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A look at the progression of Sonic music

#16 User is offline ParleyMint 

Posted 04 January 2016 - 03:01 PM

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View PostAerosol, on 01 January 2016 - 05:32 PM, said:

Well, they sounded similar to the pop songs coming out at the time to me; sort of a "Sonic by way of Katy Perry" sound.


I think that's a result of Cash Cash having a bit more involvement in the soundtrack. I'd really love to have Ogata or Ohtani helm a future game's sound direction since the generic pop sound of Cash Cash isn't too much to my liking.

#17 User is offline Blue Blood 

Posted 04 January 2016 - 04:15 PM

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View PostParleyMint, on 04 January 2016 - 03:01 PM, said:

View PostAerosol, on 01 January 2016 - 05:32 PM, said:

Well, they sounded similar to the pop songs coming out at the time to me; sort of a "Sonic by way of Katy Perry" sound.


I think that's a result of Cash Cash having a bit more involvement in the soundtrack. I'd really love to have Ogata or Ohtani helm a future game's sound direction since the generic pop sound of Cash Cash isn't too much to my liking.

Cash Cash didn't have a huge involvement, though were were of course responsible for remixing the the two vocal tracks for the Classic Era (City Escape and Super Sonic Racing). The modern pop style the went with meshed with the image really well. It worked alongside the (somewhat lacking) rock that Jun contributed to Modern half of the game.

I really love Ohtani, but his work on Lost World burnt me out a bit. He composed all the level music in that game (bar Sugar Lane) and it showed. It was one of the weakest Sonic soundtracks. That's probably in part due to the game trying to be like Mario, but I still think it suffered for it's lack of artistic variation. Colours' soundtrack was headed by Tokoi with Ohtani playing a key role, while Unleashed and '06's music was directed by Ohtani assisted by a team of others. Either team works wonders. Having look at the music credits for Sonic soundtracks since SA1, the games with the biggest sound teams and tracks with multiple contributing artists almost always turn out the best.

#18 User is offline Shadow Hog 

Posted 04 January 2016 - 05:50 PM

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View PostParleyMint, on 28 December 2015 - 12:07 AM, said:

Sonic 3D Blast (specifically the Genesis version), however, may just be the most "Sonic" sounding soundtrack in the Classic era. Every. Single. Track. Is. Amazing. Jun Senoue is at his musical best in the Classic era with the tracks he composed in the game (Green Grove, Spring Stadium) while the rest of the composers compose very memorable tracks that just evoke what defined Sonic music during the time. Now if only the same could be said about the game itself...
Okay, I'll grant that Sonic 3D Blast Genesis has some excellent tracks in its lineup - most notably, the ones Tatsuyuki Maeda worked on (Diamond Dust, Volcano Valley). But saying Spring Stadium is Jun Senoue at his musical best? I can't really see it; the melodies are remarkably bland and never feel like they go anywhere. Same with the Special Stage music, in fact. Green Grove and Panic Puppet 1 are great, at least.

Although, I suppose I'm also one of those "bonkers" folk who preferred Richard Jacques's work with the Saturn game. Can't say what it is, specifically, that grabs me; maybe it's the broad variety of genres covered, the good mixing job with just the right level of reverberation for my tastes, the large focus on piano... Heck, just having its Rusty Ruins tracks is good enough to propel it to one of the series' all-time bests. I love the melancholy, rainy-day feel it has.

#19 User is offline Drdevilfx 

Posted 05 January 2016 - 05:32 AM

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View PostParleyMint, on 04 January 2016 - 03:01 PM, said:

View PostAerosol, on 01 January 2016 - 05:32 PM, said:

Well, they sounded similar to the pop songs coming out at the time to me; sort of a "Sonic by way of Katy Perry" sound.


I think that's a result of Cash Cash having a bit more involvement in the soundtrack. I'd really love to have Ogata or Ohtani helm a future game's sound direction since the generic pop sound of Cash Cash isn't too much to my liking.

