The "Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles" Quest for Music Composer Research

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by T.Q., Nov 18, 2019.

  1. I've observed the similarity between "When the Sun Comes Down" and Marble Garden in my listening before, since that's one of like three songs I really dig from the Jetzons. That said, I strongly believe the similarity is merely coincidental. The Jetzons only had one public release, The "Made in America" EP, which was only available in the US and didn't feature "Hard Times" or "When the Sun Comes Down."

    I wonder if its possible that the non-MJ team composers were given MJ's tape to work off? Or if theses songs were played to the other composers by Brad Buxer?
     
  2. NeoFusionBox

    NeoFusionBox

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    The Funny thing is that the Competiton Menu is the only "MJ" song that apparently uses the regular S3 drums.
     
  3. The Other RaFaél

    The Other RaFaél

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    It's always bugged me that FBZ Act 1 on the PC (GM Set) is pretty much nearly identical to Act 2, in its drum pattern. Yet when you switch it the FM Synth set, it sounds nearly exactly as it does in the Genesis (as is the case for nearly all the tracks between the FMS and GM set). Not that I had a real problem with it — I actually thought it sounded pretty neat that way, but it's just one of many liberties taken with that GM set that has always baffled me. I was sort of half-expecting to see these kinds of things done in this proto.

    Speaking of liberties and all that. Has anyone else besides me noticed that the drums for SSZ on this proto, sound a hot mess? The snare and the kick have completely swapped roles, either by mistake on someone's part or......some other reason *brain fart*.

    That being said, I've always wondered if whomever was responsible for the production of the PC version soundtrack, may have answers to a lot the questions asked in this thread. Probably wishful thinking on my part.
     
  4. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

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    You could be right, but after all this time, I wouldn't expect them to remember much of anything helpful to us.
     
  5. I just realized how loudly this screams "Jun Senoue".



    The Knuckles theme has a very similar composition style to the Sonic 4 Boss (used as the 'pinch' version in EP1 and the main boss theme in EP2).

     
  6. NeoFusionBox

    NeoFusionBox

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    I still think that mostly of "fast-paced" songs was made by Jun Senoue in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
     
  7. rata

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    Sandopolis Act 2 has a different bass on the first half of the song; the other is yeah, just that, lower key and different instruments.
     
  8. McAleeCh

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    Ah, that's right - how could I forget that grungy bassline? Was posting at 2am from our nursery w/o headphones so was unable to double-check, and apparently my memory failed me somewhat. Apologies!

    Glad I wasn't going mad about Marble Garden, at least. Do any other Zones do this with their Act 2 mixes? I can't remember if there are any significant differences between Death Egg Act 1 and 2 short of the octave shifting upwards between the two.

    Incidentally, one musical thing that's always bothered me re: Sonic 3 & Knuckles - Hidden Palace doesn't even have a unique music track! Even in the Sonic 3C 0408 proto, where it's considered Sky Sanctuary Act 1, there's still only one music track for that Zone rather than separate Act 1/2 remixes - in fact, that Zone only has a single track even as far back as the Nov 1993 proto! Makes me think Hidden Palace was entirely a post-split addition and not part of the original plan. However, even if that's the case, I'm not sure why they didn't have a unique track (or possibly a new Sky Sanctuary remix, based on its early name) composed for it alongside the other new tracks written specifically for Sonic & Knuckles, such as the new title theme...

    Also, if true it makes me wonder what on earth they originally envisaged for the transition between Lava Reef and Sky Sanctuary. The Lava Reef found buried in the Nov 1993 proto still seems to end in a long corridor similar to the final, albeit without the aesthetic change near the end to match in with Hidden Palace. But without seeing a contemporous Sky Sanctuary map, it's impossible to know exactly what was planned.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  9. Shakidna

    Shakidna

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    That's incorrect actually. Marble Garden Act 2 has a different baseline.
     
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  10. McAleeCh

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    Oof - clearly I need to reacquaint myself with the finer points of the soundtrack... Think I know what today's washing-up playlist will be, haha.
     
  11. muteKi

    muteKi

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    The bass line is still pretty similar but the accompaniment is very different. Instead of the funk rhythm guitar it's got a horn section. The chords in the chorus got changed a little bit too.
     
