Upload: Jinsei ni wa Ai to Kanade to, Koukai to

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Get ready to break into your best phoenix pose, Black Butler fans, because IT’S HERE!

The sheet music and playback video for  Jinsei ni wa Ai to Kanade to, Koukai to, from the Black Butler II character CD 09, are now available! This is one of Viscount Druitt’s character songs, whose title translates to “Life is about Love, and Music, and also Voyaging.” It’s a jaunty little song with a spring in its step, just in time for the spring season!

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hpsn6Z0imQ

Sheet Music: Jinsei ni wa Ai to Kanade to, Koukai to

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Q&A: How Did You Develop the Skills to Arrange Music?

Question: “How did you develop the skills to arrange music?”

My history with piano arrangement goes back to when I was only an elementary school child. I began taking piano lessons when I was 10 years old. I was a quick learner, because I am blessed with a lot of musical talent in my family. My grandmother served as a church pianist, organist, and children’s choir director for many years. Meanwhile, my father is a singer-songwriter by profession, and he has been fortunate enough to earn sufficient income that he does not need another job. My grandmother oversaw my piano study, and my father lent his musical ear to me. My parentage and upbringing set the stage for my success.

After I acquired the basic abilities to read sheet music, play with two hands, and utilize chords, I began to toy with figuring out video game songs that I liked. I sat down at my keyboard and tapped notes until the sound resembled something familiar to me. If I wanted to check my accuracy, I actually turned the video game on, entered the appropriate screen, and left the game on as I sat and played notes along with the music. This was a time when the Internet was not widely accessible, and YouTube did not exist.

BanjoKazooieTooie1In particular, some of my earliest experiments were songs from the Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie soundtracks. Those were among my favorite video games when I was younger, and I still love them to this day. Among the songs that I attempted were Mayahem TempleTerrydactyland, and Hailfire Peaks.

Later, when I was in high school, I achieved an advanced level of piano-playing ability. I continued to experiment with arrangement, and some of my projects included Simple and Clean (also known as Hikari), Dearly Beloved, and Hollow Bastion from Kingdom Hearts. However, my ability to arrange music required further development, as those attempts contained some inaccuracies and sounded somewhat plain compared to the actual compositions. 6860885033becdd84c0268391e899212

I experienced a growth in my arrangement ability when I was a sophomore in college. That was when I downloaded a 30-day free trial of Sibelius First. I soon discovered that inputting the notes into a program and hearing them played back greatly assisted my arrangement process. Additionally, it allowed me to see “empty” spaces (such as rests or long holds) that could be filled with embellishments. Thus, many more possibilities opened up for my arrangements. With the assistance of Sibelius First, I eventually completed my first piece of sheet music.

After that, I continued to train my ear to listen for underlying harmonies and chords that many people often miss. This, for me, is the most difficult aspect of arrangement—yet it absolutely cannot be ignored or overlooked. To leave out those harmony notes is to sacrifice the song’s beauty.

In essence, my ability for music arrangement boils down to 10+ years of hard work, patience, and perseverance.

Q&A: What Do You Consider to be Your Greatest Achievement?

Question: “What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?”

At the time of this post (03-25-2017), there are a few song candidates that I would consider worthy of the title of “greatest achievement.”

In general, any project for which I have no reference is a great achievement in my mind. If I am able to find existing sheet music on the Internet, it provides a huge jump-start to my process and cuts down the work time drastically. However, it is somewhat less rewarding; it is like the difference between using a template and creating something from scratch. Let me tell you—a lot of blood, sweat, and tears goes into arranging a song from scratch!

Therefore, I find that my greatest achievements are the songs that I figured out solely by listening to them over and over, tinkering with them on the keyboard, and meticulously mapping them out in Sibelius First. At the moment, these are Cats on Mars, Jinsei ni wa Ai to Kanade to, Koukai to (coming soon), and a piano four hands duet from a certain Game Boy Advance game. One of these days, I will post that duet, but for now, it’s not quite ready!

WIP: Tears of Sosuke (Sosuke no Namida)

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Good news! A piano transcription of the song Tears of Sosuke (Sosuke no Namida) from the soundtrack of Ponyo (Gake no Ue no Ponyo) is nearing completion! Fans of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, and Joe Hisaishi should be happy when this transcription arrives. Stay tuned for updates.

Coming Soon: Monochrome Kiss

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Black Butler fans rejoice! A piano arrangement of SID’s Monochrome Kiss, the opening theme for the Black Butler anime, will be posted soon! Look for the sheet music and playback video to appear in late April or early May.

Coming Soon: Jinsei ni wa Ai to Kanade to, Koukai to

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Here is an exciting announcement! A piano arrangement of Jinsei ni wa Ai to Kanade to, Koukai to, from the Black Butler II character CD 09, will be posted soon! This is one of Viscount Druitt’s character songs, whose title translates to “Life is about Love, and Music, and also Voyaging.” Look for the sheet music and playback video to appear in late-March or early-April.

