Posted 2019-11-12, evaluated by Liontamer
"This was the opening track for Arcadia Legends, covering the soundtrack of Skies of Arcadia. In 2016, Darkflamewolf contacted me if I wanted to make a ReMix of the opening theme and the main theme from Skies of Arcadia in a combined track that had "a calm buildup with the main theme that flows into the opening theme that ends in a climatic finish that pumps the listener up for the rest of the album". Even though I had never played the game before (BOO! Go home! Shame!), I was interested and wanted to try adding more orchestral influences to a mix than I had done previously. The themes were quite different, however, since the opening theme is full of energy and excitement, and the main theme is very calm and soothing. It was quite a challenge to mix the opening theme and main theme in a cohesive way, especially since both of them really consist of three different parts; there was no clear chorus or bridge. To add to the difficulty, the themes don't really have recurring motifs, but rather transition into distinct, different parts.
To keep a common theme in the mix and maintain the cohesiveness, I decided the main motif/focus in the mix would be the first part of the opening theme, which in my opinion has the most energetic and recognizable melody. To make the two blend nicely, I started with the opening theme, but slowed it down a lot to make it match the main theme's tempo. I also chose to use only piano (and some strings later on) and to play it in a simpler, calming, and soothing style so that it would match the main theme which comes afterwards in that regard as well. Since I didn't want to make the mix too long, to keep it coherent (and to make sure it felt like a complete song on its own and not a medley), I only used the first part of the main theme and the first part of the opening theme (not counting the intro of the opening theme). I think the piece flows really nicely from the opening theme to the main theme, but the next challenge was to transition back and to up the energy level.
To that end, I made an original build-up bridge in which I could also do what I've been wanting to try for a long time: add brass instruments to a mix to make it even more orchestral than my mixes have been in the past. This is my first official track to feature brass instruments, and I think it worked out quite nicely. The problem with brass instruments is that they sound fake so quickly, but I think I did a pretty good job there! Afterwards, I could bring the opening theme back at full energy with a lot of backing instruments to really get the adrenaline pumping for the start of the album. I've been making more and more music with a high energy level, and I really like how this one turned out.
The mix took me a lot longer then I initially thought because of the different transitions and the different parts in the source theme, but I believe the result is a nice, cohesive mix that fully reaches the goal as set by the project director. I worked quite some time on this one since I had a lot of difficulty mixing the two themes (especially going back to the energetic opening theme in full effect) and making the brass sound somewhat realistic, but I'm happy with the result! I think the playfulness and serenity of the main theme is in there, and I feel this builds up the energy well to be pumped up for the rest of the album!
Anyway, source breakdown time (it's quite easy with this one though):
- 0:00-0:16: Original intro
- 0:16-1:23: Part 1 of the opening theme (:24-:54), only slowed down A LOT (30 seconds became more than a minute)
- 1:23-1:40: Original part to transition between themes
- 1:40-2:11: Part 1 of the main theme (:00-:26), the bells play the original melody and the piano later mirrors the bells
- 2:11-2:49: Original (orchestral) bridge to slowly build up the energy and to transition back to the opening theme
- 2:49-3:24: Part 1 of the opening theme again, with additional instruments and counter-melodies, and one or two added chords
- 3:24-3:44: Repetition of the end of part 1 of the opening theme and I end with the starting four notes of part 1 of the opening theme (how poetic)
Source usage: 153 seconds of 224 = 68%. So, yeah, not really anything to worry about there. ;)
Arcadia Legends mastering engineer Rotten Eggplant writes:
"The composition in this track continues to send chills up my back every time I listen to it."
The mellower piano ballad half has a warm, lush tone, with faint string/bell accompaniment and deliberate, meaningful pacing - like someone reflecting, looking out a window, thinking about future possibilities while remembering past events. While I dig the eventual higher-energy march the mix ascends to, the ascension itself hits a little abruptly, and to me the snare sits a little too forward & dry in the mix. Nits being picked, of course; the sense of adventure, hope, & determination provides a great intro to the overall album, and it's also cool to see Pieter branching out and exploring expanded orchestral instrumentation. Enjoy!
on 2019-11-12 16:53:35
Oh, this track has seen many iterations and it
has had some history. It was one of the first claimed
and worked on, but also one of the last completed and finished in
the final year of the album's production. I know
or PUFreak as he was known during the album creation, struggled
with my vision of combining two different melodies into one song.
The transition is probably a rough reminder of that fact, but I
still think he pulled it off extremely well and his nice and
subtle touch helped lend a soft, humanizing aspect to the first
half of the song. I knew this would be the song that would start
the entire album off and I wanted to get it right, so much so
that many of my critiques and feedback probably annoyed the heck
out of him. He seemed to feel the same way, since during the time
of mastering in that final year, he kept coming back with
nitpicks on how it wasn't mastered well. It was a lot of back and
forth, but I feel we got it to a point where it is satisfactory
to all involved and a perfect beginning to a grand adventure that
is the album: Arcadia Legends!
Oh and there was the discussion about the title of the piece: Originally it was going to be 'The Legend Begins', but it wasn't until a later song by @Sbeast named 'Legend in the Making' was arranged to be the follow-up song in the track-list line-up. Seeing two songs with the word 'legend' in it was a big no-go from me as a director standpoint. The name for the song by @Sbeast fit so well and I am sad to admit, 'The Legend Begins' was unfortunately a placeholder name at the start since I was thinking up of titles for the piece. However, @Pavos had latched onto the name and resisted my direction to change it to 'The Voyage Begins' which was similar but not the same. After explaining and showing that 'Legend in the Making' was a perfect follow-on to his album opener and my reasoning for changing the title of his song, he relented and it became what it is today. For that, I am very grateful to @Pavos for trusting me with this directorial decision and I think it is now as it should be for this album! Thanks again for trusting me!
on 2019-11-04 02:23:44
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Sources Arranged (2 Songs)
- Primary Game:
Skies of Arcadia (Sega, 2000, DC)
Music by Tatsuyuki Maeda, Yutaka Minobe
- "Main Theme"
- Ballad, March, Pop
- Energetic, Mellow
- Bells, Orchestral, Piano, Strings
- 6,385,944 bytes
- Size: 6,385,944 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: 5e1eae046538b8469bc5cd8364c06a4e
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