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Brandon Strader

Why Don't You Remix New VGM?

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That's the question -- why don't you remix new or modern VGM? It seems for the most part that people remix music that is nostalgic for them, and that's great too but it shouldn't be the only remixing focus. Is remixing modern stuff too difficult because of how much larger VGM has gotten?

What do you guys think?

I will just ask please don't post hyperbole like "new VGM isn't good". That's the farthest thing from the truth.

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I had a couple of remixing ideas down for some Mass Effect tracks but ran into some familiarity issues right off the bat. If I ever get them off my harddrive I would probably say they were inspired by the music of mass effect rather than remixes. BGC had some good Mass Effect remixes but the only one that is remixable with any sense of familiarity is the Galaxy Map track in my opinion.

Still one of my favorite games though.

I'll probably be doing a bunch of Freedom Planet remixes once that comes out. http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=120841685

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That's the question -- why don't you remix new or modern VGM?
Because I don't play new or modern video games, I have no interest in remixing new or modern video game music.
It seems for the most part that people remix music that is nostalgic for them, and that's great too but it shouldn't be the only remixing focus.
Why shouldn't it be?
Is remixing modern stuff too difficult because of how much larger VGM has gotten?
Classic or nostalgic tunes tend to get stuck in my head enough times that I might start to come up with a reprise or a variation of the tune that can work in a remix.

If I were to play a new game (last one being mario party ds), the last thing I care about really, is the music. I bought the game to play a game (and if I recall I had the volume on mute everytime I played... except for that one game where you have to match the rhythm or something). I'm not interested in getting a game just to try and remix one of the songs.

I will just ask please don't post hyperbole like "new VGM isn't good". That's the farthest thing from the truth.
To each their own.

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Why shouldn't it be?

Because it goes against the mission of OverClocked ReMix.

ocremix.org is dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of video game music as an art form.

is our mission statement, not

ocremix.org is dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of older video game music as an art form.

My answers to the question:

1. I don't remix (or write original stuff either, to be honest) much at all anymore, and when I am, I'm usually prompted, and it's usually a request for an older game series or something. I'm trying to get better at piano and leave my head in the books for a little bit. College dorm isn't the best environment to write.

2. Sometimes I sketch remixes of newer game music, but I never really complete them past the first 15 seconds, just like the rest of my music.

Edited by Neblix

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If someone wants to only remix old music, Neblix, that's their perogative - it has nothing to do with site policy. OCR has (and always will, as far as I see) accept modern game music. It also is not the topic of discussion, overall.

Anyhoo, as far as I'm concerned, I'll remix music that has easily recognizable elements that can form the backbone of any arrangement I may do. Older music, due to its hardware limitations, tends to have this in spades, containing melodies that are catchy more often than not, while modern games have the ability to have the music fit the ambiance of the game more appropriately. While this actually makes modern game music better in terms of complimenting the game, it also leaves the music itself without too much to distinguish itself from other music written for a similar mood or atmosphere. Not all modern game music is like this - many modern games have songs that are very distinct (Skyrim's theme is a great example of a distinct, and thus easily remixable song) - but it's not nearly as common proportionally as it was in the past.

I could be wrong (I don't play enough modern games to verify this), but it's my assessment on the situation.

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If someone wants to only remix old music, Neblix, that's their perogative - it has nothing to do with site policy. OCR has (and always will, as far as I see) accept modern game music. It also is not the topic of discussion, overall.
people remix music that is nostalgic for them, that's great too but it shouldn't be the only remixing focus

We're not talking about individual people, we're talking about an attitude towards mixing.

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If you want my take on the subject, it's that people have the right to remix what they want to - oftentimes, the best remixes come from those that do them out of nothing but sheer passion, not because they feel forced to work with the source material.

So if you are an old-timer that still wants to remix the short riffs from Pac-Man or Dig Dug or whatever, go for it. Or if you're wowed over by the more modern scores of Journey or Portal and want to give homage to them, again it's your call. At the end of the day, OC Remix is open to BGM regardless of how old these tracks are.

As for me, again I feel inspired by what I see/hear. It's just that a lot of my gaming passions appear to be within the 90s more than anything else xD

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Plenty of people remix new soundtracks, why are you framing the topic with the assumption that people don't remix new vgm? That seems like a negative way to look at it.

Anyway, I find older, simpler vgm easier to remix at my level. Newer vgm tends to be more complex (at least in my experience), and I don't feel ready to tackle new stuff just yet. I will remix new vgm at some point.

