Small Ensemble

Final Fantasy 7 Main Theme
Final Fantasy 7 (1997)
Composed by Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged by Chris Erickson

The year is 1997. You’ve just spent the past 15+ hours playing the most ambitious role-playing game of the decade, Final Fantasy 7. You’ve made your way through the sinister Shinra headquarters—the location of the game’s so-called “main antagonists.” After conquering a few boss battles (and a pretty sweet motorcycle mini-game), it’s time for the game’s heroes—including the fan-favorite Cloud Strife—to finally leave the grimy, crime-filled slums of Midgar. A moment like this feels bittersweet, as if your adventure is coming to an end. In reality, it’s only just beginning.

Upon leaving Midgar, you’re greeted with a massive open world to explore—a vast field of green surrounds you, as you head toward your next destination. All the while, a rather ominous score accompanies you on your journey. The music hardly sounds welcoming at first, and it’s clear that you’ve stumbled into a world that’s completely unknown to you. Danger is lurking around every corner. At least back in Midgar you knew what you were up against (except maybe those killer house monsters…)

But after fighting through a few random enemy encounters (hey, this is the 90’s after all) the music begins to evolve. A familiar tune comes in, one that you’ve heard many times throughout your adventure so far. Suddenly, the world doesn’t feel as frightening. An overwhelming sense of tranquility engulfs you with every note in the game’s main theme. The warmth of late-90’s video game synths and light, ever-gentle piano keys come together to welcome you to the next generation of Final Fantasy.

Now, we’re doing our best to ensure that same feeling comes back to greet you in 2019, with this wonderful arrangement by Chris Erickson. Get ready, because there’s no getting off the feels train we’re on!


The Cliftlands
Octopath Traveler (2018)
Composed by Yasunori Nishiki
Arranged by Enzo Maida

In Octopath Traveler, each of the eight party members begins their journey in a different part of Orsterra. The thief character, Therion, begins his tale nestled in the heart of the Cliftlands. Upon leaving the starting town, the player is greeted with this tune, setting an atmosphere of mixed solitude and freedom. The woodwind melody is performed on clarinet for this arrangement, reminiscent of mountains in the distance and a journey that’s both familiar and foreign. A driving guitar line and percussion add into the harmony over time.

 

Dr. Wily’s Castle (Stages 1 & 2)
Mega Man 2 (1989)
Composed by Takashi Tateishi
Arranged by Katie Tom-Wolverton

As Mega Man’s oldest nemesis, the evil Dr. Wily has had several pieces of video game music named after him—but the Dr. Wily Stages 1 & 2 music from Mega Man 2 has gone on to be one of the most recognizable compositions in video game history, as well as one of the most covered. From metal, rock, classical, acapella, and a popular Japanese Internet meme, this particular Wily theme has been the center of a lot of creative fanwork. This version takes Takashi Tateishi’s driving beats and puts it in the hands of one of the orchestra’s most agile instruments: the flute.


Wood Carving Partita

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)
Composed by Michiru Yamane
Arranged by Jorge D. Fuentes

This tune plays in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night at the Long Library location. Upon entering the library, you’re treated to wood-finish banisters, tons of bookcases, and walkways full of tomes and manuscripts. The area evokes the feeling of being in a book-musky study, and this piece has a distinct Baroque Chamber Music feel to it. Presented as a string quartet piece—with a harpsichord peppering notes here and there—you feel like you can sit down in one of the library’s alcoves and read a comfortable book…if it weren’t for the Ectoplasms, ghosts, and skeletons, that is.

Asgore’s Theme
Undertale (2015)
Composed by Toby Fox
Arranged by Charlie Shiobara

Asgore is the king of the monsters in the underground. He fights you in the pacifist route (where the player doesn’t fight any of the monsters) not because he wants to but because he feels he must. He’s lonely, and his wife doesn’t live with him. Also, in the genocide route (when the player fights and defeats all monsters), he doesn’t recognize the player’s character as a human. Instead, he asks what monster you are, as he doesn’t recognize you.

His theme reflects the desperation of the battle—starting off slow before taking off full speed when the fight kicks up. This arrangement uses a combination of woodwinds and violin, which are instruments commonly found within the soundtrack of the game.

Untitled Small Ensemble Arrangement
Untitled Goose Game (2019)
Composed by Dan Golding
Arranged by A.C. Menes

It is a wonderful day for a concert…and you are a horrible goose.

