Community Spotlight: March Favourites

Hi everyone! I’m a little late with this one, sorry. Just like last time, here are some of my favourite video game covers and remixes from the month of March!

insaneintherainmusic – “Breath of the Wild Jazz Cover”

I featured two songs by insanetherainmusic in the previous post. This time he’s brought an amazing jazz cover of Breath of the Wild‘s main theme! This arrangement turns the orchestral theme into a smooth jazz tune, which showcases the fantastically groovy sax.

Set to some nice nature footage, this video creates a great relaxing jazzy atmosphere. I especially like the part right in the middle; those few beats of silence evoke just enough anticipation before a the listener is hit with a wave of jazzy harmonies on the brass and keys. It’s quite a treat!

Scruffy – “Wistful Wild Funk/Raga”

Scruffy is a very underrated YouTube channel who posts high quality video game remixes, original tunes, and informative videos. Fans of the Pikmin series should really check him out: he’s created a couple videos that delve deep into analyzing the games from a technical standpoint. Check out his trivia videos about the sound effects of Pikmin 2 and the models/textures of Pikmin 3! If Pikmin isn’t your thing, he has other videos analyzing the Mario series, and lots of video game and original tunes.

The production on his trivia videos is just great: they are very informative, well-presented, and oozing with charm. These videos show of Scruffy’s impressive work in many areas of video production, including the background music, which is also created by him! He is currently in the process of uploading the soundtrack to his Pikmin 3 model trivia video, which is where this particular cover originates.

Onto the song itself: this a really cool cover of the foreboding “Wistful Wild” theme from Pikmin 2. Scruffy’s arrangement  is a smooth, chilled-out funk. I especially like it at around the 1:47 mark where those groovy keys kick in. Around the last quarter of the song is arranged as a raga, a traditional type of Indian classical music. As Scruffy notes in the description of the video, the melody line of “Wistful Wild” works perfectly with a Raga musical mode known as Thaat Bhairavi, the equivalent of the western “Phrygian mode.”

Rush Garcia – “Hero of the Wild”

Rush Garcia is an astounding orchestra arranger who has produced many fantastic orchestrations of songs from video games such as Undertale and Overwatch, as well as other media such as the popular TV show Steven Universe.

In this tribute to the Legend of Zelda, Rush Garcia crafts a beautiful suite of familiar Zelda melodies: a Link to the Past‘s “Dark World,” the iconic “Fairy Fountain” theme, “Zelda’s Lullaby,” the main theme of the series itself, and the theme of the recent smash-hit Breath of the Wild.

Right off the bat, we are greeted with a rapid-fire refrain of intense strings. I really love the sound of the strings, the timbre is so unique. These strings periodically return throughout the piece. The booming brass tones of the “Dark World” and lush harp of the “Fairy Fountain” are a treat to listen to. The gentle arrangement of “Zelda’s Lullaby” is truly beautiful, and segues right into Garcia’s epic rendition of the Zelda main theme. Finally is the memorable theme of Breath of the Wild, concluding this amazing musical journey.

AJ DiSpirito – “Super Mario Odyssey – Galaxy Remix”

AJ DiSpirito is very talented composer who has created tons of very high quality video game covers. He’s created arrangements in many different styles – orchestral to metal; jazz to electronic.

This is a cover of the trailer theme of the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey, arranged in the musical style of Super Mario Galaxy. In terms of emulating this particular style of composition, this cover is spot on! It evokes many classic SMG themes including “Gusty Garden Galaxy” and “Good Egg Galaxy.” The general orchestral sound is very evocative of Koji Kondo’s score – but its the little touches that bring it to the next level, such as the the flute trills, the spacey sound effects at one-minute mark, and the percussion that kicks in around 1:30. Overall, quite an impressive effect!

mlho7 – “Chun-Li’s Theme” (OCRemix)

Here’s another funk tune!
For any fan of video game music, OverClocked Remix needs to introduction. OCRemix is an organization dedicated to video game music. Their website is a treasure trove of literally thousands of the highest quality video game remixes. They’ve been going for almost 20 years now!

This track is a funky cover of Chun-li’s theme from Street Fighter II. It’s got a super cool vibe, with a funky bassline and old-school drums. I think the flutes and xylophone work extremely well with this style of funk; its a great blend of traditional Chinese melodies and modern funk. This remix will certainly get your foot tapping!

Further Listening

eflat – “Carrot Sorbet Atoll” and “Forest Stage” (Kirby’s Adventure)
freezetag (OverClocked Remix) – “Hyrulean Overture” (The Legend of Zelda)
Jonathan Aldrich – “Rainbow Road” (Mario Kart 7)
NoteBlock – “Space Junk Galaxy” (Super Mario Galaxy)
Smooth McGroove – “Brinstar Red Soil” (Super Metroid)
Stevie Pilgrim – “Kakariko Village” (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)

Community Spotlight: February Favourites

Hi there! I haven’t posted in quite some time.

