Tag Archives: remix

Covering a Tune: “What Happens When You Take The Wrong Bus” Remix 1

Hey guys!

It’s been exactly 3 months since I first performed at 8static.  Wow.  Time flies.  Since then, I’ve been working diligently on new chiptune works and trying my best to continue to explore the limitations of NES audio.

One of the cool things about working with Famitracker and actually composing music IN the original 2a03 is that it gives me MUCH greater insight into how the original composers used the chip.  My perspectives on old soundtracks have changed greatly since I’ve begun composing as Ap0c.  I believe the difficulties I encountered working with the chip and the limitations of the output of sound really steel my original opinions on retro game audio and bgm.  But more on that later!

Since Ap0c is fundamentally a performance experiment, I’m still not sure what Ap0c’s voice is.  Is it gothic-classical-Castlevania inspired dance music?  Happy chiptune ska?  Mega serious and brooding classical works?  I guess so far it’s been all of the above.  There’s really no sense in labeling what I do… still, it would be nice to have a cohesive idea behind all the tracks, especially if I’m planning on releasing an EP.

In the stuggle to find the voice for this project, I’ve decided to remix some of my older tracks.  I believe the answer to my question lies really in my own interpretation of my own work.  For this ongoing experiment, I’ve chosen “What Happens When You Take The Wrong Bus”.  I will make a new cover of this song every 3 months and use the recordings to measure my progress.  The key thing I’ll be looking at is style.  Why did I write it the way I did in the first place?  Does that work?  Does it fit in with what Ap0c’s become?  All of these questions will need to be answered as I go.

This piece was first performed (IE Famitracker’d off a laptop… lame!) on February 8th, 2013 for 8static 32.  Here’s my write-up on that performance in case you’re wondering.

Okay, so here’s the original work.  I’m not reposting this to soundcloud so listen from Chipmusic.org.

The original work accomplishes much of what it set out to do.  My goal was to write a traditional RPG town theme and then basically go crazy with noises and sound effects to create perhaps FEAR or something along those lines.  I believe the original is effective AS IS in many ways.

Still, there’s a lot that can change.  One of the things that I’m not terribly proud about is the beat.  A certain chiptune musician who I often send my unfinished works to for review would say that it lacks “treble” in the drums.  I would agree.  I changed the drums a LOT in the new version.

The way I programmed this was completely stupid.  I created ONLY 2 instruments.  Yes.  There’s only a generic VRC6 instrument and a 2a03 instrument, assigned to play indefinitely.  I programmed EVERYTHING outside the instrument editor.  Since I’ve actually learned how to make instruments that are varied and interesting, I decided to add my regular slew of instruments to the new version.

Lastly, I was really unhappy with the original solo I wrote around 2:14.  It’s effective but it could be so much more.  A lot of my newer pieces have rockin’ guitar-esque solos.  Why not this piece as well?

The finished product is on my SoundCloud right now and can be viewed below.  I hope you guys enjoy it and I’ll see you back in 3 months to see how much my style has changed.  Rock on!

What Happens When You Take The Wrong Bus [May Mix]

Also, I’m down for ANY feedback you guys can provide between the two mixes.  So please let me know what you think!  Thanks again!

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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!

“Solstice”

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”!


Covering a Tune: Arranging Music for Groundhog’s Day with Beta Test Music – Part 5

On February 2nd, my band, Beta Test Music (betatestmusic.com), will be performing another big concert of video game music and other nerdy favorites at First Unitarian Church in downtown Philadelphia (see here for information and tickets).  This series of posts will highlight the music that I arranged for the concert, explaining the choices in musical selection, instrumentation, and overall presentation.

Man, I love Amano’s artwork.

In Part 1 and Part 2, I discussed my musical selection process/performance considerations for my medley of music from Akumajou Densetsu (Castlevania III) for Beta Test Music and 2a03+VRC6.  In Part 3, I discussed my arrangement of music from Earthbound/Mother 2.  In Part 4, I talked about my arrangement of tunes from Nintendo’s Pokemon – 1st Generation (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow).  AND TODAY – in the FIFTH AND FINAL INSTALLMENT of my posts – we’ll talk about my arrangement of music from Squaresoft’s (it was still Squaresoft back then, I believe) Final Fantasy III/VI.

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Covering a Tune: Arranging Music for Groundhog’s Day with Beta Test Music – Part 4

On February 2nd, my band, Beta Test Music (betatestmusic.com), will be performing another big concert of video game music and other nerdy favorites at First Unitarian Church in downtown Philadelphia (see here for information and tickets).  This series of posts will highlight the music that I arranged for the concert, explaining the choices in musical selection, instrumentation, and overall presentation.

In Part 1 and Part 2, I discussed my musical selection process/performance considerations for my medley of music from Akumajou Densetsu (Castlevania III) for Beta Test Music and 2a03+VRC6.  In Part 3, I discussed my arrangement of music from Earthbound/Mother 2.  TODAY, in Part 4, I’ll talk about my arrangement of tunes from Nintendo’s Pokemon – 1st Generation (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow).

Continue reading


Covering a Tune: Arranging Music for Groundhog’s Day with Beta Test Music – Part 3

On February 2nd, my band, Beta Test Music (betatestmusic.com), will be performing another big concert of video game music and other nerdy favorites at First Unitarian Church in downtown Philadelphia (see here for information and tickets).  This series of posts will highlight the music that I arranged for the concert, explaining the choices in musical selection, instrumentation, and overall presentation.

In Part 1 and Part 2, I discussed my musical selection process/performance considerations for my medley of music from Akumajou Densetsu (Castlevania III) for Beta Test Music and 2a03+VRC6.  Today, in Part 3, I’ll discuss my arrangement of tunes from Nintendo and HAL Lab’s Earthbound (Mother 2).

Continue reading


Covering a Tune: Arranging Music for Groundhog’s Day with Beta Test Music – Part 2

On February 2nd, my band, Beta Test Music (betatestmusic.com), will be performing another big concert of video game music and other nerdy favorites at First Unitarian Church in downtown Philadelphia (see here for information and tickets).  This series of posts will highlight the music that I arranged for the concert, explaining the choices in musical selection, instrumentation, and overall presentation.

In Part 1, I discussed my musical selection process for my medley of music from Akumajou Densetsu (Castlevania III) for Beta Test Music and 2a03+VRC6.  Today, in Part 2, I will discuss the specific methods I used to arrange and compile the entire piece.

Continue reading


Covering a Tune: Arranging Music for Groundhog’s Day with Beta Test Music – Part 1

On February 2nd, my band, Beta Test Music (betatestmusic.com), will be performing another big concert of video game music and other nerdy favorites at First Unitarian Church in downtown Philadelphia (see here for information and tickets).  This series of posts will highlight the music that I arranged for the concert, explaining the choices in musical selection, instrumentation, and overall presentation.

In Part 1, I’ll discuss one of the biggest arrangement projects I’ve done in my entire life – Akumajou Densetsu (Castlevania III) for Beta Test Music and 2A03+VRC6 (FC/NES) accompaniment.  Yep, that’s live music + pre-programmed NES.  On this blog, I talk about these chips all the time.  Now it’s time to actually use them.

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