ReMix: Final Fantasy IV "Edward's Dream Quartet" 7:03

By Abadoss, James George

Artist Links
classical collab duration-long live-recording strings
Arranging the music of one song...

"Edward's Harp"

Primary Game: Final Fantasy IV (Square, 1991, SNES), music by Nobuo Uematsu

Posted 2010-10-23, evaluated by djpretzel


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."

James adds:

"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.

djpretzel

Discussion

Latest 14 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
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Marmiduke
on 2013-02-15 20:03:46

Yowza... this is some seriously strong classical composing on OCR! Final Fantasy music has always been overtly classical, but this takes it to a whole new level. I'm usually torn between whether I enjoy the traditional string quartet sound, but this... this won me over. Dense with detail and nuance, it deserves and demands several listens to soak it all up.

I enjoyed each movement in different ways, but would have to admit that it is NOT ideal for anything but active listening. If you are going to listen to this one, stop what you are doing and LISTEN. It'll help you enjoy it all the more.

MORE ARRANGEMENTS AND PERFORMANCES OF THIS CALIBRE PLEASE! So ridiculously competent.

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Rexy
on 2011-12-30 14:30:24

Yeah, it's funny; I was in a discussion about community violin players with OA the other day and he brought up James George. So I guess I could listen here and see what he did. :razz:

You picked a tricky source to work with; seemed to be really devoid of substance outside of that repetitive harp, but to see it being arranged with the chords of the harp's patterns in mind takes it in a classier approach, and with James's performance matching really well on the violin leads, we have something that feels quite expressive.

Of all the four different variations here, I felt happiest with the second movement; naturally I may be a sucker for more jollier performances, but that actually manages to capture the source and presented it in a very logical context given the pacing of it, not to mention I felt the violin parts were the most expressed/tightest played there for me in the mix. The fourth movement with the pizzicato playing, while not quite as tight, did make me smile with the surprised direction taken with the sounds here and was a very ridiculous yet amusing way to end what appears to be this more classically-minded take on the source.

I'm not saying the other two movements stuck out as much, just didn't find them quite as memorable as the others; but it may not be a bad thing considering this might be mood music in more ways than one.

Either way, a very fun way to tackle what appears to be a very restricted (harmony-wise) source. It may end up taking some people some time to digest it, but when putting in the track's context into play with the rest of the album you can see how much of a surprise element it could be in regards to arrangement. Hopefully you two will put out similarly strong works for 2012 :wink:

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Emunator
on 2010-12-17 23:52:37

Pretty downright impressive just for the sheer effort that went into extrapolating this small source into something so grand and complete. Abadoss left no doors unopened with the orchestration, and James George too deserves high commendations for taking the time to actually perform all of this. Incredible :-D

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Crulex
on 2010-12-07 13:41:24

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. This is a really elegant and beautiful piece that brings us some much needed classical sounding tunes. I'm not much of a "classical music" type of guy, but it really helps to have a break from your musical norms and this is a very nice cut from my usual rock and electronica. Glad to see such a great 7 plus minute ReMix represent the album and game it came from. Cheers.

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Otakatt
on 2010-12-05 02:52:49

I really enjoy this, whether or not that's because I've always been in love with the source *and* string instruments... I can't say. It's just great to hear Edward's theme expanded on and fluffed out. I wouldn't have minded hearing some more up tempo things in this piece, but as is I still find it enjoyable. It's great background music without being overbearing.

Around the 5:40 mark there's something that sounds like.. plucked strings? I'm not sure because I'm kinda slow about music, but yeah, I like that part. :D

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Gammalyse
on 2010-11-15 16:27:36
I feel refined and smart just listening to it

In fact I love to play it while doing my homework. Boosting my concentration is a great side effect in my opinion. :smile:

Good job !

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Level 99
on 2010-11-15 15:07:42

Here's my breakdown of this song:

*ridiculously complex string arrangement that makes me wish I knew more theory so I could appreciate it more*

*pageflip*

*ridiculously complex string arrangement that makes me wish I knew more theory so I could appreciate it more*

*pageflip*

*ridiculously complex string arrangement that makes me wish I knew more theory so I could appreciate it more*

*pageflip*

.... you see where I'm going with this, right?

