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Fanfare and Jubilee (Draft 0.5)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2012 Gregory Weaver.


Before I begin, no, this new tune is not based on the picture to the right.  I thought it would be nice to have a graphic on the post, so I did an image search for “fanfare” on Google and, lo and behold, there was the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland with my initials on his chest (it might be a bib) blowing a trumpet on the top row.  What are the odds??

Shortly after I finished up my latest draft of “Gumshoes” I quickly inputed a few new ideas into Logic and Finale.  “Fanfare and Jubilee” is one of those.  It actually started off solely as a fanfare – I wanted to do a brass quintet-like piece – but something made me veer off into a different territory, namely the jubilee part, which now is the focus of the tune.

Take a listen to my first minute and a quarter or so–it’ll give you a good idea of the piece’s flavour:

(or, as always, you can listen on SoundCloud)

Imagine: A player walks around a city and triggers an FMV of a procession.  A king or hero or what have you is announced by the brass at the start of a festival and the crowd is snapped to attention.  Following the appearance of the figure, shenanigans ensue–it’s a party!  Woo!  Everyone go have fun!

That’s the idea.  Then you go and try to assassinate the figure amidst the parading and festivaling or something.  Sorry, thems the dregs of some video games; your character just can’t stop and have fun playing minigames or anything–what do you think this is, 1996?

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Playing Catch-up

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Aside from my review of Journey, for the past month and a half you all haven’t heard much out of me, and I apologize for that.  My full-time job is running the operations/logistics of a show in Norfolk, VA, called the Virginia International Tattoo, which is essentially an annual international military band and cultural act show that features around 850 performers in groups from various countries (this year we had eight: US, Canada, UK, Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Albania).  In short, the groups are here for ten days doing rehearsals, education outreach events, and performances, but it takes all year to nail down the details.  Work really starts to get busy in February, exponentially increases from then through their stay at the end of April, and remains busy through May and the beginning of June as we do wrap-up.  Here’s the first eleven minutes of this year’s show on YouTube–try it; thousands like it!

I’d like to relax a bit and plan things out and get going full speed ahead with the blog again, but I think I’ll have to build up before I hit my stride ala three posts a month.  Not only did I lose touch with the blog, I lost touch with the rest of the gaming world, not to mention my musical endeavours.  In fact, it was actually quite a miracle that I was able to focus on and get out the Journey review on time.

That being said, I’m playing catch-up.  I have one of those reading list aps on my browser, so I’ve been going through the links I’ve accrued… lots of the stuff is actually from January, heh.  Here’s what I’ve been checking out:

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MAGFest X Recap, Part III: The Dessert

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In case you missed them:
Part I: The Appetizer
Part II: The Meat

Nobuo Uematsu and the Earthbound Papas were set to perform at 10:30pm on Saturday.  After a long number of hours at panels and gaming, a bunch of us stood in line at Elevation Burger for a long time only to be told that they no longer had milkshakes.  That was the worst.  However, we quickly devoured what we got and headed to meet our friends at the show.

When we got there, The Year 200X, one of the many bands named after something Mega Man-related, was playing.  I think we arrived 45 minutes early, and that was time enough for us to get optimally positioned for the Earthbound Papas.  We were slightly left of center-stage, 5-10 people back, I’d guess.  After some moshing and a rendition of “Dancing Mad” that was highly praised the next morning by Uematsu and his band themselves, the stage crew immediately started getting ready for the headliner amidst a sea of Colossus roars.

As you can see in the picture, the crowd for the Earthbound Papas was, as you’d expect, enormous.  That wasn’t even the whole crowd, either—I took that well before they came out, if I remember correctly.  Of course, everyone was going wild the whole time, and the crowd got especially pumped when Uematsu came out during soundcheck for a couple of minutes.
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“Time’s Scar,” Part III

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My analysis/review of Yasunori Mitsuda’s Chrono Cross opener, “Time’s Scar” has spanned two post so far, and with this one I intend to close the book on it.

You’ve probably listened to and seen the video thirty times now, but I implore you press play again to take in the work as a whole before I begin.  Once more, with feeling!



