ReMix: Final Fantasy IV "Stepping Out" 5:40

By Midioker

Arranging the music of 2 songs...

"Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY IV", "The Prelude"

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

Posted 2016-03-02, evaluated by djpretzel


Midioker (Daniel Thomas) debuted back in June of 2013 with an excellent FF12 ReMix, so it's great to see him follow it up with this substantive, melodic, and engaging FF4 liquid drum'n'bass arrangement featuring varied instrumentation & a polished production aesthetic:

"It's been 2 years since my previous submission, and I'd to start by expressing my appreciation and gratitude to the people who enjoyed my piece in 2013. So, thank you! My submission today is inspired largely by my appreciation of liquid drum & bass producers like Brookes Brothers, Keeno, Metrik, and Matrix & Futurebound. I was listening to this music for some time earlier this year, and then, one day in the shower, the idea of a D&B remix of the overworld theme from Final Fantasy IV came to mind, and to submit to OC ReMix again.

There's so much I could say about the production techniques I used to make this piece, but I think it might be interesting - and perhaps beneficial to the community of creators - to touch on a couple of the new (to me) techniques I discovered while making this track.

First, of the 40+ individual part tracks used, every single one was run through its own multi-band compressor. Let me back up for a moment: on every element except the kick and the bass, I like to cut off the frequencies below 150-200Hz. I'm talking a hard, brick wall cutoff. This technique lets the kick and bass play alone in the low end of the spectrum, and, in my opinion, makes for a cleaner, clearer canvas for those two elements. Now, every track also gets some compression, but something new I tried this time was using a multi-band compressor to give even more compression to the upper spectrum of tracks such as the keys, synths, piano, and guitar. So, for example, I might split the piano around 4kHz (as well at 150Hz, below which is completely cut off), and while all frequencies above 150Hz are compressed, frequencies greater than 4kHz are compressed at a higher rate. The reason for doing this is because, in this style of music production, I'm looking to maximize perceived loudness without loss of clarity. It's not enough for an element to just be loud - it needs to retain its clarity too. I found this technique helped contribute to that end.

Another new technique I discovered was the use of a second compressor on each individual track. I recently watched an interview with a German techno producer named Robert Babicz, in which he talks about using multiple hardware compressors on each track. He explains that each compressor has its own character, and because he's familiar with the idiosyncrasies of his compressors, he can use them together to extract even greater presence from his tracks. I wasn't sure how this would translate to the purely digital realm (in which I work), and even how it might sound with multiple instances of the same compressor. But in practice, with some experimentation, this technique actually served to elevate elements in the mix even greater than before.

Like most any growing producer, I feel my work is still not 100% where I'd like it to be. That said, in the game of inches that is creative growth, these techniques are a couple more notches on the measuring stick."

I must say, that's probably the most production-centric submission email I think we've ever gotten; not much about instrumentation or arrangement, sure, but it's fascinating to see how much of an emphasis some artists put on the mixing & mastering aspects of their process. For me, personally, it's always been secondary (or even tertiary, and I'm sure it shows) to the notes, instruments, and overall structure of the piece, but Daniel clearly spent a lot of time on EQ & compression here, and the resulting mix benefits from that with a certain clarity & space that are presumably the result. Everything else is good, too - as with "XPRTNovice", the pseudonym's self-deprecation is misleading - and for a d'n'b joint this has a lot of other stuff going on, and uses its 5'39" runtime efficiently & effectively. Larry Oji writes:

"There was quite the extended buildup, but once the "Main Theme" kicked in at 1:26, it's there practically the entire time. This is a relatively straightforward piece as far as the melodic treatment and adaptation to DnB, but the mixing is solid and gives off a lot of power, and there's lush padding to fill out the soundscape. Dan did a nice job adding and removing elements to allow the arrangement to evolve and develop (e.g. 1:04, 2:09, 3:11, 3:50, 4:10, 4:53) so the near-6 minutes didn't overstay its welcome. Nice work as well with a natural close-out with the Prelude at 4:53! I'm very glad Midioker now isn't a one-hit wonder here. Keep 'em coming, Dan!"

Ditto all that; this is enveloping stuff that breaks the genre mold a bit and goes interesting places, and it was intriguing to get a glimpse into some of the extensive production work that went into it. Enjoy!

djpretzel

Discussion

Latest 4 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
avatar
DimeTower
on 2016-03-09 23:16:44

An interesting effort here, where I feel the melody is secondary to the delivery. I'll echo a few other posters here by saying that I'm impressed with how the track really picks up once the melody comes in after the first minute, but the soul of this remix is in the delivery of the notes and themes. I found myself interested and could tell a lot of effort was put into the specific type of sound that was being created here. Well done!

avatar
Venom Fighter X
on 2016-03-06 16:48:40

Very tight mix, I enjoyed reading the about your explorations in production in the description.

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Polo
on 2016-03-06 02:00:05

When I close my eyes and listen to the beginning, I feel like I'm zooming through cloudy, windy skies, passing all kinds of scenery below. To that I say: smart choice of expansive, airy synths to start.

Once things get going, we're treated to two things: 1) percussive patterns dutifully filling out nuances in the rapid beat and 2) gliding leads playing at a fraction of the former's speed (the one at 1:26 = gorgeous). It's like the mix is playing two songs at once and giving me a choice to dance to either one (or both).

3:09-3:10 - Ha ha, I love how things pick up again after the fake ending - it's like when you wake up and crash-scramble out of bed when you're late for school or work or something.

I notice there's a tendency to rearrange tails of melodic passages, like at the following parts (all of which I appreciate):
- 1:43-1:44 (reversing the notes just played like it's returning to a musical tonic)
- 2:03 and 4:25 (a lower note than normal feels melancholic/at peace)
- 2:31 (adds to the reflective tone at play)
- 3:46-3:48 (ooh, it's got a smidge of attitude going there)

My only gripe is the very beginning sounds slightly cut off. But it's quickly forgotten as I'm swept away.

avatar
Liontamer
on 2016-03-02 11:45:23

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

Sources Arranged (2 Songs)


Primary Game:
Final Fantasy IV (Square, 1991, SNES)
Music by Nobuo Uematsu
Songs:
"Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY IV"
"The Prelude"

Tags (5)


Genre:
Drum and bass
Mood:
Energetic
Instrumentation:
Electronic, Synth
Additional:
Time > Tempo: Fast

File Information


Name:
Final_Fantasy_4_Stepping_Out_OC_ReMix.mp3
Size:
8,247,005 bytes
MD5:
c90f8d0e70bb5de54e07307614ed07ba
Bitrate:
192Kbps
Duration:
5:40

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