Arranging "Ori + Naru"

Recently, I was commissioned to arrange once again for the Videri String Quartet. I thought it might be interesting to share my process for creating the arrangement “Ori + Naru” from start to finish.

Learn the story

As I don’t own an Xbox or Windows PC, I watched a play through of the game (watch here) which illustrates the story points from the game, and gives me context for how the beautiful soundtrack tells the story of Ori’s journey. 

Identifying themes and motifs

Once I was able to find the story points that I wanted to cover in the narrative of the arrangement—the relationship between Ori and the parental figure Naru—I listened through the soundtrack and settled on a small selection of melodies and motifs that conveyed their story. In the arrangement, “Ori, Lost in the Storm” represents Ori, while the motif used in “The Sacrifice” represents Naru. There’s also the inclusion of bits of “Kuru’s Tale II - Her Pain” that show the conflict presented during the game. I really liked the idea of returning to some of the “Lost in the Storm” motifs as well, keeping this in mind while developing the form of the piece.

Create an outline

Crazy lines

Crazy lines

Now that I had an idea of what to include, it was time to see how it all would fit together! I sketched a loose outline and transcribed a basic idea of the melodies/harmonies which helped make the next step a bit easier…

Rough outline of the entire arrangement, noodled on the piano

Rough outline of the entire arrangement, noodled on the piano

Playing through the concepts! This was to get a feel for the pacing of the material as it fit together; retaining the recognizable parts, and adding new ideas to give it my own personality. In this case, I sat at my digital piano and came up with some new textures and ideas while I played with how Ori and Naru’s themes would fit together. Fun fact: the small fugal section that weaves both themes together was composed in one take and required only a tiny bit of polishing from it’s initial sketch to the final form. Happy little accidents. :)

 

Finalizing the arrangement

After I had a loose idea of the form and inner parts, I created the final version in Sibelius where I added dynamics, phrasing details, and really figured out who will play which parts/how they all fit together. I like to try to give every part something interesting to play, otherwise they might fall asleep!

Much prettier than my chicken scratch

Much prettier than my chicken scratch

Once the score was complete, all the parts were proofread and engraved for readability. Videri then recorded their rehearsal so we could hear whether the ideas translated well when played live. After we ironed out all the questions/details, Videri practiced it together until it was ready for performance. 

Now listen to their first live performance of “Ori + Naru” from Boston Festival of Indie Games 2015!