Edited by Cash

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If you want my take on the subject, it's that people have the right to remix what they want to - oftentimes, the best remixes come from those that do them out of nothing but sheer passion, not because they feel forced to work with the source material.

The thing is OCR is not embodied by the behavior of the judge's panel. You can't say "OCR is fine with accepting modern mixes" and be okay with that, that's not what the mission statement means. OCR's music comes from its mixers, so if mixers aren't remixing new VGM, the attitude towards VGM of mixers is naturally brought into question (like Brandon is doing right now).

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I don't remix new VGM largely because,

A. I'm still half tone-deaf from amusia brain damage and I require MIDIs to remix. People don't make MIDIs for modern game music much anymore for several reasons.

B. Older VGM worked on limited production allowance, so they focused on being melodic and entertaining instead of flowing along with the atmosphere of a game. Turning a highly melodic and energetic piece into something modern without these stylistic limitations is more exciting than trying to rearrange a modern piece, which is less melodic than it used to be, into something of a similar production quality or even turning a modern composition into a chiptune something or other.

This post is >80% editorial, so don't bother trying to argue the academic merits of the opinions contained therein. :P

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I remix songs that leave an impact on me. There are a lot of wonderful songs from modern VGM, but I haven't heard many that stick with me as much as the ones from the games I played as a kid. However, I don't think that this preference is limited solely to my favorite childhood games.

Recently I've discovered the Turtles In Time sound track for the SNES. I've never played this game before, but after my first listen I was completely hooked on it. I may even consider remixing one of those themes in the near future. Since I don't have any nostalgia to go off of with this game, I think that the way older VGM is designed just clicks better with me than many of the more modern songs.

However, I am in complete agreeance that modern VGM deserves just as much attention as Older VGM.

Edited by Arceace

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I have to say that I really enjoyed remixing the stuff from Sonic Lost World for the SZRC. I arbitrarily picked the source music for my remix and had fun with it despite having never played the game. I did specifically want to do something that was from a recent game, though. So, I picked something from Sonic Lost World.

I think that maybe we should have more remix competitions where the rules state that you have to use something from a game that was made in the past three years. It would sure give OCR some fresh source material that hasn't been over used. Stepping out of your element to create a remix is a good thing!

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because I enjoy making older stuff sound newer while giving it a brand new arrangement.

and older songs normally are the more catchy ones and more entertaining to play with.

for instance, I like sampling a lot of stuff. older tracks are more fun to sample. granted, I can't get that stuff past the judges, that stuff would normally go to SoundCloud. I got by with "Timekeeper", though. 8-)

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I think generally this divide is made because of limitations of old games - if there's a lack of a detailed chord structure, or a very simple bassline, generally it's quite easily to create your own inspired version of that. At the level of NES-, SNES- and to some extent early N64-era music, you can very easily analyse the music as being a creative illustration of the game. Even games with massive differences in tone would share a sort of musical pattern - the music would give character to the world, but without more detailed features that most other music has (think humanisation, swells, etc) the music could never expand to more than VGM, which - in itself - has become its own genre. VGM from those times was very much a completely different thing to the game itself - sure it added character, but due to limited capabilities it could never fully work as music in films ever could (except in occasional circumstances where a certain 'theme' would be used to display some specific emotion).

This effect has been carried to modern music in games like Mario - the music is distinctly unfitting to the actual game-play, but as VGM it excels fantastically, demonstrating how versatile VGM has become. Compare music between Sonic Generations and Mass Effect, for example. Both have phenomenal soundtracks, but should these games be judged on the same plain? In a sense they are both background music, but the difference is incredibly obvious.

I think the main reason why newer VGM doesn't hold the same appeal as other, older themes is that composers strive for feelings such as those evoked by Mass Effect, Halo and Skyrim - rich, powerful, beautiful music that could be compared very easily to film music. As a result, some creativity and clarity is lost, and definitely a lot of melodic interest can be as well (when was the last time you heard an orchestral song with a melody as recognisable as something like the Super Mario main theme, or Chemical Plant Zone?). Simplifying music by consistently using a full orchestra can sound brilliant even without a distinctly recognisable melody. That said, I can think of a large number of recent games with outstandingly fantastic soundtracks with recognisably remixable elements, from Bastion to Super Meat Boy to FTL to Minecraft to Thomas Was Alone to VVVVVV and so on. (I've selected these above all because they all feature a variety of instantly recognisable melodies - I'm sure also the increasing familiarity of them when playing through helps a lot.) These do seem to be games that people overlook, and I think that is probably due to nostalgia related purposes.

Despite all of this, I'm pretty certain that in a few years we'll be seeing a lot of people remixing songs from the games that they grew up with.