As much as it would be awesome to have Ogata be the sound director of the next Sonic game, I don't think he composes anymore (his last work was Summon Night 4 in 2006). It's a real shame. And yeah, I don't like Cash Cash much either.

Isn't Ohtani already one of the main sound directors?

#20 User is offline Doctor Butler 

Posted 30 January 2016 - 05:48 PM

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The Genesis version of 3D Blast is better overall than the Saturn version - both in terms of being "Sonic Music" and just catchy in general - but the Saturn version works much better to provide atmosphere that suits the game's slow, methodical pace. It gives off the sensation of discover - especial Rusty Ruins' track.

It's similar to how the JPN/PAL Sonic CD music is better, but the US music meshes with the visual aesthetic of each stage better.

And Sonic CD is totally New-Jack Swing.

#21 User is offline JaredAFX 

Posted 30 January 2016 - 07:00 PM

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View PostDoctor Butler, on 30 January 2016 - 05:48 PM, said:

The Genesis version of 3D Blast is better overall than the Saturn version - both in terms of being "Sonic Music" and just catchy in general - but the Saturn version works much better to provide atmosphere that suits the game's slow, methodical pace. It gives off the sensation of discover - especial Rusty Ruins' track.

It's similar to how the JPN/PAL Sonic CD music is better, but the US music meshes with the visual aesthetic of each stage better.

And Sonic CD is totally New-Jack Swing.

While I personally agree with you, you can't say something is better than something else. That's personal taste. There are plenty of people here who think the Saturn 3D Blast and US Sonic CD soundtracks are better than their counterparts.

#22 User is offline Lostgame 

Posted 30 January 2016 - 07:15 PM

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This is an important discussion to me, as I'm working on this Sonic remix project with my band - what exactly do you guys feel 'defined' Sonic music in the mid-90's?

I can't agree more with your sentiment that Jacques' and Senoue's production for both the MD and Saturn versions of 3D blast were basically the bomb-diggity-om-shit.

But why?! I must know! What are these chord variations and cadences that make good Sonic music sound like 'good Sonic music'?


...

These are the things that keep me up at night. My life's not so bad.

edit: shit, eh? those 'Yellow Magic Orchestra' guys hit it.
This post has been edited by Lostgame: 30 January 2016 - 07:22 PM

#23 User is offline XCubed 

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View PostLostgame, on 30 January 2016 - 07:15 PM, said:

This is an important discussion to me, as I'm working on this Sonic remix project with my band - what exactly do you guys feel 'defined' Sonic music in the mid-90's?

I can't agree more with your sentiment that Jacques' and Senoue's production for both the MD and Saturn versions of 3D blast were basically the bomb-diggity-om-shit.

But why?! I must know! What are these chord variations and cadences that make good Sonic music sound like 'good Sonic music'?


...

These are the things that keep me up at night. My life's not so bad.

edit: shit, eh? those 'Yellow Magic Orchestra' guys hit it.


I honestly think I've captured the Essenes of Genesis/ Mega Drive era "Sonic" sound in most of my tracks. There's just a certain pattern that has now been broken for ages.

#24 User is offline nesboy43 

Posted 16 February 2016 - 01:07 AM

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View PostLostgame, on 30 January 2016 - 07:15 PM, said:

This is an important discussion to me, as I'm working on this Sonic remix project with my band - what exactly do you guys feel 'defined' Sonic music in the mid-90's?

I can't agree more with your sentiment that Jacques' and Senoue's production for both the MD and Saturn versions of 3D blast were basically the bomb-diggity-om-shit.

But why?! I must know! What are these chord variations and cadences that make good Sonic music sound like 'good Sonic music'?


...

These are the things that keep me up at night. My life's not so bad.

edit: shit, eh? those 'Yellow Magic Orchestra' guys hit it.

