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djpretzel

*NO* Dragon Warrior 2 'Anguished Beyond Words'

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CONTACT INFO:

ReMixer name: Rexy

Real name: Bev Wooff

Email: bev.wooff@gmail.com

OCR Forum ID: 7528

REMIX INFO:

Remix title: "Anguished Beyond Words"

Game covered: Dragon Warrior II

Individual song covered: Overworld (NSF Track #5)

Song link:

ADDITIONAL INFO ON GAME:

Original soundtrack composer: Koichi Sugiyama

Company involved: Enix

Platform: NES

Year of release: 1987

---

Hi everyone. ^^ First of all I may want to say thanks for the feedback granted to my past few mixes submitted to the panel. At the time I'm writing this I'm set to resubmit both "Robotnik's Immortal Presence" and "Where Force Stood Still" pretty soon so that can easily show your feedback is being of interest to me. Thanks very much.

Anyway, it's time that I brought myself to present territory. Back in the month of May we all faced stresses relating to exams, right? I was one of many to undergo that, and with pressures going around other elements of social life to match I had to incorporate it into my music via an entry into RPGamer.com's "Splendid Performance" contest. Even if it doesn't get past the first audition, I can say that the feedback granted around OCR's WIP board were very helpful in helping me polish up my performance.

So what we have here is a reflective interpretation on Dragon Warrior 2's Overworld theme, something that I first took interest in since I heard coverage of it within the April Dwelling of Duels compo. I felt that I learnt a lot of fresh skills on both the performance and technical aspects when going through the mix (some of which being in turn integrated into WFSS v2) and thus have helped me able to transfer my expression much further into the music.

I hope you all like it; if not... there's always next submission, I assure you. ;) Thanks very much for your time!

Peace out,

-Rexy-

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This was one of the most powerful themes of my childhood. I'm glad someone in recent memory decided to tackles this theme and has done so in a positive manner. Very thoughtful arrangement. Some may view it as a simplistic performance, but I found that to be the greatest charm of the mix. It really works in this context. You can tell a lot of thought and time was put into this mix, and it certainly shows. Production wise, it's definitely one of your sharper productions. I still think the ambiance is on the plain and dry side.

Overall, I found this to be easily Rexy's best piano solo mix. Enchanting and soothing. YES

With the rest of my time, I will yield my time to a guest with a continuation MY Guest Review™ series. First it was EdgeCrusher for a metal mix, then Xelebes for a hardcore mix, this time I have invited one of our scene's most distinguished pianists, Eric Barker aka Noir.

Here Rexy introduces yet another piano arrangement of a Dragon Warrior theme. While I don't know the game myself, Rexy was kind enough to send me a midi of original. Still, I am approaching this piece (and this review) from a fairly distant perspective, not having played the game myself. I will state right off the bat that I was not too impressed with her last Dragon Warrior arrangement, "Requiem for a Warrior", so I approached this track with only moderate expectations. I was surprised to find that I really liked this one and felt that it corrected all the compositional qualms I had with the first, and the production even improved a bit. What she has to offer is a fairly tight, yet simple, piano arrangement that is fairly early-romantic in origin.

Production

To me, it's clear that Rexy has fairly limited resources to work with. I've told her, myself, that the quality of her work deserves far better equipment than what she's been using. That said, the production has improved noticeably since her previous piano work. There is more sustain in the piano sound; it's still a far cry from the sustain of a concert grand, but there is definite improvement in the air. The reverb isn't quite there yet either, when I close my eyes, I just can't see this instrument being played in a hall, even if it is synthesized. The reverb is a bit burried beneath the dry sound, though it's tail is quite long. The only thing I can think of is that it's a recording of a close-miked piano in a huge chapel. Next time, I'd go for using more reverb in the mix, but shortening the tail, and use a bit more padding/EQ to roll off the high end.

Performance

One plus, right off the bat, is that there is real performance going on here, not just tracked midi playback, which almost always spells instant death for most piano arrangements unless extreme precision is used. The notes are played without error, and the overall dynamics work fine. On the down side, though, the dynamics are sometimes a bit too static for the feeling I imagine Rexy is aiming for. The time is extremely static as well, with only slight rallentandos at the end of phrases. This could have been exaggerated a bit more, as I feel the piece is aiming at a slightly more romantic feel than the performance suggests. There is a certain lack of subtlety as well, especially in the right hand, as there are sections that seem to "plunk" along for a while. That said, the performance is pleasant to listen to, but the piece only really survives through it's composition.

