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Whispers of the Plains: OCRemix FF4 Echoes… Arrangers Part 3!

The third or four parts of the arrangers interviews are upon us. Remember we asked the following questions:

~why they chose their songs
~what they thought was the most challeging part of arranging the track
~what part/sound are they most proud of

Once again thanks to the OverClocke Remix community for producing a fantastic collection and without further ado – over to the arrangers themselves!

LONG DAO

“Smiling Hilltop for Four Hands” (Mt. Ordeal)s

I chose Mt Ordeals because it was a very interesting and had a unique mood. It felt like a very quirky heroic test and I wanted to turn it into a different but equally pleasing arrangement.

For Mt Ordeals I had to decide how to create a captivating yet gentle mood for the track using the piano to convey that. Also coming up with a name for the track was a challenge! I chose “Smiling Hilltop” because I was listening to a track by Shnabubula called “Emotional Tapeworm”, where he gave an object a humorous (to me at least) adjective that was impossible for a tapeworm.

I’m most proud of my Mt Ordeals track, because I was able to really convey the emotion I wanted through its intricate lines and runs, as if I turned a march into a soft dance.

“Tundra of Dwarves” (Land of Dwarves)

As for the dwarves theme, monobrow and I loved that and wanted to collaborate together, but unfortunately were not able to complete it and I ended up splitting my piece with hers.

The most challenging part of the dwarves track was figuring out how to combine and blend the two tracks between monobrow and I. Also I had to mix in Jeff Ball’s violin playing with the rest of the track, and I had to match the sounds of the other violins playing.

overclockedremixJOHN REVOREDO (“The Flying Machine” (Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY IV))

I came in contact with “FF4 : Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption” when it was 60% done. Normally, by that time, all good tracks are taken, and you’re just left the crappy tracks nobody wants to mix. Surprisingly, that didn’t happen!. I could have chosen tracks like “Theme of Love” or “Rydia’s Theme” , but the main theme had always been stuck in my head, and remembered it as something very special. So, I just took it!.

What was the most challeging part of arranging the track? The hardware of my computer!. Creating orchestral music requieres a high-end computer, and mine’s not. After doing a piano “sketch” of the piece, I had to write everything down, note by note, on a sequencer. Many times the computer was at the verge of collapse, so i had to render the instruments in separate tracks, and then render all the tracks into another one!.

The part/sound am I most proud of? 0:35 – 2:29 . It is really hard to make an orchestra work using VSTIs, but this worked pretty well. A common mistake among amateurs is to forget trombones!. They are a very important part of the orchestra, and using them right brings your piece to life!.

“All Your Calcobrena Belong to Us” (Dancing Calbrena)

Developing the track without being repetitive/boring was a challenge. Although it’s something we have to face in every track, this time it was something different for me , since i’m not used to write electronic-candy-synth music.

The part/sound I’m most proud of is thesection between 0:58 – 2:39 The transition part, right in the middle of the track. I started making things up, and it ended up quite… fun?. It’s really weird but i like it.


overclockedremixNUTRITIOUS

ÒFull of CourageÓ (Red Wings)

This was actually a track I had already begun working on before hearing about the FF4 project.  Upon hearing it, I was invited by OA to join the project for this track.  To me, it’s one of the most epic and meaningful songs in game music.  It really sets the stage for the whole game and I just get chills listening to it.  It was a natural choice for me to remix.

A big challenge on this song was trying to capture the epic feel of the original, but still rearrange it into something fresh and enjoyable to listen to.  I actually wrote the song pretty quickly up until the FF4 Main Theme section.  After that, I sat on it for a while, not knowing what to do next.  Finally, I came up with the idea to transition into the second half of the original and really build it back up into the Red Wings melody.

I’m most proud of the section where I was able to integrate myself playing flute live for the first iteration of the FF4 Main Theme.  I hadnÕt played the instrument in a long time, but I was really happy with the results.

Step Into the Light (Into the Darkness)

This was another track I’d started on before joining the project.  The mood it created during the beginning of the game was very moving and mysterious.  Upon remixing it, I attempted to capture some of that same mood, but also bring a bit of hopefulness to the song as well.

The biggest challenge, as well as what I’m the most proud of, is that this entire song is creating using freely available samples.  No premium library sounds were used in the mix (as they are in my other tracks).  IÕve created and released an FL Studio project file with these same free sounds arranged and mixed for orchestra use that will hopefully allow others to use them in their own songs.  It can be downloaded from http://www.ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=15415.

