ReMix:Secret of Mana "What the Ocean Taught the Forest" 3:30

By djpretzel

Arranging the music of one song...

"What the Forest Taught Me"

Primary Game: Secret of Mana (Square , 1993, SNES), music by Hiroki Kikuta

Posted 2019-04-25, evaluated by the judges panel

This is kind of a folk/world jam, intended to be joyful & buoyant & inspired by the Moana soundtrack, arranging "What the Forest Taught Me" off of Secret of Mana: Resonance of the Pure Land:

"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. 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. 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."

Definitely on the liberal side of arranging, but I really wanted to run with the concept. Probably influenced a bit by Paul Simon, too, specifically Graceland/Rhythm of the Saints. I was - and I supposed I still am - a little concerned that those infatuated with Kikuta's original (as I am!) will hear too little of it, here, but one thing I specifically did NOT want to do was keep the clockwork cadence. I wanted some more syncopation & flow, and found that branching things out into a sort of Polynesian-forward world music jam was a fun direction. Difficult, though, especially with 100% samples. Album director Jorito writes:

"Any album worth their salt needs a djpretzel track. Also, for any album with a djpretzel track, it means this track will be one of the very last things to be finished. Was it worth the wait? Definitely! Dave tells us tells a story of the joy of spring, the blessings of nature and all the good things things that be. With its well-chosen acoustic instruments, a bit of a Latin vibe, and an arrangement that keeps you on your toes until the last notes fade away, it's one lesson of nature both worth teaching and learning."

Of course, OCR *just* released a brilliant album with no pretzel, and there've been *many* of those in years past, but I do love contributing. Jorrith's right, I do think of this mix as a sort of celebration of nature, with the specific theme of the ocean sharing with & "teaching" the forest. I wouldn't attempt this mix at all without samples that I thought could convey it, and while it's a genre/style which obviously benefits from live.... everything... I'm still happy enough with the end result. Co-director The Nikanoru adds:

"I always love listening to djpretzel's tracks and this one is no exception. The theme for the Upper Land has a simplistic design with a positive tone that I found borderline eerie with its lack of percussion; djp has taken the gentle positivity and built a joyful, bouncy theme that speaks to me of a celebration of nature as seen on a sunny pasture at the edge of the forest. See what lessons you can learn as you dance through the forest to the ocean listening this track!"

Well said :) I've been paneling my stuff lately, and judges did grapple with, primarily, the liberal & additive nature of the arrangement. I liked DragonAvenger's take:

"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."

The intro/outro are kinda intended as the tide coming in, then going out... I needed some additional motif to tie everything together, and this is the one I came up with. 1'22", and then the violin harmony that gets added on top, are probably my favorite part, too... I feel that a song, like a poem, can justify itself artistically (to varying extents!) via "moments" and for me this was a moment I focused on & really wanted to present. At any rate, I do love the source, but I wanted to express that love by doing something no one else would be likely to do, and to tie it in with global cultural & natural influences. Hope you enjoy!



Latest 4 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Mr. Hu
on 2019-05-06 12:52:23

This is quite a toe-tapper. Absolutely get a "Graceland" vibe. This kind of mixing of multiple hi-mid instruments is something I struggle with, so I'm impressed by that as well.

Ben Boldt
on 2019-05-05 23:35:30

This mix really makes me think of StarTropics.

on 2019-04-25 16:44:34

Oh boy, yes! This is a true masterpiece. I've been listening to this track a lot since the album came out :) This is certainly one of my personal highlights of RotPL and just one of the best jams of Mr. Pretzel! I love playing this track when I'm in a good mood, and vice versa - pretty much every time I'm frown I put this track on repeat until I feel better, because this track is just... Pure happiness in musical form, I guess. I also love how this track is structured - you've got a nice tropical sonic journey sandwiched between mellower piano-led intro and outro, and that journey itself is quite an experience on it own - there're some straight-up joyful bouncy bits mixed with somewhat calmer parts, which are no less fantastic! The divesre instrumentation is also what makes me appreciate this piece so much - especially dig that sunny flute and groovy bass, haha. Huge kudos for this work, David 3

on 2019-04-16 04:49:46

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

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Secret of Mana (Square , 1993, SNES)
Music by Hiroki Kikuta
"What the Forest Taught Me"

Tags (15)

Balafon,Cello,Chromatic Percussion,Irish Whistle,Koto,Piano,Sound FX,Ukulele,Violin
Regional > African
Regional > Japanese
Regional > World

File Information

6,307,758 bytes


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