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[WIP] Gate - Mega Man Legends (sorry, no title yet)

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Posted (edited)

So there's a story with this one. Feel free to skip it. See the bolded line below.

The year was 2004 and Business Tech Essentials was boring me to tears, when I discovered I could listen to remixed video game music for free instead of actually doing my work. Purely by coincidence, I had recently discovered Mega Man and become absolutely obsessed with it, which I remain to this day. So at a time when I was constantly searching for any video game tune that would be cool with some kind of twist, I stumbled upon Mega Man Legends. There's no shortage of cool tunes on that MML soundtrack, but this one particularly caught my ear. I think part of it was the context: while it makes sense for the ruin to get darker as you descend, this one actually gets brighter. Mysterious af.

Anyway, I wrote up a pair of drafts of what I would want it to sound like: one as a grandiose pipe organ piece that (frankly) kinda sucked, and another as a more ambient tune that had more promise. I still really like the sound of that one, but I kinda ran out of ideas when it was like a minute and a half long, and I hated anything I tried to do to go forward from there, so I decided to take a break. I came back after a week, nothing. A month, nothing.

The months turned to years. I met a girl, I finished high school, I decided to go into engineering instead of music (it was a tough decision, but ultimately a good one). Every now and then, I'd load up that midi (I told myself once I liked the arrangement and got to an ending, I'd update my techniques then) and listen to it, and see if I could figure out where to go next. Predictably, it never went anywhere. At this point, it was on a thumb drive since I had moved on from my dad's PC to my own laptop.

Well, I graduated college, married that girl, lost that thumb drive somewhere along the way, and got into indie gamedev. Video games need music, and I wanted to do this thing right, so I upgraded my software, techniques and even tried to learn some composition from youtube videos and internet articles.

I had kids with that girl, an OCR remix literally changed my life (https://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03719), and while all this was swirling through my head in the year 2023, I decided to give a listen to a classic album that was a favorite of mine: Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I've always thought it was kind of hilarious how the opener was two different songs just mashed together because why not, and I made a passing joke of it in my head: They should make an exception to copyright law... If you ever get writer's block, you should be allowed to just add Love Lies Bleeding to the end of your tune.

Wait a minute... Writer's block? Didn't I have that once? OH YEAH.

So now starting from scratch because that old midi of mine was long gone, I actually decided on a kind of low-intensity hard rock remix of yet again the same tune from Mega Man Legends, and figured, once I get stuck, I'll do that. I'll literally just glue on Love Lies Bleeding to the end of it. You know, just as a joke. And I did, and it was frankly kind of hilarious. I obviously couldn't submit that to OCRemix, but it did get the wheels turning in my head. And besides, what better way to hone my skills for composing an actual video game soundtrack than by practicing with a familiar tune and connecting with a community to get feedback?

So I decided, once and for all, I was going to finish a remix of the Main Gate tune even if I hate it, and I was going to do it before the end of the year 2024, since that would be 20 years since my first attempt, and frankly I can't remember what day or month it was when I started. So you could say this thing is (kind of) 20 years in the making. ... Kinda sad, when you put it that way, actually.


While it's incomplete and needs a ton of help, here is my most recent swing at a Mega Man Legends Main Gate remix. Here's the original:

In mine, I kinda wanted to lower the intensity as well as the tempo and focus on a couple of less common ideas that I have always found cool in spite of (or perhaps because of) their rarity:

1. Modulations to a lower key instead of a higher one.

2. Swapping the role of soloist (or in this case, soloists) and accompaniment so that the melody pretty much serves as context for interesting harmony.

You can pick out the modulations easily because they're preceded by a change in the chord progression and accompanied by a bass drum roll. It transitions from B minor to Bb minor to A minor and finally A major right at the end. I love the way it feels when it resolves to the new key; there's a kind of contrast between losing energy by virtue of the modulation but raising tension in the composition. But I think those transitions are kinda awkward and/or abrupt. Especially the second one at 2:50.

I also feel like things get a bit repetitive in a number of places. I mean, it's a pretty short chord progression (and tune in general) in the original, and layering the melody in/out only helps so much...

I'm afraid I have no idea what to do with the piano in final major part, lol. Nor how to transition into it. Which is sad because the piano was the point, haha. I tried a couple of things and I hate all of it. I'd kind of like to do something other than arpeggios since I've been doing that for like 3 minutes at that point but it sounds awkward without some kind of movement. I do like the chords I chose for that part though, including the sus4-minor resolution and the Mario victory progression at the very end, so I'd like to keep it instead of just ending in A minor. Besides, the tension leading up to it HAS to go somewhere.

