Ōkami music makes me happy, especially this theme, so we keep celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dwelling of Duels with an entry from this year's PlayStation 2 month, as jnWake and a jazzy quintet inject some refinement (along with dashes of prog) into Waka's theme from Ōkami! Really happy to have several newcomers on board as well, with Brandon Harnish, DeLuxDolemite, and long-time fan and now-official ReMixer Nathan "AarekMG" Froehlich joining in the fun as they teamed up with OCR veterans JohnStacy and Ivan Hakštok to complement jnWake's own arrangement and performances. jnWake paints the picture for us on how this took shape:
This is a jazz/rock arrangement I wrote for DoD's PS2 month back in May 2023. I've always loved Okami's OST, so that particular DoD theme gave me a push to finally do a cover of it. I usually do prog. metal kinda stuff for my remixes, but that particular month I was in a jazz-ish mood, so one of the first things I decided (even before picking a source) was to do something jazz-oriented. Picking a source was a little tough, but I eventually decided on Waka's theme, which is a pretty flute-oriented theme with waltz rhythm. Somewhat unexpectedly, I found at least 2 jazz covers of it on YouTube, but I decided to keep at it anyway.
Since I wanted to do jazz-ish stuff, I decided to find people to perform for the arrangement instead of using VSTs, since it'd sound a ton better. This remix features JohnStacy on French horn, Ivan Hakštok on bass, Brandon Harnish on EWI/vocals/melodica, Nathan Froehlich on trumpet, and DeLuxDolemite on drums... quite a large group for something arranged in less than a month! Anyway, their performances really add a lot to this, so thanks to all! I performed synth leads and did MIDI recordings for the piano, organ, and supplementary synths.
The arrangement features a fair bit of somewhat original writing by me, so I hope that isn't an issue... I'll detail source usage now, in any case. The source is actually a pretty simple source and it's mostly composed of 2 elements, a harp melody and a flute melody. These 2 elements are the basis of my arrangement."
Before we get to the source usage, let's note that it's understandable enough for an artist to have an arrangement concept's genre in mind, find other instances out there and talk themselves out of it, so respect to jn for staying the course and powering through. Artists shouldn't be afraid to think through how they can bring their own uniqueness to an arrangement, even if the genre's been done before; it's clear in this case that jnWake's version stands apart from The Consouls and Jazztick's quality jazz takes on this same theme, so we say the more the merrier! I'm really diggin' the piano chords anchoring the track starting at :25, which filled out the sound nicely and had an understated way of driving the piece forward, but let's get to jnWake's breakdown of how he structured the arrangement:
"0:00-0:25: Intro of the song, it features the harp melody on piano (with some variations). Bass and drums are "original", not using the chord progression from the source.
0:25-1:09: Here, the arrangement switches to 4/4 and JohnStacy's French horn "ensemble" plays a variation of the flute melody (it's mostly some different timings to fit the change from the source's 3/4 to 4/4).
1:09-1:19: An "original" riff, it keeps the rhythm from the previous sections but isn't based on the source.
1:19-1:40: Brandon's EWI plays a variation of the flute melody over a chord progression that constantly changes key!
1:40-1:48: Switch to 6/8 and piano plays the harp melody again, but the chord progression shifts to a somewhat quick constant E to D.
1:48-2:28: First, bass and drums accompany the piano and then we have a solo duel between John's horn and my synths! As backing for the synth solos, we can hear Brandon's singing.
2:28-2:49: To get inspired for the arrangement, I listened to some Snarky Puppy... and that led to me wanting a trumpet solo in the arrangement, which Nathan played awesomely (is this even a word?). The backing for the solo is "original" writing, repeating the riff from the earlier original riff.
2:49-3:14: This is a completely original bridge, mostly on 7/8. Synths played by me, accompanied by John's French horn.
3:14-3:35: A repetition of the main flute melody on French horn.
