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Russell Cox

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Posts posted by Russell Cox

  1. Avien has taken this minimal intro and fleshed it out in orchestral style. It takes a bit of doing to take something as simple as an NES 8-bit tune and give it more structure and blood than it had to begin with, plus he takes his own liberties, starting at the beginning. If you don't get goosebumps starting at 1:38, then this isn't the song for you

    Here here!

  2. *Sugiyama's* orchestral arrangement goes as followed:

    Flute/Oboe for respective parts of the melody. It is followed by a tutti orchestra with horn supplying a counter-melody for 4 measures. An interlude follows with celli section/Violin I section (possibly Violin II also, but the sound is too thin to be both)/English Horn/Clarinet playing that part. It then repitulates back to the beginning with the Flute/Oboe and tutti orchestra following.

    Mine goes as follows:

    Alto flute and solo Cello play the first iteration of the melody. I then repeat the melody combination with Flute/Oboe/Clarinet (in harmonic intervals) for the first half, with a tutti brass section playing the second half. A Euphonium plays the first part of the interlude, followed by piano. The next part of the interlude is played twice, with Piccolo/Flute/Oboe playing first, and Clarinet/Bassoon/Euphonium playing the second time. The last part of the interlude is played twice also, with solo Piccolo playing the first time, followed by a Piano reiteration. The melody is then played with Flute/Oboe for the first part, Bassoon/Euphonium for the second half. Then a tutti orchestra plays the 'finale' with a bass drum hit to signify the ending ( I took out trumpet staccato statements and supported sixteenth notes in the flutes and piccolo, but THIS part is the only thing even close to Koichi's arrangement -- the inversions of the chords are not the same ). The percussive parts are played a measure earlier than Sugiyama's, as I do not like his placement in his own rendition -- it feels akward to me. The tempo was also slowed down dramatically as the orchestral album feels too 'rushed' to me. The chords are changed from his normal open spacing to closed spacing -- I wanted as much dissonance as possible without having to purposely create my own. Hence, this is why some passages may sound 'sour.'

    Sorry if I sound like an ass, but I refuse to let anything believe I simply copied an orchestral album -- that is an insult to my abilites as a composer *and* arranger. If I *were* just copying, then that would not only be a waste of my time but the listener's as well.

  3. Okay, here goes. Hopefully you'll respond in turn if you can find the time.

    It seems Russell's done some mixing of actual 'real' recordings of some of the instruments in this arrangement with the previous (excellent) electronic emulations we're use to. At the very least, he's layered some room ambience and sounds of a rustling-but-attentive audience to the mix, which lends an imminent, 'live performance' feel that's something new and different.

    Interesting -- I didn't use any recordings in this song. I actually never have and use samples only as it's hard for me to find a recording, or even a snipet, that I like and that would work well. Though, I would like to know where in the song that my manipulation of the samples lead you to believe that.

    The ambient noise was a good touch, but I usually don't use it. I've only used it in 2 of about the 40-something (original and arranged) songs I've done.

    Discrepancies in recording levels for the acoustic portions are sometimes noticeable, like at 3'25" when the harp comes back in softly after a swell. Whether or not this annoys you will depend on your perspective - from my point of view, it's an interesting effect to try but I wouldn't want to hear it regularly applied to all of Russell's pieces as I've previously enjoyed the pristine nature of the sound quality.

    Simple -- my sound card was misbehaving and the recording levels were out of whack. There were 3 different levels of volume throughtout the song. The beginning was around 75% of max volume that the Audiophile could output. It was changed to 50% near 2:25 simply because of the sheer volume of the 'finale' section and the fact that I wanted to have the section before quiet as to set the 'calm before the storm.' Around 3:37 the voume levels jump to 100% for the remainder of the song.

    As far as the drop in overall volume right after the tutti orchestra plays, I can see where that would bother you. However, I chose to recap the ast two measures of the 'finale' section in minor mode and wanted draw a parallel to the world of DW III -- when you finish the first world, it's not the end of the adventure. The quiet followup depicts that the hero's job isn't over yet and the recap of the overworld theme from DW (DWIII second run) portrays the team's 'lonliness' -- they are alone in a strange, new world without the support of the Hero's king, just as Erdrick's descendant in DW is alone and without the aid of a companion, hence the sombre tone of harp/harp/oboe trio.

    . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox . . . Mr. Cox

    ..... I suddenly feel very old . . . . .

    Sugiyama's work is more reserved and less flamboyant than Uematsu or Mitsuda, I feel, but has subtleties that arrangements like these can capitalize on and really highlight.

    Not to mention extremely complex -- the only other game composer I've seen with this much ability with the orchestra is Yuzo Koshiro and even then it's still not on the level with Koichi. Even Uematsu and Mitsuda refer to Sugiyama as the "big daddy" of game music simply because of his talent composing and his unsurpassed understanding of the whys and hows of the orchestra. *Needless to say he ranks right up there on my list of favorite game compoers*

  4. Not bad.

    Could you be more specific? I'm curious at what you think about it quite a bit. Why? You're an orchestral guy, and you saying "Not bad" about this mix makes sparks fly.

    Calm down and don't get your knickers in a twist. As with some of mine and some of Dale's songs, you really can't say a lot about them. It's beautiful, soothing, and peaceful with still maintaining an instensity hidden underneath the simple layers he's used. Some songs just speak for themselves and don't need words.

    Dale knows what I think about his songs even if I don't know what his opinion of myself is. "Not bad." is an oxymoron -- the day Dale North writes something bad will be the day I die of a heart attack. I've always had a bit of admiration for Dale and probably always will in the future.

