ReMix: Final Fantasy IX "Four Score and Six-Eight"
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- Game: Final Fantasy IX (Square, 2000, PS1)
- ReMixer(s): djpretzel
- Composer(s): Nobuo Uematsu
- Song(s): "Tetra Master"
- Posted: 2015-09-09, evaluated by djpretzel
- Album: Featured on Final Fantasy IX: Worlds Apart
- Terms (BETA): acoustic-guitar electric-guitar electric-piano jazz jazzy mellow timesig-6-8 vibraphone
So honored to be on this album & in such great musical company! Since becoming a father, I've had less free time than before, and on top of that I've been taking a more active role in the development of album art & websites, while building a new studio in my basement, switching DAWs to Presonus Studio One, AND working on the next version of OCR. Add all that up, and it's not exactly a recipe for the type of musical exploration and trial & error that I've employed in the past. Nevertheless this arrangement was still subject to several false starts, in different genres, before reaching a finishable incarnation. Quoting myself, from the liner notes:
"I didn't seek this source out, it was suggested to me, and at the TIME I thought I could put something together rather quickly. Oops? I actually had several ideas that I ran into brick walls with - a Beatlesque vocal arrangement, a disco arrangement, something *vaguely* in the style of Steely Dan, and even an EDM approach... Years later, having been through MANY works-in-progress, I finally settled on a 6/8 conversion & jazz sextet preparation - brush kit, upright, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vibes, & Rhodes. That's it. I felt comfortable doing this largely due to the playability of the guitars (acoustic is Ilya Efimov, electric is Archtop by ISW), as there's some improvisational noodling involved. It's got a kind of old-timey jazz feel to it that I ended up liking; hope some others dig it, too. The source is playful but lacks a strong melody, so there's substantive original writing that darts about or layers on top; a liberal arrangement, but I think you still get the soul of the progression & some of the whimsicality of the original piece. Couldn't work that guiro in, though!"
I've got no hesitation in saying that arranging this source was a challenge for me - it's not the type of piece I usually work with, it doesn't play to my strengths, and I definitely struggled. I usually go for stuff with a really striking lead melody, and this theme is mostly about the progression, BUT it's playful, it's catchy, and I had some ideas for melodic snippets & leads that I could layer in to make something recognizable but new. Director Cain McCormack writes:
"If you’ve been around OCR for a very long time (certainly longer than I have) you might have caught the release of Dave’s last FFIX arrangement in 2002, and there hasn’t been a great deal of FFIX mixes since then (13 I think). Luckily we’ve remedied this today by tripling the game’s total number of arrangements on the site, yay.
His latest track will be eminently familiar to card addicts, featuring a slightly jazz’d up interpretation of the lounge-y and relaxing backdrop to the equally infuriating and addictive classic mini-game. Damn Oglops. As a guitarist I obviously have uh *cough* reservations about the sampling of such instruments, but the sequencing throughout is characteristically nuanced and effective."
I don't feel that arrangers should be held back by only working in genres they can pull off with absolute realism, and while jazz obviously benefits from live instruments more than almost any other genre, I actually dig some of what's possible with the better libraries out there, and don't mind a partially-sequenced sound - it's something I personally enjoy listening to. Hopefully that describes at least a few other folks out there; at least the solos were all improvised & played in live, eh? Given that this source is repeated often in the game, I hope I've put together something that casts it in a new light (and time signature) but retains the charm & cavalier attitude. Hope you dig it!
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