ReMix:Dragon Warrior "Overture Variations" 4:22

By trickwaters

Arranging the music of one song...

"Overture March"

Primary Game: Dragon Warrior (Nintendo , 1986, NES), music by Koichi Sugiyama

Posted 2008-08-18, evaluated by the judges panel

While Patrick Waters, alias trickwaters, may not have been inspired to title this piece creatively, opting for the rather Dr. Obvious "Overture Variations," (deja vu!), the piece itself is what matters far more, and it's an ornate and well-crafted arrangement that certainly DID involve some serious creativity. The ReMixer writes:

"I began planning and composing /Overture Variations/ for wind quintet in September 2006, shortly after I enrolled in graduate school. With my education demanding more attention, I set the project aside until January 2007, garnering some recent revisions in June for improved voice leading. Heavily inspired by the works of Brahms, the variations cycle through disparate keys and styles of counterpoint."

With classical/orchestral pieces like these, when there are a good number of exposed parts, there's this really interesting issue judges have to deal with regarding sample quality. Should a lesser arrangement with fantastic samples make it onto the site while a great composition that sounds pretty GM gets turned down? The trickier aspect is that quality samples CAN actually improve what we refer to as arrangement, by allowing for alternative articulations and modulations that simpler, static samples don't. It's not a black-and-white, cut-and-dry issue - arrangement can affect production and vice versa, and while having the best samples in the world still won't guarantee that you'll arrange brilliantly, having limited samples CAN hold you back. Case in point, even though one listener wondered why I didn't get a real orchestra to record my latest mix (or specifically a real cellist), I personally would never have released it in the first place if I hadn't had a cello sample that could capture *enough* of what I wanted. It was an arrangement that was made directly possible, for me, by a single sample library, and I see nothing wrong with that, as that's my personal barometer for what I will and won't release.

That being said, even the best sample libraries involve degrees of compromise, and there are plenty of great mixes on this site that wouldn't be here unless ReMixers accepted that compromise and moved forward with their ideas. I say all of this because Patrick's arrangement of Sugiyama's classic Dragon Warrior score is basically a chamber piece, with a lot of exposed solo parts, no ensemble passages to hide behind, wonderful variation between legato and staccato articulations, and superb attention to dynamics. Those particular traits - the same that make it a great, unique arrangement - happen to tax the believability and musicality of any orchestral sample library to its absolute limits. Don't get the wrong impression - I think this sounds pretty darn good, all things considered - I just wanted to muse on this particular topic for context. Patrick's arrangement lives up to its intuitive title with a ton of variation, switching from held, legato passages, to runs, to combinations of the two, to the almost cartoonish and very quick ending. Clarinet and oboe start out, joined by bassoon, flute, and horn within the first half minute. The part writing is the mix's biggest success by far - unison, harmony, call-and-answer, counterpoint, etc. are all employed very naturally. I feel like that was the mixer's focus and primary goal, and I think he achieved it. Malcos writes:

"This is certainly not the kind of thing we get on a regular basis, and adds musical diversity to the site. That aside, the arrangement is very good, mixing in source sections in between original material."

Sounds good to me; judges pointed out non-existent low-range EQ being an issue, but I don't think you can necessarily apply traditional EQ to pieces like these, and on my speakers at least it wasn't a huge issue. Different stuff from Mr. Waters, sounding almost like "Dragon Warrior goes to the Renaissance Fair," in a good way.



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2015-12-30 19:46:12

The samples make it sound about 6 years older than it is, but they are still used well. The frantic part is a nice contrast; it came just as I was starting to tire of the mix. But then again, I am not crazy for woodwind pieces in the first place. The last minute is particularly good. Decent mix.

on 2015-12-30 19:04:06

It's a pleasant piece. :) I like how it's so playful when deviating from the source.

on 2009-01-29 08:33:13

Wow, this would go a long way to strengthening the Dragon Warrior/Quest atmosphere if it was used in game. It has a really authentic sound (despite some of the samples not being meticulously realistic) and captures that whole chamber orchestra movement style that I have a fondness for. It's extremely different from all of the other orchestral offerings; restrained, varied and well-paced. I particularly admire the amount of material that is fit into the rather modest 4:23 running time. There's a lot to enjoy with this mix; it's a novelty piece but one that explores an area of music previously unrepresented. All in all, pretty damned classy.

on 2008-12-06 22:49:19

This is so awesome, totally sounds like music you'd hear at a Renaissance fair or even at Fantasyland at Disneyland (er, don't ask how I would know that). Nice to see a wide variety of stuff here expanding from techno/rock stuff.

on 2008-09-11 18:14:46

I loved it. My only complaint is seeing it on the "to be posted" list for so many months. The anticipation was killing me. Fortune favored me when My Ulcer was only a small one.

on 2008-09-07 21:29:12

awesome. i love the source and i love the remix. great job.

Martin Penwald
on 2008-09-02 15:14:12

Very intriguing. As was said before, chamber music isn't exactly something you'd find on OCR very often, so it's all the better to be able to listen to something as unusual as this.

Very nice song where it really pays off if you listen to it closely instead of just having it play in the background. Also, the ending is fun.

on 2008-08-28 12:57:50

Very distinct, and pretty creative work. You really have to listen close for all the textures to be apparent, and this isn't one you can really get into the first time through. After repeat listens, however, it's pretty apparent that this works very well.

Samples are decent, but are very clean, which doesn't obstruct at all. I'd say it's a strength, since all the parts are very audible.

Nice work. :-)

on 2008-08-19 13:15:17

An excellent remix; DQ games are a strong source, and few people really use them. A great job, trickwaters!

on 2008-08-19 03:15:33
(...)we can be party to one of Kevin's ReMix reviews that's actually non-douchey! YES! :tomatoface:

Am I really that notorious? I think I'll take it as a compliment - and I'm trying to just keep my negative opinions to myself now. It's caused me nothing but trouble (and now I'm known for being an asshole and Pretzel probably wants me dead!) :D

BUT that aside, this piece is the usual Patrick Waters brilliance. I'm surprised it took so long to get posted here, really. The samples don't really show off the arrangement in the way it needs to be heard, but you can still tell how fantastic this is. Real attention to detail and Waters' knowledge of composition techniques are just so apparent. And his use of the samples is really good - he pushes them to their limits.

I really love the build to the climax, because when it releases, it's just glorious.

And I would like to echo all of the other sentiments - this needs a live performance.

on 2008-08-18 21:13:29

This is really an awesome arrangment. Kudos to Patrick for the hard work he put into this! Great to see a style not oft seen here up on the front page.

on 2008-08-18 18:30:31

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the source track appears in multiple DQ games, right? Regardless, a solid track that is great to listen to. I like it. Also, C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER! First non-remixer review.

on 2008-08-18 18:03:53
unless Kevin Stephens and Patrick had a falling out, we can be party to one of Kevin's ReMix reviews that's actually non-douchey! YES! :tomatoface:

I lol'd

Honestly though, this is very good. Production is absolutely good enough and the arrangement is sweet. Get this performed and submit that version too! OCR needs more of this.

on 2008-08-18 17:34:01

Wow, this is really cool. Great to see some chamber music on OCR! Any plans on getting this performed?

on 2008-08-18 17:14:27

Finally! Glad to have this up, the intimate production style grew on me. And unless Kevin Stephens and Patrick had a falling out, we can be party to one of Kevin's ReMix reviews that's actually non-douchey! YES! :tomatoface:

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Dragon Warrior (Nintendo , 1986, NES)
Music by Koichi Sugiyama
"Overture March"

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