ReMix: World of Warcraft 'Les Gnomes Exotiques'

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World of Warcraft

Uub hit us up with two solo piano mixes in the past, Killer Instinct and Kingdom Hearts II, and now expands his horizons with a mixed instrumentation (still a strong ivory presence) arrangement of fairly peculiar source material from WoW. WoWheads looking for grandiose epic battle music ala Lord of the Rings should look elsewhere, as this is far more of an abstract, unique bit of something we'll just call "contemporary," for lack of a better term. Well worth reading, the artist's submission email explains the context:

"Well, this sure was a weird project of mine. For quite some time I've been wanting to do a remix in 20th century classical music style. But most modern composers write atonal music and most game music composers don't. Also I've been wanting for about as long to do a remix of the Gnomeregan theme from World of Warcraft, but I didn't have a clue what to do with it. Then one evening while hearing the Tinker Town theme I thought I could use the ostinato chords from that work to build a base for the Gnomeregan melodies. At first I wanted to make a full orchestral work, but decided that the sound I wanted was that of a small ensemble instead of a full orchestra. So after deciding to use a woodwind choir, some percussion instruments and a piano, I set my goal to creating the weirdest classical style arrangement in the history of OCR.

Heavily inspired by Messiaen, and to a lesser extent by Schoenberg, I started writing. But after listening several different cadenza's for Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 by Liszt I wanted a cadenza for my work too! So I finished the arrangement, but left a space open for a cadenza. A couple of weeks after finish, I started writing on the cadenza. I had never written a cadenza or something similar to it before, so I didn't have a clue how long it would take me to write. To my surprise I was done in only 2 days! I don't expect a lot of people to actually like this arrangement. Modern classical music is not for everyone. It can be beautiful if you are able to listen it, but most people just aren't used to it. But this is simply my ode to both modern classical music and game-music."

The most similar existing piece we have is probably Israfel's classic meditation on the Pac-Man theme, which we still cite as a great example of stretching a short source to its limits. As a semi-amusing anecdote, my older sister played me some Schoenberg around fifteen years ago, when she was studying contemporary composers in college; I think my response was something like "Oh... that's interesting, but... do you wanna go listen to some music or something?" I'd like to say that as I've aged, my tastes have matured, and actually I think they have, but I'm still a sucker for a strong, memorable melody I can "hum in the shower", etc., and that's usually not what this genre emphasizes. That being said, I find that contemporary classical is pretty hit-or-miss for me. Not just from piece to piece, but even within a piece, there'll be moments of extended dissonance where I'm quite certain some ornate music theory is at play, but I just don't enjoy it enough to care, and other moments when I hear something unique, fresh, original, and ALSO instantly likable. It's a Your-Mileage-May-Vary thing, to be sure, but hopefully even those who can't get into it can appreciate the craftsmanship.

Mr. Butterfield was the biggest fan on the panel - he writes:

"You have no idea how long I've been waiting for this. Nice nod to Messiaen in the mix title, by the way.

The arrangement is intelligent; the motives from the sources are still very recognizable despite the modifications and all the original material dancing among them. I especially like the section after the cadenza, starting as a canon in the woodwinds before being built up with other material. I'd love to have heard this performed by a real ensemble, but no major gripes with the sequencing. A job well done, sir."

AnSo adds:

"As a Musicology student I want to make love to this arrangement. The only thing I think is holding it back is that even people like Messiaen (and ESPECIALLY Schoenberg) had more dynamic variation in playing and the shape of the arrangement. That's extremely minor though and as a standalone arrangement (if you hadn't referenced previously mentioned composers) it's certainly a fantastic piece.

The style is unique and the sources are well adapted to the new modernist setting, that's no small feat. Definitely one of a kind and a great addition to OCR."

It WOULD be nice to hear this performed live; I do find that the dissonances and abruptness and mind-boggling intricacies of modern/contemporary compositions are made more palatable through the humanity of performance. Nevertheless, after listening to the source songs and seeing what Uub's done with it, I'm digging the scope & depth of his vision. Definitely a unique piece, and definitely not for everyone, but also definitely bringing something new & important to OCR!

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Crulex
on 2012-08-31 11:13:10

Piano heavy classical sounding music hasn't always been my cup of tea, but when you have something as active and zany as this, it makes it better. The playing sounds great and the arrangement has that nice quirk to it that holds enough of my attention to get me to like it. This ReMixer rocks on the piano, that for sure. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate this mix, but I'm the kind of guy who would be better off to listen to this while I do something, while this was in the background. Very nice all the same.

Uboichi2
on 2010-08-21 14:56:02

That was interesting nonetheless. I suppose the only people that could "get" this are "music snobs." People that train in contemporary music, learn musical theory, and probably also wear berets and have tiny mustaches. And mime shirts. And circular black sunglasses. And are surrounded by a plume of cigarette smoke which they have in a long, ivory holder thing (don't smoke, what's it called?)