~*~INTERMISSION~*~


Full Orchestra

Super Smash. Brawl – Main Theme
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
Composed by Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged by A.C. Menes

Super Smash Brothers can be described in so many ways: zany, fun, silly, over-the-top . . . yet something about it compels friends to duke it out with each other just to prove who the best player in the room is. No matter how you think about Smash, one thing for certain can be said—what started as a quirky platform fighter pitting twelve Nintendo All-Stars together back in 1999 has exploded into a cultural phenomenon. Smash is a series that millions of gamers around the world hold near and dear to their hearts. It’s not hard to see why—gamers can play as their favorite Nintendo characters and spend hours upon hours playing with their friends.

This third entry in the series introduced plenty of new characters to play as—including third-party representatives Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog—and, of course, an iconic new opening theme. The main theme to Brawl is bursting with energy and raw, emotional power—which we rightfully refer to as gravitas! From the commanding vocal force of our choir performers, to the sweeping melody played by our instrumentalists, this is a theme that will truly bring you right into the heat of the battle!

The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner
The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner (1987)
Composed by Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged by Peter Tom-Wolverton

Released by Square in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner is notable for being one of the first video games with stereoscopic 3-D capability (red-cyan 3-D glasses were included in the box) but also for being one of the first video games scored by Nobuo Uematsu, best known for his work on the long-running Final Fantasy series. This happy, uptempo piece is the main stage music, which is heard during most of the gameplay.

However, given the limited storage capacity of NES cartridges, the piece’s loop is a bit short by modern standards, at not even a minute long.  So, we have taken some “creative liberties” with this arrangement to keep things fresh. As the great Peter Schickele once said, “Be prepared to hear things that you’ve heard before…”

 

NiGHTS
NiGHTS into dreams… (1996)
Composed by Tomoko Sasaki
Arranged by Peter Tom-Wolverton (after Hayato Matsuo)

“Let’s make a game where we can fly!” Thus was the seed planted for NiGHTS into dreams—the first non-Sonic game developed by Sonic Team. Along the way, the team had to research dreaming and psychology (including Jung and Freud), learn how to optimize the Sega Saturn’s architecture, and even design a new controller (the 3D Pad, with an analog stick to facilitate the flight controls).

The result was a game that captured the joy and sensation of flying perhaps better than anything the world had ever seen, becoming a perennial resident on lists of “greatest video games of all time.” Even Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto asked Yuji Naka when he was going to make a sequel!

This arrangement of the main title theme evokes visions of both Nightopia and Nightmare, with the bombast of the brasses and saxophones in exotic meters contrasting with the lighter, flightier woodwinds and strings feature, before the dream world is saved in a triumphant climax.

 

Shadow of the Colossus Medley
Shadow of the Colossus (2005)
Composed by Kow Otani
Lyrics by Diana Taylor
Arranged by Kira Levitzky

A prime example in the “video games as art” debate, Shadow of the Colossus has a breathtaking soundtrack to offer. Players are given the task of defeating several Colossi, enormous creatures lurking throughout the land. The world of the game is quite expansive, so the player must travel on horseback if they expect to reach the locations of the Colossi. Despite their foreboding appearance, these Colossi seem to have little desire to fight. It truly makes the player wonder if all this violence is really necessary.

This arrangement begins with a short, tranquil piano intro with accompanying vocal harmonies. To further create an immersive experience within the piece, the saxophone section provides key clicks to simulate horse-like galloping. The atmosphere is calm, yet there is a growing sense of uneasiness, almost as if a battle is steadily approaching . . .

Suddenly, a hulking Colossus appears! The strings signal an alarm—the tension is only beginning. A dramatic brass entrance adds even more suspense as the battle rages on. At last, the fight reaches its climax with one final, hopeful medley. A serene piano solo leads directly into the triumphant final song, which sees the return of the choir. Victory is within reach, and with it comes an explosive finale from all sections.

 

Gourmet Race
Kirby Super Star (1996)
Composed by Jun Ishikawa
Arranged by A.C. Menes

Kirby games have always had some of the catchiest and happiest music of any Nintendo franchise. With “Gourmet Race,” Kirby isn’t playing around anymore. The tempo rises to a blistering 170mph (or maybe it’s bpm?), and never ceases to slow down. This is a race after all, and Kirby isn’t alone. While the woodwinds provide a light, bubbly nature to the main medley, the far more aggressive brass takes over when Kirby’s rival, King Dedede, catches up. As the two reach the finish line, the final moments bring all instruments together to cheer on everyone’s favorite pink, puffball hero.

Some may also recognize this piece from the Super Smash Brothers series, as it was featured in the “Dreamland” stage from the original Nintendo 64 game and re-arranged for Melee’s “Fountain of Dreams.”

