“Development of a writer” – A retrospective by Jeff Copperthite (Part 2/3)

Originally posted 2009-04-02 22:40:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

One of the things that anybody who knows me well is that I am into a very special type of music.

No, it isn’t anything mainstream.  In fact, I can think of only 3 other people who enjoy this type of music as much as I do.

Quite simply, it is soundtracks from video games.   Especially Role Playing Games.

I have what I feel is a very impressive collection of OST (Original Soundtrack) from a variety of games.  One reason I think I enjoy the music so much is because I did grow up listening to the music from these games almost entirely.  When it comes to my favorite activity both now and then, it certainly is video games.

More so than any of my other hobbies.  It even surpasses the playing and writing of music.

So I have an ingrained affinity to the music.  I always had a great auditory memory as well.  I can still hum music from old Nintendo games I haven’t played in over 15 years.  If you say “Flash Man from Mega Man 2”, I will hum it in tune and on key.  You may even get some of that terrible synth drum channel that NES was notorious for.

But the ones I latched onto immediately are the Final Fantasy series’ OSTs.  I have them all.  And not just some remixed versions or user-generated remixes.  Just like I was playing the original version of the game.

Why do I enjoy listening to the music so much?  Plain and simple – it is something for me to listen too, and I can do almost any regular task while I listen.  Simply put, many papers got written while I listened to “Dancing Mad”, the final boss music from Final Fantasy 6, and other songs from those series.

As I discovered the fact that some more uncommon OSTs existed, I found as many of them as I could and got them.  I have the OSTs for such obscure games as Emperor: Battle for Dune (a favorite actually), Dune 2000, StarFox, Perfect Dark, Super Mario RPG, Secret of Mana (and all of it’s prequels and sequels), Ogre Battle (and it’s derivatives), and the F-Zero series.  Simply put, there’s a soundtrack for all kinds of moods.

Actually, now that I mention the “Emperor” soundtrack, it reminds me of a story.

About a year ago, I did something that I was always a bit afraid of, but knew I had to do – I donated blood.  I’ve always been a bit squeamish about things like this, but I knew it was the right thing to do.  To get me through it, however, I popped up the Emperor Soundtrack because the music had such a driving beat to it, and the tunes are so engrossing overall (I even asked the Phlebotomist to cover the donation bags so I couldn’t watch my blood being drawn).  I looked up at the ceiling of Sacred Heart’s Field House for a while and enjoyed it.  Hey, it got me through it.  I may even do it again in the future.

Well anyway, point is I have always enjoyed VG music.   I downloaded MIDI tracks as well.  But then I found a game that had a great soundtrack, but very few MIDI files for its music.

And so, I began the Final Fantasy Tactics Battle Music Project, which at the time was a regularly updated website with the files that I created using various implements, most notably a program called Noteworthy Composer.  My methods were this easy.  I used an audio recorder to tape the particular song of interest off of the TV while the game was playing.  Then I systematically tried to pick out the different instruments and parts, then try to transcribe them on the keyboard.  Once I had figured out one or two instruments, usually the rest were easy to pick out as well.  This method certainly wasn’t the best, but at the time I was very mad that these files didn’t exist, and I wanted to change that.

I ended up transcribing quite a few of the songs from the game, and within the next two years, I noticed lots of fan sites posting my MIDI files.  I also got lots of great comments, emails, and requests.  I did the majority of the work for files in this game within those two years, but I would go back periodically until I was done in college to update some of the songs that I knew better.

I also at one point in college (~2000 I think) did a similar site for Final Fantasy 9 called (how original) the FF9 MIDI Project.  Similar to FFT, I transcribed select songs due to not many being transcribed at the time.  I still find both of the MIDI files from these games around the internet.

It wasn’t long after this that I began composing music similar in style.  There will be more on that in the next edition of this series.  Stay tuned for that next month!

“Searching For A Heart” (Warren Zevon Cover)

Originally posted 2008-10-18 23:47:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

**I hit 120,000 YouTube video views today!  It’s another milestone and another testament to the popularity and success of the Laptop Sessions!**

Sorry for the late post tonight, but the video has been up on YouTube now for over 24 hours.  I had to record the video late last night and publish it because I had a very, very busy day today.  At least it wasn’t work!  I had my usual “Luncho Marx”, followed by a trip to Becky’s house, a trip to my cousin Louie’s house, a trip to get my cousin Sarah (and see my cousin Gerry, of course), and then finally a trip up to Mohegan Sun casino for shopping, gambling, and a concert with one of my favorite bands: America!  I got to get a t-shirt signed by Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley- always exciting!

I had fun playing on the new Star Trek slot machines, but not nearly as much fun as Chris “I win at everything I try except for PS2 baseball” Moore, who won big.  I then had the task of dropping everyone off and am finally home.  We had a great dinner tonight, too, at Sol Toro restaurant, which is a great authentic Mexican place.  They have the best guacamole you’ll ever taste.  The lime and the cilantro made it for me.

