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Brandon Strader

Why Don't You Remix New VGM?

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I agree with the whole thing about modern instrumentation.

Paper Mario Sticker Star's soundtrack is really melodic and simplistic, like old game music. However, it is live jazz, with improv and well-written parts and such. I get discouraged from trying to remix it, because it's hard to flesh out already well-written music.

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I agree with the whole thing about modern instrumentation.

Paper Mario Sticker Star's soundtrack is really melodic and simplistic, like old game music. However, it is live jazz, with improv and well-written parts and such. I get discouraged from trying to remix it, because it's hard to flesh out already well-written music.

There are older games that give me that feel too, like I love FFT's soundtrack but probably wouldn't attempt to remix it any time soon, most of my favorite tracks from that are already pretty well fleshed out where more simplistic loops are easier and maybe more motivating to build off of. The density of the instrumentation and the structure of the music may be more of a factor than it being modern quality(at least for me it seems to be)

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@Neblix: your post made me think of something. If you took the sticker star theme (or any song from that game really) and deconstructed it into a midi or simple sine/square instruments, THAT would be a place you can remix from, because the themes are all very memorable. You were right; I went back and listened to/ended up downloading that entire soundtrack.

But doing it from the 'this is jazz' predisposition it's hard to make a full horizontal shift to another genre or idea. Taking a step back to the most basic interpretation of the song and THEN taking it in another direction would be much easier.

Like go from this and see what you get -

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For me, modern video game music is quite good, but it's a different beast from the olden days in one major way; short, hook-filled melodies.

What's always struck me about them thar olden days, was the way the 8-bit and 16-bit games often had their music handled. The composers knew the songs could only be so long due to memory space, and that the music would likely be repeating a lot throughout a given level. So, they seemed to work harder on making open-ended, memorable, and enjoyable melodies, harmonies, and such, with what little space they had available on the carts of the time (well, the good composers did anyway). They had to really focus on keeping the player interested with each 1-2 minute music loop, and that pressure vanished when memory space became less of a hurdle as time went on (both on PCs and consoles). Once space wasn't like a concrete barrier limitation anymore, the songs seemed to evolve into more "movie soundtrack"-like compositions, and left the short-hook melodies behind more often than not.

Now, that's not to say that newer game music doesn't have it's own familiar melodies (Halo's opening chant), that older games didn't also make "normal" structured songs (Master of Monsters), or that some modern games don't try to capture that hooky melody feel. But more often than not, the music back in the 8/16-bit eras were short, hook-filled, and the songs didn't really have a real beginning or end a lot of times. They just looped forever. And it's that shortened quality, and open endedness, that seems to inspire people more. Yeah, nostalgia plays a role too, as the idea of remixing the game tunes you grew up with is quite appealing. But I really do think that the compositional shift I mentioned also affected the remixing possibilities in a small way.

With older game tunes, there's room to make those familiar melodies and hooks grow and expand in new ways, without leaving them behind. You can take a one minute loop, and change it so that it's familiar, but different, as the song progresses. That's a very different trait to play with when compared to remixing a four minute song that doesn't really repeat throughout its duration. And I think more people are just drawn to the so-called "growing loop" idea I described. I know I am.

I know people will disagree with me, but that's my take on it.

And I do remix newer VGM. I just did a remix of Trine's "Crystal Caverns" for the seventh volume of An OverClocked Christmas (which you can hear right here).

Edited by The Coop

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I swear we've had this conversation a million times by now. I haven't been able to read all the posts here yet, but I'll just add my two cents to points that have inevitably already been brought up.

I define "new" VGM as stuff that was created when it became possible to actually put recorded music in games. That technology has been around a while. So I wouldn't call Blazblue's soundtrack "new" as it sounds like the same metal I heard in Guilty Gear from the 90s which sounds like thrash metal from the 80s. Save for some of the dubstep additions, I wouldn't call Tekken Tag 2's soundtrack "new" either - still sounds like good ol' electronica for the most part. Yeah, there is more of the film-score style orchestral stuff than there was at one point, but I hear just as many other styles in new games as I hear ambient-orchestra stuff. A lot of the orchestra stuff is also not in 4/4 time so it's harder to remix into a more popular style like EDM. Also, a lot of new games have the types of ensembles that old chiptunes were basically trying to emulate.

Plenty of new games have pieces with melodies that can be adapted into new compositions and remain identifiable no problem.

,
,
,
,
, Battlefield 4, and Timaeus and I remixed TWO tunes into one -
and
. There's also plenty of great songs from the newest DOA that could be remixed. Like
, this and this.

I'm convinced at this point that the main reason there aren't more "modern" vgm remixes is simply because most of the new stuff doesn't have MIDI readily available and no one wants to learn by ear and the people who can probably just prefer the older stuff out of pure personal taste.