 

Ashley’s Theme (Super Smash Bros. Brawl Version)
WarioWare Series (song debuted in 2005) / Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
Composed by Masanobu Matsunaga, Yasuhisa Baba, and Masaru Tajima
Arranged by Jorge D. Fuentes
Featuring Christine Zoppi (Soprano soloist)

Ashley made her debut in WarioWare Touched! for the Nintendo DS. She’s a witch-in-training who makes critical mistakes when working with her potions. Her theme has a catchy, jazz-like feel, with silly lyrics to portray her personality. The WarioWare games are generally quite humorous and zany, and the upbeat nature of Ashley’s theme reflects this style. Christine Zoppi sings the main voice for Ashley’s character during the song, with the choir assisting with backup vocals. You can expect to hear several instrumental solos as well!

Mother 3 Medley: Lucas’s Journey
Mother 3 (2006)
Composed by Shogo Sakai
Arranged by Kyle Mesce 

The third game in the Mother series (better known as Earthbound in the US), Mother 3, was developed by HAL Laboratory and Brownie Brown for the Game Boy Advance and released in Japan on April 20, 2006. Throughout the game, themes such as the importance of family, materialism, and authoritarian corruption are covered, all while balancing the silly, nostalgic, and heartbreaking moments.

Mother 3 centers around Lucas and his brother Claus, which this arrangement also focuses on. The first piece in the medley is “Mom’s Hometown,” where the joys of being a kid without any worries are prominent. “A Letter to You, Honey” zooms in on Hinawa, Lucas’s mother, sending a letter to Flint, her husband. Everything is well.

“His Highness’s Theme” changes the tone to a dictator’s march, as Porky’s army invades what was once a peaceful town and “reconstructs” innocent animals with mechanical parts. This leads into “Sorrowful Tazmily,” the mourning of a tragic death due to this invasion. “Wasteful Anthem” is one of Mother 3’s most noticeable boss themes, as you fight the more dangerous “reconstructions” in the game. “Unfounded Revenge” pits Lucas against one of Porky’s most loyal henchmen, right until “Name These Children/Love Theme” brings the game and medley to its tragic conclusion.

Sogno di Volare (The Dream of Flight)
Civilization VI (2016)
Composed by Christopher Tin
Lyrics by Leonardo da Vinci, adapted by Chiara Cortez
Arranged by Peter Tom-Wolverton

Christopher Tin made history in 2011 when his theme song for Sid Meier’s Civilization IV, “Baba Yetu,” became the first piece of video game music ever to be nominated for—and to win!—a Grammy Award. Five years later, Civilization VI would see Tin return to the series with “Sogno di Volare (The Dream of Flight.)” Taking its lyrics from the writings of the great Leonardo da Vinci, “Sogno di Volare” centers on humanity’s age-old dream of flight; in the context of Civilization, it can be seen as a metaphor for the universal aspirations that keep the human race striving ever forward through the ages.

Note especially the string ostinati conveying constant motion throughout and how the swooping, fluttering woodwind parts hold up even against the stormy brasses in the song’s midsection. We hope you find this piece as inspiring as we have! 

~*~ENCORE~*~

Korobeiniki (Tetris)

Tetris (various releases, originally from 1984)
Traditional Composition, Lyrics by N.A. Nekrasov

Arranged by Greg Cox
Featuring David Silberman (Tenor soloist)

On June 6th, 1984, a computer programmer in the employ of the Soviet Academy of Science finished work on the first playable version of Tetris, while he was working at the Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre in Moscow. That programmer, Alexey Pajitnov, at the time could not have conceived of how far and wide his simple puzzle game would spread. It first spread to every corner of the Soviet blocs and managed managing to pierce the Iron Curtain and take the entire rest of the world by storm.

Many early releases of Tetris heavily played up a Russian aspect, including graphical elements that heavily referenced Russian culture and Soviet iconography. This would culminate in Nintendo’s Gameboy version the game, released in 1989. This version contained an arrangement of an old Russian folk song called Korobeiniki under the name “Tetris Type A.” According to Wikipedia, Korobeiniki “is a nineteenth-century Russian folk song that tells the story of a meeting between a peddler and a girl, describing their haggling over goods in a metaphor for courtship.” Throughout the lyrics of the song, our peddler complains about the weight of the load on his back. He bemoans his situation, until he comes across a “beautiful maiden with black hair” to whom he offers a single topaz ring.

At the end of the song, he comments, overjoyed, that his pack is so much lighter now, even though all that has been removed is a single ring. For its relation to Tetris, and for being a joyous and wonderful folk song on it’s own, MGSO is proud to present to you this rendition of Korobeiniki.