Arranging the music of one song...

"Stronghold Showdown"

Primary Game: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (Nintendo , 1995, SNES), music by David Wise

Posted 2010-11-27, evaluated by djpretzel

For this orchestral submission from Serious Monkey Business, Justin originally wrote:

"At :22 seconds, the source tune is a very short piece to remix, so I tried to utilize as much as possible. For the intro, I was going for a kind of John Williams/Indiana Jones feeling, then followed by some variations on the main melody of the source. In the next section, I used a much more complex version of the repeating pattern that plays in the original to form a bass for the solo trumpet playing the main melody line. For the rest of the song, I tried to get some good contrasts between large/full passages and smaller, lighter sections; eventually leading into a very big ending."

Based on feedback, he then amended the arrangement and even renamed it:

"Did a complete rework this time of the section at :51, changing the time signature, key, and writing. Should make the source much more clear. Also made a few minor changes throughout to try and bring out the source connections. It doesn't feel as much Storm the Keep-ish now, hence the name change to High Seas (I think you'll hear why)."

I definitely get the feeling of high seas adventure, scalliwags, hijinx, etc., and it's very creative extrapolation from relatively simple, short source material. The source flies by as a one-time melodic statement, basically a cue, whereas Justin has fleshed it out into an entire scene. Album co-director Wesley Cho writes:

"Justin put together quite a curious track for what is a pretty short source which most people would dismiss as forgettable - Jeremy and I were quite surprised that he turned it into a full-fledged orchestral track that brought out a notion of a breathtaking adventure on the horizon. Justin put a lot of effort into this track to bring it to life, and it shows."

I think Wise actually excels at composing both larger pieces and shorter "ditties" (Get it? Cause it sorta sounds like "Diddy's? Ha?), and I don't think this particular piece was as much of a stretch as I had to make for 'Funky's Theme,' for instance - the melody may not repeat itself, but it's definitely there, and Justin picks it up and dervives new avenues and depth from it. Great, interpretive stuff that's yet another jewel in SMB's crown of DKC2 awesomeness.



Latest 13 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2012-01-08 16:19:36

I'm with Marmiduke on the source's shunted nature; most players would focus too much on DK before even taking in the source tune. :razz:

But if it's anything I know with Nutritious and his interpretations of jingles, he turns them to gold. And true to his cinematic feel at the time, it's captured well with the tense starting before showing in a greater amount of familiarity with the quick stroking violin bows, and to see it being varied up later on with the string part writing later on into something more triumphant was also a great sign, and even the minor key segment follows a good touch and serves as a reminder as to what happens at the end of the supposed 'showdown' for those that played the game - something that could be seen as quite bittersweet even though there's still that hint of determination left. Such a strange source to handle, and I can understand how there may have been some revisions down the line before it ended up in this form, but as it turned out he got the arrangement down to a T.

Productionally it sounds very clear, though in comparison to more recent orchestrations from him though, it doesn't seem to shine as much, which could be noted more with some of the stagnaant-sounding string texturing and slightly compressed general dynamics if anything; though on the other hand the booming percussion and shaping of the wind/brass instruments really helped to make it shine.

For Nutritious's works at the time however, it's daring and yet the firmly established setup coupled with this great artistic vision makes this worth checking out if you're a fan of his work, or want to see some added depth to your Donkey Kong coverage. Good going Justin :)

on 2011-07-01 04:30:10

It's kinda astonishing how the least remarkable track from the DKC2 soundtrack could become something as grand and developed as this. It embellishes absolutely everything about the original in order to transform the utterly trivial into an accomplished composition.

Quality of sound is pretty high, naturally. Lots of cinematic flair helps a great deal. It's got the right amount of range and scope (lots!) to both convince me of its merits and entertain me. Of course it is impossible to remix a source like this without doing some major arrangement legwork, but even with that in mind, I feel that this goes beyond the call of duty to deliver. I'm glad this didn't turn out to be an overlooked throwaway, like the source track probably deserved.

on 2010-12-09 11:45:07

What impresses me most about this mix is how far Justin was able to go with a 30-second source tune. He really stretches it to its limits with a lot of dynamic tempo/rhythmic/melodic alterations that give this track life beyond a lot of other pure orchestral mixes. In particular, I love the plucked strings during some of the lighter, airier sections of the song.

Nice work, as usual :-)

on 2010-12-07 15:05:49

Sweetness. Yeah, the stronghold showdown theme was really forgettable to me sadly, to the point that I didn't even remember it, and DKC 2 is one of my favorite games. But it was good and full of potential. That's when you have to ask "who can take this 22 second thing and turn it into a epic sound-scape that rings in the John Williams style feeling and give it some life?" Nutritious did by a long shot. Grand, adventure bringing goodness that screams movie soundtrack. I love it. Great ReMix.

on 2010-12-06 01:24:37

really classic writing here, great use of tempo and rhythmic motifs, and it's astounding the source melody is so short.

Excellent work :-)

on 2010-12-05 15:11:37

Adventurous, exciting, with moments of tranquility and awe. A stunning orchestral piece. I'm not very familiar with the source, but that's not necessary. This works so well as a piece of music. Thanks!

on 2010-12-05 14:02:22

Oh yes i'm hearing the John WIlliams influence here. I'm loving this, sounds great! Everything fits together nice and snug and the arrangment is awesome. Probably my fav mix of yours so far Nutritious, great job!

on 2010-12-05 10:05:36

Magepically adventuricious! *bows*

Hats off to you, excellent remix! I seriously need to listen to this album more.

on 2010-12-04 23:31:54

^ What this guy said, lol. :-)

The intro is golden; I can almost see Indiana Jones peeking around a bush looking at some monkey temple or something. I also really like the very light feel to everything. There's a nice sense of optimism like you can finally explore the ruins without some giant boulder rolling after you.

Knowing how this was made just makes this even more impressive.

All in all, a really cool song and worth checking out.

on 2010-11-28 20:04:07

For Adventure!

Epic, majestic, majepic?

on 2010-11-27 22:55:22

As I mentioned in my comments in the mixpost, I was quite surprised with what Nutritious has been able to accomplish with this song. It builds up nicely and clearly uses the short source in an inventive fashion. I can imagine myself on a ship sailing with this song playing in a video.

on 2010-11-27 15:39:47

Nutritious is my orchestra hero. I've got the feeling of being on a boat on the sea while listening to it! :smile: It is an amazing track and a very good addition to SMB. Great job! :nicework:

on 2010-11-27 12:49:43

What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (Nintendo , 1995, SNES)
Music by David Wise
"Stronghold Showdown"

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