  12. Mobiusᴹᴰ

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    Hi all! What an exciting time to be a Sonic fan <3 It’s been interesting reading all the discussions around this new prototype, both on the programming/technical side as well as the music side. So much has been said already but after reading through, there’s a few things I wanted to add to the discussion. Sorry for how long this will be but I will try to split it up by topic so it can be more easily digested:

    Part 1 – MJ’s Contributions


    I wanted to comment on what you both mention here and also provide another noteworthy example which I’m surprised no one has brought up yet – we have Masa’s Demo versions of both the Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 OSTs available:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkLC1GkJjwkak9WRHsOLRp3aBTZw1zYk6

    I think it’s fair to assume that yes indeed a Brad Buxer/potential other members of “MJ’s crew” demo tape(s) exist out there somewhere, very much similar to what we hear above as Masa’s demos for the Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 soundtrack.

    As previously mentioned, we can almost surely assume that, while artists such as Masa and Buxer (& MJ) are clearly very talented, they almost certainly would not be experienced in the very specialized skill (especially with the tools available at the time) of programming for the Genesis soundchip. I think it’s fair to assume they used their own gear they were comfortable and familiar with to produce a demo which was then provided to someone whose specific experience/skills/job duty was to convert it to running on the Genesis.

    With the general conversation being “Did MJ write music for Sonic 3?” I want to kind of ask us all to think through what that even means. Michael obviously had a close collaborative creative working relationship with Buxer & some of the other confirmed contributors. Even when putting together his own albums, what role do you think Michael had in the writing/composing process? I think it’s safe to say he had a lot of input on the lyrics/vocal melodies/percussive vocal sounds/ & overall theme and perhaps even choreography for shows/videos. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t ever give his input about what chord progressions he liked/beat box out drum ideas/make other types of suggestions etc. etc. during the creative process, but it’s pretty clear that his producers such as Buxer would be doing the brunt of the composition/arranging/ and even finalizing the beats. All of this together is what made the “MJ” sound.

    Obviously with the music running on a Sega Genesis soundchip, there’s very little room for what Michael typically contributed (to greatly simplify.. Vocals.. Dancing..) and it really would mostly fall to his producers/collaborators to do what they would typically do (compose chord progressions & melodies, write/program the associated beats, arrange them out etc.) to get ideas to something that would be remotely workable to convert to Genesis.

    I really think it’s still up in the air just how much Michael provided input along the way, whether it was just pointing out which ideas he liked, or perhaps providing his input into the beats, as was seemed to be mentioned by Buxer. All of the contributions from “MJ’s team” are clearly very percussively focused, - including sound samples that, even if they aren’t actually “him,” may have first been recorded as him beat boxing and doing his thing, and then adapted with samples & programming to work on a Genesis. Perhaps someone could ask Buxer (or maybe he’s mentioned it in some of these lengthy interviews) generally how they would come up with their beats.. seeing as some themes are literally entirely beats, there’s no reason to rule out that maybe it was originally something Michael beatboxed and Buxer/Sega engineers turned into a programmed beat.

    At the same time, as much as he may have loved Sonic/Sega, and was interested in being involved, the most logical thing after the ball was rolling was perhaps to let his closest friends/associates finish the work they had already started while he himself stepped away from being associated with the project. I mean he WAS on a World Tour throughout most of that time of development, which is obviously a major undertaking, as well as all the other controversies and demands of being the King of Pop at the time. Combining that with the fact that, yes maybe he was frustrated with the limitations of the Genesis which in particular was very limiting to him as a vocalist, (as previously mentioned) … perhaps he himself grew frustrated but allowed his team to finish out the project as they had already made progress and were interested in seeing it through.

    So in conclusion, while I largely agree with your assessment of how the project found its way to Buxer/MJ’s crew, and generally what Buxer/ the rest of the team’s role would have been, I disagree that “…there's [not] much mystery around it anymore, at least whether Michael actually contributed much to it.” I still think there’s as much mystery as ever as to just how much Michael gave input along the way… or if he even gave much of any at all. At a minimum he is the bridge between getting Buxer & other contributors involved at all. If MJ did not have the relationship he did with Sega at the time then Sonic 3’s soundtrack would most assuredly have turned out differently than the one it released with.
     