    Sorry if I'm snippy but I've got a lot going on right now and I don't need someone double guessing my comments on someone else's works. Besides, Dale would haven't undoubtably guessed what it meant as he is currently planning on being a hybrid of John Williams/Jerry Goldsmith.

    Right Dale? :P

    *winks*

  5. WARNING! COMPOSER RAMBLINGS!

    I do appreciate all of the comments from everyone that I have received so far. Rob's opinion stands out the most in my mind for several reasons -- he didn't attack me, didn't proclaimed that the piece was terrible in a whole, just not to his usual liking (though I've seen some positive reviews from him before), and didn't make any derogatory remakes. I do enjoy a lot of positive responses, but even negative ones like Rob's do help to remind us not to get a big head. THAT is was I like to see in people that don't like a particular song, as I know that not everyone is going to like every song that I do.

    Someone suggested that I make some comments on every song in the future in case someone is interested to know how I achieved a certain effect. Well...here goes:

    For those interested, the opening instrument was originally planned to be a piano solo before the pizzacato strings and harp enter, but the piano just didn't seem right. However, the combination of a vibraphone down low for the bass tones with a celeste for the driving force worked a lot better in trying to achieve a childhood feel -- I like the term lullaby that has almost become synonomous with this particular remix.

    I choose a celeste because it's a combination of two instruments -- a glockenspiel and a piano for those of you that don't know what a celeste is. It's basically a very rare (and extremely expensive) instrument that is like an upright piano. However, instead of the hammers hitting strings like a piano, the hammers hit metal bars much akin to a glockenspiel. It's used mainly when a composer wants a glockenspiel sound, but a lot 'fuller.'

    However, it's not a common instrument and should not be used repeatedly just on whim. They aren't mass produced and are built to oder with a very hefty price tag. Very few orchestras have one and if one does have a celeste, that particular orchestra always leases it out to nearby orchestras since they are so rare. Many people may not have heard of one and the two best examples I can give at this point are "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies" from The Nutcracker Suite by Peter Tchaikovsky and various songs from Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone: The Sountrack by John Williams.

  6. I'll probably get flamed for this, but oh well -- here are my opinions.

    Likes:

    I like your orchestrations and the ideas you were trying out -- very nice. You didn't stay with one instrument too long and flirted with the others as the piece went on, with the the exception of the trumpet. The trumpet has an excellent depth to it -- it sounds as though it's positioned in the right place. I love the ice theme, especially the trumpet part -- it'll probably force me to find the game somewhere and play it again. I like the summarization of the individual themes in the end.

    Dislikes:

    The high strings are on the wrong side of the spatial field. The ear is trained to hear them on the left side -- having them on the right side sounds alien and wrong. When I heard the French Horn (barely) it's shoved off to the right side -- the French Horn is always in the center of the 'stage' not only because it's an alto voice, but because the bell of the horn projects the sound backwards and it somewhats tends to drift to the right spatial field. Also, the trumpet is all over the spatial field -- don't do that.

    The percussion, harp, and keyboards sound too close to the front. The snare drum and harp are prime examples -- a harp isn't that loud without the use of microphones.

    The strings are neglected -- these are the main component of the orchestra and should have highest priority. I only really hear them in the beginning (contrabass not withstanding -- it has it's share in this mix) and at some points in the end. Also, the cello(?) solo in the end is on the wrong side as well -- it should be on the right and not the left.

    The instruments need to remain stationary when doing such an arrangement -- unless you're trying to achieve a certain effect by using enough instruments to cover the entire field from left to right ( i.e. Elliot Goldenthal is a prime example in FF:TSW -- "Toccato and Dreamscapes" uses 30 F Horns spanned using alternating half step pitch bends [lip or hand glissando] to create a warning/emergency siren effect). Yeah, I know, some of you are 'pan whores' but I don't care -- being a panning whore is lovely and whatnot, but it has no place in an orchestral setting.

    The trumpet is overused in this song (and that says a lot coming from me when I play trumpet). The brass section should always be built around the French Horn and it should have presedence over the rest of the brass. Now granted, it is up to the composer's/arranger's choice which instruments he wants to use, but is the song as a whole feels 'empty' because only the trumpet can be predominately heard. I didn't hear the lower brass or F Horns, except for two occasions. (Example: to me it would have been better to have the French Horn start off in the beginning instead of the trumpet -- and just have it pick up at around 0:43 -- and let the French Horn and Tombone have it at 1:24)

    The ending is anti-climatic in my opinion -- it leaves a lot to be desired and sounds abrupt. The pauses between the section also sound too cut and dry. I'm not syaing having continuous music constantly, but for the transition from the begging to the ice theme a bass note could have been held out softly and would have sounded a lot better.

    From the ice theme to the boss theme you could have just done a bigger dimuendo and made the pause shorter -- the bass just seems to drop out.

    I didn't like this piece as a whole very much, with the exception of the ice theme. However, you were going for your own orchestral approach -- you don't have to agree with me. These were just my opinions, comments, and suggestions.

    ~Russell

  7. This is an excellent arrangement. You've created a version that would appeal to almost everyone IMO. It's synthetic with class and style. The fact that it is a song from the lesser known Final Fantasies is always a plus in my book.

    The sax solo is very well done and sounds very clean, especially for a sample/synth/whatever you want to call it. While I did here a little bit of pitch variation, it's still a very well put together mix.

    ~Trptcox

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