Yes, this is another piece that is hard for the average OCR-goer to properly digest, but that is the nature of what you created, is it not? It is genuinely authentic in what it set out to be, and that kind of dedication is very respectable for this mix. It may not be my cup of tea, but I can tell the kind of work that went into it.

A slow-moving piece that doesn't steal the spotlight, the only criticism I can offer besides any coming from personal preference of musical style would be to indeed variate the speed throughout the mix, just to kind of keep a little bit more attention.

Great, deep work.

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OA
on 2010-11-10 17:06:23

This is ridiculously classy and well performed. I feel refined and smart just listening to it, and Ken and James did a fantastic job on it. Super props, guys, I always love your work. :-)

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Ronyn
on 2010-11-05 09:01:32

I've played a ton of string quartets in my high school and college career and the one thing I can say about string quartets - they're all kinda boring. Appreciating them takes a lot of active rather than passive listening skills. String quartets were designed for polite dancing and mingling, not grabbing your ears by the balls in the middle of a crowded restaurant (yes, there are many avant-garde Julliard quartets out there, but rest assured, one of those this is not).

Another consideration to take into account is the source material. The second mvmt is just the original source melody but thoroughly fleshed out; it's not really Abadoss's fault that that section is boring, what he did with it quartet-wise in fact is brilliant, beautiful and definitely the pride of this piece. Perhaps a fair criticism might be that the 2nd mvmt should have been the first so that the listener could identify with the theme right off the bat, and have a little more context to appreciate the material that followed. Abadoss could have created all kinds of tempos, sure, but I think he made the tasteful choice given the constraints: it had to stay true to the source, and it could not be too original.

And thank God he didn't make it harder to play than it already was. I haven't played hardcore violin in two years ;) Sorry for the flubs man.

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Master_Yoshi
on 2010-11-04 17:01:34
really wished as you went through movement you had contrasting tempos, like a real string quartet piece might have D:

QFT. You know, this is probably really good and awesome and musically it's quite complex, and for the first minute or so I hear that. I really do. It's well written and a smart arrangement that fits really well into the chosen style and at times it is quite clever.

But you know what else it is? Boring. Seven minutes of this going on at the same pace and tempo, it pretty much puts me to sleep after this first minute or so. There's hardly any variation, and the stops and starts between movements only seems to exacerbate things. The only time I could think of myself enjoying this would be if it was playing in the background at a really fancy restaurant, and every once in a while I could tune in to what is otherwise background noise and say "Hey isn't that from FF4? Oh well, back to my incredibly hot date, who is totally interested in me and doesn't think I'm a total douchebag."

Sorry, but this just doesn't cut it for me. Production wise it's fine but the arrangement is just so boring to listen to.

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delbuster
on 2010-10-27 23:09:40

really wished as you went through movement you had contrasting tempos, like a real string quartet piece might have D:

very interesting stuff nonetheless

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luhny
on 2010-10-25 10:41:50

To me this is a pretty complex tune and I honestly had some troubles at first. But listening over and over again I started to hear out alot of tiny bits here and there that I have missed.

I can only recommend everyone to give this more than just a quick listen. Take your time, at best try to be relaxed and then I think a wonderful world of music will open for you - at least that's how I experienced it.

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docnano
on 2010-10-24 13:14:32

This feels like the VGM equivalent of Finnegans Wake. I could spend weeks or months trying to understand it. Not light listening, but I can appreciate the effort and arranging prowess that went into it. Great job, though it makes my head hurt. :smile:

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djpretzel
on 2010-10-23 20:36:38

What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)


Primary Game:
Final Fantasy IV (Square, 1991, SNES)
Music by Nobuo Uematsu
Songs:
"Edward's Harp"

Tags (5)


Genre:
Classical
Mood:
Instrumentation:
Strings
Additional:
Origin > Collaboration
Production > Live Recording
Time > Duration: Long

File Information


Name:
Final_Fantasy_4_Edward's_Dream_Quartet_OC_ReMix.mp3
Size:
11,180,635 bytes
MD5:
b14f0c50613876f15cdd90dd4591168f
Bitrate:
209Kbps
Duration:
7:03
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Published 2009-07-19
By OverClocked ReMix
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