ReMix: Final Fantasy VII "G-R-O-O-V-E of a God"
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Tetrimino debuted on OCR last December with a fantastic Kingdom Hearts ReMix that really showed off the power of a bunch of talented musicians collaborating together - great arrangement, great performances... just generally great. Now they're back with their own spin on a couple classic themes from FF7, and you're going to want to grab this mix & devour it (with your ears) as soon as humanly possible:
"Hello! This is our second submission to OC ReMix. Our lineup consists of Michaela Nachtigall on the violin, Kristopher Salada on the piano, Matt Mukerjee on the bass, and Mitchell Cairns on the drums (all instruments are live). The four of us have all met online via YouTube, and we decided to form an online video game band called Tetrimino! Here is our jazz fusion/prog arrangement of two important battles themes from Final Fantasy VII, "J-E-N-O-V-A" and "Birth of a God!" Here is a video of our performance: http://youtu.be/gA0i7Er5KqA
Arranging these tracks proved difficult, given our instrumental lineup. Other remixes typically use an electric guitar accompaniment to provide a driving sense of rhythm. Without a guitarist in our band, we had to shuffle things in order to distill the original complex arrangement down to our four instruments. Although it's more straightforward as to how to place the drums and violin within the context of the original arrangement, the real challenge was what to do with piano and bass. We decided to have piano left hand drive the rhythm of the arrangement, with the right hand providing harmonic context and jazz-style fills. This allowed the bass to be free to provide counterpoint to the main melody in the violin, in the tradition of classic progressive bands. Arranging this cover was a challenging task, and we weren't sure how this would turn out. But in the end, it turned out much better than we expected!
In the very beginning, the piano starts off with a descending arpeggio motif from "J-E-N-O-V-A." After the first 4 bars of the arpeggio, the bass mimics the arpeggio in unison with the piano for another set of 4 bars. The following section (0:11) is reminiscent of the Black Mages' version of "J-E-N-O-V-A" with the piano mimicking the guitar lead, while the bass plays the trumpet stabs from the original.
When the melody comes in on the violin (0:24), listen to the counterpoint in the bassline. While the piano and drums play a supportive role rhythmically, a call-and-response can be heard between the violin and bass; the bass fills in the space between phrases of the violin melody. This is something that we find unique about our arrangement.
Following "J-E-N-O-V-A," we transition into "Birth of a God" (1:25). After its groovy introduction, bass takes a lead through the next section supported by piano and drums (1:52). Once violin comes in (2:14), things really groove! Bass again provides counterpoint to the melody played by the violin by filling in the gaps between phrases. In this section, the piano emerges from its supportive role and begins to switch back and forth between playing the melody and rhythm. Ultimately, the piano, violin, and bass come together to play the simple melody in unison throughout the end of the section (2:48), allowing the drums to shine through.
As we transition back into "J-E-N-O-V-A" (3:31), the violin plays a classically-inspired solo, filled with many double-stops (and a triple-stop!!; no, they are not recorded separately!). The piano takes a different approach by supporting through comping chords, whereas the bass plays off of the original bassline in "J-E-N-O-V-A."
We wanted to create a climactic sort of ending (4:15). After the ascending chord changes in "J-E-N-O-V-A's" chorus, we hold on its final chord, the piano and violin end on a syncopated offbeat, and the bass and drums mimic the same effect afterwards.
0:00 - "J-E-N-O-V-A"
1:25 - "Birth of a God"
3:31 - "J-E-N-O-V-A" (repeated with variation)
We hope you enjoy!
Now THAT was a written breakdown of a mix! Many, many thanks for so detailed & insightful an explanation of the thought process behind the arrangement - very valuable for arrangers & listeners alike to get a sense of what goes where, and some of the challenges involved in arranging for a specific & restricted set of instruments. There are still tons of possibilities, mind you, but it's all about making the decisions that work best & truly capitalizing on the myriad talents of the band's members. At this, they are truly exceptional, and once again we see a bass part that shines through and plays an absolutely critical melodic/harmonic role. Gotta love it; Chimpazilla certainly did:
"WOW these guys are good. Watch their video! They are very tight considering they are not playing together. The piano in the intro sounded a bit stiff and mechanical, maybe it isn't the most velocity-sensitive sample? Regardless, these four people are skilled. Super arrangement, super performances! Love it."
Everything that was great about their first mix certainly carries through to this piece as well, and I think in this case the source was a little more challenging to arrange for their particular instrumentation, resulting in some very creative solutions implemented via arrangement. Clever, well-crafted, and performed with intensity & conviction, this is yet another ReMix from Tetrimino that we think you'll love!
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