ReMix: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 "Above the Sky"

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Mr. Rock has been omnipresent in recent OCR history, with five mixes in 2009 and now five mixes to match in 2010, and it's been really cool watching the evolution of his sound & witnessing the accumulation of what's now a two-digit collection of some great VGM arrangements. This mix is something new, his first solo piano arrangement, and while it did take a resub based on panel feedback to get things right, I think the end result is both enjoyable and very different from his traditional 80's synth rock. He originally wrote:

"For what seems like years, this was a 30 second wip as I didn't know where to go with it at that point. However, I kept it on my computer, like all my unfinished wips just in case inspiration struck. In this case it did, and I ended up with a solo piano interpretation of one of my favorite themes from sonic 2. It's not perfect as it is sequenced (I don't have the equipment or the skills to do this live :P) but I hope you guys enjoy it all the same."

With a solo piano mix, and really a solo instrumental arrangement of any kind, it's all the more critical that velocity and timing be expressive and dynamic, and the first cut of this mix wasn't quite there yet, which the panel pointed out. Thankfully, with an assist, a revision was provided:

"Still sequenced :P Protodome deserves credit for helping me with velocity and slight timing changes for humanization. I then took the midi off him, messed with getting a good piano sound, messed with tempo changes to try and make it less mechanical and remastered the track. And there you have it."

Very clean, very clear, and occupying a space that sounds expansive and vast (like the sky, even), this rendering works for me; it's not virtuosic piano playing (sequencing), but it's interpretive and emotive, and it flows. For the record, I probably couldn't play something like this live, myself - there's quite a difference between playing solo parts (which I've done on all my mixes, personally) versus complete, two-handed pieces. It's also a whole separate set of challenges trying to add the requisite humanization & dynamics to emulate a performance "after the fact," as it were. This is a pretty solid attempt, in that regard - while there's still a synthetic quality to some of the tempo shifts, and the later bass notes seem too perfectly aligned, the mix avoids the uncanny valley for the most part and in any case is enjoyable and uplifting. Larry writes:

"Not gonna bother saying much, as this was definitely a significant improvement. There were parts that sounded a bit rigidly sequenced, but the overall flow was much smoother and more human. Nice assist from Blake to help Will get this where it needed to be. This is so much more in line with realizing the potential of this arrangement."

Precisely. Kudos to Will for NUMBER TEN (!) and for doing something different; here's to ten more!

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
lil-g-gamegenuis
on 2013-05-14 23:36:17

this makes me want to play the piano

Crulex
on 2012-05-02 15:31:06

WillRock rocks the solo-piano, and it's impressive. The quality sounds amazing and the whole ReMix is beautiful. I've noticed that Sonic songs seem to really lend themselves well to emotional solo-piano mixes and this is a great example. Great job.

WillRock
on 2010-12-14 12:14:02
Wait what, a piano only song by WillRock??

Oh yeah, i'm no one trick pony ya' know :P

Bahamut
on 2010-12-14 10:14:10

Wait what, a piano only song by WillRock??

On a more serious note, this is a nice quaint lighthearted piano song.

Martin Penwald
on 2010-11-25 15:46:21

Beautiful and warm piece with loads of variation.

Nice work, man. Digging it.

darthjc
on 2010-11-24 22:22:27

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the OCRemix community,

I have never posted before on this great site and have long enjoyed the marvelous work done by all the composers and arrangers featured here. You have contributed to the evolving canon of game music and I want to take this chance to offer my humble thanks to not only the composer of this wonderful piece, but all VGRemix composers.

"Above the Sky"

This is, I feel, a perfect piece of interpretive music arranging. Taken from the credits music from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, this remix has everything I hoped I would find when I first saw this site a few years ago. With intuitive harmonic freedom and flexibility combined with a respectful observance of the original theme, the balance between old and new is sublime. Thank you uploader, I aspire to compose music like this one day, and my inspiration level has officially leveled up!

Johnny

Capt. Stupidity
on 2010-11-14 10:20:47

Beautiful piece! The piano sample sounds really authentic. I think this is the first remix I have heard of Will's where he doesn't use any synths. Great work!

Level 99
on 2010-11-13 19:05:36

Just gorgeous. Really, that's what this is. Proto did a nice job of humanizing the MIDI, and while it doesn't sound 100% authentic, it does sound incredibly close. The piano's are also clear and emotive. Great take on the source, it's definitely moving.

WillRock
on 2010-11-12 12:23:15
You can play the piano too?! Sequenced or recorded, doesn't matter this is beautiful man loves =D.

I do actually play the piano, altho I don't have to means to record myself playing live. I also doubt I could play something like this, i'm a little rusty :P

Thanks for the reviews guys, its great reading them :D

BlackPanther
on 2010-11-12 11:49:01

You can play the piano too?! Sequenced or recorded, doesn't matter this is beautiful man loves =D.

Proven Paradox
on 2010-11-11 21:01:46

This is a pleasant little track, but I don't think I'll be putting it on my playlist for further listening. It had me going around 1:15 when it started building into something that I thought I would really enjoy, but then it just petered out at 1:45. Then suddenly at 2:00 it's going again. Then it's tired out at 2:30 again. In general this piece kind of jerks me around; the tempo switches are sudden and the transition seems clunky.

It's a good piece and well executed, but the composition could be better I think. Leading into the transitions a little more would be a major improvement, I think.

WesternZypher
on 2010-11-11 20:00:34

Great work, Mr. Rock! Look forward to hearing more.

Pyrohazard
on 2010-11-11 19:14:51

I LOVE IT! It was so amazing I ate it XD, and now I got butterflies in my stomach .

But I do believe there was another mix called "Above the Sky" by Sir Nuts (I would know, I have it). It was included in the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 album. I was just noticing that XD

Holy Land
on 2010-11-11 14:44:56

Man, this is so warm-sounding.

I think it's fantastic that you're aiming for different styles and moods with your pieces. Please, keep 'em coming.

halc
on 2010-11-11 12:00:39

oh man, it gives me the chills when the melody kicks in for the first time. this is a very emotional and nostalgic mix. great work, man. :D