Hi and a warm welcome! I’m Alex and this is where you’ll find a collection of my musical endeavours, namely piano arrangements of the How to Train Your Dragon and Rise of the Guardians soundtracks. Be sure to check out my other stuffs as well.
Yes, I’m still around! I’m mostly playing the accordion nowadays; it’s not exactly the best instrument to have engraved arrangements for.
I recently took my first step into the realm of anime music and made a little arrangement for the opening theme of Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Natsume’s Book of Friends, season 6), which began airing a couple of days ago. I picked up on the series last summer and… well, let’s just say I can easily dash off a dozen posts on my love for the bittersweet stories and characters, but that’s not what this blog is for.
I got overjoyed at the quotation of Pomp and Circumstance, plus the use of what sounds like the accordion or a portable pump organ. The full version of the song, Floria, will be released in May. Until then, if you are as desperate for music as I am, here is something to keep you busy!
Click on score below to download. Rated intermediate level as it is in G-flat major. Enjoy!
I’m also working on an accordion cover, but sshhh… don’t tell anyone!
I managed to convert the .sib file into the much nicer-sounding MIDI interface of Musescore. Though I won’t be uploading the transcription itself, below is a video with extracts. If you’re really curious about the original score and instrumentation, I suggest you look up John Powell’s original orchestral score.
The 20+ instrument tracks are arranged in stereo, so try listening on headphones for a different experience!
Still missing HtTYD after all these years? Here are some cool performances of my arrangements that I recently came upon – apparently a lot happened during the two years I was offline. My highest regards to all you talented musicians for sharing your love for HtTYD with everyone!
Test Drive for piano four-hands by Ryan Baldridge and Malynn Gates – never thought I’d ever be able to hear this played, let alone with a viking fur vest. This recording deserves a lot more views.
See You Tomorrow by Abiah Bull – The way she tackles all those flying notes, just – wow. At last a recording for this demanding piece!
HtTYD 2 Medley by akkeyroom – Combining all three arrangements apparently ramps up the tear-inducing factor thousandfold (trust me, I’ve been there). Hats off to akkeyroom for playing right up to the last passage. The emotions couldn’t have been expressed better. If you want an even heavier dose, Terry Hankins also made a recording, matched with clips from the film (link contains SPOILERS).
[drumroll] I present to you my first ever composition!
Well, to be exact, my first ever completed composition. Having played classical piano for years, it’s not unusual to have unheard tunes floating around in my head from time to time. But the difficult part was catching them and writing them down coherently – once I made up my mind to. To be honest, at the height of making HtYTDarrangements I really thought I’d be no more than an arranger for the rest of my life, but the ensuing inactivity compelled me to venture into the unknown.
The original idea was to write a waltz, but truth be told, I got distracted halfway and slapped in an incongruent 4/4 bit; hence the subtitle “two anachronistic dances”. With limited knowledge in developing themes and transitioning between harmonies, I stuck with the repetition-friendly format of the rondo. One step at a time, eh?
Enough ranting, I’ll let the music speak for itself. A high-quality MIDI (with all tempo and dynamic changes) recording is available via YouTube (above). If you’re into Musescore, I also started an account recently just for fun; you can find this piece over there as well, though not all the engraving elements could be converted. As popular as it is, Musescore does have some limitations relative to Sibelius, which remains my software of choice. For optimal viewing results, I’d recommend the published PDF version (link accessible via thumbnail above). The version on Musescore is for education purposes only.
Creating original compositions is something totally new, both for myself and for this blog. To accommodate this, the site might undergo some make-over in the next little while. In the mean time, don’t hesitate to let me know what you think!
Life has been, as always, musically charged since my last post nearly a year ago. Besides rebuilding my classical repertoire, I’ve also gotten to know the accordion a lot better through making covers of anything from Joe Hisaishi to Piazzolla to Imagine Dragons. It really is a different kind of thrill when you show up at a house party and start playing top charts mingled with chansons.
Hanging out and jamming with friends also introduced a flux of indie/folk/blues into my head. But when it comes to creating original music, rest assured that I stick to my classical roots. With three pieces in my portfolio right now, I think it’s a good time to start putting them out here.