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  13. Mobiusᴹᴰ

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    Part 2 —Why S&K Collection PC didn’t use “MJ” songs from Sonic3 Genesis

    Another conversation that’s come up over the years and is of course even more enflamed now with what’s been uncovered in the Prototype is, why did S&K PC change only the songs that seem to be from MJ’s team? Suggested theories have been that maybe Sega wanted to remove any association with MJ now that they had the chance due to his scandals. Even more frequently mentioned seems to be that there is a legal dispute over the rights to the tracks, which may indeed play a part in it.

    Something I’m not sure I’ve seen mentioned yet is perhaps the songs for the S&K PC collection were changed due to technical reasons. Since the game was being made for PC, it was using the General MIDI standard, which especially at the time, meant it had to be compatible across a wide variety of sound cards each having some of their own unique MIDI voice libraries. As many have noted, the “MJ Team” tracks are very percussive focused, utilizing some very particular sounds and samples to achieve their vibes and this may simply have not translated well at all/been impossible to achieve on the sound cards available at the time. While the General MIDI library has tones such as Slap Bass, Organ, Trumpet, Marimba etc. which make many of the other songs “adaptable,” it may have just made more sense to find some other available music that would translate better to General MIDI than the MJ songs used in the original Genesis release – and what better candidates than the more typical/easily adaptable compositions that were still on hand from the prototype? It’s just a budget PC release anyways so why bother calling in new composers? If anyone has a more thorough expertise/technical understanding in regards to this I would love to hear their thoughts.

    Haha yes I find this Cirocco to be a person of interest. He very clearly and proudly states that he collaborated “with "The King of Pop", Michael Jackson, for the Sega Video Game "Sonic The Hedge Hog.”” If Michael basically had no input whatsoever, as many seem to be beginning to assume through the course of this thread, then it’s interesting that Cirocco rather than saying he simply worked on a soundtrack for a Sega/Sonic video game, includes specifically that he indeed collaborated with Michael Jackson on the project. Perhaps we should be seeing if there is any more info/clarification we can get out of him if he is willing to publicly acknowledge even this much so concretely and directly.


    Lol, it truly would be absurd/ironic/hilarious/tragic if literally none of this guy’s input was used and he is indeed the main person causing complications, but such is life.

    If you take a look on his website,

    http://www.musicpowers.com/

    there seems to be a lot of focus on his book The Music Powers that be.. To Succeed in the Music Industry, … maybe even more so than his actual music… lol. And looking further into what the book is about, it seems to be focusing on being aggressive about establishing the rights of what you’ve worked on and not be apprehensive about defending those rights…. Yeah…. Lol sounds like this would be a prime suspect… quoting from his webpage (link provided): http://www.musicpowers.com/sellbeats2.html

    It’s very interesting to think how someone who authored this book and clearly has a strong focus on the licensing & rights aspect of the industry would approach the cluster**** of a situation of a video game developed decades ago, that was actually split into 2 video games, with so many different contributors, being released on so many different platforms, with so many different stipulations (emulation vs original, vs recomposing etc.), even further complicating it by replacing certain tracks differently across different ports & releases.. I can’t think of a more complicated licensing situation possible across any medium… and insert someone who’s clearly a real stickler about licensing rights and you have a total & complete mess. So yes I would say that, if there are indeed legal/licensing problems, there is fair reason to assume that Cirocco may be involved in that :-)
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  14. Mobiusᴹᴰ

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    Part 3 – General Opinions

    I wanted to start with touching on more of the historical analysis/theorizing side of things, but with that out of the way, being the rabid Sonic fan that I am, I also wanted to share some of my general opinions. When it comes down to what songs we prefer/like, it’s all obviously a matter of opinion. I would like to say though that the original release on the original platform would seem to be the most “pure” & “authentic” version, uncompromised by any potential legal hurdles, and should be considered the De Facto standard – a totally unhindered realization of the original artistic vision. To point to another example, which I think/hope most would agree with me on (again this is all opinions :-p), is the original Star War Trilogy release, vs. the Special editions/ the even further absurd edits of Han shot first etc.

    I realize even having this opinion already gets complicated right off the bat as Sonic 3’s original release on its original platform is “completed” with Sonic & Knuckles, and even at this stage, tracks are already being altered/replaced. I know we can all customize it to our preference now with the various community re-releases, and I’m honestly not even sure if it’s an option in S3&K Complete or A.I.R., but what I would find to be ideal would be using the Sonic 3 original “MJ” tracks through and up to the end of “Part 1” and then switch all the themes and music to the S&K replacements for the rest of “Part 2”.

