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.
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 composer Dren McDonald. He arranged 13 of the songs (4 of them his own compositions), mixed the recordings, and worked with the musicians during the sessions. 4 of the songs were arranged by Jason Poss (Sonic, Tron, Ecco and Galaga). 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. Faster Than Light's spacey, atmospheric score takes on a new life as an emotional string story.
LINER NOTES FROM THE STRING ARCADE
by Simon Carless (video game historian, writer)
It's odd how familiar melodies in surprising circumstances can make you grin. But it's less strange how to realize that beautifully arranged, spectacularly played music can transcend even its original medium and become something to be savored standalone. And thanks to the String Arcade Players, we get a soundtrack album to remember - one that soars around the history of video games and creates a cohesive whole from spectacularly diverse sources.
From the delicate pizzicato kicking off 'Sonic 2 Scherzo' to the almost Russian strut of 'Altered Beast Title Theme' to Portal 2's 'Turret Suite', you're taken on a veritable rollercoaster of genres, ages and styles of video game. Ironically, from limitations in the original hardware, the cello, viola and violins create their very own limitations of tone and melody - but the richness of songs like 'Dance Of The Space Bugs' (for Galaga) far outpaces the depth of those rudimentary arcade beeps and bleeps, creating something soulful and very real.
If you enjoy video games at all, then please join me in thanking the String Arcade Players, the Videri String Quartet (who perform the Zelda medley), and Dren McDonald for putting this whole wonderful project together and doing the majority of the arrangements (with 4 by Jason Poss!)
more at thestringarcade.com
The String Arcade is an album by Dren McDonald containing 42:56 minutes of music.
All compositions appearing on this album have been licensed from their official sources via Loudr. A portion of each sale goes to the copyright holder(s).