I’d really like to post these community spotlights on a monthly basis. These monthly posts will not be dedicated to one particular project or album, but rather will contain several shout-outs to cool creators and their awesome creations that were recently released that month! Without further ado, here are my favourite video game covers, remixes, and arrangements from this February:

ClefferNotes – “Dark World Theme Orchestra”

Alright, so I already wrote up an article about ClefferNotes’ fan-made The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild arrangements – you can read that right here. Just recently, ClefferNotes did a livestream showing his process of composing. The track he orchestrated this time was the fan-favourite Dark World theme from A Link to the Past. This track is a personal favourite of mine: it’s a great example of the amazing music this game offers, and I personal consider it one of the best from the game.

ClefferNotes’ arrangement doesn’t disappoint. It has an amazingly adventurous feel, complete with militaristic march-like percussion, cinematic brass, epic choral build-ups, and those classic ClefferNotes woodwind runs. Fans of Zelda, this arrangement is a must-listen. I honestly think it’s one of the best fan interpretations of this classic tune. Don’t miss out on the ending either – it’s just gorgeous.

The Second Narrator – “Battle Against a True Hero”

If you haven’t heard of The Second Narrator, do yourself a favour and check him out. He’s one of the best. I’ve really been enjoying his series of Undertale orchestrations – this time he’s taken on one of the most musically exciting and intense songs in the game, “Battle Against a True Hero”.  I love the original song, it really pumps you up for battle.

The Second Narrator’s orchestration is simply phenomenal. It cycles through many different musical acts, providing a rollercoaster of emotion. It’s a glorious 10 minutes of epic cinematic Hans Zimmer-esque music. My favourite part (in the original, as well as this rendition) comes at around 3:39. This arrangement is just spectacular – such a treat for fans of Undertale.

UntoldStoriesProductions – “Zelda’s Lullaby”

UntoldStoriesProductions is another great creator of orchestral video game covers. Please, check him out! This particular song is an arrangement of “Zelda’s Lullaby”. It’s such an amazing arrangement, and plus, you can’t go wrong with some Zelda’s Lullaby.

The delicate piano, angelic harp, and lush strings all come together in a very pretty rendition of this nostalgic theme. It’s just real lovely.

Stevie Pilgrim – “Character Select”

This one’s a change of pace from the orchestral pieces I’ve spotlighted so far. Stevie Pilgrim is a video game music remixer with such a unique, catchy style: he takes classic video game songs and turns them into really chilled-out, groovy hip-hop / electronic remixes!

This recent track of his has stood out to me: the Character Select theme from Super Mario Bros. 2, an underrated game with an equally underrated soundtrack. Stevie takes this song in pleasantly surprising places, creating a laid-back piano groove with a little hip-hop flair. Those who listen to Stevie’s covers know that he likes to include musical references to other games. In this piece, he references the happy-go-lucky music of Yoshi’s Island, and the quirky soundtrack of Little Big Planet. Take a listen for yourself!

insaneintherainmusic – “Mii Channel Theme”

I’m a huge fan of insanetherainmusic: his channel is a treasure trove of extremely high-quality jazz covers of video game tunes! He’s amazingly talented so please watch some of his videos if you haven’t already!
Joined by two other saxophonists, insaneintherain creates a fantastic jazz arrangement of the iconic Mii channel. I have to say, I’ve listened to this particular cover more than ten times now. It’s just so good, I can’t stop replaying it!
It begins as an almost perfect keyboard recreation of the memorable Mii Plaza tune. This is soon decorated with some percussion, and then a swanky sax overtakes the melody. What began as a simple little tune on the keys blossoms into an infectiously catchy Latin-inspired jazz number. It’s well worth a listen, trust me!

Further Listening

Here is a little selection of some other tunes I’ve enjoyed from these past few weeks. The list is certainly not exhaustive, but it showcases a few pieces that have stood out to me from the video game music community.

eflat – “Title Screen” (Kid Icarus)
insaneintherainmusic (feat. 8BitBrigadier & Kenny Stern) – “Wii Shop Theme
NoteBlock – “Romance in the Air” (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)
PoopPoopFart – “Spiral Mountain” (Banjo-Kazooie)
Stevie Pilgrim – “Map Theme” (Yoshi’s Island)
String Player Gamer – “Trailer Theme” (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild)
Swarmviper – “Dragon Roost Island” (The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker)

Community Spotlight: ClefferNotes’ Fan-Made Breath of the Wild Soundtrack

It’s no exaggeration to say that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most anticipated video game releases. Very few franchises can claim the same level of critical success and fan dedication as The Legend of Zelda – so naturally, the series’ upcoming Wii U and Switch installment has captured fans’ hearts and set the “hype train” in motion!

