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Music Blog- The Lesser Used Talent (VGM Arrangements)


Hello friends. I wanted to write about something that is kind of personal to me. I have a huge internal struggle with this, so I might sound like I'm flip-flopping, but only because I feel strongly for all sides. I'm, oddly enough, referring to creating arrangements (piano, orchestral, etc) for video game music.

It's nothing new, that people "cover" other people's songs, and sometimes even make a version so unique, it becomes their own. I generally do not have an issue with this. I think the people that can make VGM arrangements and remixes are very talented, and it takes a lot more effort to take the work of another composer, and turn it into something different.

My issue comes from people that profit solely off the popularity of making VGM arrangements. I know, it's hard to get people to listen to original music. I've written around 280 original pieces of music, and I never really know if anyone is listening (the stats on YouTube and Bandcamp suggest that people don't listen for very long). It sucks that it seems like the only way to get your foot in the door, is to write arrangements for popular video game music.

Again, I'm conflicted. Mainly because I love the original arrangements that people make. Some of the ways people twist songs around is incredible, even to me. And it's something I personally can't do. Maybe I'm envious? or jealous, or whatever the word is. From the beginning, I shifted my focus to original music, deciding that if there was going to be something people remember me by, it should be my original stuff.

I had a few meltdowns. I have done video game arrangements for piano and other instruments. I put them on YouTube, and watched them take over the top 10 most-viewed videos on my channel. I'm fairly certain my Deadly Premontion - Life is Beautiful piano cover is the only reason I can upload (or was able to upload) videos longer than 15 minutes. It had over 9,000 views when I took it down in one of my bouts of depression. While I had not received too much attention for my arrangements, I didn't like that my arrangements were what people were listening to, so at one point, I took them all down.

I've had time to think about it, and I've come to the conclusion that video game arrangements are a part of who I am. I can, in fact, arrange a song in a manner that makes it "me". I recently did an arrangement for a close friend (Rekka :D). A beautiful song called "Descendeus" from Drakengard 3. I had never played the game, but after listening to the song, I had to try to make an arrangement.

My main problem with arranging music, is that I don't stray far enough away from the original piece for it to be "original". This piece shows that I can put my essence in a song, and still maintain near 100% accuracy to the original piece.

Counting that one, it looks like I've done 13 "arrangements". I wanted to share them with you, and get your opinion on whether you think I should do more or not. I want to make more, but I feel like all I'd be doing is making the same song with different instruments, whereas some of the most talented people can rewrite the song in a different style of music, and then there's RushJet1's beautiful version of the Mega Man 2 soundtrack.

So here are the other 12 arrangements:

Metroid Fusion - Facing a Huge Reaction (unfinished) : I worked on this for a certain project, but things didn't work out (couldn't make it unique enough), and ended up scrapping the song and quitting the project. The reason it's unfinished is because it was supposed to transition into another song from the same game.

Final Fantasy XIV - Lost City of Amdapor (Piano) : This is actually meant to be as close to the original as possible. I did not learn the song on piano like my other arrangements. Instead, I composed the song by ear and tried to keep it realistically playable on a piano.

Ninja Gaiden - 4-2 (Arranged) : At one point, I was taking requests from friends on which songs I should try to rearrange. Corduroy Turtle suggested this song, and this is what I came out with.

Braid - Downstream (Incomplete) : I put this together before Anthony Burch married Ashley Davis (I think that's her last name, I'm terrible with names). I wanted it to be a wedding gift, but I couldn't finish it in time, and never really tried to finish it. It's a fairly hard song to learn on piano.

Deadly Premonition - Life is Beautiful : Here's that one song I was talking about! The whistle song! It has a name apparently. This song is ridiculously tricky, and I always pictured myself playing it at a convention for a group of Dtoiders. I could never afford to go to a convention, and I have social anxiety that pretty much leaves me stuck indoors. But it's nice to get the song out.

Final Fantasy Tactics - Trisection : I believe I arranged this one for myself. While the performance is live, for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to "speed up" the 2nd part, since the song is in midi format, and I can pretty much edit it however I want. I don't think it came out very good, but it is my original performance on piano.

Final Fantasy VIII - Balamb Garden : This was a request from a close friend I played FFXI with for the longest time. I enjoyed putting this one together on piano.

Friday the 13th - NES Intro : Occam requested this one, and while it was easy to learn, it's still fun to play. Some of the chord transitions are a bit tricky. I really love this piece.

Illusion of Gaia - Itory Village : This arrangement, I put together for myself. I absolutely loved this song, and had to arrange it for piano.

Phoenix Wright - Fragrance of Dark Coffee : LawofThermalDynamics requested this song. I arranged it for full instruments, as well as a piano solo piece.

Phoenix Wright - Fragrance of Dark Coffee (Piano)

Final Fantasy - Main Theme :  I wrote this for the Theatrhythm contest, but never submitted it, since I couldn't put together a video. Also, the song is fake "double speed", which would probably disqualify it. It's quite fast.

So maybe I'm interested in arranging more video game music, just because. I'm over my previously mentioned concerns with it, and maybe I can just work on giving the songs my essence, so that they don't sound too much like the original. I would ask for requests, but I have that whole Songs for Gamers project coming up :) Maybe afterwards.

Thanks for reading. I don't think I properly explained my stance of video game arrangements, but I don't know how to word it. I like them, I like that people make them, but it annoys me to some extent that people are profitting solely from them. I want to make more, but I don't want to be "known" only for my arrangements.

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About Alphadeusone of us since 4:33 PM on 04.02.2012

I'm just another gamer.