Composition / Arrangement

This time, Rexy is drawing on Dragon Warrior II, a mid-era NES game. She had much less to work with in terms of musical material this time around (in comparison to her Dragon Warrior IV arrangement), and I do believe she actually thrived because of it. Most of the piece is re-composed using thematic material from the original, and not simply an arrangement, note-for-note. There are many developments of the original motivic material in a way that suggest a certain amount of proficiency within the style. Technically, the composition is fairly simple and conservative, utilizing fairly traditional classical piano techniques such as Alberty bass, yet does so with masterful intent, and within this stile, the piece works wonderfully. There is an ample dose of counterpoint and harmony, although possibly a bit thin in this area.

The subdued quality of the piece is not completely without drama, however. We're thrown about a century forward (musically) for the ending with a final, pronounced 9th chord section. My only complaint is that this section, containing entirely new material and stylistic elements from the rest of the piece, only appears at the very end and is not developed. I have the unfortunate vision of a grander version of this piece in which this "final" section is simply the beginning of a furious development section, leading to a climax at the 2/3rds mark, and finally a subdued recapitulation. Alas, it's not my work to re-compose, so we'll leave it at that.

Conclusion

It's rare to hear such classical-styled renditions of game music. Even I had problems facing this piece on it's own terms, as it's a constant struggle to keep my impulsive, late-romantic tendencies at bay when listening to and reviewing the composition. While it may be a far cry from some of the more complex piano arrangements that I've heard, this one, without frivolity or decadence, achieves a depth on it's own terms. I applaud Rexy for her improvements thus far; it is quite possibly her best piano arrangement to date. Even with it's imperfections in performance and production, it's fine composition makes up for it. Recommended.

YES

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http://www.zophar.net/nsf/dq2.zip - Tracks 5 & 11

I didn't read Gray or Eric's opinions yet, but I'll simply say that the arrangement was good, but I was underwhelmed with the mix on a personal level, as it just wasn't my cup o' tea. I'm sure I'll appreciate it a bit more after several listens though, as it does pull off the delicate approach well. Also, the production here was solid. On the minus side, I still feel Bev's style here was rather plucky and in this case overly gentile, but I think giving the mix more reverb or the performance more sustain to fill the space out more would help give this mix a more body and presence.

Nonetheless, this mix wasn't plagued with some of the rougher mistakes I've heard in Bev's past work. The performance was too plucky for my tastes, like I mentioned, but nevertheless came across as more confident and dexterous than her past work. Beyond the performance itself, I didn't hear any really sloppy stuff going on, like notes occasionally having no release, which is an annoying problem for any electronically-made piano mix.

Looking at Gray's comments, I definitely agreed with him that the atmosphere was too dry, and Noir articulated very well how there was a distinct lack of dynamics in the piece as compared to what the composition suggests. SPICE IT UP WITH PIZAZZ N'SHIT! You had some performance dynamics noticeably going on, don't get me wrong, but they could have been a lot more pronounced and emotive. And nothing's changed in that your supporting work under the melody was usually thin.

I liked the reference to "Unknown World" at from 2:36-2:50 by the way. Very nice way to slip it into the picture and have it fit seamlessly with the main source tune arrangement. Best of luck on the rest of the vote, and props on what likely will be the first posted DW2 mix on the site. The peepz shall lovez. Keep up the improvement, Bev.

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This is MUCH better than "Where Force Stood Still". The sloppiness is gone, the pace doesn't grind to a halt on a regular basis and interesting harmonies occur much more frequently. So.... I'd say it just about meets the standards of OCR. This is definitely the best piano mix I've heard from you to date.

YeS

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I don't think i'm a sample whore, but lets face it: in a solo piano piece, the sample matters significantly more than if it were part of a larger band. That said, the piano sample irritates the hell out of me. The low end bleeds, and the sample itself sounds extraordinarily tinny to me.

