Tuesday, February 25, 2003

For today's news update, I will tell an interesting story about some music I wrote over five years ago. Is it a tale of incredible coincidence or do I have some extraordinarily subliminal sense of pitch recall? You be the judge!

In the fall of 1997, I wrote a four movement work for solo trumpet and wind ensemble called The Hero. I had just finished the first movement and thought it would be clever and artistic to write the fourth movement next, creating book ends to contain the inner movements. Below, is an excerpt from the "A" melody of the fourth movement, taken from the trumpet line towards the middle of the movement.

The Hero Movement IV, solo trumpet part, m. 61

Understand that this was not the original melody -- the first occurrence of the melody was in a kind of Lydian major mode and, owing to the joys of rondo form, each successive repetition of the melody became a little more minor (undergraduate composers are always so clever). And in fact, the first occurrence of this melody was not the original germ -- it was a mutation of a brief character study I'd written a couple months earlier in the summer of 1997. In summation: This was not the melody as I originally wrote it.

Now fast forward ahead to the present day. This weekend (in between coding sessions), I was downloading old computer game soundtracks for the sake of nostalgia and to put my SC-8850 to good use. I do this on occasion because I'm a big nerd at heart, and it's always brings back warm memories to hear a tune from your childhood.

While downloading Nintendo songs, I came across the page for Quest Studios , an enterprise whose sole purpose is to preserve the soundtracks from the classic Sierra Quest games (like King's Quest, Space Quest, and Police Quest). I downloaded a few complete soundtracks for fun and saw that many were specifically mixed for Roland sound modules.

One of the complete Roland soundtracks listed was for Robin Hood: Conquests of the Longbow, a 1993 game whose music was written by the perennial Aubrey Hodges. I had vague recollections that the game was good, but honestly, I went through games in those years faster than a diarrhetic goes through clean underwear. I couldn't remember anything about the game's music, even though the game was released right at the end of the Ad Lib sound card years. So I download the soundtrack and load it up in WinAMP, only to hear this as the first track (after the classic Sierra fanfare):

Robin Hood: Conquests of the Longbow Music from the Introduction

Compare this excerpt with the melody I mutated five years later in The Hero. Look familiar? Even more incredible was the fact that it was in the exact same key and articulated the eighth notes in the same manner (there are no articulations in the MIDI extract here). The second phrase of the melody even jumps up to the high F -- the second beat of each excerpt is a C though you can't see it here. (Another note: I didn't even get into the composing biz until late 1995).

So what does this mean? Is it just an incredible coincidence? Did I somehow retain the computer theme subconsciously for five years, and then just happen to write a major-key theme that mutated into this one over two months? Do you think I'm just a smelly plagarist?

Harry Potter and the Fields of Fire
Real Joe Millionaire host bitter that she's not as witty as the butler, and is a vampire too.

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