Tonight’s song is a great, albeit sad, one from Warren Zevon.  Unless you’re a fan of his “Best Of” compilations and some of his albums, you’ve probably never heard of this song.  It’s my favorite from him.  I truly only listened to the “Best Of” CD, but I listened to it a lot.  This song stood out the most.

One thing that I DON’T like about the song is one line in the chorus.  He says, “Searching for a heart…searching everyone…they say love conquers all…you can’t start it like a *****…you can’t stop it with a gun.”

Okay, I bleeped out the word (don’t worry- it’s not a swear).  Now, you would think by reading that line that the words “everyone” and “gun” would rhyme.  They do!  Now, that would leave the other two lines to rhyme: “conquers all” and the word in asterisks.

For me, I always thought that word was “call”.  The idea I had was that love isn’t just something you can start up instantly like making a phone call.  “Call” rhymes with “all”, so I thought it made sense.

As usual, I’m wrong, but I can’t understand why.

Instead, Zevon says, “You can’t start it like a car”.  Same sentiment as mine, right?  You can’t just turn love on like a light switch…or like starting a car…or like picking up the phone.

But it doesn’t rhyme!  Since when does “all” rhyme with “car”?  So, when I found that out, I was a little disappointed.  But, it doesn’t take away the fact that I love this song and that it’s got a great message to it.  Yes, I may have rhymed differently, but no one ever said Zevon was an “ordinary” guy like I’d like to think I am when it comes to matters like this.

Okay, I think I’m making less and less sense now, seeing that it’s 4 am.  It’s time for bed and I have to just pray that tomorrow’s lunch meeting (our usual Burger King lunch today was halted by the fact that they LITERALLY had a sign on the door that read, “No beef or grilled chicken”) doesn’t begin with a call from Stuffy D. Bear at 10:30 am saying, “I’m hungry” over and over again! :-)  See you folks on Tuesday for another great acoustic cover song from yours truly, Jim Fusco.



“No Excuses” (Alice In Chains Acoustic Rock Cover)

Originally posted 2009-06-11 21:53:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff:

Welcome to Thumpin’ Thursday!  I’ve got a great alternative song that I had completely forgotten about up until recently.

Two weeks ago my wife & I bought a Nintendo Wii after a long time of debating whether we wanted it enough to buy it.  Well, thankfully that answer is yes.  We bought a few games we knew we’d like, which included the line of “Wii” games (including the Wii fit, which i’m happy to report is actually quite effective), and I also bought Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: Metallica.

Well,  next week I hope that I can actually…cover a Metallica song!  An acoustic cover?  You bet!  I’m sure those that are reading this will probably narrow the possibilities down to about 3 songs.

But the reason I mention Guitar Hero: Metallica (besides the fact that I love it and am currently working on 5-starring all the songs on Hard) is because today’s song is in this game.  It helped to remind me that it existed, and that it would make a great session entry.

So today I bring you “No Excuses” by Alice in Chains from their 1994 album “Jar of Flies”.  This song always sounded like it’d be more difficult than it actually is.  The lyrics and song always made me sing along throughout my teenage years.  I love the chorus that fits right in to the mood.

The song is very easy to play.  Tune the guitar down 1/2 step, and play a standard A barre chord, but only press down on the low E string with your index finger, leaving the B and high E string open the entire song.  Slide that up to the 7th fret, and back again for the verse.  For the chorus, bring it down to G, then A, B, A, G, A, then E in standard position (I use my middle, ring, and pinky to play the chord so it allows me to return to the barre position for the verse).

I tried to use a slightly different position today, facing the sound hole from the guitar towards the camera.  It seemed to work for “Hello, it’s Late” from last month.

I hope you enjoy today’s entry, and next week perhaps I’ll see you for another great session!  TTFN!

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up.  We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session.  We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and original music blog again in the future.  But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!

“Up From Under” (Wallflowers Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-19 12:31:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Ryan V:

Cover of “Up from Under” by the Wallflowers.  I did this with a freeware webcam recorder – sorry about that…  Thus the audio and video are kinda crappy, plus that annoying watermark.  But the vocals/guitar is all me, just a bit delayed.

** EDITOR’S NOTE: **

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s extend a warm welcome to the latest addition to the Guest Sessions team of performers… Ryan!

Ryan’s choice is an excellent one for an acoustic cover song.  In fact, after all the Breach covers that Jeff Copperthite and I have done over the years (“Sleepwalker,” “Hand Me Down,” “I’ve Been Delivered”), we’ve somehow managed to miss this little gem.  Breach really is an underrated album with a wide selection of beautiful songs, and Dylan and company strike a perfect balance between electric and acoustic work.

As Ryan points out above, the quality lags a bit on this music video.  Still, I think you’ll find it to be a solid, faithful cover version with some great fingerpicking.  He’s been watching the Laptop Sessions for some time, and I’m proud to welcome him to the blog via this performance. Seeing as how we were less than ten days away from the one year anniversary of our last Wallflowers post (Jeff’s February 27, 2009 cover of “I’ve Been Delivered”), we thank Ryan for sending this in just in time…

Here’s to many more great cover song music videos!