Video Game Music Gets a String
Quartet Makeover

Categories: Video games

The String Arcade

Even if you haven't played Mario Brothers in years, you likely remember the music just as much as the images -- you can hear the music now, can't you?

Video game music composer Dren McDonald creates these electronic sounds for various games, but it was his passion for other music, specifically string music, that got him wondering -- "What music would I make right now, if I could make anything?"

During the time he was debating this question, an opportunity to help fundraise for the Alameda Music Project -- an after-school music program -- emerged. But he knew a CD of him playing string quartet music wasn't going to sell.

McDonald says, "I started listening closely to some of my favorite game music from my youth (Altered Beast, Legend of Zelda, Galaga) and wondered how those might sound if arranged for string quartet."

From this came came the Kickstarter for The String Arcade, a project to have a string quartet record the various video game songs we know so well. But translating these electronic beeps, boops, and thundering reverberations into sheet music for a string quartet provided various challenges.

"I did go through a lot of different game tunes that I thought might work, only to find out that this wasn't the right approach for all game music," says McDonald. "Some game music might really rely on drums or rhythm for it's best translation. Some game music really relies on the sounds chosen (chip sounds, or synths maybe). Some game music actually fit too well."

The string quartet -- composed of musicians Alisa Rose, violin; Celia Harris, violin; Robin Reynolds, cello; and Emily Onderdonk, viola -- then recorded the 17 selected pieces between May and December. The list includes music from games such as The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, Galaga, Plant vs. Zombies, Ravenshire Castle, and more.

While The String Arcade has reached its initial goal of $6,000, backers are still flooding the site to get their hands on these tunes. We won't lie, we're definitely interested in hearing The Legend of Zelda intro theme via string quartet.

To learn more about this project visit The String Arcade site. And if you're interested in purchasing the album, it will be on sale February 11.

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