For musicians and video game soundtrack enthusiasts like myself, one of the most exciting aspects of Breath of the Wild is its musical score. The Legend of Zelda series has always been a musical powerhouse, boasting some of the most iconic and memorable soundtracks in all of video game history. The soundtracks of Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past, to name just a few, are renowned as some of the most effective, beautiful, and nostalgic video game soundtracks of all time. Ever since Ocarina of Time, music and musical instruments have played integral roles in the gameplay and stories themselves. Point is, the soundtrack is always an important element of each Zelda game, so many fans are eager to hear what Breath of the Wild has up its sleeve.

Composer and musician Chris Wonfor, also known as “ClefferNotes”, has taken to writing his own ideas of what Breath of the Wild‘s soundtrack could possibly have in store. ClefferNotes is a composer who creates digital orchestrations of many video game tunes, as well as his own original compositions. Inspired by the songs heard in the official Breath of the Wild trailers and gameplay videos, he has created many amazing compositions that would arguably fit right into the game. I’ve been a fan of Chris for quite some time, and these Breath of the Wild arrangements stand out to me as some of his best work. I’d like to share a few of them in this article.

Above: The song that started it all.

ClefferNotes’ first Breath of the Wild arrangement, “Beckoning Winds”, is based on the music from the E3 trailer. The E3 trailer theme caught many a listener’s attention due to it’s intriguing quality. In terms of instrumentation and musical style, it is quite different than most Zelda music – soft piano keys and unique reeds give it a distinct, Ghibli-esque feel. This change in musical feel compliments the seemingly different direction the gameplay itself is taking. ClefferNotes creates a beautiful interpretation of this new addition to Zelda‘s musical library.

Above: Just a day after the release of the second official Breath of the Wild trailer, ClefferNotes uploaded a fantastic version of the trailer’s background music. Now that’s impressive!

ClefferNotes does more than directly recreate the songs heard in the trailers – he crafts his own distinct renditions while still capturing that unique new sound that has got so many Zelda fans intrigued about Breath of the Wild.

Above: ClefferNotes has posted spot-on renditions of some other themes from trailers and gameplay videos (such as the enemy battle song heard here), while still adding his own unique flavour.

Also in ClefferNotes Breath of the Wild line-up are some new takes on classic locations. I’m sure many longtime Zelda fans are curious to know what, say, the Lost Woods or Death Mountain would sound like in Breath of the Wild. ClefferNotes provides his own ideas with his fan-made Lake Hylia theme, for example:

Despite having no in-game reference for Lake Hylia as of yet, ClefferNotes effectively captures the feel of Breath of the Wild‘s soundtrack: soft, serene, with an element of mystery. This song also hides an easter egg: when sped up, the melody resembles the Lake Hylia theme from Twilight Princess. This is a clever and very fitting idea, as many official Zelda games hide musical secrets such as the well-known “Ballad of the Goddess” easter egg.

Some of his tracks even incorporate well-known Zelda motifs re-imagined in ClefferNotes’ Breath of the Wild style, such as a his idea for the background music for a rainy day – a pensive, atmospheric rendition of the “Song of Storms”:

Above: A great idea that is executed very well, this musical detail seems right in line with something Nintendo might do in the official game.

My personal favourite of his Breath of the Wild songs has to be “Horseback Adventure”, based on the brief musical introduction heard at the beginning of the Switch announcement trailer. Notably, this track is seemingly the first official Breath of the Wild track that is based on a past Zelda song: the main theme of the original NES title. ClefferNotes’ rendition sounds so genuine and truly feels like it could be the official full version of the theme. Check it out:

ClefferNotes takes the unique piano riff from the Switch announcement and runs wild with it: it starts off similar to what we hear in the trailer, but soon blossoms into a large orchestration complete with beautiful strings and epic percussion. He also smoothly incorporates some other recurring Zelda melodies such as the original “Title Theme”. I particularly enjoy how the little piano bit stays throughout the entire piece, it’s a great choice that gives the song a real sense of energy and motion. It really sets the mood for a quest!

All in all, I think ClefferNotes does a fantastic job of capturing the “feeling” of this highly anticipated upcoming game. It’s not a perfect emulation of the musical style, but rather a unique interpretation that shows off ClefferNotes’ distinct style as well. I recommend checking out his full playlist here, it’s great to listen to as the excitement builds for Breath of the Wild‘s eventual release. Please do check out Chris on his YouTube page and his SoundCloud, if you like Nintendo music and orchestrations you definitely won’t regret it.

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That’s all for now. I’d like to make this a regular thing where I feature cool songs/albums or talented composers from the video game music community. This post is an example of what these showcases will look like. And perhaps when Breath of the Wild finally releases I’ll do a post or two about the actual soundtrack.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day!