While the arrangement is certainly an improvement over previous submissions, i frankly dont see this as anything special. It's a pretty straightforward performance. The rhythms never get too creative, nor does the harmony. the arrangement does not repeat too much, but it never goes anywhere interesting. added to that, the pacing seems akward, as though it were overquantized or just stiffly played. this is particularly apparent in the ritards.

This is certainly a step up from previous material, but i see it as firmly in the "mediocre" range and it's well below the OCR bar.

NO

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I don't think i'm a sample whore, but lets face it: in a solo piano piece, the sample matters significantly more than if it were part of a larger band. That said, the piano sample irritates the hell out of me. The low end bleeds, and the sample itself sounds extraordinarily tinny to me.

While the arrangement is certainly an improvement over previous submissions, i frankly dont see this as anything special. It's a pretty straightforward performance. The rhythms never get too creative, nor does the harmony. the arrangement does not repeat too much, but it never goes anywhere interesting. added to that, the pacing seems akward, as though it were overquantized or just stiffly played. this is particularly apparent in the ritards.

This is certainly a step up from previous material, but i see it as firmly in the "mediocre" range and it's well below the OCR bar.

NO

Vig pretty much covered it; the thin, plinky sample really hurts any kind of emotional resonance Rexy was aiming for with this track. This song really warrants something deeper, darker, but with less bleeding in the low end.

Left hand patterns are a bore! I'm not a pianist, but something that's more integral with what the right hand does would be a lot more interesting to listen to. The tail end of the piece exhibits this; I'd like to see more.

NO for now.

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I'm on vig and darke's side for this one. It's got some fairly interesting arrangement ideas, but overall it's pretty rudimentary in style and execution. There's no major dynamic shift; it's all around the same volume level. The sample isn't a primary factor to reject it, but it sure doesn't help things.

I'd need more in-depth arrangement, a cleaner sample and some kind of dynamics before i push this puppy along. Pretty good so far, though.

NO

-D

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I think that the mellow piano sample, though lacking the high end sparkle that makes certain samples stand out from the crowd, works with this piece. I understand the concerns about the low end but the sample is cleanly recorded, appropriately panned and dark enough to carry the intent of the piece.

The performance is on-and-off to me. There are sections (0:00-0:56, 2:36-2:59) that have a very stately, minuet-like quality that give the theme an elegance impossible on the NES. Unfortunately, that same performance style carries over into sections where a more fluid approach is warranted to keep the piece from feeling plunky and unnatural (1:52-2:36, 3:07-3:38). Try to keep some of those accents in check as well. Subtlety is the key there and while I feel that they are much better handled than in “Where Force Stood Still” a few notes are still a bit jarring (2:15, 2:43, …).

The chord at 3:52, along with the 9ths at the end are beautiful. Although the simplicity of the chord structure throughout the rest of the piece compliments some sections, it detracts from others. The left hand during 1:52-2:14 for example is very plain and underutilized. In general, the left hand doesn’t get the arrangement attention that it deserves and I think that this simplicity stems from its close adherence to the source. Greater interpretation and expansion of the original melodies would help in this area.

I also agree that this is the best piano mix that I’ve heard from you Bev and the split vote shows how good of a piece this is. In the end though I feel that some sections need a more complex performance, others need more complex chords, while others are nice as they are. If this doesn’t make it this time, hopefully a resubmit will be in its future.

NO (Please Resubmit)

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i've played enough uprights and grands in my time to know that some pianos sound like this -- a bit on the plunky side.

not everything has to have that bright, long (yamaha) sustain that we get accustomed to in most recordings.

so, the sample doesn't bother me.

like most of rexy's piano work, it's full of ideas and this one sounds notably effeminate

-- maybe i'm sexist but just about every female piano player i know has written something that sounds like this.

but like her other work, it's a little skimpy on the execution.. i'll pass this but please vary up your left in the future.

yes

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To be honest, I didn't think this was a sample until I read the other votes and listened to it on my headphones. I guess I really suck at that sort of thing, even though I am a piano player myself.

Of course, that also means that I really don't have a problem with the sample used. However I think that sometimes, such as with the chord progression right near the end, the artificial aspect becomes apparently due to identical timing/velocity of notes. I think additional tweaking here would not hurt at all. I wouldn't mind more dynamic variation as well.

Arrangement sounds really nice to me. It's more of a classical-style arrangement than a romantic, which I'm far more fond of, but good regardless.