This is vague, but I really love the layers of sound in each track. Like in Starlight Zone you have those interesting high star sounding notes as well as the horns. Furthermore in Ice Cap you have things like the synth solo as well, that when finished lets you appreciate the togetherness of all the elements even more.

Most importantly though, I love a solid bass groove, which classic Sonic always did right.

I hope that makes sense. It is hard for me to describe things on musical terms.
This post has been edited by nesboy43: 16 February 2016 - 01:11 AM

#25 User is offline ParleyMint 

Posted 21 April 2016 - 10:34 PM

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Quick thoughts. I've been listening to Yellow Magic Orchestra (per the mention of them in the thread) and I can't help but notice just how much of these guys' sound is injected into almost all of the Sonic games' soundtracks. Their ethereal and almost 'epic' sounding electronica can be heard in most of the Sonic CD soundtrack, Sonic Adventure, and most notably in Sonic 06 (White Acropolis, Aquatic Base ~Level 1~, Kingdom Valley to an extent, etc.). It's quite interesting seeing how this group helped shaped the sound of not only Sonic, but many franchises to come.

#26 User is offline Thousand Pancake 

Posted 22 April 2016 - 12:45 AM

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When are you going to put out the second part of this analysis?

#27 User is offline ParleyMint 

Posted 22 April 2016 - 03:24 PM

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I've been on and off on writing it since college has been taking up most of my time. I'm focusing more on individual tracks since the Adventure era tends to be more musically complex.

#28 User is offline Blades 

Posted 27 April 2016 - 02:37 PM

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Which albums of YMO are you thinking about when you say that?

I too prefer Jacques' 3D Blast to the MD soundtrack.

#29 User is offline Lostgame 

Posted 27 April 2016 - 02:43 PM

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I'm interested at the lack of inclusion of any of the Game Gear titles in this initial analysis.

While I've only been considering Genesis/CD/32x/Saturn Sonic titles for this remix album, I'm thinking there may be a need to dip into some of the GG/SMS music.

Bridge Zone (S1)...Green Hills Zone (S2)...there's some good shit there.

#30 User is offline SystemsReady 

Posted 27 April 2016 - 09:19 PM

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Ahahahaha, I guess I'm in the minority when I say that I 100% digged Cash Cash's contributions to Generations (they're only listed as contributors for the title track in Colors). In fact, I actually was into their original stuff (Overtime, Hideaway) before I even found out - by accident - that they did official remixes for Generations. It took me looking up their Wikipedia article for me to believe that was the same Cash Cash (despite the stylistic similarities) because I was amazed that two things I really really like (Sonic music! EDM!) managed to actually officially cross over in that fashion. No one had ever mentioned it on any of the EDM news sites I go on, and I suspect most people who listen to them without also being into Sonic don't know about it either. I'm kinda hoping they come to the Twin Cities sometime solely so I can bring a huge sign that says "PLAY YOUR SONIC REMIXES" on it.

Anyway, I think what makes the Sonic 1 and 2 soundtracks distinct is how easily their parts can be given to actual instruments - for instance, that melodic leading synth in Star Light Zone is obviously meant to be a trumpet part, and so is the leading synth line for Chemical Plant Zone. That strikes me as music (which is, in its nature, electronic) that is written by someone who has actual music instrumentation experience.* I also find that the level themes for Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 have heavy jazz elements - Mystic Cave Zone is a HUGE example of this - and IMO that makes Sonic Adventure 1 more in line with the works from these games as opposed to Sonic 3 or the spinoff titles.

Sonic 3 definitely feels like it was written by other people in that respect, in that the parts that make up the tracks are a bit harder to map to actual instrument parts, and I think the PC version of Sonic 3 & Knuckles makes this obvious. There are a few level themes that DO lend themselves well to being remastered (Sandopolis Acts 1 & 2, the intro for Angel Island Act 1), but the PC soundtrack of S3&K is pretty much only "remastered" in that the percussion is a lot better. Most of the melodic parts are just matched to prettier electronic synths. Even looking at fan remixes, Ice Cap has a BAZILLION electronic remixes on OCRemix, because it just lends itself better to being a straight electronic track than a jazz or big band ensemble like most of the tracks for Sonic 1 & 2 do.