Until the Tower Falls (Tower of Bab-il)

As the project was progressing and many tracks were already completed, the Tower of Babil was one track that had been dropped due to inactivity.  Wanting to remix one more track for the project, I went ahead and picked it up, intending a sort of Synth/Orchestra/Beat fusion.  I enlisted the help of OA for some guitar work to fill out some of the additional sections when he began getting a lot of new ideas for the track.  In the end, it turned out to be a big collaboration involving not only he and my contributions, but also live violin, viola, bass, and even some vocal parts.

The most challenging part of this track was trying to integrate so many different elements together into one cohesive song.  I’d never dealt with so many different instrument tracks (both sequenced and live) at one time, so it was a challenge to pull it all together successfully.

I think the part I’m most proud of is when things build up near the middle and then suddenly the listener is hit with the vocals “Tear It Down!”.  I remember being very excited when I heard the impact that particular section ended up having.

overclockedremixTHEORY OF NONEXISTENCE

I Love This Radio (Theme of Love)

The song was originally for PRC130, Rexy chose the source tune and was giving prizes to the winners because it would be her last one. She chose the Theme of Love and being the Final Fantasy fan I am, I decided to give it a shot. I’ve attempted tons of PRCs, but none of them were ever completed. I put a lot more effort into this one because I wanted Rexy’s last PRC to be a good one.

The most challenging part of making this song was probably the lead writing. I don’t have a MIDI keyboard or anything so everything I write, I do by hand in a sequencer, including vibrato/modulation because I can control it how I want by controlling the pitch as opposed to using automated modulation. The lead is the most involved part of the song, so it was very time consuming.

I’d have to say my favorite sound would be the background synth that comes in around 1:07. It’s kind of lo-fi and really smooth sounding. I don’t know, I just really like it. The end was fun to make too with the radio thumping and cursing. Fun times.

overclockedremixMONOBROW

Smooth Sun of Magma (Land of Dwarves)

I chose my song because I love the source material. I played FFIV in 1991 when it came out at a friend’s house and was instantly in love with the music, though I only played it briefly because I didn’t own the game or the SNES.  Land of the Dwarves was the first song I heard from the game.  Later I bought an SNES and FFIV and played it through.  I originally chose the song to make with Long Dao, because he and I are good pals and we wanted to collaborate.  Our old WIP turned into two separate songs, his Tundra of the Dwarves and an older version of my Smooth Sun of Magma.  If you listen closely you can hear similarities because I wrote some parts to his song that he tweaked, and he wrote a couple things that I ended up keeping in my version.

The most challenging thing about my song was actually finishing it up for the project!  The song started out a long while back  as a collab, however Long and I had some minor differences about a bass (of all things) and then just didn’t get the motivation to finish it as fast as we should have. Later I moved across the country and in the process, had to rebuild my computer as well as upgrade my OS and my samples.  I also lost the old project files I had.  All I had were old, unfinished mp3s.  Long went on to make Tundra of the Dwarves as the official Land of the Dwarves track in early 2009.

In late June of 2009, audiofidelity approached me to release the old, unfinished version of my part of the collab, however I felt that I should just go ahead and redo the entire song from scratch.  So I worked on it some, redid it by ear, and then was really busy until July 11th, when I finished the last half of the song in an all-nighter. I also recruited Protricity to make me some on-the-fly drums for the song, because I really didn’t have enough time/energy to do them myself.

Although I still consider the song unfinished and that some  things need to be reworked, I am the most proud of the last couple minutes of the song, I think that despite my horrible mixing and the placeholder drumwork, things mesh pretty well and hopefully when the finished version comes out, I will be able to listen to it and smile, and not cringe one bit!

overclockedremixANOTHER SOUNDSCAPE

Ana(pro)logue (Prologue)

Why did I choose the track? Honestly? Because OA contacted me and said it was one of the tracks that desperately needed to be done! The biggest challenge was putting a new spin on something that is that epic by nature.

My favourite part is the all-analogue style instrumentation.

overclockedremixTHE PROPHET OF MEPHISTO

Long Time Gone (A Long Way to Go)

I chose my song because it was one of the few still available at that point, and because I liked the melody. Lots of arpeggiated 7th chords make for fun chord swaps.

The most challenging part was probably just the electronic nature of the whole thing. I haven’t written a track that used so few real instruments in months, so it was a bit of a stretch to get back into the electronic groove.