YES

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Am I just a heartless, cold, unfeeling Negro for not having any emotional rise-or-fall with this song?

Normally, I'm a sucker for the emotional, Analoq-femenine piano solo. But this one leaves me a little puzzled. I think it feels too sparse, where the author was obviously going for clean and clear. The "kaplunk" nature of the piano mixed with the stubby reverb makes it not work for me, I think. But those are solely technical issues. The arrangement is fine, with dynamics, tempo, humanism.

It just makes my soul flaccid, is all.

YES

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http://www.zophar.net/nsf/dq2.zip - Tracks 5 & 11

I didn't read Gray or Eric's opinions yet, but I'll simply say that the arrangement was good, but I was underwhelmed with the mix on a personal level, as it just wasn't my cup o' tea. I'm sure I'll appreciate it a bit more after several listens though, as it does pull off the delicate approach well. Also, the production here was solid. On the minus side, I still feel Bev's style here was rather plucky and in this case overly gentile, but I think giving the mix more reverb or the performance more sustain to fill the space out more would help give this mix a more body and presence.

Nonetheless, this mix wasn't plagued with some of the rougher mistakes I've heard in Bev's past work. The performance was too plucky for my tastes, like I mentioned, but nevertheless came across as more confident and dexterous than her past work. Beyond the performance itself, I didn't hear any really sloppy stuff going on, like notes occasionally having no release, which is an annoying problem for any electronically-made piano mix.

Looking at Gray's comments, I definitely agreed with him that the atmosphere was too dry, and Noir articulated very well how there was a distinct lack of dynamics in the piece as compared to what the composition suggests. SPICE IT UP WITH PIZAZZ N'SHIT! You had some performance dynamics noticeably going on, don't get me wrong, but they could have been a lot more pronounced and emotive. And nothing's changed in that your supporting work under the melody was usually thin.

I liked the reference to "Unknown World" at from 2:36-2:50 by the way. Very nice way to slip it into the picture and have it fit seamlessly with the main source tune arrangement. Best of luck on the rest of the vote, and props on what likely will be the first posted DW2 mix on the site. The peepz shall lovez. Keep up the improvement, Bev.

YES

Alright, so I'm gonna break Bev's heart again and jerk this mix around. I've been listening to it and the issues I've had with it have been nagging on me for a couple of weeks. Talking with fellow Js after the other votes came in really crystallized a lot of the issues here.

A big problem I had reading other votes here was that analoq, zircon, and The wingless were all in the same boat as me where we all liked the arrangement but felt that something was lacking in the performance. The fact that 3 other judges after me had lukewarm feelings about the performance and/or dynamics not really drawing interest should have set off a flag with me earlier, and the mix did merit re-evaluation.

This didn't stir up much of a reaction upon listening, so while the arrangement is definitely above bar, the plunkiness of the performance, the sparseness of the soundfield, and admittedly robotic quantizing of the notes in places were all limiting the performance from being truly stirring and emotive.

If this were posted as is, I think there would be a lot of people criticizing the mix on that level. I believe Bev exceeded her own standards here, but not OC's. The performance and her own post-production efforts have become better like I mentioned in my previous comments, but this can be improved and I feel some of the top piano sequencers in the community could provide insight to help her really trick this out and have it captivate and deeply involve the listener. Right now, the arrangement is solid, but this is admittedly too dry and mechanical for me to comfortably remain YES.

NO (PLEASE resubmit)

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i really don't want to break anybody's heart but this really shouldn't pass. i mean, this is by far her best work to date and i'm impressed slightly by it but there are several glaring issues with it.

the soundfield is too bare. even a solo piano piece can sound more full than this; i know the sample has a lot to do with it but the arrangement also helps to keep this from happening. the arrangement lacks greatly in the left hand when the entire piece is so heavily reliant on being a solo piano piece. frankly, the left hand is uninspired and boring. your right hand is fantastic but it just doesn't make up and can't pull the whole thing's emotiveness out of the cellar.

i have to point out that i did, in fact, enjoy the piece a lot. its a great mood-setter but personal preference does not make an OCR mix. the arrangement and overall performance leaves a lot to be desired.

remember that solo piano is a tall order... its simply the nature of the beast

this is your finest work to date, bev.

very soon, it's going to be a YES

NO

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