Arranging "Another Medium/CORE"

FALLEN: An Undertale Tribute was released today, and I was lucky enough to contribute an arrangement of Another Medium/CORE. I worked with a number of great people on it and wanted to share some of the processes here.

The arrangement

I knew I wanted to approach this arrangement from a contrasting perspective to that of the original. I also knew I wanted to feature woodwinds and harp and took inspiration from (among other places) one of my favorite pieces of music "Introduction et Allegro" by Maurice Ravel, with the idea of creating a theme & variation of sorts. Essentially trying to come up with many different unique ways to orchestrate and arrange the material present in Another Medium/CORE that works cohesively.

I ended up writing a new melodic motif for this arrangement, using it in every instrument family, and almost every instrument. I found this helped to allow it to be 'accepted' and memorable. (You can hear some of its occurrences below).

The first time the new motif appears around 1:09 on the recording.

The first time the new motif appears around 1:09 on the recording.

The last time the new motif appears, moments from the final bar at 8:06.

The last time the new motif appears, moments from the final bar at 8:06.

A lot of my approach was in mimicking synthesizers using live players. This can be heard in the constantly pulsing woodwinds, as well as the prominent use of chordal swells in woodwinds and strings. Making effective use of non-vibrato sections contrasted with deliberate vibrato when indicated.

There are also many instances of "woodwind flurries" (for lack of a better term) that Kristin, Lori, and Francisco pulled off very well considering the timing and that everyone recorded at separate times in separate locations.

Beyond the specifics, I proceeded to arrange new variations until I felt like the piece's journey was complete. Wrapping up the piece with an elongated take on the ever-constant woodwind pulsing rhythm, this time as tuplets to signify that the journey was winding down. (You can hear them behind the piano and bassoon parts)


The musicians

Collaborating with fellow musicians has provided me with the opportunity to meet some remarkable people. Here's a bit about the ensemble for Another Medium/CORE.

Doug Perry (Vibraphone)

Doug has expertly played anything I've thrown at him and has shown excitement in doing so. At this point, I will go out of my way to include him. You can also hear him on our first collaboration Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec playing vibes, drums, and even finger cymbals.

May Claire La Plante (Harp)

I've worked on projects along side May Claire, but until now had not had the pleasure of working with her directly on a recording. She's a beautiful harpist and also a lovely singer, and brought so much life to the arrangement.

Kristin Naigus (Flute, English Horn)

I was a fan of Kristin's work from her youtube channel and her work on previous Materia Collective works. Knowing her extensive proficiency with the English Horn, I wrote a part specifically with her in mind. Sometime during our collaboration, ABZÛ came out—which she is the featured Oboe soloist on!—and I was immediately starstruck to have her as a key component of my work.

Lori Syngajewski (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet)

Lori saved the day by covering both Clarinet and Bass Clarinet (called Squeak and Squonk, respectively) parts for me. Speaking with her online briefly before sending her scores, our quirky senses of humor immediately clicked and Lori became my new favorite Clarinetist. Also, I can now spell her name from memory.

Eric Adamshick (Cello)

Care of Doug Perry, Eric swooped in just under the wire to record his cello part for me. In one take, he was able to bring more grace and elegance to my piece than any Frankenstein'd cello part I could have mustered up.

Francisco Joubert (Bassoon)

Francisco comes by way of Doug Perry, also. His last-minute contribution makes all the difference and rounds out the lovely wind ensemble of Another Medium, bringing much-needed low-end presence to the musical texture.

Augustine Mayuga Gonzales (Piano)

As a long-time collaborator, Augustine was happy to fill in the piano part for me—even if most of it is keeping the pulse of the music. I'm always fortunate to work with him, and this marked his first recording session where the other musicians were not in the same room as him!

Check out the entire album on Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Loudr.

Special thanks to Doug Perry & Sebastian Wolff. hOI!