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

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"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: 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!

Song: Reign of Anarchy

Download song: mp3 MIDI

This song is, in a word, random.  Sometimes I get a bunch of ideas in my head and I can’t think up a whole song for each one, so I throw them together into one big mess.

Like this.

Organs are a greatly underutilized instrument, in my opinion.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years and are such a critical element of hymns and spiritual music, but really they fit a whole variety of other genres.  I love what “Phantom of the Opera” did for the organ – it applied it in a modern context with the grandeur it deserves.  Organs are sweet.

Now this is not to say that I use organs appropriately in “Reign of Anarchy,” because I really don’t.  I wanted to write a really evil organ bad guy boss kind of song, but – as always – it didn’t really turn out how I’d planned it.  This song sounded way different in my head.  The opening bars are probably my favorite part of the song, and it’s kind of downhill from there.  This song is a little too unfinished for my purposes, but it’s fun so I’ve uploaded it here.  I’d appreciate any ideas regarding a future final arrangement.

Creative Commons License

"Reign of Anarchy" 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: Defiance

Download song: mp3 Ogg MIDI

Note: a remixed version of this song is now available here.

Ah, sweet “Defiance.”  I’ve gone through hundreds of variations and modifications of this theme, but still I love the original incarnation of this piece.  Yeah, it’s repetitive; yeah, the layout is awfully simple; yeah, that’s a weird techno-ish sound in the middle of what should be a solid rock song.  But somehow it works.  I don’t know how, but this song still rocks (and I’ve heard it probably a thousand times).

Getting a solid distort guitar sound out of raw MIDI is tricky, but I think “Defiance” succeeds.  My goal for the near future is to produce an mp3 remix of this using real guitars.  I’m not sure where I got the idea for the swayed power chord that comprises the whole first half of the song; I think it most likely came from listening to too much Disturbed or Godsmack.  The 2nd half – in case you haven’t already figured it out – is a straight adaptation of the bridge in Vertical Horizon’s “We Are.”  On a random side note, Everything You Want was the first rock album I ever bought.  Weird.  Anyway, I love the riffs VH pulled out of that album, and “Defiance” borrows from them as a kind of twisted salute to a good band.

Rock on, 40-year-old dads.

Creative Commons License

"Defiance" 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: Home

Download song: mp3 MIDI

The mp3 arrangement of this piece makes all the difference.  The original MIDI sounds shallow and somewhat trite, and what should be beautiful melodies are ruined by weak MIDI instruments.  I used a mix of several excellent soundfonts to arrange this piece, and I really like the way it turned out.  Not bad for fake instruments, eh?

“Home” is short, simple, and peaceful.  I hope that listening to it brings back a comforting feeling – like coming home after too much time away…

Creative Commons License

"Home" 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: Find You

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

“Find You” is another return to the roots of classic RPG music.  Originally designed as a main theme (or main character theme), this song was probably my first real non-battle orchestral theme.  The melody itself is purposefully short and simple, and the three levels of orchestration (duet -> trio -> epic) are pretty standard for an RPG theme.  The counterpoint between the oboe and brass in the final section worked out particularly well, and – fun fact – this song spans almost the entire physical range of the oboe.

Some have said this song sounds familiar to Braveheart; in retrospect I suppose it does.  Another friend mentioned that it would have fit well in FF6.  I’m still looking for a game deserving of this great little song…and hopefully I’ll someday find a home for it.

Creative Commons License

"Find You" 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: Fate (Clint’s Theme)

Download song: mp3 MIDI

“Fate, it seems, is a funny thing, in how it creates both nightmares and dreams…

What once was black may now be white, as blinding dark becomes brilliant light…”

The only way to really understand this song is to understand Clint V. Franklin …and I don’t think anyone – Clint included – really understands that.  Kinda like this song, I guess.  It’s not meant to have a unified theme or style or feel or anything of the sort.  It’s meant to be…”different.”

You may recognize the theme at the end (if you don’t, I won’t spoil it for you).  It was included because Clint said that particular song was the only one of my compositions that “really stirred his soul…”

Whatever, Clint.

Creative Commons License

"Fate (Clint'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: DragonFyre’s White Knights Remix

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg MIDI

DragonFyre was the second composer working on the score of the legendary TGP/TLA VBRPG project.  His music has a crazy ambient vibe to it (something foreign to my traditional line of composition) so I wanted to take one of his songs and rework it in classic Helland style.  “White Knights” seemed the best choice as it was one of DragonFyre’s more thematic songs.

I retained the drums from the original mix but almost everything else has been modified (and the only reason I kept the drums is because at the time, I didn’t have software that could imitate that velocity shift).  I really enjoy the new countermelodies in the final bars of the song.

This piece still has a strange feel to it – eerie but soothing, distant but imminent.  I enjoy DragonFyre’s work and it was a treat to fiddle with one of his compositions.

Creative Commons License

"DragonFyre's White Knights 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: Destiny

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

Destiny is one of my favorite female character themes.  It’s quite short, but very pretty and memorable. I am also quite proud of the sound this song draws out of acoustic MIDI instruments (which tend to be terrible). The ocean SFX were an afterthought that seemed to match the flow of the melody, and I think it comes together nicely.

I would love to someday do an epic orchestration of this piece but have yet to amass the soundfonts to do it correctly.  Maybe someday.

Creative Commons License

"Destiny" 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: Deserve to be Loved

Listen online:last.fm

Download song: mp3 Ogg FLAC MIDI

Of all the songs I’ve written, I think this one may be the best match for title and song.  I don’t know where the inspiration for the title “Deserve to be Loved” came from…which is probably why it fits so well.  Creativity is weird like that.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d venture to say that most adults have experienced a time in life where they felt like they deserved to be loved by someone that didn’t grant the same.  (If you haven’t felt such an emotion, consider yourself extremely lucky.)  This is the song that plays as you walk down a rainy street, alone and tired and cold and angry and confused, wondering why you ever fell for him/her in the first place.  And yet the love is still there and you deserve to be loved.

I think you’ll really like this song, especially after you’ve been dumped.  (Seems to fit that kind of mood.)

Creative Commons License

"Deserve to be Loved" 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!