There are also the obvious problems that this sounds super robotic and I don't actually have any clue how many hands you would need to play it (sorry, I'm not a pianist), which other than recruiting real musicians, I'm not sure how to solve, haha.

And then there's the bass drum. I kinda like what it adds to the transitions, but I can't decide if it's awkward that those are the only times it does anything. I feel like it needs to either do more or get cut entirely. I tried adding in some more to the A minor section but it felt like it was intruding on what was supposed to be a pretty simple instrumentation.

One last thing: do the piano and flute feel like they have roughly comparable amounts of reverb? I can't decide if that's what it is, but something feels off about the two voices together.

So! Any comments, tips or pointers are very much welcome! Thanks!

Edited by Devsman
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  • Devsman changed the title to [WIP] Gate - Mega Man Legends (sorry, no title yet)

Hi Devsman! So happy to see some Megaman Legends love!!

Is the intention to keep this piece as just the 3 instruments?

I’m not a pianist, however I’m not hearing anything in your piece that sounds impossible for a single player to accomplish. That said, the sequencing for both the piano and the flute needs more volume and velocity automation - the velocities sound the same throughout (particularly the piano), which make it hard to retain interest with the short melodic figure.

Having the same reverb for your instruments is always a good idea, as it makes them sound like they are in the same space. Did you create a reverb send/bus or is it two instances of the same reverb plugin on the instrument channels?

The concert bass drum rolls are a good way to signal the transitions, however they don’t sound like they are in the same space as the flute and piano. The other issue is that they are currently only being utilized for the transitions, which makes them feel a bit awkward in the space. Would you be against having them in one of the sections, like say the climax of the piece, to help drive everything toward the conclusion? The section at 2:51 would benefit a lot from the bass drums accenting those first two stabs on the piano each bar!

Keep working on this one! Glad to read this is your return to music - definitely looking forward to what you’ve got cooking up next

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Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not ignoring you; it just takes me a long time to find a chance to work on this stuff, haha.

I think I've improved the reverb, and now I'm working on getting dynamics adjusted. Oh and hey, there's an option to randomize velocity. That could come in handy. Seems kinda tricky to set the value just right though; I'm ending up with mostly samey-sounding velocities except like once every two or three measures there's one that's way too loud. *shrugs* I'll keep playing with it.

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No worries on the time to respond, I’ve got notifications on 😁

Depending on the VSTi you’re using, there may not be different samples on the velocity ranges - this tends to happen a lot on free instruments. There are ways to go about it that don’t involve getting another instrument, like automating the volume fader or trigger a low-pass filter to activate at certain velocity thresholds to “soften” hits - but these solutions are pretty involved and can get finicky very quickly.

Randomizing velocities can get weird too - most DAWs have a set of tools for drawing in curves and things (usually a line, a sine wave, a parabola, and a standard pencil/paint brush). You can start with a line, for example, and then lightly push the values up and down for more humanizing; though if you’re still running into the issue of your instrument not having enough different velocity samples, you won’t necessarily hear the change

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On 6/5/2024 at 1:59 PM, Nase said:

Invest into a AAA piano library!

And see what you can do with It.

This can be good 4 free but mby you are Better off getting One pristine piano.

Oh I'm sure I will at some point. For now, this is more of a side project that came about from a rabbit trail and landed way off base for the kind of music I set out to actually practice composing (lol) so it probably won't happen for this remix.

This piano is actually the Grand Piano that came with Kontakt Factory, and sounds much better--at least to my ear--than what I was using before. I don't even remember the name of that plugin anymore, haha.

Anyway, thanks for the recommendation. I'll be sure to look it up in the future.

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Devsman said:

Oh I'm sure I will at some point. For now, this is more of a side project that came about from a rabbit trail and landed way off base for the kind of music I set out to actually practice composing (lol) so it probably won't happen for this remix.

This piano is actually the Grand Piano that came with Kontakt Factory, and sounds much better--at least to my ear--than what I was using before. I don't even remember the name of that plugin anymore, haha.

Anyway, thanks for the recommendation. I'll be sure to look it up in the future.


the demo of addictive keys is 4 octaves of the grand piano; i don't have it installed but i think most of your arrangement would fit into the 4 provided octaves. maybe not the lowest notes later on.

but their keys sound great, i picked up the upright piano for free with something ages ago. you just gotta download their online installer thingy and get the grand demo.

find a good patch in there and tinker with the velocities a bit to get rid of unwanted mechanical sounding repetitions.

just one idea. there's lotsa better free pianos out there as well, kontakt stock is iffy for piano i think. not using NI stuff anymore, but i think the grand included with the orchestral stuff was a bit better.

Edited by Nase
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