    I find all the themes found in the original Sonic 3 and their corresponding replacements in S&K to be enjoyable and while I may have slight preferences between them, I don’t have a strong distaste for any of them.


    Sorry for quoting so many of you but I agree with what so many of you have already said… I grew up with the original Genesis releases so I am biased as we all are in our own ways, but I just want to reiterate what I said about being biased not just toward what I experienced first in my youth, but also being biased towards what was originally released in the original format.

    All that “bias” aside, I would like to say that the songs from the S&K PC collection, both the MIDI versions as well as the Genesis Prototype originals are all well made compositions. I find both the Genesis soundfont as well as the General MIDI versions enjoyable to listen to, each having some of their own pros and cons.

    Saying that, I’d also like to say that Ice Cap Zone and Launch Base Zone, as they appear originally as released on the Genesis, are absolute MASTERPIECES, and beyond that, they, along with Carnival Night Zone, absolutely do a major job in establishing the tone and feel of those zones that sooooo greatly differs from the Prototype/PC tracks. Carnival Night Zone’s theme sets an eerie bizarre demented carnival vibe, that while not euphoric by any means, sets such a unique feel and builds the proper tension that I think really matches the zone at this stage of the game well. Knuckles is messing with the electricity and water levels, you’re getting trapped in mysterious chambers with moving barrels that you have to figure out.. it should be off-putting. The prototype track isn’t horrible or anything but it’s more of a relaxed chill & fun vibe that seems a bit out of place IMO.

    Someone mentioned that the Ice Cap PC/Prototype theme is more of a “Winter Wonderland” vibe, and I totally agree… again it definitely works, especially for a Snow Zone, but seeing as this is the 2nd to final act, the more dramatic/epic track found on the original Genesis release really does give more of an “Arctic Wasteland” vibe which seems more appropriate leading to the final act rather than a bouncy fun winter time theme.

    Which of course, Launch Base Zone, being the final Zone in the game (at the time), the dramatic build up to the showdown against Robotnik… the original Genesis track just sets the perfect vibe. It’s really hard to pin point just what it is, a perfect balance of that sleek/cool percussive energy yet the strange mystery of what danger is lurking ahead building up the tension towards the upcoming final battle. And yes even if this ends up being only the end of “Part 1” it is still a climactic end to this phase of the story. While Sonic 3 & K didn’t have much (any) in the way of dialogue it told so much through the minimal cutscenes and especially the expressive and well coordinated music throughout the game.

    The PC/Prototype LBZ track(s) are definitely nice compositions for sure, but again, they seem wayyyy too laid back/chill/upbeat to at all be appropriate for the build up to the final showdown. They honestly seem weirdly celebratory as if you already won (your greatest challenge still lays ahead)… almost like a credits theme after you won the final battle, which really clashes with the tone of what’s actually going on in the story/narrative (yes.. there is an ongoing story playing out throughout the entirety of the experience which is one of the most subtle yet enjoyable things about the whole package).

    This is something I guess I’ve subconsciously thought about over the years now that you bring it up so I wanted to respond.. it seems that Hidden Palace Zone is almost more of an overblown interactive cutscene than it is a real zone.. I mean it really does not function like a normal zone at all with no badniks/multiple pathways/giant rings etc. found in a typical zone (and quite literally, while playing as Knuckles, barely qualifies as a zone at all whatsoever..). Also, it shares almost as many aesthetic similarities with Lava Reef Zone Act 2 as Lava Reef Zone Act 2 does with Act 1. Sure we have an absolute joke of a boss fight that could just as easily have been a non interactive cutscene, the rest of the “Zone” plays out as a cutscene setting the dramatic true finale into motion. So in that way, it is almost simply makes more sense to think of it as cutscene that gets you from Lava Reef to Sky Sanctuary rather than as a true zone. I can understand why they didn't want to develop an entire new song for the area and I think the track they used fits the mood nicely, both in Lava Reef Zone Act and in HPZ.

