pixelchips “Behind the Scenes”: Undertale Winter Medley (Holiday Song #4)

Hi! Merry Christmas Eve!

Today I uploaded an orchestral Undertale medley as the final tune for my holiday video game music EP. Have a listen to today’s tune here! Yesterday I uploaded a winter-themed teaser for my upcoming album, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror Arranged, which you can listen to here. I won’t be posting a “behind the scenes” for that one just yet, as I will be discussing it in detail later on when the album is finished.

Anyway, on to the Undertale Christmas Medley:
For the introduction, I used the very beginning of the main theme of Undertale, Once Upon a Time. It starts soft, just a double bass and piano, but then full string ensemble and a choir gradually emerge. The tubular bells really help give it a holiday feel.
The swelling of the orchestra leads into the soft and light theme of Snowy. I sped it up quite a bit, so that the tempo of the medley would remain consistent throughout. I aimed to create a light and carefree feeling with the instrumentation: a piano for the lead, quiet pizzicatto strings for the chords and accompaniment, and a piccolo and viola for harmonization.
Then comes the theme of Snowdin. I added more layers to the instrumentation: the double bass returns from the beginning, and a solo violin takes over for the melody. I included a playful xylophone and a twinkling celesta for a cheerful vibe. The tubular bells and sleighbells keep things feeling festive. The string ensemble returns for the section leading up to the next part of the medley…
…the Shop theme, a very lovely tune! The piano continues the tune of Snowdin over top as a sort of counter-melody, which I thought made for a very nice mash-up effect.
I tried to make the tune have an overarching build-up of instrumentation, starting with a simple piano/piccolo duet that leads into a full Christmas orchestra. I wanted all of the gradual build-up tune to amount to a climactic ending: the music stops, leaving only the echoing ring of a single tubular bell.

Hope you enjoy the tune! I’m quite proud of this one, personally. Hopefully it’s as fun to listen to as it was to create!

pixelchips “Behind the Scenes”: Frappe Snowland / Sherbet Land (Holiday Song #3)

Hey there!

Today I uploaded a wintry mashup of Mario Kart 64‘s Frappe Snowland and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!‘s Sherbet Land. Here it is!

I was originally working on an orchestral arrangement of Frappe Snowland, but it soon hit me that Sherbet Land might make for a good medley. After playing around with it for a bit, I realized that the melodies sound pretty good when played over top of one another. So, I used Sherbet Land as sort of a counter-melody.

The song starts with Frappe Snowland on its own: a melodic flute, string staccatos, double bass, the light twinkling of a celesta, and of course, sleighbells! Eventually, the main riff of Sherbet Land, played on the marimba, gradually enters the piece. Then, a solo violin joins the flute for the melody, and bassoon briefly joins the counter-melody.

For the “chorus”, the string ensemble plays Frappe Snowland’s melody while the flutes take over for Sherbet Land. I found that these melodies overlapped surprisingly well without clashing. Overall I’m pretty happy with the effect! I had trouble at first because the piece sounded very  messy – the hardest part was making sure the two songs don’t “clash” and sound cluttered.

Anyway, that’s all for today. Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season!

pixelchips “Behind the Scenes”: Valley of Repose (Holiday Song #2)

Hi again! Hope you’re all doing well.

This is part two for my holiday video game music series. Today’s arrangement is the Valley of Repose, from Pikmin 2. Have a listen to my remix over here.

Why did I choose to make a weird orchestral and hip-hop beat blend? I was mainly inspired by the beat from the Nintendo Land version, and I wanted to take that idea and run with it. I liked how that version had an almost mechanical, clockwork like sound – the steady beat is like the ticking of a clock, and all of the melodies and counter-melodies interlock to make a really energetic whole. It’s a nice contrast to the original song’s slow, relaxing tempo; and is much more well-suited for a more frantic party game like Nintendo Land.

For my remix, I really wanted to keep that steady, pulsing energy; a feeling that really meshes with the tactical, strategic nature of the Pikmin games. The bell-like lead is actually a layer of many instruments: a celesta, glockenspiel, music box, a couple synths, and a soft staccato on a flute. I made the bass a lot deeper and “thicker” than the original by adding a double bass ensemble and a subtle tuba. For the accompanying glissando and harmony, I used a filtered piano rather than a harp for a more “mechanical” sound, if you know what I mean.

The beat was difficult for me, as it’s something I’ve never really tried before. I started with a steady snare/clap on every beat for a clock ticking effect, and an 808 sort of kick every two beats to maintain that pulsing rhythm. I thought the reverse cymbal crash added a pretty cool effect. And of course, the jingling sleigh-bells echo throughout the entire piece.

The whole song goes through three cycles: the regular version, the version that plays when pikmin are at work, and the version that plays when fighting an enemy. The “at work” version simply adds some more layers to the song, such as a tremolo harmony on the violins and a very soft atmospheric synth. The “fighting” version sees an orchestral percussion ensemble (timpani, snare drum) join the regular beat for that epic battling sound. I also put some jittery, echoey chiptune bleeps in the background to create the frantic feeling of being attacked.

I hope I achieved the effects I wanted to. It’s an experiment for me; the genre is out of my comfort zone so I was a little nervous about uploading. Hopefully the song is interesting or enjoyable to some!

pixelchips “Behind the Scenes”: Snowman (Holiday Song #1)

Hey! Happy holidays.

Over on my SoundCloud page I am doing a fun little series of video game covers for the holiday season. I am uploading a new winter-themed video game cover each day until Christmas Eve. For the first of five songs, I chose “Snowman”, from Mother. You can take a listen here.

I tried to stay pretty faithful to the original at the start, though the tempo is more similar to the EarthBound version. I drew inspiration from both the original and the EarthBound version, as well as the Brawl remix, when coming up with my arrangement. In terms of instrumentation, I went for a light orchestral sound: a soft flute, a female choir, accompaniment on the harp, and a bass guitar. I made sure to emphasize the electric bass, as the bassline tends to be very prominent in many EarthBound songs. The melody is decorated with tubular bells and light pizzicatto strings to create that Christmas carol feel.

Then, the steady, echoey sleighbells come in, and the violin joins the flute for the melody line. As the song builds up, accompanied by glissando on the harp, I used a few subtle synths in the background to really give it that EarthBound vibe.

Then, the beat kicks in. I chose to leave the beat out during the first verse so it would be sort of a “surprise” element for the listeners; something to mix it up. An introductory lick on the toms leads into the steady beat. I opted for a more contemporary rock or pop-style drumkit rather than orchestral percussion simply because I thought it sounded better. I’m not super confident when it comes to making beats, but I tried my best to create a beat that would “carry” the rest of the song, and to give it a little more energy.

Halfway through the song, I decided to transition into the melody of Winters White! I figured it would be appropriate to mash up these two wintry EarthBound songs a bit, and plus it’s a nice callback to my Christmas cover from last year. I reworked Winters White into 6:8 time to stay consistent with Snowman, and I kept the instrument and general composition similar in style so the song would flow.

Overall, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I’m really enjoying Kontakt 5 and it’s amazing factory library; I think the instruments sound so nice!