I actually had to laugh at this. If only I could grow a mustache. Maybe in a couple of years.

Snuk the Great
on 2010-07-18 19:05:31

Wow. Just wow. When I started listening to this remix I thought it was going to drive me mad. But somehow it always keeps somewhat interesting so you don't actually go mad.

As I am listening to it again at the time of writing this I have to say it does go down more smoothly the second time. I think I actually like this :S. Great remix :D.

Master_Yoshi
on 2010-07-13 14:42:30

Per my earlier comment.

When I said "music snob" it was past 2 AM and I was starved for words to describe what I meant. The mustache and mime shirt thing was meant to mean that I didn't actually think those people were snobbish, just more... art house? I'm very much that way about cinema, so hey!

The correct term should be "Music geeks."

Gario: Hmm, I suppose I could try to broaden my musical horizons, couldn't hurt eh?

EC2151
on 2010-07-13 12:34:36

I think one has to leave their 'comfort' zone sometimes, myself. I had to when first confronting Schoenberg, and I'm glad I did. Though I know not everyone can, and that really is ok.

The early 'modern' music (from the late 1800s-early 1900s) really challenged listeners with things that didn't sound right. The point was to show that there was a range of human emotion and experience that was OUTSIDE the V-I chord progression, and I find atonal modern music, while certainly not pleasant to listen to, at least in some ways true to the full experience of life, in a way that the flowery (but to me often empty) Baroque and sometimes melodramatic Romantic music just simply cannot. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be enjoyed; far from it (I love Bach and Brahms just as much as I do folks like Schoenberg and Messiaen).

But hearing the same type of melodies and resolutions over and over and over again gets stale and boring, and that's precisely what all these Second Viennese and Cageans felt (to put it in the words of an above post, "stretch the limits."

I think to say that the only people that should enjoy an extended range of expression are snobs is well, close-minded, but I'm not attacking you, d00d. You may make a point of contention with 'inaccessible', because while many people won't get into it melodically, there is more than one way to enjoy a song. Like rhythmically, or harmonically. And I certainly don't think it 'snobbish' to enjoy something more than the base reaction it inspires in me.

Am I snob to appreciate the brush strokes instead of the painting as a whole? Or a snob to enjoy the cinematography of a film as much as the story it's trying to tell? If you said no to those questions, if you said "no, that's perfectly acceptable," then you'd be a big hypocrite because why should music not gain the same type of treatment as any other of the arts? Because you listen to more music than you look at paintings, so music should be protected from evil "art snobs"? I feel that that is ultimately where the path of that logic lies, to one of extreme exclusion. Ironically, it was precisely that atmosphere of exclusion in Europe (you MUST make music like this, and nothing else! All Hail Beethoven!) that caused these guys to go against the mold in the first place. It really seems to me that no matter how revolutionary a musician is (like Beethoven), once he is accepted as the norm, groupies and disciples will fight to the death to make sure that no music is made that is different than his.

As a historical aside, after Schoenberg became "in" (which is precisely what he DIDN'T want... he knew it would ruin his work), the exact same thing happened with el primo douchebags like Rene Liebowitz, Theodore Adorno, and Pierre Boulez saying "anyone who doesn't make screechy unlistenable music is DEAD to music!" Which prompted an outcry from American classical composers like La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Phillip Glass to collectively say "fuck you" to Europe. Thus the beautiful Minimalist music was born, with its own expressions and emotions associated with it.

All I say is that if you limit your means of expression, you really limit your humanity. A lot of game music sounds the same (as well as pop, like that humorous four-chord topic a while ago), and while that doesn't mean they're not enjoyable (heck, I love me a good megaman OST), should people never try to find different emotions to express?

Are we confined to "Angry"? "Determined"? "Sad"? Can there be nothing more than "Theme of Love"? What if the game makes you feel none of those things?

Hell, Gary Schymann (sp) in Bioshock was able to conjure up a plethora of emotions with a very "modern" soundtrack, and people really hold his work in that game up to a good standard.

Gario
on 2010-07-12 21:27:29
That was interesting nonetheless. I suppose the only people that could "get" this are "music snobs." People that train in contemporary music, learn musical theory, and probably also wear berets and have tiny mustaches. And mime shirts. And circular black sunglasses. And are surrounded by a plume of cigarette smoke which they have in a long, ivory holder thing (don't smoke, what's it called?)

The 'stache was called a 'Pedo stache', when I went to college, the mime shirts were awesome, don't dis the glasses and the 'ivory holder' is called a 'bong' (and that isn't cigarette smoke coming from it).

I think I explained it in the WIP threads, but let me explain again. It doesn't take a musical snob to listen to music like this (nor do all musical snobs enjoy music like this). All it takes is a little getting used to. Give it about a day or so listening to music like this (Schoenberg, Messian, Webern, etc.) and you'll start catching the interesting patterns, the expression, the real soul of the music. The human ear can catch a lot of things, whether you know it or not - it's just a matter of getting used to the new territory.

