Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays 2011: Diamond Dust Act 2

It's the holiday season again! XD And what's a holiday season without some gifts? And despite my usual miserly self, I do have a gift for all of you loyal blog readers (hehe). My gift is one of music: music in the form of another video game cover, of course. :P

Sonic 3D Blast (for Saturn) is possibly my favorite video game soundtrack of all time. Great orchestration and catchy melodies aside, the soundtrack contains one of the most consistent structures I've seen in any video game work, which is really exciting for the logical, music-student side of me. I'd even considered writing an academic paper about this soundtrack; major props to composer Richard Jacques for such a brilliant piece of work. It was only a matter of time before I'd have to cover one of its pieces, and I decided on my personal favorite track from the game: the snowy Diamond Dust Act 2. (The original's much better...maybe I shouldn't have shown you :P)

This particular project has been a long, long time coming. I first put together the concept and sheet music over a year and a half ago, in summer 2010. I practiced the music on and off during the fall semester before things got busy with school; I'd hoped to finish this project last winter, but things fell through. I practiced some again during the spring, somewhat halfheartedly since it'd been my busiest semester so far. My sudden re-discovery of free time also coincided with my discovery of anime, so the next few piano projects leaned heavily in its favor. However, this project tiptoed to the forefront again, and I set a deadline for myself: Christmas. This time, I was definitely going to finish. And finish I did: here's the final result!

Diamond Dust Act 2: Piano (& Drums?) Cover

Composer: Richard Jacques
Date Completed: 2011-12-24
Software: Audacity, Movie Maker, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: ~15
Instrumentation: Piano, Drums

This arrangement has definitely been my most ambitious project yet, both from a musical and logistical standpoint. I'd had a bit of practice with layering through my Mawaru Penguindrum project, but never before with so many different parts. It was definitely a challenge to have all of the parts line up adequately, and I'm still not sure I did a great job. The Vegas processing was somewhat challenging, too: I wonder if I didn't bite off a bit more than I could chew with the multiple-video layering and effects. Add a few random technology fails to all of that (yay 30-day trials) and it's a wonder I didn't break down and give up. But I'm glad I got through all of that; it's a really rewarding feeling to see a year and a half's worth of work finally come to fruition.

In any case, hope you enjoyed watching/listening to this project! Happy holidays to everyone, and here's to a great 2012!

P.S. I'm hoping to make this an annual thing, so, um...see you in a year? :D

Season's greetings,


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Piano Cover: On Your Mark (Gundam Unicorn)

Hope Thanksgiving weekend was great for everyone! My own Thanksgiving weekend was one filled with lots of shopping; I finally decided to try out that Black Friday thing again for the first time in many years, and consequently am the happy owner of a new PlayStation 3. Since then, it's like I've been rediscovering my gamer side hidden away for several months; SO MUCH GAMING. Enough gaming, in fact, that I nearly forgot to post an entry about my latest piano cover, the piece "On Your Mark" from Gundam Unicorn.

Here's an uncharacteristic confession: I don't actually know anything about the Gundam franchise, save for the ten minutes or so I've seen of the first OVA. I can't even pretend to know enough about it to write a paragraph's worth of blog post about Gundam Unicorn. Rather, I came across this masterpiece of a piano solo on a recommendation from a friend, and immediately fell in love with it.

To me, this piano solo is further proof that an arrangement need not be complicated or difficult to be beautiful. Not that I didn't struggle when attempting to transcribe or learn the piece, but the structure and texture are fairly simple, but not simplistic (yes, there is a difference!). In fact, I think the straightforward nature of this piece makes contributes to its beauty, really providing the listener with the time to absorb each beautiful chord. I can't actually find the piano arrangement anywhere else on the Internet, but here's the (even more beautiful, if possible) original orchestral version of "On Your Mark." And here's my piano cover:

On Your Mark (Gundam Unicorn): Piano Cover

Composer: Hiroyuki Sawano
Date Completed: 2011-11-24
Software: Audacity, Movie Maker
Number of Takes: ~15
Instrumentation: Piano

If you're interested, here's my arrangement of this piece (also featured on Josh's Anime Music website!). Since I've little else to say here, I'll keep this one short. Thanks for dropping by, and look for more (possibly video-game-related!) content coming soon! Happy December!