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Pokemon Red/Blue - Celadon City (String Quintet Version)


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I've been playing Pokemon Red again, since it was rereleased for the virtual console for the 20th anniversary. The Pokemon soundtrack has always been one of my favourites, but as I was replaying it, I thought, "wouldn't this music sound great being played by a string group."

I decided to give arranging the Celadon City theme for strings a go. This is just a sample extract of the main A section of the piece, but I feel like I should let other people hear it before I do too much work on it, in case it turns out to be a waste of time.

Let me know what you think :)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5lS6lBc6h18a2MtQUE0MFBsZDg/view?usp=sharing

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My remix of Celadon City for Strings. I've turned it into a kind of theme and variations, using the main melody from Celadon City as the main theme and composing my own variations around it. I've also mixed in some of the Pokemon Centre theme as well.

To keep it interesting, I kept changing the key throughout, and tried to vary up the texture as much as possible with such a limited pallette (or should I say, "Pallet"...) of instruments. I've also used lots of secondary dominant chords, and other harmonic progressions that hopefully take the piece in directions you wouldn't expect. 

Hope you enjoy it :) If you listen to the piece, feel free to let me know what you think.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5lS6lBc6h18SUhxTjV3NUFpUjQ

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Right off the bat, I'll say that I like the feel of the piece. I think the gratuitous use of pizzicato really gives the arrangement an interesting texture at the beginning. I think that's a great way to start the piece, but it does get a little old as the piece carries on. I think allowing the other players some time to play arco would help break up the monotony a bit.

On the subject of production, I think there's actually a little too much reverb on everything. In particular, it sounds like your lower strings are being played in a bathroom rather than a concert hall. Again this is exacerbated by the abundance of pizzicato; the low sustain of the strings themselves opens the listener's ears to hearing mostly the reverb tails rather than the sound itself. Dial back the dry/wet dial a bit and maybe EQ out some of the lows and you'll get a cleaner sound I think.

I like the arrangement a lot, though, aside from the aforementioned overuse of pizzicato. Watch the highest notes on the 1st violin, though; they're sticking out a lot when they play repeated notes. Bring them back in a bit, maybe.

Overall, this is really good work. The compositional aspect of it is coming along really well, I think. I love some of the modulations you put in. Really gives some more life to a rather harmonically-stagnant piece. Keep it up!

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Thanks for the constructive criticism. I'm always a bit aggressive with my use of reverb, so I'll definitely pull that back in. I was trying to find a way to switch more of the parts to arco all the way through, so I'll try to find a good way to get some more bowing in.

Hope you enjoy my edits when I've made them :) 

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It's either my ears or your compressor, but I hear too much compression. The lead doesn't need to be _that_ loud.

I really don't like the lead. It's either the level at which it's mixed, or the timbre, or the dynamics, or some combination of those, or something else. Something about it makes me quickly tired of it. I should like it. It's not a bad fake violin.

Humanization is hugely important in a track like this, and that's another thing I don't like here. This doesn't sound sufficiently expressive, not human enough.

The arrangement sounds fine to me. I can't speak for classically trained orchestration professionals and whatnot, but I find this sufficiently arranged and full of source. Maybe the final iteration of the A part could be emphasized, foreshadowed a bit more, or given a sound that gives it a sense of ending, whether a big or small ending. Maybe a different use of the supporting instruments, more arco, staccato, I don't know. Maybe.

Also, the very end cuts off. Leave enough room for note releases and reverb tails.

This all sounds pretty negative, but that's all the lead's fault. This is a pretty good track, it just needs to be more human, and less hard on the ears. Even better with improvements to the other issues I found. I hear nothing that says this arrangement isn't ocr-level, so well done there. Humanize and make some production tweaks, and you should have an ocr-ready mix. Nice work.

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  • 2 months later...

OK, 2nd attempt at eval on my String arrangement of Celadon City from Pokemon Red/Blue.

I've taken the previous criticisms on board, and spend ages carefully riding the gain, and getting right into the automation controls to try to humanise the strings as much as possible. It's a pretty massive improvement on the original version I submitted for Eval before (I've no idea how I thought the previous version was worth submitting).

Also, I have no good idea for a title. Is Celadon City for Strings interesting enough, or do I need to come up with something a bit more clever before I submit the final version.

Hope you enjoy the arrangement :)

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5lS6lBc6h18d2o4U0pWbHpxMGs

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There are a few times when the strings just drops out completely. For instance, at 0:27, 0:32, and 0:47, a single note seems to disappear entirely, which is jarring. As you're listening to it, you anticipate the note, but then it's not there.

I'm not sure if it's the file not encoding them or if it's the composition. Either way, it's disruptive to the mood I was in while listening.

The tone change from 2:30 on makes it feel sad and kind of depressing compared to the first half. That transition from 2:56 to 3:00 is kind of off-setting. The change feels like two different styles trying to merge.

I think that the more upbeat and airy, bouncy style in the first few minutes and the last 30 or so seconds is where the song really shines. It's makes me imagine I'm watching the people go about their day during a beautiful summer morning.

