ReMix: Final Fantasy IV "Edward's Dream Quartet"
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- Game: Final Fantasy IV (Square, 1991, SNES)
- ReMixer(s): Abadoss, James George
- Composer(s): Nobuo Uematsu
- Song(s): "Edward's Harp"
- Posted: 2010-10-23, evaluated by djpretzel
- Album: Featured on Final Fantasy IV: Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption
- Terms (BETA): classical collab duration-long live-recording strings
This exquisite string arrangement from Abadoss, with assistance from James George on violin and viola, was a highlight on Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption, and represents 7+ minutes of pure, unadulterated string quartet action. The source material really leant itself well to this sort of complex, multi-voice architecture, and the result is a piece of music that retains the core melody while reenvisioning it as an exchange between four discrete instruments as opposed to a single SNES-driven harpish lute. Kenneth provided quite a bit of background, but it's interesting to hear how tracks like these come about:
"When OA invited me onto the FFIV project, I was unfamiliar with most of the music. I hadn't yet played through the game - although my brother had - and I only knew of songs that were common to the series, like the Chocobo theme or the Crystal/intro theme. Despite not knowing the music, I was honored to be invited and spent a few days or so listening to the soundtrack in search of something I could work with. Song of Lute was a deceivingly simply piece with a single melodic line that went on for quite a while. I though it would be simple enough to get what I needed from it and not get bogged down with the extra details that normally go with any track. Little did I know that I would taking up one of the most challenging pieces I had ever tried to arrange.
As an exercise, I attempted to write something Chopin-esque using the melody as the right hand of the piano. It worked beautifully for the first few measures, but then quickly became distorted and very ugly. I threw it away, hoping that the world had escaped mostly untainted from that hideous creation. The main problem at this point was that I hadn't yet figured out the structure of the piece and hadn't heard it in my mind, since the midi harp doesn't really convey everything all that well. So, all I was working with was the notes, one after another. I started playing around with the rhythm and turned it into a string quartet. After grueling over how each note was going to be represented and being tortured by the answers, I managed to hammer out the first movement. I thought I was done, but Fate had some other intentions for me.
After finishing the first movement, I took the midi of Song of Lute and ran it through Garritan's harp patch. I was surprised to hear that the piece actually made sense, in a chordal context, after listening to it with the patch. I wrote down the chord structure and started working on the second movement, which I put in a waltz style for Dhsu's sake. The third movement came very quickly afterward. The fourth movement was a way of wrapping up the piece in something quirky that took as many - if not more than - liberties as the first movement, but with a lighter more fanciful approach. The pizzicato was probably the most difficult part for the players, if for nothing more than just the timing. I probably could have been nicer about those parts.
Overall, the piece took me from April 21, 2008 to July 1, 2008 to write. For someone who is used to writing full composition in a matter of days, if not in the same day, this was an eternity to work on a single piece. I imagine it would have gone quicker had I discovered the tonal center earlier, but hindsight yada yada... My experience in this project has been wonderful. I really appreciate the camaraderie that this project enabled and the opportunity to work with some really stellar musicians and arrangers. It's been a blast, for sure.
I want to make sure to take the time to thank a few people. Thanks to James George for stepping in to put everything through Vienna Instruments and then recording the violins as well. Thanks to audio fidelity for practically producing the whole thing. I want to thank yodaisbetter/nonsensicalexis for recording the viola, even though it didn't work out that we could use it in the final cut. I also want to thank Jeff Ball for putting up with me trying to recruit him to play violins before James stepped in. And my apologies to AeroZ for pressing too hard about recording the cello."
"I admit recording for this track was quite a challenge, not being as in shape as I used to be. I overdubbed both the 1st and 2nd violin performances on top of pre-rendered artificial sequences which would later be removed. This allowed a more realistic temporary track to be created that could be passed onto the violist for further overdubs. Unfortunately, the violist's recordings were never completed and a live cellist couldn't be found, so the cello part was created artificially by taking Abadoss' midi programming and applying the Vienna Instruments' solo cello and solo viola and appropriately tweaked the performance filter to match the established playing styles. All takes and recordings were mixed and mastered by Audio Fidelity."
Exhaustive, but informative. I especially liked the switch to pizzicato for the last bit - reminded me of the string duet between captain & doctor at the end of Master & Commander. Kenneth has some serious arranging chops and a keen love of theory, and it's great to see his notes paired up with performances & samples from Mr. George that let them breath.
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