Commentary: Secret – Sea of Illusion

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In 2013, I was convinced by a friend to watch the anime Fruits Basket, because it was one of her all-time favorite anime. I must admit—and I apologize to the Fruits Basket fans—that I did not find it to be a particularly stellar anime, however, it was good enough that I was able to finish watching all of the episodes, and I can say that it has an interesting, memorable premise. Overall, I would give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the anime, I did discover one particular song that captivated me. The track titled Secret plays during mysterious events, and the same melody occurs in the tracks Sea of Illusion and Sunlight Sifting Through the Trees. This melody, in my opinion, is simply beautiful. Yes, it is strange, but it has a powerful quality in its notes.

I was able to find another person’s piano arrangement of Secret on the Internet, which helped me to form the basis on my own arrangement; however, that sheet music did not incorporate elements from Sea of Illusion, which is ultimately my preferred version of the song. So, I expanded my arrangement to make it truer to Sea of Illusion. Someday, I would like to further expand my arrangement by including elements from Sunlight Sifting Through the Trees, but that is a project for another time.

Feel free to view the playback video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qu-kWk-6×0

As of today’s date (03-24-2017), the video has accumulated over 5,000 views since its original posting in 2014. That’s quite impressive, considering that I have done virtually no self-promotion since then!

Commentary: Cats on Mars

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My history with the song Cats on Mars from the acclaimed anime Cowboy Bebop goes back to sometime around 2006 or 2007. At the time, I had never seen Cowboy Bebop, despite its accessibility on the Adult Swim segment of Cartoon Network. How, then, did I come across Cats on Mars?

The truth is that I had a boyfriend who was interested in anime, and he kept a copy of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack in his truck. I have many fond memories of riding along, enjoying the jazzy and bluesy sounds of Cowboy Bebop, from composer Yoko Kanno. Two tracks in particular stood out to me, and those were Cats on Mars and Rain.

Years passed. My relationship ended, and the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack fell into the depths of my memory. I gave it little to no thought for 5 or 6 years. Then, one fine day, in 2012, I found myself casually sitting in my apartment with my then-roommate as a playlist of anime music shuffled in the background. Suddenly, a familiar sound entered my ears and the realization hit me: “I know that song! What is it? What is from?”

It was Cats on Mars from Cowboy Bebop.

I was struck with a sudden burst of inspiration. Over the next several days, I took to my keyboard with determination to learn how to play the song.

I would not say that the process was difficult, as Cats on Mars actually translates quite well to piano, however, it was time consuming. The most difficult aspect was the ending of the song, which adds some additional vocals. I was puzzled as to how to incorporate these into my arrangement. Eventually, I settled on something, although, to this day, I admit that it is somewhat difficult to play that portion of the arrangement. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with my work, and I am particularly proud because it appears to be one of the only piano arrangements of Cats on Mars floating around the Internet.

Here’s the playback video, if you’re curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUZQ9mPVrKY

As of today’s date (03-24-2017), the video has accumulated over 4,000 views since its original posting in 2014. That’s quite impressive, considering that I have done virtually no self-promotion since then!

Commentary: Eternity’s Moment

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In 2013, I heard a lot of buzz about an upcoming Nintendo 3DS game titled Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies, from renowned game publisher Square Enix. Previews described the game as a promising RPG with a robust job system. I am a fan of the RPG genre, so I was happy to pick up the game upon its North American release.

The game is very intriguing, so I found myself engrossed in it. The first half of the game tells an excellent story and allows you to steadily progress as you unlock new jobs. The ability to mix and match jobs and sub-jobs adds further strategy and customization. Plus, the character Ringabel particularly stands out as a fun addition to the cast.

For me, though, the game’s most defining feature is its beautiful soundtrack. It was composed by Revo, lead member of the Japanese fantasy band Sound Horizon. Truly, the soundtrack has a unique sound to it, utilizing a number of different instruments.

While there are many tracks from that game that I love, I became particularly attached to Eternity’s Moment, the short, simple song that plays on the menu screen. It is charming, but also mysterious in its tone.

Arranging the song for piano was actually a quick process, because it is not a particularly complex composition. I was able to pick it out by ear, practice it, and play it by memory in a matter of days.

Care to listen to the arrangement? Just click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgTabgfFKCo

Notable YouTube Comments:

“An excellent arrangement of the song, and the most accurate one I’ve seen so far.”
-aquagon_drag

“I just pulled out my 3DS to compare your arrangement to the one in the game and I was astounded by how spot on you are. Plus, piano is just one of the most beautiful instruments. If I could play, I would definitely be interested in learning your arrangement!”
-guildmaster92

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