doug Laustsen mentioned to me that he would be interested in possibly putting together a group that performs new music, video game music, TV show themes, etc with proper artistic treatment and imagination, I had to jump onboard.
I need to tell the truth and say this has been a life long ambition of mine so I’m very excited about the project. I plan on highlighting a lot more of who we are and what we do in the future. For now, check out our Facebook page at: facebook.com/BetaTestMusic . We’ll have a good, proper website soon.
If you’re in the Philadelphia area on May 6th around 7 PM, we will be performing our first show at Book Space. The Facebook wall has all the info. I hope you can come out
Jeremy Parish of 1Up’s “Chiptuned” video game music blog (http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9067335) asks the right questions to Secret of Mana composer, Hiroki Kikuta. More specifically, he asks questions about the fidelity of the Super Famicom and what instruments he actually sees when he composes. Great read, check it out!
I sat around for a long time debating an introduction to this website and literally, came to the realization that it is much better to just dive right in.
It’s smart for a musician to have an iPod. Or anyone for that matter. I was talking with a colleague a couple weeks ago and we were comparing recordings of Fountains of Rome. He noticed the other tracks on my iPod and was confused. (Paraphrased a bit)
Colleague: Wait, you have the soundtrack to Megaman 3… on your iPod?
Me: Yeah. Hey, this is great stuff- the amount of sound output composer Bun Bun (Yasuaki Fujita) was able to get with only 4 channels of sound (1 of which was a Noise channel exclusively) was and still is impressive.
Colleague: I played that game. I mean, the music was okay but it’s just electronic sounding. Don’t you think that the composer, given the choice, would rather have used guitars for the melody, a bass for the bassline, and a real drumset instead of a noise machine?
Me: Actually, that’s an interesting question. Was he just writing for the synth parts or writing with guitar in mind, attempting to create a guitar sound using squares? Also, how does this relate to the fidelity of the music? Is this music, played on guitar, better or worse than the original? Does it even matter? Would Bun Bun care?
Colleague: No one ever talks about this stuff. You should blog about this. You seem to actually care.
Me: You’re right.
This is right out in the open and no one is talking about it. I know it is a lesser known composer and a subculture genre but why hasn’t anyone ever interviewed Bun Bun to ask him a question like that? The music community interviews many composers – including game music composers – but they seem to forget about a lot of the older ones or less memorable ones. The video game community interviews game music composers regularly but the interviews lack any analysis of the music itself. It’s usually questions like “Did you like working on such-and-such a blockbuster game?” So the music community thinks the game composer is not a real composer (perhaps) and the video game community treats him like he’s part of the production team and not a musician. I think this is kind of a big problem.
Compound all of this with the fact that the interviews that DO happen are only for today’s modern game composers. I feel like gaming magazines (and perhaps even gaming culture in general) are glorifying the talking picture and forgetting about the silent film- you need both. The games themselves, such as Rockman/Megaman 3, are considered classic. The music is PART of what makes that game. So though the composer wasn’t Jack Wall (Mass Effect 1 & 2) with a symphony orchestra, a big budget, and today’s modern equipment, a legacy game composer (such as Bun Bun) made a contribution that paved the way. We should be talking to him, we should be asking him about his creation process, and we should learn from what he did. I consider it akin to ignoring Jean-Phillip Rameau and promoting Christoph Willibald Gluck. We needed Debussy, in 1903, to finally point out that Rameau wrote some pretty great stuff too. And that we wouldn’t have Gluck without Rameau. We wouldn’t have Jack Wall without Bun Bun? I can’t make a case either way- we should talk about it.
This blog does not intend to call out the music community or the video game community. It does, however, intend to open the discussion between the two communities who, for whatever reason, rarely talk. The music community has the knowledge to help answer many interesting questions about the evolution of game music. The gaming community has the knowledge and power to open the door to let the music community in. I say, let’s work together and see what we can find.