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OCR04119 - *YES* Super Mario Galaxy & Donkey Kong 64 "Zacatecas"

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Contact Information

  • Your ReMixer name: JohnStacy
  • Your real name: John Stacy
  • Your email address: 
  • Your userid: 33075

Submission Information

  • Name of game(s) arranged: Super Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong 64
  • Name of arrangement: Zacatecas
  • Name of individual song(s) arranged: Gusty Garden Galaxy, DK Isle
  • Your own comments about the mix, for example the inspiration behind it, how it was made, etc.


    Oh boy does this mix have a story. About 10 years ago, I had a dream where I was on stage somewhere, performing as part of a large ensemble - probably a big band, banda, or brass band. This dream was very vivid, I remember it being an outdoor concert in the evening. It was very hot and dry, but the music was fun and the audience really enjoyed it. This dream sticks with me.
    In 2015 I was working on an album of big band video game music. That album never released, although it was completely arranged. I recorded this the parts to this track multiple times - trumpets 3 times, horns twice, trombones twice, drums twice. This was over the course of four years - 2015-2019. I would get excited and work on it, but could never quite get it the way I wanted it. I pulled it out one last time, wrote an ending (it previously was part of a medley), and got on seriously producing it. When I was mixing, I got to the 3rd section and realized that this was the kind of music that was in my dream. This is the kind of thing I want to be doing.
    Interesting things - I used some instrument choices here that deviate from the norm. The first minute or so features a flute choir - 3 flutes, alto flute, and bass flute. Lead trombone is played on an alto trombone, and trumpet 3 and 4 are on cornet.
Zacatecas is the name of a city and state of Mexico, located in the south-central part of the country. This name is only significant in that the climate and geography looks most like what I remember from my dream.


Alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, trumpet, cornet, french horns, alto, tenor, and bass trombones, drums - JohnStacy
Flutes - Gamer of the Winds, Lea Baumert (alto and bass)
Tuba - Alex Hill
Piano - DS
Guitar - Andrew Flipinski
Bass - Sam Bobinski


(OCR users in italics)
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  • 1 month later...

fun SMG track - really energetic. never heard it before.

up front - there's a few seconds of silence at the start, 15 seconds at the end, and it's got about 6.5db of headroom. so some simple fixes would need to be made if this passes.

after a brash intro, the track is an adaptation to a bossa or big-band style. there's some nuance in the melodic content and the backing tracks are pretty well-done for the style. melody passes around between instruments. i like continued attention to variation in the level and complexity of the background parts, and the mastering is realistic in terms of pan and verb for a live performance.

at about 2:04 we see the shift over to the DK64 track. i'll be real honest - i didn't see how this wouldn't be a jarring change when looking at the submission, and yet i didn't notice the change between sections for almost a minute until i realized that the melody wasn't SMG anymore. bravo. talk about an organic transition. this is a great downtempo section contrasting the opening blow. the sax swell into a fuller rendition was excellent as well, although i was expecting more variation to the melody from the original based on how you'd done the first part.

the tempo change into 3:56 was nicely handled. the change in style continued to keep it fresh, and the addition of ensemble stops was a nice way to freshen up the smoother writing you'd used in the previous section. 

the part at 4:44 where you've got each major section and the keys all doing something different is fantastic. i can clearly hear each section by themselves and it's well-handled to allow each their little snippet. it's a little heavy in the left ear but not overly so, and it's an appropriate thing considering the simulated-live layout of the group on the sound stage. if the trombones were more middle it'd balance out a little better, but that may mess with the stereo separation depending on how you implement it.

the final blow at 6:27 is great. love the trumpet flip and the also sprach zarathustra-esque brass chords under the pinned trumpet note at the end.

this is a superlative arrangement. what few technical issues i had with it are minimal at best. if we remove the silence on each side and amplify it (a touch of compression to bring up the quieter middle section wouldn't be amiss either) this is easily postable.



YES (conditional on levels and silence removal)

update: the new version is great. consider this a YES now.

Edited by prophetik music
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  • 2 months later...

Wow, this is certainly ambitious and very well executed! I'm glad you stuck with this concept through the years because your arrangement is a winner. Though it never strayed far from the Gusty Garden/DK Isle themes, there are ample changes to the phrasing and harmonies that make this sound entirely your own. The segue from Mario Galaxy into DK64 was flawless and instantly evoked a nostalgia overload for me. As I've come to expect, I can't find any fault with the brass performances, but all of the additional guest instrumentalists pulled their weight too. The choice to go back into a mellower bossa nova jam at 6:10 was really slick and landed perfectly with me, especially when you immediately follow up with such a satisfying climax. Bravo! 

Just a few gripes - the drums felt like a weak point throughout the arrangement. The hi-hats were especially grating over time, since they were mixed very far forward compared to the rest of the drums and rarely deviated from a basic quarter-note rhythm. At 1:34, they sounded downright distracting, but fortunately this didn't last very long. Additionally, the overall master needs to be normalized in volume and there's silence to be trimmed on both ends of the mix.

Fix those two things up, and this is ready for primetime! Great work. 


Edited by Emunator
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  • Emunator changed the title to 2019/06/26 - (2C) Super Mario Galaxy & Donkey Kong 64 "Zacatecas"

That arrangement is definitely on point!  The bossa nova direction with added harmonies set a fantastic first impression, and the fresh additions didn't stop there.   The segue to DK Isle at 2:03 felt organic and combined with the melody phrase spacing until 3:03 that one source got a creative transformation. The tempo change and jazzier reprieve for Gusty Garden at 3:56 kept things refreshing as did the rubato piano section at 5:27; and the climax at 6:31 with the eventual "you got a star" jingle reference dynamically drew things to a close.  I find it amazing that even though the structure is essentially A-B-A, there's so much to love with multiple genre adaptations, subtle melodic tweaks, and the shaping of the framework.  Fantastic teamwork, all!

Now, the mixdown is an intriguing one.  A lot of the sharper instrumentation (particularly brass) is over on the left side of the stereo field - but it becomes less problematic as more rhythm parts, woodwinds and muted brass appear from the right.  If anything, it feels like a more organic live setting.   Yes, the mixdown also feels bright, particularly on the brass and cymbals - but nothing got damaged, and I see it as a necessity to prevent blending into other parts of the ensemble, so good call.  The recording quality across all parts is clean too, and the performances are tight, so even with the steep headroom taken into account, it's a good production.

I, too, am all in favor of seeing it get posted - but that's providing John can do the volume and silence fixes.  People need to sit back and enjoy it, champagne in one hand, and a wristwatch on the other!

[EDIT 2019/05/28 - John sent me a revised version with not only the volume boost and silence cuts, but also addressed Wes's drum mixing critique.  I'm delighted to see it get posted now.]


Edited by Rexy
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  • Emunator changed the title to 2019/06/26 - (2Y/1C) Super Mario Galaxy & Donkey Kong 64 "Zacatecas"
  • Liontamer changed the title to OCR04119 - *YES* Super Mario Galaxy & Donkey Kong 64 "Zacatecas"
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