I love the bass opening in my track. It took a long time to get the distorted sound just right, but I really like it.

overclockedremixHY BOUND

Somewhere to Hide (Somewhere in this World…)

I chose my song because it had a simple, yet effective melody that seemed to be able to be played with and distorted to fit my… interesting… needs. It was basically a 15 second loop repeated over and over so it had a lot of room for expansion.

The most challenging part of the track was the fact that I had no idea what style would benefit from the source material. I had half-done tracks of genres from Orchestral, to House, to some Avant Garde Breaksy thing to Ambient and none of them seemed to work. I finally decided to just distort the crap out of what I had and chop it up to fit with a Prodigy-like sound.

I really like the DnB bassline near the end of the track. I hadn’t worked much in the Drum and Bass sound palette and I was surprised at how well I was able to get the synth to fit that Noisia-like sound. The drums were also rather fun to play with as well; breaking apart the kick and snare to make sure they both hit hard was pretty interesting and new to me.

overclockedremixFISHY

Facing (Epilogue)

I originally chose epilogue planning to do all three parts of the song. I thought it had a very cool progression of styles and thought it was make a fitting epic ending to a very epic game and project. Unfortunately my laptop ended up breaking itself so I never got a chance to make the other two parts (or even a chance to mix the track properly!), although OA will probably agree I’d probably have been too lazy :D.

The most challenging part was definately the intro, or the “bladerunner” bit as some people put it. Obviously my roots are in rock and guitars, so it was a little bit of new territory for me, though I’m pretty happy with how the soundscape turned out and the way it builds up.

I’m most proud of the solo. I dragged in the main theme for the backing and let loose. I’m particularly proud of the whammy squeel at the end! Satriani would be proud.

overclockedremixAEROZ

Fallen Dragoon (Suspicion)

The track “Suspicion” is a variant of the “Red Wings” theme but in a minor key.I think the betrayal of
Kain is one of the most touching scenes in the game. I wanted to get the listener a closer approach on that part in the story.

Well, this was a huge experiment trying to combine 8-bit squares and cello.There was a lot of tweeking to do. Doing the
transition from the rhythmic part to the cello part was hard, but I am satisfied with the result.

I’m quite pleased with the cello sound though I recorded it in my own bedroom. I think I got a sort of fear and haunted feeling in the tune that I wanted to express with the mix. Im very proud over the background strings answering at 02.50.

Mystic Variations (Mystic Mysidia)

I chose Mystic Mysidia as it’s a very crazy tune, and I like it very much. This was kind of a natural choice for me really. I think it fits my style quite good.

The most challenging part of arranging the track was NOT to go overboard. I got a lot of feedback on this one when making it. It was wise to listen to my fellow remixers and stay on course with this one.

I like the answering call on the theme at 01.02. I think the upgoing square at 03.22 was nice touch to the transition.

Overture ~ TellahÕs Prophecy (Medley)

Well, I had some time over and there was track left and it ended up being a medley. This remix is quite different to the others. Much more simplified.Rhythm n’ Cello you can call it if you wish!

The most challenging part of arranging the track was getting it all together I guess. Much themes to get in there,
and the deadline was close. As said very simplified, but many themes to handle.

The ending with the “A Long Way To Go” turned out good I think.I think it worked very good as a transition to the next track on the album.

overclockedremixJAMES GEORGE

The Still Land (The Lunarians)

My favorite track for FF4 has to be the Prologue intro. In fact I’d already played around years
earlier with mixing Prologue and The Lunarians together. Lunarians wasn’t taken yet so there ya go. Also, my style for composing is very melancholy and melodic; I don’t see myself as OCR material, but I love the community because it challenges me. I like to pick tracks that can compliment the style that tends to come out of me. The Lunarians was a good fit.

I wanted to do things differently than my usual process, something that sounds like me but also fit the technical mastery of the album. Made some mistakes at first utilizing some cheesey effects but once I stripped those out over time what was left seemed pretty good. It was a real challenge to rewire FL Studio, Reason, and Cubase together and make it work, something I’ve never done before. Props to Andrew, Shaun, Jay and the others for giving me some really great guidance.

The part I’d say probably I’m most proud of isthe low piano note that drones throughout the track. I know it’s
just a simple piano note, but just like in the original music, it really sets the tone and I thought it was very important to get right. Problem was I didn’t really have one piano sample that really “hit” just right, so the instrument actually turned out to be this rather complex layering of several piano samples and bass to get it sounding big and foreboding. One of my biggest regrets on this track was the relatively low mastering level compared to others, but I was so picky on just getting that one note right and keeping it dynamic and ringing.

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