What I'm trying to say is, there is a lot of stuff worthy of remixing out there. Maybe more stuff than ever before. If you can't find remixable tunes from the last five years, you're either not looking very hard or don't rely on your ears enough.

Edited by AngelCityOutlaw

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For me, it's a few reasons.

Accessibility. The old stuff didn't have as much sound design to fall back on, the instruments sound the same for most games, so it's easier to analyze. Modern soundtracks can have just about any sound, no matter how complex, and that makes half the job of figuring out a source just sifting through sound design looking for notes. That older games have been covered and remixed before, and that there are midi and note resources around makes older stuff easier. The lower polyphony of the old stuff also helps. The older stuff is also shorter, usually. On the flip side, the adaptive soundtracks of today aren't so much individual songs as it's individual elements of a soundscape, eg a combat loop, a puzzle loop, an action loop, and a neutral loop; rather than a single looping song, which makes finding a good source for the music harder, makes the whole thing harder to analyze (again), and makes the whole thing less likely to get stuck in your head. It all adds up to older stuff simply being easier to work with.

On a prior note, memorability. Not all soundtracks today stick in your head. Adaptive soundtracks, cinematic soundscaping over melody, less exposure to the same songs, shorter games... it all adds up to the newer stuff just not sticking in your head as well. And there's a feedback effect here too. We hear remixes of older stuff, so we're reminded of older stuff, so we look up older stuff, so we think more about older stuff, so we remix more older stuff, so people hear more remixes of older stuff.

And finally nostalgia. We not only remember old stuff, we like how we feel about it. It takes us back to simpler times; and to better games, we might think. We like that one old game, so we want to show our appreciation for it. We might like a much newer game too, but it's harder to remix, and we don't have all the memories of it, not yet anyway.

My F-Zero GX mix is of a 4-5 year old game at the time. That's the most fresh source I've finished a remix of. By now, my Mirror's Edge remix would be about as fresh, if I could just find a vocalist for it.

We could probably raise ocr's profile a bit by remixing newer games, but it's entirely up to the remixers what they want to remix.

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Newer songs are more complex. Less room for re-interpretation. Older and/or sparser VGM tunes allow for more creativity and expression. There is also the nostalgia factor and the availability of midi for source tunes.

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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).

Excellent post. Some comments about comparison to film music: I just happen to be reading some film history, and the book I'm reading notes (with quotes from filmmakers of the time) that music in (mainstream) films very quickly settled into the formula of emphasizing the on-screen action, suggesting what the audience should feel etc. The alternative would be to consider music/sound as its own element, the soundtrack could comment or challenge the other elements.

Now I was thinking in terms of VGM, the earlier music often has a character of its own and is much more of its own element in the game, like you mentioned, perhaps even in discord to the on-screen action. This adds a layer of its own to the game. So I would argue, the older VGM is actually deeper in terms of what it adds to the game, and also stands better on its own.

I hope you get what I mean, because I have trouble of expressing this in English.

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).

I actually personally find Terraria's soundtrack quite memorable & remixable, though I guess I agree it doesn't have much melody. It still has plenty of hooks though!

Personally I do remix new VGM (WIPS in my signature are 3/4 from newer games), but it tends to be the kind of VGM that is very old-school. :)

--Eino

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Sorry for any confusion about the title, I'm asking you why you don't remix modern VGM, just to hear, but I don't want to limit it to only asking remixers why they don't remix new VGM. So in the first post I ask why people don't. That way it's kind of all-inclusive, but maybe a little confusing. I didn't really think about that.

I think saying new VGM being all cinematic or mood music is a bit of a misrepresentation. It's definitely a style choice for some games, but not all NES/SNES/etc music was melodic and catchy.. I didn't want to argue which was better because they're both great, I was just wondering why folks haven't remixed new stuff.. it seems like it's either because people haven't heard any of it, or they brush it off as being "hollywood mood music" :-(

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I actually personally find Terraria's soundtrack quite memorable & remixable, though I guess I agree it doesn't have much melody. It still has plenty of hooks though!

Plenty of melody actually.. don't know how it plays in-game though, I only have the OST.

--Eino

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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.

Just wanted to point out I have a pretty awesome Guild Wars 2 remix that sank like the Titanic on the WIP Forums. In my opinion, a lot of people listen to video game remixes for a nostalgia trip. People are going to be inherently more interested in a Final Fantasy remix than something from a more modern game. I don't think it has anything to do with the actual music itself, more-so just the feelings and emotions attached to the music.

http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=45598

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Just wanted to point out I have a pretty awesome Guild Wars 2 remix that sank like the Titanic on the WIP Forums. In my opinion, a lot of people listen to video game remixes for a nostalgia trip. People are going to be inherently more interested in a Final Fantasy remix than something from a more modern game. I don't think it has anything to do with the actual music itself, more-so just the feelings and emotions attached to the music.

http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=45598

Oh nice! I wanted to check that out, cause I saw it got no'd while I was planning my own remix of that theme xD

Jeez, how did you get so many views for it? Did you post it somewhere?