Compared to the previous versions, this is a step in the right direction. Keep going. I'm keeping an eye on this one.

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On 6/17/2016 at 6:28 PM, The Damned said:

 

There are a few times when the strings just drops out completely. For instance, at 0:27, 0:32, and 0:47, a single note seems to disappear entirely, which is jarring. As you're listening to it, you anticipate the note, but then it's not there.

 

Not really sure what you're referring to here. I guess it must be an encoding problem. I'll reexport the file and hope that fixes it.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5lS6lBc6h18UkdJLUx4cmV3M1U

On 6/17/2016 at 6:28 PM, The Damned said:

The tone change from 2:30 on makes it feel sad and kind of depressing compared to the first half. That transition from 2:56 to 3:00 is kind of off-setting. The change feels like two different styles trying to merge.

I think that the more upbeat and airy, bouncy style in the first few minutes and the last 30 or so seconds is where the song really shines. It's makes me imagine I'm watching the people go about their day during a beautiful summer morning.

So, I'm not sure how I should change that section, without just scrapping it entirely. I was trying to make the two sections sound really different on purpose, to keep the piece interesting, and to show the evil goings on in Celadon City compared to how it appeared.

Sure, on surface level, the city is an upbeat, happy place, but underneath the game corner, the Team Rocket Hideout is hidden away, working on their nefarious Pokemon stealing plans. The sad section is actually a sad variation on the Pokemon centre theme. Team Rocket have got the Silph Scope, which you need to get, so you can free the Marowak spirit that's trapped in Lavender Town. As subplots go, its pretty much as sad as the Pokemon games get.

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MOD REVIEW/EVAL

Wow, this is quite a different approach. It almost sounds like a Gallant period piece, though I forget if that period had the two-emotion contrast (like Classical music does) or if it stuck with one emotion (like Baroque music tended to do). It was a strange hybrid, and I don't recall precisely their tendencies. Anyhow...

There are two moments where I hear some distortion due to the sudden low-end that comes in at 0:30, 3:22 and 3:24. I'd be great if you could fix those moments of distortion, as otherwise this has some solid production. As far as the moment in the middle that's more "sad", I thought it was very idiomatic, considering the period that it's trying to emulate. I like the contrast, and there's plenty of music from the 18th century that did the same thing.

The instruments are pretty realistic, so nice work on that. The style is underrepresented on this site, and the arrangement is clever, so if you fixed the few moments of distortion that I mentioned I could see this passing the panel, if you were to submit it.

As far as the title goes, I actually kind of like "Celadon City for String Quartet". It kind of fits the style of the music in general - if you're going for that style, go balls out, I say.

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The sounds starts out good, it really loses it around the area where it goes to a minor key. The notes being played in relation with the chord structure are kinda well..wrong. For some reason you are mixing minor 7ths with major 7ths, which only works in special situations. Then the song at the end starts what sounds like a round, or some kind of improv behind the melody, which ends up being messy.

Generally when you have a limited sample library like this you have to stay simple, as violin sounds are not very different from say, a viola. They both compete for the same space.

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On 6/23/2016 at 2:40 PM, Nathan Allen Pinard said:

For some reason you are mixing minor 7ths with major 7ths, which only works in special situations.

When it comes to classical music, 7ths normally should resolve in a downward fashion, so technically it misses the opportunity to be perfectly idiomatic with the period it's emulating. However, the 7ths that are introduced in that part make sense musically - they play the Celadon motif, blending it with the Pokecenter music. I found it rather clever, actually, and not at all dissonant enough to consider a mistake. It all remains in the same key (parallel minor, of course, but same signature), so it's actually rather difficult to make something that sounds wrong, in those conditions.

I will add that the Violin and Viola samples sound thin, like the mid range of their EQ has been pushed forward. I don't know if you adjusted the EQ levels of those instruments for any reason, but they have an unnaturally high midrange EQ output, from what I hear. You should consider adjusting that.

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On 2016-06-21 at 1:51 AM, PAldousMusic said:

Not really sure what you're referring to here. I guess it must be an encoding problem. I'll reexport the file and hope that fixes it.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5lS6lBc6h18UkdJLUx4cmV3M1U

Yeah, those "missing" notes (hah, missingnos!) are there now. Must have been the file.

 

On 2016-06-21 at 1:51 AM, PAldousMusic said:

Sure, on surface level, the city is an upbeat, happy place, but underneath the game corner, the Team Rocket Hideout is hidden away, working on their nefarious Pokemon stealing plans. The sad section is actually a sad variation on the Pokemon centre theme. Team Rocket have got the Silph Scope, which you need to get, so you can free the Marowak spirit that's trapped in Lavender Town. As subplots go, its pretty much as sad as the Pokemon games get.

I don't know... that part where Bianca has to face her father for running away to life her life her way, with arguably one of the best songs in the series, comes to mind. But that's just me. ;)

Your explanation does fit the composition, and I don't hate it, it just didn't spring to mind that's what you wanted to convey.

Don't stop, of course, I'm always in favor of more pokémixes.

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