We got music

It’s taken quite some time, but I’ve finally managed to get all of the music from the old site (T.H.I.S. 1.0) onto this server.  Glad to have that done!

As you can see, blog entries have been created for each song and they are also nicely categorized by style/genre in the “Categories” list to your right.  I’m a little worried that the transition might have broken some links – I’ve tried my best to keep things accurate, but if you catch a song link that’s broken please let me know.

Beyond that, please enjoy the music!  I’m getting eager to post some cool new piano pieces as well as some sheet music for my existing piano numbers.  I’m also preparing a series of articles on some of my favorite Final Fantasy games, which oughta be controversial enough to draw in some new traffic and create some good discussion, hehe.

So stay tuned!

Song: Aerith’s Theme – an impromptu piano solo

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

Okay – I’ve finally had it.  I have listened to so many mediocre arrangements of this song that it’s finally time to write a good one.

For those who don’t know (shame on you), Aerith’s Theme comes from quite possibly the greatest game of all time: Final Fantasy VII.  The theme is beautiful, and many artists have attempted to arrange it in a variety of styles.  Most are terrible; a rare few turn out very nice.  I hope that this intermediate-level arrangement fits the latter description…  ;)

I hesitated to post this song since it is, as described, an impromptu performance.  I haven’t edited the recorded MIDI at all.  What you hear is straight how it came outta my fingers, sloppy runs and all.  But I feel like it’s important to post a good, original, live arrangement of this piece on the internet since most the amateur versions out there sound like they came out of a Lv3 Alfred Book.  Argh.  This is certainly a more varied, lively performance than the ones I’ve heard so far.  (And no, I haven’t heard the Piano Collections arrangement of this, unfortunately.  I imagine it’s quite good!)

It is also worth mentioning that this was arranged by ear, without any source notation.  The mp3 and ogg files are soundfont-generated and NOT from an actual piano.  I apologize for that, but alas – no recording studio + Yamaha Disklavier yet!  Someday!!  :D

Comments/requests for additional FF arrangements are welcome.

Creative Commons License

This arrangement of “Aerith’s Theme” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License. The original song is ©1997 Square Co., Ltd.

Song: Alagaesia and Eragon – a piano tribute

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

After reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini, I was struck by the awesomeness of a teenager making the New York Times Bestseller list with his first novel.  If that’s not living the “American Dream,” I don’t know what is.

Anyway, the book is quite good and I am very impressed by Chris’s accomplishment.  So in honor of him and his first novel, I’ve written a piano tribute to my two favorite parts of the book: the world of Alagaesia and the protagonist Eragon.  This piano piece begins and ends with an Alagaesian theme while the middle section is a tribute to Eragon.  I hope it does both justice.

This was recorded off my old Roland HP-30006 keyboard and synthesized via a very nice Steinway-based soundfont.  Yes, an actual live recording will always sound better, but this will have to do until I can afford an actual Steinway. (Which, according to my calculations, should be sometime around 1 Jan 2135).

Creative Commons License

"Alagaesia and Eragon" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Wild Waters Theme Song

Download song: mp3 MIDI

Planet Source Code is one of my favorite open source programming sites on the internet.  I’ve been involved with PSC since the late 90’s, and still like to drop in every now and then.  I was doing this just last week when I came across “Wild Waters” (follow the PSC link above), a freeware 2d game written in VB by Trent Jackson.   Trent was looking for music for the project, so I looked around and found this old (but good!) song sitting on my hard drive and offered it to Trent as a theme song for his project.  It seems to fit!

Known as “It Begins” back in TGP/TLA days, this song is a simple arcade-style theme song.  I based it loosely off “Cold” by matchbox twenty and I’m still fond of it even though it hasn’t been online for several years.  I don’t know why I never uploaded this before – it’s a decent theme.

Creative Commons License

"Wild Waters Theme Song" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Carol of the Bells (a.k.a. Ukrainian Bell Carol)

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

One of my favorite holiday songs in epic video game style.  Happy Holidays!

Addendum 30 Sep 2011: this remix was used in a brilliant piece of pixel art by dA artists Ravenswd and Mirz123. I highly recommend watching the animation via this deviantART link or the youtube video embedded below. Many thanks to these artists for their shout-out!

Creative Commons License

"Carol of the Bells Remix" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Familiar Roads

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

As has become typical in my work, this song relies heavily on its mp3 mix for sound quality.  MIDI instruments don’t do it justice. (In other words, please don’t download the MIDI version. :)

I wrote “Familiar Roads” as a simple, catchy town theme – not the typically dull background piece associated with that style of VG music.  I like the instrument mix and pace and am pretty damn happy with how it turned out.  For better or worse, this is the closest thing to “pop music” I’ve ever written. All it needs are some corny lyrics, like:

Lookin’ in the rearview mirror
Missin’ your face
We were so good together
Why did you leave me for that other guy
Blah blah blah

Creative Commons License

"Familiar Roads" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: The Journey (Kroc’s Theme)

Download song: mp3 MIDI

Ah, it’s nice to have this remix done.  While I enjoyed writing the original “Journey” midi, this song has been in desperate need of an mp3 mix for awhile.