    Also, the music themes between Lava Reef Zone Act 1 and Act 2 (while both are fantastic) don’t really share any similarities, whatsoever any ways… so perhaps Hidden Palace Zone was always seen more of as the end to Lava Reef Zone Act 2 … but with how complex the upcoming cutscene was going to be, perhaps it was technically more feasible to clear the memory and load a fresh zone to stage everything necessary for cutscene to do everything they wanted.
     
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  15. Not entirely certain if it is actually worth mentioning, but I am positively of the opinion that this Cirocco Jones character is the one complicating things for a Sonic 3K re-release. He certainly has the loudest voice on the matter, while also being the team member whose contributions don't seem to have made it into the end product.

    Oh, and as much as I love the MJ-team S3 tracks, I feel compelled to defend the prototype Launch Base. The triumphant and relaxed vibe of the song really fits the zone's placement in S3K, where Sonic and co believe they are preventing the launch of the Death Egg.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  16. Despatche

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    Even aside from the tone of the song, the overall structure clearly places it with the rest of the soundtrack. The MJ Team songs are very much out of place in Sonic 3, simple as that. MJ Team IceCap is definitely not a "masterpiece", it's a twenty-second instrumental backing of a song that was supposed to have lyrics, and is somehow more repetitive than the original IceCap. The only reason people worship it, or any of the other songs, is because they grew up with those songs. The same goes for this whole "tone" thing with the original Launch Base. It sounds exactly like the rest of the soundtrack, especially when you look at the act 2s. But, because people grew up with that MJ Team Launch Base, they feel a need to stand by it. This is not unique to Sonic 3 in any possible way.

    I grew up with the Mega Drive version of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. I like most of the MJ Team music, and I still do. However, it was always obvious that it was all clearly out of place, as if it was from a completely different video game, and I always wondered why. I never really cared to look into it until all the stories about MJ involvement in Sonic 3 started up. I also didn't get Collection until later, and I could never get the sound working. Everyone also made a big deal about the unique music in Collection, so I took a look. It was immediately obvious to me that the new music was at least done by the original team if nothing else. The reveal in this prototype makes entirely too much sense. What doesn't is why the songs themselves were modified a bit for Collection, but there may be some later prototype or some sound data sitting around on some hard drive that's closer to Collection... we really have no way of knowing right now.

    Lava Reef 1 and 2 sound different, but they still have some key similarities. It's a bit more extreme than things like Angel Island (another zone where the environment changes drastically between acts, and the song changes accordingly), but the intent is similar. The way Sonic 3 did these act 2s is similar to certain Mania act 2s, such as Press Garden.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  17. Metalwario64

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    That's how I feel, and also, I don't see how the MJ Launch Base sounds like a final level, because to me it sounds like you're sneaking into the villains lair, but not at the end and ready to encounter the boss (and Robotnik is clearly anticipating him, so that doesn't really fit either), but it's super low key and doesn't build to anything. The prototype theme progresses from the confident, cheerful act one to the more serious and anticipatory mood in act 2, which sounds like a "you're almost there" theme. It works perfectly in the context of the complete package and even on its own in my eyes. Even then, the games being split shouldn't be held against it. Sonic 3 (standalone) is still just the first half of the story.

    I feel like criticizing Sonic 3 for not feeling like a complete, climactic and standalone experience is like complaining about Empire Strikes Back not standing on its own without Return of the Jedi. If you prefer the MJ tracks, that's fine. I'm just giving my reasons for why I disagree. :P
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  18. Shakidna

    Shakidna

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    I believe the S&K Collection used the prototype midis because that's what they had access too. It was easier to import the demos from their own internal sound team than track down MJ's producers again and ask them for midis.


    The melodies are unique, but they both share the same backing rhythm:
    [​IMG]

    They also share this leitmotif:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  19. sonicthesnot

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    That's my thought as well. In one of the interviews they mentioned MJ and crew recorded their Sonic tracks in the studio just like they'd record an album. Converting those to MIDI for the PC release would probably be little or no ROI...
     
  20. Shakidna

    Shakidna

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    On the topic of S&K Collection music, what the hell happened here?


    This is Nocturne from Sonic Chronicles bad. This is Atgames Sega Genesis console sound emulation bad.

    The midi version has all the channels in the correct key. Odd because in most cases the FM synthesis versions are more accurate. My guess is that whoever ported this and was tasked with quality checking the FM versions had no idea how it was supposed to sound, since it doesn't exist in the final Genesis release.