November 28, 2009

“Palace” Sheet Music, from Zelda: Adventure of Link

I’ve received a few requests to transcribe the sheet music for my Zelda Palace arrangement, so hopefully those of you who’ve been waiting for it will enjoy.

Format: PDF
Difficulty: Intermediate
Info: This arrangement was mostly inspired by the “Hyrule Temple” theme from Super Smash Brothers Melee. I threw in the notes for the Zelda “secret sound” at the end, too. (Watch me play it or hear the original from the Legend of Zelda: Adventure of Link.)

November 25, 2009

Masashi Hamauzu: “Defiers of Fate” from Final Fantasy XIII

(4/13/10: A higher quality audio sample of the theme is out there now, as well as its proper title, so I’ve updated this post to reflect my new finds.)

This piece is so cool! Even though I’ve only played one and a half Final Fantasy games, I’m excited for this soundtrack. I’m a fan of FFX’s music, which Masashi Hamauzu co-composed with Nobuo Uematsu and Junya Nakano. Apparently Masashi Hamauzu is working on the FFXIII soundtrack without Nobuo Uematsu.

“Defiers of Fate,” FFXIII’s trailer theme, composed by Masashi Hamauzu.

I love the blend of electronic and orchestral elements here. Both genres involve a very different palette of sounds and thought process for piecing those sounds together, but they fit together seamlessly in this piece and the composer clearly is fluent in them both. It sets up such a colorful sound world. (The bass accents kind of remind me of Nobuo Uematsu’s music, particularly the Menu Theme from Super Smash Brothers Brawl.)

Since I seem to like Final Fantasy music when Masashi Hamauzu is involved, I started looking into his other works, like the SaGa Frontier 2 soundtrack. I’m finding that I like just about everything I hear of his; at a glance, his music seems to be piano-oriented and mixes a lot of light electronic textures with heavy ambient chords and orchestral sounds. (Did I mention before that I’m a fan of light, “sparkly” sounds?) I think I’ve found a new favorite composer!

November 20, 2009

Covers in Progress: “Assault” and “Gusty Garden Galaxy”

It’s been slow around here again, hasn’t it? I’ve been working on a few small projects, both as a personal hobby and for clients.

On the YouTube end, I’m trying to decide what song to cover next. At the moment, “Assault” from the FFX Piano Collections is the farthest along, though I still have a long way to go before I can perform it.

“Assault” from the FFX Piano Collections, a beautiful piano arrangement of the original, composed/arranged by Masashi Hamauzu and performed by Aki Kuroda.

The other piece I’m working on is “Gusty Garden Galaxy” (by popular demand) though truth be told, I’m stuck! I’ve worked out an introduction that I like, but it’s tough recreating the sweeping emotions of the piece without an orchestra to back me up. I also want it to stand as a good piano arrangement rather than a simple imitation of the original, so we’ll see how this goes.

“Gusty Garden Galaxy” from Super Mario Galaxy, also considered the main theme of Mario Galaxy. I believe it was composed by Koji Kondo, but I’ve been known to credit everything to him and should probably check on that.*

*Thanks for correcting me, guys! I had a feeling I was giving Koji Kondo too much credit again! Mahito Yokota composed the Gusty Garden theme.

September 30, 2009

Thoughts Here and There

Sorry I haven’t posted anything new in nearly a month. I’ve been a bit distracted lately, but I think I have good reasons! The biggest news is that I’m back to teaching piano. It’s nice to have a consistent work schedule, and with my hobby as an arranger-transcriber, I can easily assign pieces that my students are interested in.

My second bit of news is that Alex introduced me to FF6, my second Final Fantasy. I’m sure many of you already realize this, but THIS GAME IS AMAZING. We recently completed the famous opera scene, which left me awestruck. After experiencing the inventiveness and sheer variety of characters and things to do, backed by a beautiful soundtrack (and feeling like I’ve only scratched the surface of the story) I feel inspired and ashamed that I’ve never played it before. I’m not very far in the game yet, but if things continue on like this, I think FF6 could easily sit among my favorites.

The most striking piece of music for me so far has been the “Serpent Trench” theme. It’s such a cool orchestral sound for a video game, and I can’t imagine many situations in any RPG that would allow a piece of music like this. Walking-pace string pulses, flitting motifs, unusual chords that give it somewhat of a surreal tone... I love it!

“Serpent Trench” from Final Fantasy VI, composed by Nobuo Uematsu.

And the third reason why I haven’t uploaded a new video is because I’ve been unhappy and picky. For awhile now, I’ve been practicing “Besaid Island” from the FFX Piano Collections. I memorized the notes about a month ago and can get from point A to B, but rather than “reciting” the piece from memory, I’d like to be “fluent” in it, to where it feels completely effortless. I do feel like I’m close to nailing it, though, so I’ll try to post it soon.

