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!
As a culminating finale to all the soundtrack arranging over the last four years, I present to you the epic combo of what is better known to fandoms as The Big Four – Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, Brave, Rise of the Guardians – four of the most popular recent animation films all rolled up into a 15′ piano suite.
The thought of arranging a suite was conceived shortly after RotG. With two of the soundtracks already in my repertoire, the main difficulty was not so much arranging the rest. Rather, it took me over a whole year to organize the various themes and motifs in a logical progression – more like a plot, if you will. Almost everything had to be rearranged to accommodate smooth key changes. Then I took things a bit further:
True to the fandom spirit of mishmashing, I tried combining motifs (colour-coded) down to the bar-scale and was quite happy with the result. As such, I entitled the piece a suite instead of the often-seen medley. Now, I remain impartial over what people have to say about putting unrelated characters together in any setting. But, at least, I proved that the music blends together more than splendidly!
If you familiar with my HtTYD scores, all themes included in the suite are newly-arranged and probably my favourite takes (e.g., Test Drive, Forbidden Friendship) compared even to the recent revisions.
And if you’re looking for a nice cover to go with your score, click here.
With the popularity of the RotG arrangements, I’ve received many messages lately requesting so-and-so arrangement. I meant to say this a long time ago. In plain words: I don’t take requests.
It’s hard to make such clear statement without coming off a little blunt and I hope you’ll forgive me for this. As I’m just a university student who makes arrangements as a spare time hobby, I really cannot produce on a regular basis by taking requests. I take joy in looking into every suggestion and idea people share with me, but my next arrangement I’ll make when I come across something that sparks my musical creativity again.
I don’t wish to disappoint anyone with this somewhat delayed response, and I hope you understand from the perspective of an amateur. Bear in mind that I have chiefly my academics to look after, plus other things…
To cheer you up, though, I’m glad to announce that my name is now included on the Musicnotes arrangements (link). After further correspondence, I believe the company and I have now reached better understanding. Again, I just want to remind everyone to treat the company with due respect, for it is legally in right to distribute the sixteen arrangements. Also, they seem quite keen to facilitate the process for arrangers to publish their scores – a positive initiative.
Despite my ongoing business with Musicnotes, which has been keeping me from making updates, I decided the break the month-long silence after discovering this on YouTube this morning – a great performance of my arrangement of “Test Drive” by Zorsy.
For the very first time another fellow musician did me the great honour and I’m absolutely amazed the way he tackled everything (even the ossia bars I slipped in). Best of all, now you can hear for yourselves what the arrangement actually sounds like!
That being said, I feel bad for falling behind my promise of practising the arrangements for recording. It’ll come, probably when the weather’s cool enough for me to don the Hiccup costume again.
If you’re still anxious about the Musicnotes business, it’s coming to a close. I only have a few things to clean up on my end before I make the formal announcement.
A new version of “Test Drive” has been posted. Click on the image below to access the file.
The new score is more cleaned-up in terms of notations and dynamics, with fingering added. The technical level is also raised by a slight knotch to better express the way everything sounds in the orchestral version. I made major revisions to parts which I wasn’t happy with in the previous version. Certain passages just didn’t sound right no matter how much I worked on it last summer and it drove me nuts, so I left it aside to continue on with the project. Over reading week, I finally picked it up again and solved all the problems in one clean sweep. An example is shown below.
As you can see, the best balance of sound with playability isn’t always easy to find and I often have to think outside the box. Anyhow, now that “Test Drive” is settled, I can finally have a decent score to practise with. Meanwhile, I’m set to clean-up a few other big ones in the coming weeks, like “See You Tomorrow”, “Romantic Flight” and so on.
Work on new tracks is put on hold now. I know I’ve been stuck on “The Kill Ring” for months, but as most of the popular scores have already been posted, I’ll spend the next little while going through them the same way I did with “Test Drive”, so to make sure people have clean scores to play from. Also, due to popular demand, I’ve started working on piano duet and four-hand arrangements. Because it is twice as many bars to sort through, don’t expect them to be posted that frequently, though I’m confident that “Forbidden Friendship” will be up within a month.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the project. I’m sad to say that I don’t have a new score prepared for the occasion. The last few months have been a hassle with other tasks on my priority list and the project was neither here nor there. Nevertheless, here’s something I managed to dig up from the archives.
This is a screenshot of my very first attempt at creating piano score for the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack, dating from May 2010. It was only a primitive effort, before I really learned the ins and outs of Sibelius. I soon abandoned the idea, partly because it seemed too daunting at the time, and partly because I held Powell’s soundtrack in such high regard that I thought any solo arrangement would “flatten” the music. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I gathered enough ambition to take on the challenge. At the time, I was playing several piano arrangements of orchestral music (Scheherazade, Dvorak’s 9th, etc.) and it helped me change my mind about the instrument’s capabilities.
It’s been a long, long way since then, and I’m glad that this project has taken me to where I am now. At times, I was worried that I’d be listening to the soundtrack so often that I’d get sick of it, but that never happened. Rather, knowing every track to the tiniest details just makes me appreciate Powell’s genius even more. Plus, the joy I get whenever I try out a new score or read a new comment from another music lover helps me go on with the project. With eight tracks left, I know not yet when exactly I’ll reach the end, but I’m sure it’ll be just as phenomenal an experience as it has always been.
Anyway, thanks for bearing with me through these rather unproductive months. I’ll be back full force on the project once I’ve got my ends sorted out.
This marks the last of the recordings I made this summer, a total of six out of the first eight tracks (“Dragon Training” and “Focus, Hiccup!” needs more practice and possibly revision). It may be a couple months before new videos are posted. Originally, I planned to maintain a weekly upload schedule, but schoolwork and band committments kept me occupied through the better part of the term.
I’ll be spending Christmas break (ridiculously short this year – a mere week and a half!) to prepare for the next filming session, as bigger pieces like “See You Tomorrow” and “Test Drive” require some extra effort. Meanwhile, newly transcribed scores will still be posted. Thanks for the patience and understanding!