ReMix: Mario Paint "Pickin' Colors"
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"My 3 adult children all love VGM and introduced me to OCR. I like the fact that VGM is no genre/all genre (that's the way they put it). Your community is open to all types of music. All 3 of my children encouraged me to submit a song on OCR. I cruised the site and saw how the forums worked and how I could gain feedback from the larger community. Seems to me like this is a win-win situation in that it furthers the cause of VGM and I learn in the process.
So, where to start, I wondered (since I don't know much about gaming and the songs pertaining to same)? I asked my oldest son to think of a VG song that had a catchy tune (something he could easily hum). To that, he replied, the title theme to Mario Paint. I listened to it and immediately began envisioning the arrangement in my mind. Since I have a background in bluegrass, I quickly decided on using instruments from that genre.
My first step was to map out the chords. Once I had those figured out, I laid out the background/rhythm tracks via Band-in-a-Box. The background tracks are the mandolin chops, fiddle chops/shuffles and rhythm guitar. All the rest of the tracks were products of my creativity and experience (including the arrangement itself) as follows:
- Melody - mandolin, banjo
- Harmony - mandolin, guitar
- Improvisation - guitar lead
I own and play all these instruments. Since I only (about 3 weeks ago) obtained the physical equipment to record live tracks, I was a bit shy about using them in the ReMix/arrangement. During the WIP and Mod Review phases, I couldn't decide which I liked better (the "MIDI-ized" version or live version of me playing the banjo). My OCR peers have advised me to go with the live recording (which I have done for the banjo melody track). The other melody/harmony tracks are me (only MIDI-ized and rendered via LMMS). Perhaps, as I improve my recording skills, I'll eventually be able to create all tracks as live (except for fiddle which I don't play)."
His initial submission was rejected because the sequenced bits didn't match the emotion & authenticity of the bits that were performed live, and this makes a pretty big difference in a genre like bluegrass, but thankfully Steve resubmitted an all-live version, with the following comments:
"...I took to heart all the feedback that was given me and have changed the submission accordingly. Here's what I did to improve the submission:
- Eliminated the "MIDI-ized" version of the mandolin (melody) and replaced it with a live recording of myself playing mandolin
- Eliminated the "MIDI-ized" version of the guitar (melody/harmony/improv) and replaced it with a live recording of myself playing guitar
- Added some reverb to the already live version of me playing banjo (just seemed like it needed it)
- Made the percussive touches of mandolin/fiddle chops slightly more dominant (especially in the second verse [banjo section])
My original reluctance to include live recordings was predominantly due to my fear of recording skills. Basically, I admittedly don't know much about recording. However, I'm fairly pleased with the quality of the recordings. My take on it is that any hit on recording quality was/is more than made up for by the better sound of live instruments. Hindsight being 20/20, I can now see that it sounds considerably better (I least I think so) in its "live" rendering than in its "MIDI-ized" version.
In all, this experience was a blast. I've already got my second remix as WIP in the forum site. I'll consider this a positive experience no matter the outcome. I don't know how the experience goes for everybody, but I personally found the feedback wise, prudent, and useful. I, and the OCR community in general, all agreed that the arrangement improved through the iterations as I incorporated the feedback sent my way. Anyway, I hope you enjoy! Thanks."
So, where to begin? Submissions like this get me pretty emotional, because:
- As a father of an infant and a toddler, I can only hope to one day be making game arrangements at the request of my daughters... Steve's a great dad!
- As the founder of this site, I very intentionally started it with an "all genres allowed AND encouraged" approach, and when I hear submissions like this, it reminds me WHY :) I also love to see a newcomer receive feedback they consider accurate & then have the perseverance to act on that feedback.
- As a fan of bluegrass and American folk music, it's wonderful to see work being done in the genre, and excellent work at that!
I know it's a common and "mainstream" example, but I'm reminded of the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which I love - especially the Kossoy Sisters' version of "I'll Fly Away," which was oddly replaced by Allison Krauss' version for the OST release; I find myself humming it at least once a week. The source lends itself surprisingly well to the rhythm & feel of such "old time" music, and while the arrangement repeats itself a bit & judges had some minor recording gripes, the unanimous feeling was that this revised version represents a creative, expressive, and most of all FUN take on the theme. Great submission, great story, great to see our concept & our process working pretty darn well, and I'm certainly hoping that Steve's kids can convince him to tackle another tune in the future!
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