There are several noticeable differences between this and the original; I’ve tried to rewrite some of the weaker sections without changing the song too much (it is, after all, a theme song hehe).  Also, the change of the lead instrument to a Spanish trumpet turned out as good as I could have hoped…  Spanish trumpets are awesome!

Many thanks go out to Kroc for all he’s done to help me out these past few years.  This song – as well as Leaving Millie and Retribution are my small way of saying thanks!

Creative Commons License

"The Journey (Kroc's Theme)" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Leaving Millie

Download song: mp3 MIDI

“Leaving Millie” is an interesting addition to the theme of Kroc’s life (my source material for this “Kroc’s Symphony” experiment; see also Retribution and The Journey).  In spring 2005, Kroc shared with me a series of remarkable stories.  One of the recurring characters in these stories was a girl named “Millie,” and she is the inspiration for this song.

My hope for this was to accomplish several things.  I wanted a piece that sounded pretty and pleasant (not dark or dreary), but I didn’t want to go so far as “happy,” per se.  I wanted it to be the kind of song you could contemplate to.  I also wanted it to start simple, then gradually progress into a more complex ending that stayed true to the simpleness of the melody.  It’s designed to be a sort of musical conundrum.  :)  I’m rather fond of it.

Again, thanks go out to Kroc for all he’s done to help me out.  This song, as well as The Journey and Retribution, are my small way of saying thanks.

By request, the mp3 version of this song includes a “live piano” track.  This version of the piano part was recorded as MIDI through my keyboard and recreated via soundfont – so it’s not entirely “live”, but the notes are an exact replica of me at my keyboard.  In my opinion, this version has more grandeur than the all-electronic version, and although some dissonant notes appear toward the end (oops!), I find this to be a nice improvement on an already excellent song.

Creative Commons License

"Leaving Millie" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Song: Retribution

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg MIDI

Retribution is my favorite rock / battle theme to date.  It’s a great mix of old and new RPG elements, and I doubt you’ve ever heard a song quite like it.

Also – unless you’re a die-hard MIDI fan, I absolutely recommend the mp3/ogg versions of this track. Even a killer MIDI setup won’t be able to replicate the great soundfont arrangement used here.

Creative Commons License

"Retribution" by Tanner Helland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be obtained here.

This site - and its many free downloads - are 100% funded by donations. Please consider a small contribution to fund server costs and to help me support my family. Even $1.00 helps. Thank you!

Music for Writers

Several months ago I had the enjoyable – and enlightening – experience of reading through some 20+ excerpts at the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest (ABNA). It was very interesting to see firsthand the vast difference in raw talent among aspiring writers. Some of these people make you wonder why they’re not published already while others make you wonder why they’re writing at all.

Anyway, after returning and glancing through several particularly boring entries, I’ve decided that many aspiring authors could stand to listen to a bit of music while they work.

So as a courtesy, here’s some recommended listening for your genre of choice:

Science Fiction Music

Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness

by Coheed and Cambria

While every Coheed and Cambria album is worthy of your listening, I found IV a particularly good album for writers. For those who don’t know, Claudio Sanchez (the band’s lead singer) is also a comic book author. C&C’s music tells the story of Claudio’s comic book series The Amory Wars, an epic space opera. Each album covers a wide array of styles; some songs are almost pop, others punk, some are really pretty acoustic numbers, and C&C’s classic metal sound is hard to beat. Even cooler is the band’s near-use of leitmotifs, as recurring themes throughout each album appear depending on the events and speakers.

Every C&C album is brilliant. Do check them out.

Fantasy Music

Final Fantasy S Generation

Anything Nobuo Uematsu, but I especially like Final Fantasy: S Generation

If you’ve lived this long and never heard of Final Fantasy, you’re lame. No really – you’re totally missing out on some of the most original music to come out of Japan in the last twenty years. Uematsu (the series’ long-time composer) was named as one of Time Magazine’s “Innovators,” and the recognition was well-warranted. Uematsu’s scores draw from a wide variety of styles and he’s done more to make video game music legitimate than perhaps anyone else in his field.

S Generation is a fantastic orchestral remix of songs from Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 9 – the games for the original PlayStation. I’m particularly fond of the beautiful orchestral arrangement of Aeris’ Theme, and the piano remix of Eyes on Me is second-to-none.

The otherworldly nature of fantasy writing could draw a lot of inspiration from the mystic beauty of Uematsu’s work.

Action/Adventure Music

Phobia

by Breaking Benjamin

This is perhaps the most epic rock album you’ll ever own. If you enjoy bands like Foo Fighters, Fuel, Evanescence, and 3 Doors Down, this album is especially likely to impress you.

Phobia is one of those rare albums where you can actually listen to the entire album start-to-finish without skipping a single track. Even stranger, the headline tracks from this album (Diary of Jane and Breath) aren’t even the best songs BB has to offer – Dance with the Devil and Evil Angel are both masterpieces, and the acoustic version of Diary of Jane almost eclipses the original.

This is perhaps my favorite hard rock album of all-time, and I wrote every action scene in The Zargansk Wars while listening to this killer CD.

More genres to follow in the future.