In the mean time, I’ve received some inquiries over making new arrangements. While I’ve been inactive in that regard and have not taken new requests, it does not mean I’ve stopped arranging altogether! I personally think of it more as a shift: I prefer live improvisation more nowadays, plus it takes place in a band setting – not exactly something I can turn into sheet music. Also, the moment I started writing my own music, it just feels so much more liberating than working with other people’s scores. It’ll be something new to share with you all; we’ll see where it takes me.
The site might undergo a bit of make-over in the next little while. In the mean time, thanks for your continuous support and visits!
Here’s a little arrangement to break the long quiet summer – the main theme from the 2012 Danish historical drama A Royal Affair. Check out the original recording here.
After preparing piano accompaniment for a friend’s orchestra audition (Brahms Op. 120 No. 2) and delegating tasks for my music club, I realized summer was at its end and I had yet to finish revising my two piano compositions. They are now done and will be here for your amusement shortly!
I’ve also been learning the accordion. Apart from playing with my wrists in a restrained position, working with buttons and not being able to see where my hands add extra difficulty to the endeavour. But I’m happy to say that I can now play a couple of waltzes from Amélie and jam to T-Swift. Any instrument is easy when you stick with four-chord songs.
So, to a good portion of you: enjoy the start of a new semester; and to everyone: music is coming!
First of all, for those of you who missed the last post: I’m back!
To kick off the season five premiere, here‘s a personal rendition of the (in)famous Rains of Castamere, followed by the opening theme. Being four years late to the game (ba-dum-tssh!), I know I’m just adding to the large pool of GoT piano arrangements – so feel free to compare and contrast!
Just recently a few public pianos were put up around my school. I gave the arrangement a try this past week, but sadly no one seemed to recognize it. Perhaps I will give it another shot tomorrow.
Stay tuned for more sheet music this spring/summer!
As you may have guessed from the inactivity, the arranger in me went into hibernation again after HtTYD2. But rest assured that I’m still making music!
Shortly after completing the arrangements, I moved out west to take up my graduate studies. Being without a piano for the rest of the summer really limited the amount of useful things I could make for this site. So in the meantime, I started a collaboration with Silfimur, transcribing his prodigious piano covers into sheet music. If you haven’t done so, check out his collection of sheer epicness!
As I settled down at the new school, I joined a group performing music at senior homes. It really helped me brush up on my classical repertoire. I met some talented young musicians in the folk/acoustic/alternative scene and we’ve been jamming, going as far as doing an open mic together. (Imagine playing the piano like a banjo along to Little Lion Man!)
With the arrival of a new keyboard, the creativity bug suddenly got me and I whipped out my first two ever compositions – a rondo and a march. Nothing too whimsical. I adhered to classical aesthetics at every given chance, though some soundtrack influence may have slipped in there as well. I’ll put them up shortly for your own amusement.
However, enough of that for now. Let’s get to the real reason why I’m writing this:
Winter may still be coming after four years, but it’s never late for music!
After turning down several requests for additional HtTYD 2 arrangements, I came across this video. Now, I don’t usually dig into other arrangers’ work, but Silfimur’s amazing ability to weave melodies together so coherently persuaded me to fulfill his open invitation for a transcription. It was a lot of fun to see how a fellow musician arranges. The arpeggio bridges posed an interesting challenge for engraving, while the end bits include a wonderful take on the Test Drive theme. Overall, the frank, freely interpretive style gives the arrangement a lovely personal touch that I am afraid even proper engraving cannot entirely capture.
The transcription includes corrections by the arranger himself and is accessible via image on the right. A painstakingly fine-tuned MIDI file is also available here. Be sure to check out some of his other works with film soundtrack and Two Steps from Hell!
Please kindly direct all comments to Silfimur, who deserves every credit for creating the wonderful arrangement.
Looks like John Powell did have a few new tunes up his sleeves after all.
There you have it: three short quickies in time for opening night. While previewing the new soundtrack, I had almost abandoned the thought of making arrangements when the new melodies came up. If John Powell is not trying to paint the Vikings more Celtic than in the first film, then I have no idea what he is up to.
The rest, being largely replicated from the first film, is nevertheless just as well-orchestrated. Anyway I won’t bother with it. For those looking for a challenge, you might consider rearranging from the twenty-five solo scores up here.
Note: I’m leaving on a long vacation, so consider me out of commission for the next little while!