djpretzel

OCR03900 - *YES* Secret of Mana "What the Ocean Taught the Forest" *PROJECT*

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Just like with SMRPG, figured I'd post this here since it's not officially a flood mix, and it's actually relatively liberal - the source itself should be pretty easy to identify, but there's an original melodic motif that gets a fair share of some time, and a bass solo section thinger, and... okay, I'll stop talking :) Here's my notes from the album itself:
 

 

Quote

"I had originally planned a very different arrangement/collaboration with Harmony, who loves this theme and will hopefully one day do his own mix which will be much better than this, but the timing didn't work and I went in a different direction after seeing Disney's Moana for the 75th (or so) time. Not joking; my daughters Esther & Sarah are both huge fans, and for that matter so are Anna & I, and I can't think of another movie I've seen that many times without going clinically insane.

A big part part of Moana, for me, is the soundtrack; not JUST the brilliant songs, but each individual cue... it's ALL fantastic. The story also inspires me - maybe it's just because I've seen it SO many times, but I've started thinking of the islanders as a metaphor for all humans. We need to be voyagers, out there discovering new planets & finding our way, beyond the reef, and instead we're stuck on a single rock, beautiful though it may be.

So what DID the ocean teach the forest?

I love the Secret of Mana OST track names, so I figured I would play a little bit off of that. What can a forest teach us? Wisdom, permanence... temporal & vertical scale. Many other things, I'm sure. But what could a forest learn from the ocean? How to flow... how to touch many coasts, be a part of many traditions... how to be wild, dangerous, open, & free. More or less. I took this idea, inspired by Moana, and worked in a pretty diverse instrumentation: piano, ukulele, balafon, bandoneon, tin whistle, koto, taiko, violin, cello, a whole buncha percussion including some frame drums, & a pretty active electric bass. This type of arrangement is tough to do with samples, in my opinion, but I had fun trying, and I hope you have fun listening. Thanks to Jorito for bearing with my delays & putting together an amazing album, and mad respect & love for Hiroki Kikuta, whose Seiken Densetsu 2 & 3 soundtracks are both unqualified VGM classics."

 

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Wow, I can see what you're talking about with this being pretty liberal. When the source is there I can definitely hear it, but when the more original thread is present it certainly dominates. All of the themes present blend well together, so overall it's still well composed, but a stopwatch does seem to be in order:

0:37 - 0:51
0:53 - 1:07
1:25 - 1:56
2:12 - 2:25
2:26 - 2:32
2:35 - 2:39
2:44 - 2:47
2:52 - 2:57

90s / 206s

~44% Source

Hmm, this is a bit lacking in the source department. Even if I fill in the gaps a bit and cut off a few seconds off the end of the track (since it's silence anyway) this will very clearly fall short of the 50% threshhold that Larry tends to stick to. I'm not one to stick hard to that rule if the overall sense of the arrangement sounds like the source, but in casual listening I do have some difficulty connecting it to the source save for some choice moments (like at 0:37 - 1:07, for example). Seeing that it's legit one of my favorite songs from Mana, that's a bit of an issue. The production is pretty solid, and the orchestration and handling of the samples is pretty spot-on, so it's safe to say that the arrangement being too liberal is my only real concern, but it's a significant one.

Not to say the track is bad, of course - it's still a really cool track, and has some really cool ways to expand on the source (slowing down the theme at 1:25 was quite clever). I just can't justify passing this based on source usage overall. If the introductory material were cut shorter, or if some textures from the source (like the open arpeggio that's in the source at 0:26 in the Youtube link, for example) were incorporated into the original material (opening, closing and/or bridging material) I could see this being a pretty easy pass, but I think I'm going to have to turn this down for now. If anyone can ID more material than I and get this above the 50% mark I'd be happy to flip my vote, but it doesn't seem to be the case for now.

NO

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My stopwatching is a little different, since I don't think it's necessary to omit tiny variations, and Gario's start times seem a bit late:

0:35-1:06
1:22-1:53
2:10-2:57

109s/182s = 59.9%

Subjectively, the source seems pretty prevalent, although the additional motif is definitely felt as well.  I really don't think it's an issue here.

I don't have any other major concerns, either.  The flute is a little shrill, the vibrato on the strings a little mechanical, and the bass guitar a little muted, but none of these are significant.  Structure is conservative but explores new synergies and justapositions as it goes along.  I think it's a fine arrangement overall.

YES

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How'd you get 182s for the track length? It's a 3:30 song (210s), with a few seconds of silence at the end, there. I can understand filling in the gaps from place to place and slicing a few seconds from the end (which I did, in fact), but starting the clock a few seconds prior to each section and decreasing the length of the arrangement by almost thirty seconds doesn't seem justified to me, and that makes all the difference as far as stop-watching is concerned.

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Sorry, 182s seems to have been a math error on my part.  Should be 202s to the very end of the fade-out, making it 53.0%.

