For Your Consideration: The String Arcade
The String Arcade is a recording of video game music, arranged for string quartet. This isn't an arbitrary (or novelty) collection of game music, but a well curated collection of music that works together thematically as a completed recording. We also hope to inspire young musicians with this recording by making a connection between video game music and 'classical' instruments such as violin, viola and cello. Inspiration for this recording also came from the soundtrack from Stranger Than Paradise, a soundtrack written for string quartet with an unique mood.
The String Arcade began as a Kickstarter campaign which was succesfully funded in Aug. 2013 and was released on February 11th, 2014.
100% of the sales from this recording go to the Alameda Music Project (AMP - alamedamusicproject.org). AMP is an after school, K-5 music program, based on the El Sistema music program of Venezuela and is a tuition-free program featuring strings, chorus and percussion.
The project was produced by video game composer Dren McDonald. He arranged 13 of the songs (4 of them his own compositions from various games), mixed the recordings, oversaw the KS campaign and worked with the musicians during the sessions. 4 of the songs were arranged by Jason Poss (orchestrator for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Amazing Spiderman, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King). Tim Lindeen was the remote recording engineer, bringing his gear to the Montclair Presbyterian Church and Alameda Elks Lodge Ballroom to record these sessions.
String Arcade Players:
Robin Reynolds - cello
Emily Onderdonk - Viola
Celia Harris - 2nd Violin
Alisa Rose - 1st Violin (except on Ecco, Sonic, Minecraft and Tron)
Philip Brezina - 1st Violin (only on Ecco, Sonic, Minecraft and Tron)
with special guests,
Videri String Quartet performing The Legend of Zelda
The songs on this recording span a few decades in video game history, from the stand-up arcade classics Galaga and TRON, to 8-bit games (Zelda), to 16 bit (Altered Beast, Sonic and Ecco) to 90's adventure games (Monkey Island, Outlaws), to more recent titles (Portal 2, FTL), indie titles (Minecraft, Scurvy Scallywags) and mobile/social titles (graBLOX, Pettington Park, Ravenshire Castle.)
Hearing the notes of Galaga churn out from the chipset in the arcade is a much different experience than hearing a musician play the same notes in the same sequence. This release hopes to present this music as music to be enjoyed outside of it's context. The arrangements are "loose" and in many instances, the original melody/harmony serve as merely a starting point. Pieces like "Outlaws" which started life as a spaghetti western guitar twang is transformed into a fun klezmer drama. The iconic theme from Plants Vs. Zombies becomes a humorous tango. Fast Than Light's spacey, atmospheric score takes on a new life as an emotional string story.
The mastering was completed masterfully by John Mayfield, at Mayfield Mastering, Nashville, TN
Grasswalk (Plants vs. Zombies)
Echos of Ecco (Ecco the Dolphin)
Ferdinand Wanders Out For a Late Night Haircut (Pettington Park)
Engii (FTL - Faster Than Light)
Sonic 2 Scherzo (Sonic the Hedgehog 2)
Outlaws Title Theme (Outlaws)
Medicated Cow Walks the Cobbled Streets with Disgruntled Goat (Ravenshire Castle)
Scurvy Scallywags Theme (Scurvy Scallywags)
Scabb Cemetery/International House of Mojo (The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge)
Altered Beast Title Theme (Altered Beast)
Optimism For an Improvement in The John Situation
Turret Suite (Portal 2) Valve
Minecraft Title Theme (Minecraft)
Tron Arcade Medley (Tron Arcade)
Tango Down (graBLOX)
Dance of the Space Bugs (Galaga)
The Legend of Zelda (The Legend of Zelda - NES)
Alameda Music Project's 1st Concert
Submitted for Consideration in the 57th GRAMMYS®
• Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble
• Best Engineered Album, Classical
• Instrumental Arrangement: Grasswalk-Plants v Zombies
• Instrumental Composition: Optimism For An Improvement in the John Situation
A digital download of the album can be found here.
Check out the PRESS REVIEWS HERE - below are a few quotes.
“These classical video game arrangements are no gimmick!” – Listen Magazine
“This isn’t an exercise in nostalgia or recognition, but a journey into new territory.” – PopMatters
“A new album of ‘Gebrauchsmusik’ for the digital age.”
– Stephen Smoliar, Classical Music Examiner
“...An unforgettable tug on our 8- and 16-bit controllers by the iconic melodies of Link and Sonic. If that’s not art, then I don’t know what is.” – Chico News and Review
“It begs to be listened to from beginning to end over and over.”
– All Games Review
String Theory to Help Kids Learn Music? (article about The String Arcade and Alameda Music Project)
Alameda Music Project Succeeds - Read more about the progress that AMP is making since the release of The String Arcade
Featured radio appearance: