My performance of Main Theme from Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights

It feels like I put out a lot of videos last week, though there were only three – the additional two of orchestrations were things I was too excited about to wait for the usual schedule.

This week’s video is me performing a cover of the main theme from a game called Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights. It’s a really cool, 2D Soulslike game with phenomenally good music which I think more people should hear!

This piece is also a great example of making a few variations on a theme – you get the main melody harmonised with simple chords, then an octave lower with a busier left hand. Then there’s my favourite part, which switches the left hand from 3/4 to 6/8 time and is polymetric when the right hand comes back in. Later we get a similar chord progression, but with a much heavier left left hand with a hint of Dorian mode.

Clockwork Sanctuary (orchestrated – variation 1)

I have a third new video this week! Another orchestration, this time of my piano piece Clockwork Sanctuary.

This is a location theme for the game that I’m making. As the player moves deeper into the level, the piece will change, with more instruments and sounds related to clocks and industry getting added in. This is just the first version that will play upon entering the area.

It took me a while to settle on instrumentation for this version – I had a rough sketch of it recorded about a year ago but wasn’t happy with my choice of instruments at the time, or with my ability to make them sound good. I’m much happier with this version, especially with the string quartet at the end of it. All of the instruments are physically modelled and thus can be played in a very expressive manner (they’re the Audio Modelling SWAM Solo Strings and the SWAM Flute, Oboe and Bassoon, for those interested in specifics).

Here’s the original piano version for comparison. Please let me know what you think of each version! If you enjoy my music, please consider subscribing to my channel!

Innocence – orchestrated (variation 1)

I decided to release a second video this week – something I’ve been working on and was too excited to fit into my usual schedule of one video per week!

I’ve been working on orchestrating some of my piano music recently (the first ones were Theme of Oppression and To Arms!, though the latter is a rock arrangement rather than an orchestration. I’ve got a few compositions in progress and have been figuring out what works when it comes to combining instruments and learning a little about how they’re played as I go along. I’ll make a more thorough study of orchestration when I’ve experimented more by myself, as I’m a firm believer in having some practical knowledge to stick the theory to.

The video this week is an wind and strings version of ‘Innocence’. I say version, as I believe that it’s worth making multiple versions of the same piece of music to explore the many different ways that a melody or harmonic progression can go.

This is done often in soundtracks, to give a sense of coherency to the story and characters and is particularly effective in video games. I remember Jak II adding an extra layer of rhythmic elements over the existing music whenever you drew a weapon and finding that really raised the tension. More recently A Hat in Time impressed me with just how many versions of every piece of music it has – as you move around the levels and encounter different characters, the instrumentation changes to reflect the mood.

I’ll link the original piano version of this composition, so you can easily compare the two. I’d be glad to hear what people think works in each version, ad whether people have a preference for one or the other. If you use YouTube, please consider subscribing, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Performance of ‘Grief’

Hello, everybody! This week I have a new video up on my YouTube channel – a performance of my composition, Grief. It’s a straightforward performance, perhaps with slight differences in the tempo fluctuations near the beginning compared to the studio recording. I was still getting used to the piano that I played on – the keys are much springier than I’m used to, which was great for the octaves.

If you enjoyed the performance, please consider subscribing to my channel.

Ju-on: The Grudge – Main theme cover

Hello, everybody!

A new video is up on my YouTube channel. This week, it’s a cover of the main theme from the film Ju-on: The Grudge. It’s one of my favourite films – it manages to create a feeling of deep melancholy and inevitability, and the music and sound design play a huge part in that.

The theme is pretty simple – it’s in E minor and most of the chords are diatonic – only the third inversion Fmaj7 near the end is out of key (and only one note of it). However, melodically there’s a fair amount of chromaticism and in the original there’s a high part that is very chromatic.

At the beginning, there’s an immediate sense of sadness but as the theme progresses, I think it captures a feeling of hopelessness. The use of the tonic pedal helps create that feeling of not being able to move forwards.