This is also why I feel that the JP soundtrack of Sonic CD fits better within the series (and also within the aesthetic of the game too, but that's for another post), because it's overtly electronic like Sonic 3 with some of the eye for arrangement that Sonics 1 & 2 have, as well as having more obvious influences within 90s electronic as opposed to 80s electronic (which I feel that Sonic 3 is closer to, which makes sense given MJ's development). Stardust Speedway JP BLEEDS 90s house music.

I can't really say a lot about 3D Blast in terms of personal analysis, as the only track that even stuck with me from childhood was the intro/Panic Puppet Zone theme...I was pleasantly surprised after erm..."acquiring" the themes from the game how much of it is actually quite good, especially the theme for the volcanic level. I dig Jacques' contributions to Generations (making the vocals in Supporting Me comprehensible is an instant win in my book) more than his work in 3D Blast Saturn, but his stuff in that game does benefit from higher-fidelity arrangement. I don't feel that his stuff necessarily fits (like Sonic CD US), but I do like to listen to it on its own.

Sonic Adventure vs Sonic Adventure 2...I'm a little confused by people saying that SA2's soundtrack is ALL rock. SA2's soundtrack has a lot of rock in my opinion solely because there are more Sonic levels this time around. Shadow's levels are far more electrorock than anything else, Rouge's stuff isn't rock at all, Robotnik's themes are electrorock with more rock emphasis than Shadow's, Tails' stuff is...I dunno, upbeat...stuff? And Knuckles' stuff is just plain awful. SA1's themes are more varied, but I don't know how much of that can be attributed to Senoue not leading and how much of it is just the fact that the game has a completely different visual and structural feel than SA2's - all the levels are shared between the characters so it'd make no sense to greatly differentiate them to match a single character's "style" like SA2 did. Plus, SA2 is "edgier" than SA1, and I have a feeling that "MORE GUITARS" was their way of trying to express that. And also Knuckles' awful music, did I mention that? Who the hell thought that UNKNOWN FROM M.E. was so good that it should be remade 6 times over? (KNUCK KNUCK it's Knuckles, the CHUCKLE-thrower...when memes are the only good thing to come out of a song, you know you messed up)

Didn't Senoue do a lot of work on Heroes too? That soundtrack doesn't have very much rock at all...

Unleashed/World Adventure and Colors...I love them so much. I love the differences in styles and the usage of orchestral/big band instruments for their tracks. It's like going to a fantastic Vegas buffet. "Ooh, they have crab legs here--oh, and an entire station of great Japanese food--but look at all these pastries!" -> "Oh my god, Shamar Night has a duet between a soprano sax and a trumpet--THAT DRUM AND BASS BEAT IN AQUATIC PARK--that big band paired with that electric guitar in Sweet Mountain--THE PERCUSSION IN JUNGLE JOYRIDE!!" God I can't wait to get these on a physical disc so I can have them lossless... [/nerd] I haven't even played those games yet and I love the soundtrack so much. Not much introspective analysis here, ahahahha :V

* I have the same kind of praise for my absolute favorite songwriter/producer, Rob Swire (Pendulum, Knife Party), whose stuff is practically written to be played live by a band despite having intensely overt electronic elements. This kind of praise sounds basic, but 1.) there are literal successful artists out there who don't have this - Afrojack openly admitted to not knowing what a "bar" was when he started out!! - and 2.) a lot of issues I have with dubstep and mainstream electro house/big room for the last two or three years has been that people are slamming together sounds without any regard for musicality whatsoever; "it has a bunch of metallic sounds in it, so it MUST be 'filthy', right??" Ugh......
This post has been edited by SystemsReady: 27 April 2016 - 09:21 PM

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