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What people decide to remix has no effect on OCR's mission statement. If there are only remixes of old games coming in, that does not go against the mission statement. We're still appreciating and promoting video game music as an art form.

To answer the original question though, newer VGM as a whole has become more cinematic or atmospheric and the material is more difficult to translate to other styles. That and the already presented fact that most people remix for nostalgic reasons. If you're remixing for fun and not getting paid (everyone on OCR), you'll remix something you're passionate about. Also, MIDIs are more readily available for older sources which makes them more accessible.

We're not talking about individual people, we're talking about an attitude towards mixing.

Then why is the thread titled "Why Don't You Remix New VGM?"

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From my experience writing remixes, it's harder for me to remix something with great instrumentation and such...which modern VGM tends to have.

You have a bit more creative freedom with old chiptune or low-fi stuff, IMO.

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People don't remix new VGM because it's already layered with a considerable amount of complexity, which requires significant amounts of creativity and talent. It would be a significant undertaking to make

sound better than it does without either covering the song too closely, losing the feel of the song altogether, or just not living up to the original.

On the other hand, things like

and
you can really take any direction you want and still have it feel like the original, because it's a catchy melody line with a little bit of a bassline and nothing else. Remixing it in your own style is compositionally much easier.

Because there is less material to respect and stay faithful to in older games, it is easier to approach an older song and come out with something new that can stand alongside it. Because new songs are already compositionally complete, doing a full 're-imagining' of a song from a Mass Effect or a God of War requires much more nuance.

@Shaggy - Your Sazh remixes were great too!

I want to hear these STAT

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From my experience writing remixes, it's harder for me to remix something with great instrumentation and such...which modern VGM tends to have.

You have a bit more creative freedom with old chiptune or low-fi stuff, IMO.

You can always go the opposite direction though too. Ben Briggs remixed the SSBB theme in a chippy dance style and it worked fantastically

I think people are confusing "modern" with "more expansive instrumentation," which is not necessarily the case at all with modern VGM.

Edited by Phonetic Hero

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I agree with Gario 100%. Older games tend to have more of a melodic "hook" that's catchy, identifiable, and stands out. Some more recent games do, too, but recent games more often consist of "scores" rather than "melodies." If someone did a remix of, say, Mass Effect, I'd never recognize it even though I've spent many hours on that series.

Another factor for me is that I like video game music, but I do prefer to listen to more modern instrumentation when possible, even when it's only 9-bit or even fakebit. Recent music that I like--Metal Gear Solid, Civ IV, Portal--goes straight into my music collection as-is, no hesitation. 8- or 16-bit music... I have to like it a whole heck of a lot to listen to the OST for fun. The reason I started remixing is that I want to create music I want to listen to, and most of the time that means modernizing the classics.

Edit @Brandon: It's usually true that modern == expansive, but not necessarily. I have no problem remixing expansive music if it has a noteworthy melody, again, like MGS. As a counterexample, Terraria. It's a 9-bit soundtrack with not much in the way of melody. Modern, but not expansive, and also not the kind of thing people seem to love to remix (or at least, not me).

Edited by MindWanderer

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I remix whatever I want to, including relatively newer games, but (there's always a but in here somewhere) I'm not that into remixing big AAA titles. They tend to have pretty unmemorable soundtracks, and the songs that are actually memorable are already on a high level of quality and I don't feel like remixing stuff like that. Maybe I'm generalizing but I'm pretty sure 99% of the remixers feel the same way.

Meanwhile, there's lots of new obscure/indie/unknown games with great soundtracks, but people aren't remixing those because they've never heard of them.

Soooo, my point is: good game != good music, good music != known music, get more people to know more good video game music (not only from newer games, but from any game!) and you'll get more remixes of that music.

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I don't remix in general as much as I should D:

But old game soundtracks have a number of advantages in this realm, being old not only possesses nostalgic value but also means that we've had years and years to become familiar with the source material. Oldschool game soundtracks were also more melodically driven on average which is easier to remix without either sounding the same or making it nigh unrecognizable, not to say that all modern vgm is unsuitable of course. For those not skilled with transcription, the fact that there are so many MIDI files of old game music is also influential.

Plus it's cool to hear those lofi samples and square waves replaced by modern synths and sample libraries and live instrumentation, you don't get the same effect with more modern soundtracks. You can take the opposite approach as has been mentioned, but people are more predisposed to taking the things they grew up with and putting their own twist on it than something that is more recent. It ultimately may have little to do with the actual music or even nostalgia, maybe it just takes time to digest

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