3:35-4:18: Main melody on F#, now on synths over faster drums and a more "dramatic" chord progression. I'd call this the main climax of the song. On the second repetition of the main melody, you can hear Brandon's melodica doubling and/or harmonizing the synth lead.
4:18-4:27: Repeat of the "original" riff from earlier, now on F#.
4:27-4:48: Piano plays a variation of the harp melody to close the song on a B minor chord with a lot of added notes.
I had a lot of fun writing this and it was pretty well received on DoD, so I hope you enjoy it!"
As part of our unanimous approval on the panel, judge Chimpazilla certainly appreciated this, rattling off aspects of interpretation and personalization brought to life by the six performers:
"What a cool jazzy rendition of this source, with all sorts of time signature tomfoolery, occasional shuffled drums, fun writing variations, and ear candy and surprises along the way. Top notch arrangement of this source, and a joy to listen to."
Several of us on the panel had some feedback on the sampled piano and some lesser mixing and timing critiques, but even with all of us on board, prophetik music was full steam ahead with a play-by-play exclusively full of effusive praise (and puppies):
"the initial drumbeat and groove really does have a Snarky Puppy feel to it, nice work there. i'm honestly surprised that the lead at 0:25 is FH and not trumpet. i didn't have an issue with the synth - the tone is straight off of We Like It Here, even the dryness next to the other instruments (although it could have used a touch more room verb on it). same with the one at 2:06.
the chord progression at 1:40 is a neat idea. i very much liked the transition to this with the back-and-forth solos. the switch to 7/8 at 2:49 caught me off guard but again, i really liked the idea. the prog influences on all of this is super clear.
3:13 is a recap of the FH section from the beginning with some new synths added in. 3:32's subsequent 4/4 runthrough of the melodic material is a great way to prep for the shuffling outro and subsequent piano noodles to finish it.
arrangement is great. you really nailed the Snarky Puppy style of melodic ensemble writing with a clear direction and a lot of variety in texture. the track sounds excellent throughout as well - the drier tone is in general an SP staple, and it's hard to do imo since it's so easy to just make it a desert, so excellent job getting that balance handled well. what a great track. bravo."
"The White Wolf and the Snarky Puppy" wouldn't have been a bad title either, all things considered. :-) Circling back to comparing this with other jazz versions of Waka's theme, jnWake's direction is easily the most laid back, the one I could see people vibing with in a relaxing way in a jazz club, and subsequently perking folks up with the cool boost in energy at 3:35 before mellowing things out again at 4:18 and closing with that gorgeous piano flourish at 4:30 capped by a beautiful swirling chord. Wow, it can't be over, can it? Welp... time to reload the brush and spin it up again! Another wonderful example of the colorful, vibrant range in styles found in the DoD community. ;-)
on 2023-10-06 18:10:10
This is great stuff! So many things I love here, from the swinging drums, to the french horn ensemble, to the doubling of synth with melodica ... very nice. Very nice.
on 2023-09-21 17:53:06
Featured again hehe, nice!
I see some judges weren’t that fond of the synths but what can I say, I love ‘em. Jazz-ish stuff with synths is dope in my book.
on 2023-09-21 15:34:00
jnWake delivers yet again. I love how he combines his prog background with jazz fusion bands like T-Square and Snarky Puppy lol. Also a hell of list of collaborators. I'm just sad I didn't get to play on this one cause I was moving and had COVID
on 2023-09-21 13:49:54
Sources Arranged (1 Song)
- Primary Game:
Music by Akari Kaida,Hiroshi Yamaguchi,JUN,Masami Ueda,Rei Kondoh
- "Enter Waka"
- French Horn,Melodica,Organ,Piano,Synth,Trumpet
- Origin > Collaboration
Origin > Competition > Dwelling of Duels
Production > Live Instruments
- 7,975,818 bytes
- Size: 7,975,818 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: 31a37a300ba92ddf78888475fe5270c9
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