Friday, February 9, 2018

Ep. 99: Mount Rushmore

Josh and Emily are in the Breakable Mist Dungeon to play a couple tunes of their own choosing. This is a very important episode for VGM historians, as Josh presents new publications in his field, revising the legend of Yumi Kinoshita. Meanwhile, Emily shares her analysis of earfeel and melody. Special thanks is due to Brent Weinbach of the Legacy Music Hour and to the VGM Podcast Fans Facebook group for spearheading our latest research. Also, a big thank-you to St. John for stopping by with Hakama to take the art of VGM Karoake to new levels of intensity and intrigue. Feel free to take notes on this one as there may be a quiz at the end of the semester, here on the VGM JUKEBOX.

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This episode was made possible by:
Game Track Title Composer(s)
Hamsterz LifeToy Box Cage   Shinsuke Kudou, Shin Nakajima, Yumi Satake
Battle Bull Stages 37 - 47 Takayuki Suzuki

...and listeners like YOU.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I can understand why Kinoshita’s name would be listed as composer on games for which she chiefly acted as sound programmer/arranger. Of course we know that corporate culture in Japan was markedly different than ours during the 80’s and 90’s. There was more of an emphasis on group think. For the most part, an individual’s output was important because of how it advanced the project’s goals, not as something inherently valuable in its own right. Moreover, each game belonged to the company, not its individual creators. That’s why a person’s name may be listed in the credits of a project to which they contributed, but was less likely to appear on a port or sequel, which may only reuse assets from anther game(even compositions). Of course this would vary from one company to another, and also varied based on the notoriety of the composer or artist, and likely lessened over time. This only my theory, but I think it holds merit.

    Speaking of theories, I have a theory about how people think about music. It’s mostly based on observations I’ve made from listening to VGM, although I vaguely remember musicologists discussing trends in pop music in a similar way. I think some people tend to be moved more by chords or impactful basslines(or even infectious grooves), and some people respond more to a melody, which I think of as a series of notes over time that has a compelling journey.

    I’ve noticed that Key seems to be more like me, in that she tends to have emotional/visceral reactions to a chord by itself, or a heavy beat. Josh seems to be more like Brent in that he’ll find intense meaning in a sequence of notes that I find quaint or baffling. These are somewhat artificial distinctions, to be sure: I did not appreciate elevator or golf tracks when I started to listen to LMH, but in the years since, I’ve come to an understanding of melody and how it effects us. I’ve grown to really dig melody-centric tracks, which has helped me grow as a person.

    Interestingly, this parallels another musical journey I made about 14 years earlier. I used to attend an Eastern Orthodox church that was Russian in character, but when I married my wife we started attending an Orthodox church that was Greek in character. Moving from 4-part harmonies (which penetrated to my very soul), to monophonic, Byzantine chant was incredibly jarring. Middle Eastern music is compelling to most Western ears, but because of its exotic character; the correct emotional response to the marriage of the melody and the text was simply foreign to me. It took me about ten years to start to understand what Byzantine melody is doing, and another few to really feel the music in the right way. I love it now, but it’s been a long journey.

    1. I didn’t mean to imply that Emily ONLY has visceral reactions to lone chords, just that a compelling groove or bassline or ambient chord will sometimes stop her in her tracks, whereas it seems Josh resonates more with a melody.

      And, oh my gosh St. John! I picked up on the Konami code immediately, but then again I’m a lyrics guy. Great job, I loved it!

    2. Thank you so much! Yeah, the idea of the "semi-acrostic poem" actually occurred to me a few years ago, long before the idea of actually using it in a karaoke. Recently, I was wanting to do a new one, and it hit me: Duh! Use your acrostic! :-D

      And there we have it. Also, I wanted to do something that was a bit of "music theater", with part of it being singing (good, bad, or ugly), and part of it much better being described as "acting" (good, bad, or Tommy Wiseau)! :-D

      I actually submitted the track to both VGMjb and LMH. I just found out today that LMH decided not to play it because VGMjb played it first. Hopefully they'll still play it because a lot of the little tweak things I did, I did for Rob, and especially, for Brent. So I was eager to see how they reacted to it.

      But in any case, the takeaway for me is to send certain tracks to the one show, and other tracks to the other. I have two track ideas in my head right now. One of them is more straightforward, and one is more weird and [quote unquote] "avant garde". I think the latter is the one I'll probably send to LMH. :-)

      Anyway, all that blah blah blah aside, thanks so much for the compliment, and I'm glad you liked it. Also, I'm very sorry that I didn't see this til today. Wasn't blowing you off on purpose. :-)


  3. Woot woot! More VGM karaoke! Way to belt it out St. John. I was starting to sense there was something about the Konami code as you got to the B A select start part of the lyrics. A second listen and I definitely heard it. Clever writing!

    This discussion of musical memory is fascinating to me! I usually can only hear one instrument in my head at a time, unless they are two instruments that play off of each other to sound almost like one melodic line. I will forget the specifics of the drums, unless there is really a fill or solo that I like. Bass is also hard to remember because it doesn't draw a lot of attention to itself most of the time. It's kind of like I am a multitrack recorder, but my playback feature can only playback one channel at a time and the bass and drum channels are corroded. Sometimes my mental playback can sustain a few seconds of full song, but I generally need to listen to the song again to appreciate it as a whole piece. My memory won't cut it because I can't put the pieces back together again in my mind. Limitations aside though, I am pretty adept at remembering complex passages of melody, so I might be able to remember a great bit of detail for something like a jazz solo, for example. I'll even remember little fine grained details about articulation, pitch bend, growls, etc. Obviously simple repetitive melodies are still the easiest to remember, but I do find it surprising how much music information my brain can retain.

    I once had this amazing dream where I was plucking notes from the sky and they were looping and orchestrating to my whims, and it became a lucid dream and I was blown away that for once in my life my brain was playing back a fult multi-instrumental arrangement all at once. I wish I could do that again. It was really cool.

    1. Thank you very much, JT! I had a lot of fun with the karaoke! Also, I'm sorry I didn't see your comment before today, so I certainly wasn't blowing you off on purpose! :-)


  4. So much good, thought-provoking conversation here! That GB track sounded so much like SMS, which may have been why Josh loved it so much.