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Chimpazilla

OCR03675 - *YES* Sonic the Hedgehog 3 "Samba del Anjos"

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Good day,
 
 It’s funny how life can go… I still remember quite vividly how, around the time I was almost graduating high school, I was fantasizing about being this really big and important remixer for OC Remix. My head was, and still is, filled with songs I want to cover and arrangement ideas, and one of my most ambitious and favorite ideas has always been to make a big band cover of a video game tune and send it to you guys. However, it has always been one of those ideas that your really see as a dream, and I definitely never saw it happening in the timespan of then and 6 years. But, being a day dreamer, it was one of the many scenarios that would now and then pass through my head. Actually, in my weird ego boosting day dreams it wasn’t that much of a big deal at all. It’d be around my 7th posted remix, featuring an amateur big band from my hometown  or something, and everyone would be flabbergasted by my achievement as I only graduated music school for a few years, and I actually recorded a real life big band. Back then I didn’t know much about big bands, so I didn’t really have a clear picture in my head, but I just assumed that it would just come with the time. 

 

 And now, after some time I’m finally sending in my big band arrangement. When I heard we were going to write a big band piece for my main subject at the conservatory, I was actually immediately thinking about OCRemix, because I really really really really want to be a part of the scene. And when the actual specific writing task leant itself for some sonic 3 so well, I was getting really excited. This arrangement is by far the biggest thing I’ve ever written. Before I wrote Samba del Anjos I had never even written for small jazz ensembles, and the biggest amount of different instruments I had arranged for was 2. And then there was this big band project. So to say I’m proud of myself would be an understatement. Not only because I finally managed to write the thing I’ve always wanted to write, but especially because at the the moment of writing this particular sentence it hasn’t even been a year since I graduated from high school. And my big band piece wasn’t performed by an amateur big band in a small concert in my hometown, but at a big jazz festival in Maastricht, by the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw from Amsterdam, which is one of the best big bands in the whole world. So when I consider that since those days of naive daydreaming it hasn’t even been a year, I’m very excited about the things I’ve accomplished a year from now, and the things a year after that. Because last year, when I was still this innocent naive high school girl, I really didn’t know that I could have accomplished this so fast.

 

 But enough of my senseless rambling, and onto the music. At this particular recording the big band of my conservatory is playing, because I prefer their performance above the performance of the Jazz Orchestra for various reasons. If this piece gets past the panel it’d be great if at least their names could be quoted for DJPretzels write up, because they really deserve the credit. They’re amazing, and I’m forever grateful that they performed my music so well.
 
Conservatorium Maastricht Big Band:
 
Trumpets:
Antoine Colin
Marvin Frey
Ie Rang Kang
Sten Pelzer
 
Trombones:
Ludo Dodemont
Jorge Felipe Nieto
Carla Dobbie
Dirk Bosman
 
Saxes:
Jon Sensmeier, alto + solo
Miguel Angel Lous, alto
Robin Rebetez, tenor
Alexander Scott, tenor
Bram Budna, bari
 
Rhythm Section:
Lukas Dahle, drums
Vincent van Reen, guitar
Phillipe Ramaekers, piano
Wolf van Gemert, electric bass
 
Conductor:
Wolfgang Braun
 
 
Considering the arrangement, I’ve got quite some things to say. It’s obviously a sambafied version of the original and it often stays quite close to the source, but it nevertheless was quite difficult to make it work for a jazz ensemble. First of all because there were some ‘wrong’ notes in the original, which don’t really stand out because of the synthesizers, but will become more obvious with live instruments. To give a few examples: At 00:58 and 01:06 there was a minor 6 clash between the lead and bass line, which I solved by reharmonizing the original chord progression form Dm7 - Gm7 - Cm7 - F7 to Bbmaj9/D - Ebmaj7/G - Cm7 - F7. One of the things I wasn’t able to solve however was the clash at 00:40 and all the other upbeats to the main motive between the D in the lead and the Eb7 chord. I think most people won’t notice it, but theoretically speaking it’s very very wrong.
 
The reason I included the original source in the arrangement is because I anticipated that there wouldn’t be a lot of people in the audience who  would know the original song. And including a small “window” to show them what inspired me to write the arrangement seemed like a nice idea. To quote the text I wrote the for the concerts: “This piece is a samba arrangement of the Angel Island zone theme form Sonic 3. It’s an effort to combine the nostalgia and 8 bit bleeps and bloops of the original video game with the sound and general jazziness of the big band world.” Including the original track in the arrangement also gave some problems, though. Mostly because I transposed the song down to B flat in order to make it fit the trumpet and alto sax range more. Which meant that I had to modulate to C somewhere before the “window” and get back to B flat directly after. Which I managed to pull off by including some trombone harmonies right over the original and the F7 as a pivot chord back to Bb. By the way, the original track was played by me by holding my Ipod against a microphone during the concerts. It’s kind of sad though, because it gave me a lot of cheering and applause while I only pressed one button at the right time, while Jon’s epic saxophone solo a little bit before that doesn’t get any applause at all, because the solo leads directly into the “window”. So, while listening, please don’t forget to appreciate that solo to the fullest. 
 