In the first post, I covered the “Introduction” (0:00-0:57), the low-key, nostalgic, and folk-like setup to the second post’s “Transition” (0:57-1:14), a high-energy section comprised of multiple layers that serves to burst from the introduction and build into the third section, which I had deemed the “String Melody” (1:14-1:49).

After having been bombarded with instruments that serve to rush the listener and to push the music forward, that listener is suddenly yanked back by a crying violin and flute combo that soars above the other instruments.  The pairing is beautiful—the flute that the listener heard dancing around earlier in the piece smoothes out its howling violin partner. Unlike its string companions, Mitsuda decides that this pair need not play fast lines to incite adventure and excitement into the listener; instead, it leads an eighth-note pickup into a note held for a beat and a half.  Normally, a beat and a half is nothing to a listener, especially at a quicker tempo—but when placed in a den of instruments that have been playing sixteenth notes for the last seventeen seconds, it seems like it lasts an eternity.  The space reminds the listener that, amidst all of the adrenaline of an action sequence, there need be deliberate clarity and thought.

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“Time’s Scar,” Part II

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*In case you missed it, here’s Part I

For your convenience, I’ve reinserted the video:


 
I would suggest listening and watching one more time straight through so that you re-familiarize yourself with everything. Also, before I get into the analysis, I’d like the reader to see how I personally broke down the form of the piece for the sake of this analysis. If anyone has a better suggestion on how to organize it, please let me know—this is certainly not the end-all-be-all!

Section A: “Introduction” (0:00-0:57)

Section B: “Transition” (00:57-1:14)

Section C: “String Melody” (1:14-1:49)

Section D: “Breakdown and Ending” (1:49-2:22)

Cool. Now, let’s pick up where we left off. In less than a minute’s worth of music we listened to an enchanting, nostalgic, and, at points, childlike musical intro that set up not only the coming of an exciting display of PSX CGI power and adrenaline-pumping music, but also for the gamer for what he should expect out of the entire game’s soundtrack. We took note of Yasunori Mitsuda’s very present bass, dancing flute, and moving acoustic guitar, which all combine to enhance and reveal a folk flavor in his music.

Cue :56. A suspended cymbal roll comes from behind the flute, which turns and lands on a note that stings the downbeat of what I will call the “transition.” Suddenly, when the listener only had a few instruments to take in before, a flurry of sounds comes to him or her all at once and s/he is whisked off at full-speed. The important part about the transition is its ability to rush the listener forward and get him or her caught up in the moment using rhythm. Yes, the tempo speeds up, but it is not tempo alone that perks the ears and does the engaging. It may take the listener many-a-repeat to catch all of the elements that help drive the music forward, but they are worth fishing for and catching.
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VGM Review 1: “Time’s Scar,” Part I

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I remember hearing about a sequel to my then-favorite game of all time when I was in middle school and not knowing how to handle myself.  Finally, after years of dreaming up my own stories about the characters in Chrono Trigger, Squaresoft would finally continue the epic tale themselves, setting in stone what would happen to the Chrono universe.   Sure, my tales would be rendered obsolete, but that didn’t matter—how could anything be better than the original creators’ minds?

Originally, I thought that I first learned about the game via demo.  I bought Vagrant Story for PSX, which included the demo disc, but according to Wikipedia, that game was released on May 15, 2000, and Chrono Cross was released on August 15, 2000.  I was dumbfounded by these dates because I remember waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting for this game to come out.  Three months didn’t make sense to me.

Then, I saw that the game was released in Japan on November 18, 1999, almost a year before the North American drop date.  That made more sense: I had likely read about it a year or more prior, got ultra psyched, and then suffered for so long that my memory wouldn’t allow me to remember such times.  It’s nice that the feeling of eternal wait can be explained practically instead of with the excuse that time seems to flow for children much slower than it does for adults (which was my back-up excuse).  Anyway, I had picked up Vagrant Story because it was a new Squaresoft game and not because I was expecting a demo.  But as soon as I read that such a thing was included, I squirmed all the way home and popped that disc in ready for action and…!
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