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For me it's that I'm still unskilled enough that I use midis . Most modern games have few midis . Otherwise some of it is that many games have very cinematic or ambient soundtracks that are harder to remix

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Saying something is too cinematic is just an excuse to not be able to listen for the melody -- ambient stuff is a different story, of course, sometimes not having a melody at all. Ambient stuff is pretty common now, but not for a WHOLE soundtrack. Even The Last Of Us which I would consider a largely mood music soundtrack has a nice melodic song for its credits theme.. and a few other themes I guess.. ;-) It won some award iirc.

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x = ((Skrypnyk's post + The Coop's post + k-wix's post) - talent)

I'm wired to enjoy a loop over and over (which explains why i keep creating .BRSTM files). Id wager I'm apt to listen to the source material more often than the remix for many songs.

But to each his (or her) own.

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Saying something is too cinematic is just an excuse to not be able to listen for the melody

Textural complexity factors into cinematic music, though.

The Skyrim theme is cinematic, but it has a very homophonic texture. There's the foreground melody and supporting instrumentation most people wouldn't even pay attention to.

This is different from other textures which focus on harmonic progression only or simplistic polyphonic textures where there isn't really a "main melody" but rather a bunch of simpler melodic lines stacked on to each other. These textures are harder to remix because they require a little more reading to understand what's going on musically (and since MIDI's aren't available, you rely on sheet music, if there is any, and a lot of remixers can't read music)

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Saying something is too cinematic is just an excuse to not be able to listen for the melody

It's not just that, because it ties into the argument about modern VGM leaving less room for interpretation.

Chiptunes and lofi sample/tracker tunes have that element of make-believe. No one hears the squarewaves in Silver Surfer as real guitars, but they're close enough to make you believe they could be. Same with "orchestral" SNES music like Actraiser.

It's just appealing and common practice in vg remixing to take something that's hinted at in the original and fully realise it.

Anything that sounds truly cinematic is by definition very much realised already. You have to do something else to it.

Sure, it's great (and challenging) to completely change the genre or just get really interpretive in the same one, but it's not as commonly appealing.

In theory you can transmogrify everything into anything.

Yet, with orchestral music in particular, it seems like a somewhat one-sided flow: much more orchestrification than de-orchestrification.

This is oversimplifying things, but in general people seem to like 'going bigger'. Like the good old rock band gone orchestral fad.

Also a good example for bigger not always being better ;) but it is in many ways easier to sound good by adding layers than by stripping away things and maintaining the essence.

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I think Brandon is hinting at a small OCR crisis. Has anyone else noticed community activity feels a little thin lately? We see the same familiar posters day by day, not much new blood.

In my opinion, a lot of people listen to video game remixes for a nostalgia trip.

Yeah, OCR's major export is nostalgia. Except it's the nostalgia of the 90s and 80s. So where is the kid who grew up with Halo 2 as their first game and why are they not in OCR, trying to produce music? Moreover, the style of posted remixes for newer games is often 90s electronica or de-makes into chiptunes.

It's not just that, because it ties into the argument about modern VGM leaving less room for interpretation.

I think an orchestral piece lends itself to Zedd-style electronica, or maybe the complex, glitchy style of Noisia. There's lateral shifts in form that are equally complex as orchestration.

Just saying, there might be a relevance issue that OCR faces down the road, as more of its producers grow up.

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I think Brandon is hinting at a small OCR crisis. Has anyone else noticed community activity feels a little thin lately? We see the same familiar posters day by day, not much new blood.

I've been wondering that myself lately. I think the gaming internet culture has just shifted in ways so that going to genuinely good forums like this one just isn't as hot as it used to be, and a bunch of our older veterans have just gotten older and acquired families and jobs that keeps it so coming back here is less of an option than it used to be.

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My apologies: my music vocab is almost non-existent. Detailed high resolution images can be downsampled, causing pixelation. Downsample to a small enough resolution and (as a fun side effect!) you're left with a 'core' pattern, showing only the most common pixel colours used (or average colours).

Is there an equivalent procedure to open a track from a modern game (an orchestral or 'fleshed out'/complex track)... downsample it somehow... then come out with a more 'pixelated' pattern? Wouldn't that be a good way to more easily identify the melody in otherwise complex music? From working off such a core/pixelated version of a modern track, it'd be easier to remix maybe? -_-

And yeh, if you don't already, you could have mix competitions for games within the last 10, 5, 2, etc. years. :)

Ah sometimes communities are busy... sometimes they're not. Could just be on a down cycle, eh? c:

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