On the forums I’ve seen some discussions about a place to store all of the sheet music for OCR, but I don’t think anything official has been started yet, but I’ve got all the sheet music in a nice pdf or sibelius file. So if I need to send it somewhere, or if anyone in particular wants to look at it, use it for his/her own big band or use it for origami then it’s possible to send me a personal message. 
 
Here’s a small arrangement and source breakdown:
 
-.- 00:00 - 00:10: Original samba intro.
-.- 00:10 - 01:22: Source material, a lot of original countermelodies, comping and samba inspired source interpretations. 
-.- 01:23 - 02:17: Jon’s alto solo, original material, the samba piano intro and a few source inspired backing lines. 
-.- 02:18 - 02:47: Source material, some original trombone harmonies and a random guy imitating a cowboy. 
-.- 02:48 - 03:18: Differently interpreted source material
-.- 03:19 - 03:43: Original material heavily derived from the source, a drum solo and some quotes from the two main motives.
-.- 03:44 - 03:56: Clapping, clapping and some more clapping. 
 
 Something else I feel I need to mention is the title of the piece. Because I wrote a samba I thought that it’d be cool to make the title in Brazilian. So, despite knowing a few Brazilian peeps, I used google translate to translate samba of the angels. Samba del Anjos sounded quite nice so I stayed with it. After that, I was talking with a Brazilian guitar player in the pub, and he told me it’s actually Samba dos Anjos. Naturally, that was after I printed all the sheets for the players and the program had been sent to the concerthalls, which meant that I couldn’t change it anymore. So Samba del Anjos is some kind of combination between Brazilian and Spanish… Sorry for that. 
 
And I think that that’s all I have to say. To be honest, I could continue rambling about the piece for hours, but I suppose that this covers all the necessary information and a few extra thingies for the bonus questions. Enjoy the piece, and I really hope that it gets past the judges.  
 
 
Oh, and I almost forgot. Here’s the rest of the submission details
 
  • Your ReMixer name: Bowlerhat
  • Your real name: Jorik Bergman
  • Your email address: 
  • Name of game(s) arranged: Sonic the Hedgehog 3
  • Name of arrangement: Samba del Anjos
  • Name of individual song(s) arranged: Angel Island Zone act 1
Lots of hugs,
Jorik Bergman
 

 

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Damn, this is an amazing ensemble. You guys rock all kinds of worlds, including my own. Loving the big band performance, overall; I'm glad you manages to get everyone you could to get involved and produce such a kick-ass piece for us.

There are a few oddities that I should point out. The live aspect (this really IS live) could've been toned down post-production (the laughter at the VG part in the beginning, for example, could've been toned down), and the applause could've been faded out to end the track a little bit better. I would also have suggested perhaps mixing in the direct VG portion in post production, too - that part would make more sense to us the listeners if it was balanced better in the recording.

That all matters... if this were going to be sent back. I really don't see that happening, since this is just an amazing performance AND recording overall. The overall mixing is top notch (EDIT: Top notch for a live recording, that point wasn't too clear initially - it was very likely done with a multi-mic setup, as it captured individual sections better than a single well placed omni could), the recording quality is pristine, the performances are tight, and the love that went into this just oozes forth. I would be shocked if this got anything other than an enthusiastic YES from my fellow judges.

Amazing work, you guys!

YES

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The arrangement and performances get an A+ from me but I disagree that the mixing is top notch.  What I am hearing is no mixing at all, but it sounds like the entire performance was recorded on one microphone in the middle.  It sounds very good (must have been recorded on a very good mic), but very raw and unprocessed.  If this was recorded on multiple mics and carefully mixed, I am not picking up on that, but I'm not an expert at live recordings and mixing.  Ultimately it doesn't matter to me too much, the rawness of the recording, the original source tune playing softly in the middle, and the audience responses just give this more character in my opinion.  Nice work!

YES

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Awesome stuff here.  I think this is actually a pretty good recording of the live performances.  The recording of the audience doesn't bother me, but the inclusion of the original midway through the track does.  It really breaks the immersion for me.  Another minor grudge is the drumming which seems slightly off in timing in the first part.
Also don't worry about people not applauding the solo sax performance, I thought it was absolutely great.  Also compliments on exploring the track much further than a lot of live performances of video game music do.  

Overall, I think that without the break in the middle with the source this would've been completely fantastic, as it stands I will definitely pass it but with that feeling of that small, but annoying grudge nagging me.  This was top notch though... I really wish we could get more arrangements like these, and I encourage you to give us more.

YES

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Just a great live jazz adaptation, straight up. Props on manifesting this in such a strong way, Jorik, taking the performance beyond what you'd originally envisioned, thanks to the Conservatorium Maastricht Big Band. Love it!

YES

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