ReMix: World of Warcraft 'Les Gnomes Exotiques'
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- Game: World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment, 2004, WIN)
- ReMixer(s): Uboichi
- Composer(s): David Arkenstone, Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford, Jason Hayes, Tracy W. Bush
- Song(s): Gnomeregan 1, Gnomeregan 2, Tinker Town Intro
- Posted: 2010-06-24, evaluated by the judges
- Terms (BETA): orchestral piano quirky woodwinds
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."
"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!
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