(Somewhat unrelated, I’ve also been teaching myself “Rufus’ Welcoming Ceremony” from the FF7 Piano Collections and Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G Minor, which now that I think about it, have quite a few similarities. I suppose I’m in a chord-smashing mood.)

September 3, 2009

“Dragon Roost Island” Video, from Zelda: Windwaker

I’ve been dying to cover this song for a long time, and yesterday it finally happened. My friend Alex and I put our own spin on the “Dragon Roost Island” theme, arranging it for piano and guitar. We recorded separate tracks for the background strumming and three layers of clapping (three layers times four and a half minutes… you do the math! Our arms were so sore.)

We also made the video after recording the audio – trying to sync our performance was pretty darn funny.

This was a blast to work on, and I hope I’ll get to do more collaborations like this in the future!

August 25, 2009

“Rikku’s Theme” Video, from FFX Piano Collections

One of my favorite arrangements by Masashi Hamauzu from the FFX Piano Collections, an adorable rendition of Rikku’s Theme with hints of bossa nova. I downloaded the sheet music from SODA Sheet Music and altered it a little bit for accuracy.

I also added an extra high E at the very end, which wasn’t in the original performance by Aki Kuroda. For some reason, it just felt right!

The FFX piano arrangements are very inspirational to me. I’d definitely like to take an example of their inventiveness when I make own game music arrangements in the future.

August 15, 2009

“Palace” Video, from Zelda: Adventure of Link

The famous “Palace” music from Zelda II, a quick gift for a good friend. It’s a simple arrangement that only took about 15 minutes to come up with, but it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a video, so why not?

Despite my silence on YouTube, I’ve been working on a number of videogame arrangements – the ideas on my to-do list have just been taking some time to write and practice. In fact, I met up with the multi-talented Alex Culang yesterday (one of the artists behind the Buttersafe webcomic, and a multi-talented musician) to jam on our Dragon Roost Island arrangement. I’m also working on a monstrous Melty Molten Galaxy duet with Zach Sershon (zachpiano on YouTube). So, keep your eyes and ears open!

August 12, 2009

A Custom Boss Battle Medley

The last time I put together a Boss Battle Medley, I picked songs that my friend Mike and I enjoyed mutually since it was a gift to him. He’s familiar with a lot of SNES/Playstation RPGs that I’ve never played, like Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross and Secret of Mana.

Between the “you have good taste” comments I received about it, I began to realize with guilt that the medley didn’t quite capture my taste, since I was arranging it for someone else. I started to wonder what I’d put in my own boss battle medley, were I arranging one as a gift to myself. After coming up with a list of songs, I’ve decided that the end result would sound... interesting. Even awful. Or maybe amazingly epic. It’s hard to tell.

I’d open with “The Extreme” from Final Fantasy VIII, using the introductory section between 0:19-1:40. I also like the sound of 3:16-3:48.

I’d want to play something crazy, like “Danger” from Secret of Mana.

Or the lick at 0:44 from “Meridian Dance.”

Somewhere in the medley, I’d try to squeeze in the “Decisive Battle” from FFX, as featured in the Piano Collections.

I’d also include several boss battles that were definitely not meant to be played on the piano.

“Dark Beast Ganon” from Zelda: Twilight Princess.

“VS Altair (Part 2)” from Bomberman 64.

“Master Hand” from the original Super Smash Brothers.

“Smithy Battle (Part 2)” from Super Mario RPG.

Some medley that would be, huh?

August 4, 2009

waltzforluma MP3s on

I’ve noticed that several people rip MP3s from my YouTube videos, so I’ll try to make things easier for you guys and post the high-quality stereo files. Look out for a “Videogame Piano Covers” album on my profile:

I also put up some original compositions for free download, so feel free to snag those if you’re interested. I’ll add a lot more music once I get some decent recordings.

August 2, 2009

“Alone in Kyoto” by Air

This summer has been full of new experiences for me, and I owe my long absence to a few things. Back in June, I went to Germany to visit family and spent a week sightseeing around Italy. And last week, I took a spontaneous road trip up to Portland, Oregon with Ryan for fun. (And it was fun. During our final night there, we went to Jimmy Mak’s jazz club and kicked back with some drinks. I need to get out to jazz clubs more often...)

During the 10-hour car ride between San Francisco and Portland, I kept hitting repeat on a song by Air that I’ve never paid much attention to and now find myself head-over-heels for: “Alone in Kyoto” from Talkie Walkie. The song is calm and contemplative with a steady, pulsing rhythm and has a lovely detached texture, mixing the short sounds of guitar/piano/pitched percussion with longer, sustained electronic ones. It was also written for one of my favorite films, Lost in Translation.