I hate the phrase 'get the music'. It makes it sound like no one except the musical elite can 'understand' the music. It just takes a little getting used to, like anything else.

DrumUltimA
on 2010-07-12 19:44:37
That was interesting nonetheless. I suppose the only people that could "get" this are "music snobs." People that train in contemporary music, learn musical theory, and probably also wear berets and have tiny mustaches. And mime shirts. And circular black sunglasses. And are surrounded by a plume of cigarette smoke which they have in a long, ivory holder thing (don't smoke, what's it called?)

Thanks, bro.

Master_Yoshi
on 2010-07-12 19:35:31

Well. Yeah. Huh.

That was interesting nonetheless. I suppose the only people that could "get" this are "music snobs." People that train in contemporary music, learn musical theory, and probably also wear berets and have tiny mustaches. And mime shirts. And circular black sunglasses. And are surrounded by a plume of cigarette smoke which they have in a long, ivory holder thing (don't smoke, what's it called?)

Obviously, I have nothing useful to say to this. I didn't really enjoy, appreciate, or even like it. Mostly because I don't "get" it. I am not plugged into the musical scene to study something like this, understand it, and so forth.

But I can appreciate that it was created, and posted. OCR is all about the furthering of appreciation and interpretation of music in video games, and that should include stuff that most people won't get. Intricate, unaccessible, and otherwise confusing music SHOULD be posted here because it furthers the cause, amirite? So yeah, even though I am lost without a melodic hook I can still appreciate the SIGNIFICANCE of the track.

Cheers!

Martin Penwald
on 2010-07-12 06:52:44

When I read "contemporary" in djp's write-up, I immediately imagined something along the lines of "concerto for piano, three toasters and a trashcan", but fortunately, this is nothing like what my brain came up with.

It's certainly not the kind of music you'd listen to when you're trying to relax. Instead, it's a very interesting piece that rewards you every few seconds if you pay attention to. There's just so much going on, it's mind-blowing.

Diggin' the outro, btw.

Less Ashamed Of Self
on 2010-07-11 01:21:26

Yes YES! Stretch the limits!

Cheersm8
on 2010-07-09 15:37:39

I hate the gnomes theme:x BUT, this sounds quite good even though I want to hear some operation gnomeregan music instead. But meh, this is still really really good despite my hate for the used themes:tomatoface:

Level 99
on 2010-07-09 15:33:18

This is definitely an interesting song. First and foremost, I can 100% respect anyone who writes something like this which is out of the box of what I would consider my usual orchestral fare in music, as it's not relying on constructs that are used to create popular orchestral music today. In fact, this is unbelievably expressive in it's limited use of instruments. At first I was reminded a little bit of something like Peter and the Wolf or Carnival of the Animals, but after listening for a while, my brain literally started to pain a picture of mischevious goblins doing nasty things in some kind of factory. So this could be considered the kin of silent cartoon music, where action is dictated by the sound, regardless of whether or not the sound is considered overly musical.

Complicated and confusing, but definitely a good song. Wouldn't listen to it every day but it's definitely an experience listening to it at least once. Considering my limited knowledge of how this was written and exactly what, if any, musical guidelines it was trying to be within, consider this my sign of a thumbs up of appreciation.

EC2151
on 2010-06-28 18:15:19

Musically speaking, I think this is one of the best pieces I've heard on OCremix in a very long while. I love pieces that challenge you to think, which I find to be a hallmark of Schoenbergian music.

I'm a huge fan of Messiaen, and Schoenberg is one of my favorite composers in general, so to see a work inspired by them is quite a treat indeed. Schoenberg (and his pupils Webern and Berg) to me has the most lyrical quality about his music... They are not pleasing lyrics, but some of them are unforgettable (like Pierot Lunaire and his Piano Concerto Op 42). I wish more people liked their stuff, but then again, too many people liking Schoenberg leads to folks like Theodore Adorno, Rene Liebowitz, and a whole bunch of those fellow commie dada fags. Musically speaking, I can tolerate a lot as long as it doesn't physically hurt my ears, so after listening to guys like Iannis Xenakis and Olga Neurith, stuff like this is candy.

But who doesn't like candy?

I also agree that the beginning, the stuff sounded kinda squidfonty (lol I use squidfont), but as an arrangement I find this to be pretty impeccable and immensely enjoyable.

Uboichi2
on 2010-06-28 16:31:08
The piano in the cadenza makes references to motifs, but feels like a decent amount of original material mixed in.

Actually, the piano cadenza has the least original motifs of the entire work. I just did weird stuff with it, like retrograding, changing rythms and combining different motifs into one.

Nobbynob Littlun
on 2010-06-25 19:59:16

I like it, and it fits the gnomes for sure... but this style of arrangement really exposes sample quality, which I think is what is grating on me at around 0:30 and hurts the song... I assume that's supposed to be a clarinet, but it doesn't really sound like one to someone who used to play one.