As for starting "prior to each section," I'm not.  I'm guessing it's because the MP3 uses VBR encoding, which can cause some variance in where the timestamps line up on different systems.  But I put down what I hear.

It's also not totally relevant, since 50% isn't a hard rule.  The intro and outro are the main offenders, and sure, it would be great if they could tie into some piece of VGM, but I don't think they detract from the fact that this is, subjectively but clearly and overwhelmingly, a "What the Forest Taught Me" remix.

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I don't know this source, but it's a pretty simple source.  I listened with MW's timestamping and I find it to be plenty accurate (Gario, your timestamping seems too harsh here).  The arrangement itself is unique and fun and the production is tight although the bass has a bit of an odd tone.  The piano intro and outro feel so different to the rest of the arrangement stylistically that they feel somewhat tacked on, but they work well enough.  I can tell there is a "kids' show" influence in the track, it's bubbly and upbeat, while still having good emotional content.  The instruments are fun and varied and everything is sequenced very well.  I'm curious, what tin whistle did you use, it sounds great.  The arrangement is quite liberal and it feels more original than remix to me, but I love it and I've gotta go with it.

YES

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Very creative approach here. I'm going to echo that the intro, while very nice, doesn't seem to connect super well with the rest of the track. The source is adapted pretty strongly, and while liberal, I do think that once the meat of the track starts it's there in enough of a capacity to be fine. I personally loved the 1:22 arrangement you did. I'm good to go on this one.

YES

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Strong instrumentation, and a highly varied/detailed arrangement here. Jumping straight to my main gripe - I would've liked to have heard the parts visit the original arrangement more than they do here, as I felt there were so many interludes where it was difficult to relate things back to source. I like what you did with capturing the spirit of the source in things like in portions of the bassline. The general movement of the melody is present in quite a few areas (the intro resembles the original the most), but verbatim source isn't present that often. Melodic variances of course count towards source count, so sections that alter the notes in some way I'm not against here. But when it makes the source tune unrecognisable in a fairly significant way, it raises concerns for me. I'm no expert in Secret of Mana, but I've heard the soundtrack enough to know the music - and I couldn't work out what source tune this was remixing until I visited the original and went back and forth a few times, only then could I make it out. To me, that's an indicator that something isn't quite right with a mix, even if it is technically getting itself over the line in terms of stopwatch usage duration. There's usage and then there's perceivable usage, and this mix, while gorgeous in a lot of ways (sounds, production/mixing, progression) - doesn't pull me towards the source tune much at all, and I wonder if that would be the case for other listeners. I find this one challenging as the other judges don't appear to have any major problems with this, and I don't want to unnecessarily drag the vote out. But I wanted to raise this concern for any mixes you do going forward. You've done a great job here - it is so transformative... but by a bit too much, and I honestly don't think the average person will find the link between this and the source tune as easily as they should be able to.

NO (borderline)

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On 4/5/2018 at 9:25 AM, DragonAvenger said:

Very creative approach here. I'm going to echo that the intro, while very nice, doesn't seem to connect super well with the rest of the track. The source is adapted pretty strongly, and while liberal, I do think that once the meat of the track starts it's there in enough of a capacity to be fine. I personally loved the 1:22 arrangement you did. I'm good to go on this one.

YES

My feelings essentially. I think there's enough connecting this to the source to be okay for me. I'm a fan. YES

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The track was 3:29 long, so I needed at least 104.5 seconds of overt source usage for VGM to be considered dominant in the arrangement.

35.5-57.5, 58.75-1:06, 1:22.5-1:53.5, 2:09.5-2:58 = 108.75 seconds or 52.03% overt source usage

Close, but the source usage checks out for me after giving this a lot of time to marinate and initially having similar timestamping conclusions to Gario; there were some liberal portions where the notes were different or simplified but the source rhythms and patterns are clearly followed. That said, to follow up on Jive's POV, IMO the arrangement recognition standards can't come down to whether we think a casual listener could pick out the source usage enough; we have enough cerebral arrangements (Navi's Final Fantasy X-2 "Chauffage au Gaz" strongly comes to mind) where the A-to-B source-to-arrangement connections are there yet not obvious at all.  We once has someone on YouTube say that Rozovian's Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time "Eye of the Storm" was unrecognizable and thus too liberal. This mix wasn't an example of going that out there, but the point still stands that the judges are the ones more carefully examining the arrangements, and fans generally aren't. And, of course, differences of opinion on an individual level are fine with me.

The trades between the arrangement and original writing were seamless, and you could easily think Dave's original motif was taken from that source or somewhere else from the SoM soundtrack. Nice shaker, tambourine, and ocean SFX accenting the piece, and the percussion and bass work are always exemplary stuff. Dave's work always has an organic flavor to it despite the lack of live instruments; one part good tools, but also understanding how to use those tools. Nice work!

YES

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