If you enjoy the performance, please subscribe to my channel! There’ll be more performance videos of both covers and my own compositions, plus new compositions will usually end up there before release. I’m also in the process of scripting some teaching videos.

Two new videos – one cover, one original!

Hello, everybody!

For some reason, I didn’t post last week, despite releasing a new video over on YouTube, so this week I have two videos to share!

The first is a cover of Anna’s Theme from a survival horror video game called Tormented Souls. It provides a strong contrast to a lot of the other music in game, which is designed to build tension. This piece is a piano solo and captures a combination of emptiness, longing, nostalgia and loss.

This week’s video is a performance of one of my own compositions – the one that started my journey as a composer. I actually wrote the initial draft of it back in 2013 and it’s gone through multiple revisions over the years before I settled on this one. If you’ve listened to my recent album, you’ll know it already. Despite having written it so long ago, I think that it’s still one of the strongest melodies that I’ve written.

To Arms! – proof of concept video

I’m excited to announce that I have a new video on my YouTube channel! This one contains a rock arrangement of one of my earlier piano tracks, titled ‘To Arms!’. For anyone that prefers rock to solo piano, this is for you! If you’re a fan of epic (in the original sense of the word) guitar solos, please have a listen. The solo in this piece was written by the fantastic Ainsley Stones, (who plays in the band Girl Gone Bad), and is the first of two collaborations we’ve done recently.

I’d also like to thank Thomas Slimm for writing the drum part and James Aldred for listening to the track a great many times and offering mixing advice.

If you want to hear the track without the sound effects from the game, there’s a Soundcloud link in the video description.

Theme of Oppression proof of concept video

I’m happy to announce that I have a new type of video up on my YouTube channel. I suspect anyone that played video games in the 90s might be interested, and anyone who wants to see how music does a lot of work to create atmosphere for old 2D games should check it out as well.

It’s a proof of concept for an early area of a game that I’d like to make. It’s in the style of old JRPGs (Japanese Role-Playing Games) like Final Fantasy and features the piece of music that I wrote back in 2013 that has inspired almost all of my recent musical projects. It was made in RPG Maker MV and was a chance for me to learn how to loop a track correctly from specific points and design a level and dialogue to fit with the music.

I’m really interested to hear what people think about it – do you feel that the visual design matches the mood of the music? Is the atmosphere as oppressive as the track name suggests?

Variations on We Wish You a Merry Christmas released!

Hello, everybody! Today I released the final version of my Variations on We Wish You a Merry Christmas. I ended up adding just one more variation to the previous version, but feel that it finishes things off nicely. It was loosely inspired by Rachmaninov’s gentler work.

As well as being available to listen to on YouTube, it’s also available with piano notation on my Bandcamp page where you can name your price. If you prefer not to pay, you can download it for free. https://nicholasowen-petch.bandcamp.com/album/variations-on-we-wish-you-a-merry-christmas

If you’re sick of Christmas carols, then please check out my band’s Christmas single for a cheekier take on the subject, which sums up all of the bad things about Christmas in a catchy 3 minute song! https://heavyduck.bandcamp.com/track/bloody-christmas

Video performance on An Ill Presence

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any kind of musical performance, as I tend to prefer the writing and recording process more than playing live. That said, I’m experimenting with what kinds of videos might be interesting for my YouTube channel, so I recorded on of the pieces from my recent album. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

If you enjoy the video, please consider subscribing to my channel. I plan on putting up a variety of different types of videos, including performances (both original and covers), my thoughts on various aspects of learning music and how to make them simpler, analyses of music from other people, and new compositions.

Many thanks to Iryna Zastavna for spending a lot of time figuring out the best places for the candles and how to do the lighting. She’s completely new to such things and she did a great job! The overall image quality is a bit low because the camera on my phone doesn’t deal very well with low light.