Maybe it’s my piano bias, but I love sharp attack/quick decay and “sparkly” sounds like piano and guitar. Also, “Alone in Kyoto” strikes me as something that more modern RPG music should resemble, and I mean that as a compliment.
“Alone in Kyoto” by Air, set to a scenic video.

June 8, 2009

Gonzales’s “Solo Piano” Album

Ryan and I are big fans of Canadian music. By that, I mean that a lot of the artists that we like happen to be from there, like Metric, Reverie Sound Revue, Feist, and Peaches, to name a few.

We noticed that both Feist and Peaches often collaborate with an artist called Gonzales, so finally we decided to explore his other works. I was pleasantly surprised by who and what I found: a pianist.

Jason Beck’s (aka Gonzales’) album Solo Piano, released in 2005, is a collection of short piano works, performed by Gonzales himself. The pieces are moody and minimalistic in nature, at times resembling the works of composers like Erik Satie. I encourage you to check out Gonzales’s piano music if you’re into Satie, or even film composers like Yann Tiersen. For the pianists out there, there’s a sheet music book as well.
Gonzales performing “Gogol.” This piece was used in one of my favorite films, Paris je t’aime.

June 2, 2009

E3 2009 Trailer for Super Mario Galaxy 2

I can’t tell you how excited I am. Looks like Yoshi will play a major part!

Updates & Projects

It’s been slow around these parts, so I figured I’d share what I’ve been up to. Two weeks ago, I composed music for Rozen Maiden, a short film by a graduate student in Hong Kong named Nanami Cen. It’s my first film soundtrack so I’m excited! I posted two of the tracks in the new Film Music section of my web portfolio.

I’ve also been updating the rest of my site slowly, adjusting the layout and trying to finish up my recordings. (I just learned that IE slaughters my CSS code, ugh!) I haven’t had much time for YouTube because of this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some projects swimming around. I’ve been toying with these ideas:
  • “Dragon Roost Island” from Windwaker (possible piano/guitar duet)
  • “Melty Molten Galaxy” from SMG (possible duet with zachpiano)
  • “Overworlds of Zelda” medley, featuring themes from OoT, Windwaker, TP, LttP, and LA
  • FFX Piano Collections
Hopefully I’ll have something new to show off soon!

May 16, 2009

Motivic Transformation

Small homework assignment from my sophomore theory class. The exercise was to take a pattern of notes – a “motif” – and spin it into an entire piece, by writing it backwards, forwards, higher, lower, in a different rhythm, etc. Hence the title of the assignment, “Motivic Transformation.”

I use a few motifs, but my main motif is only 4 notes long. To the composers out there: remember that one small idea can take you very far, so if you’re stuck, recycle!

May 8, 2009

A Taste of the Dark Side: Music from the 20th Century

Not too long ago, one of my friends asked me to recommend some classical music that “wasn’t puppies and rainbows.” Inspired by this little interaction (and feeling a little huffy that the Bartók I sent in response was too much to handle) I wanted to share some of my favorite 20th century works, an era notorious in my theory classes for its “dark” qualities.

Dmitri Shostakovich
String Quartet No. 8: III. Allegretto

Shostakovich dedicated this string quartet to the victims of totalitarianism in Russia. As with much of his music, it’s both beautiful and grotesque. Performed by the Kronos Quartet.

Igor Stravinsky
Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring): Act II – “Cercles Mystérieux des Adolescentes” and “Glorification de l'Elue”

The Rite of Spring is a ballet about a primitive ritual, in which a young girl dances herself to death in sacrifice. It’s a staple of 20th century music, and caused a riot on its opening night in 1913.

Bela Bartók
String Quartet No. 4: I. Allegro

We studied this quartet in my third year of college, as an example of arch form and a different way to approach tonality. Performed by the Takács Quartet.

Arnold Schoenberg
Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierre): Part II - VIII. Die Nacht

Performed by Christine Schäfer.

George Crumb
Black Angels: I. Departure

Crumb composed Black Angels for electric string quartet, influenced by the Vietnam War. The opening part is called “Threnody I: Night of the Electric Insects.” Performed by the Kronos Quartet.

April 29, 2009

“Midna’s Desperate Hour” Video, from Zelda: Twilight Princess

A somber piano piece from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It plays once in the game, when Link carries the wounded Midna to see Princess Zelda.

Fun fact: the entire melody is just the Hyrule Field theme with Midna’s theme interjected, over an arpeggiated reharmonization.

April 27, 2009

Same Sky Video Blog

Eddy Fattig a.k.a. D3stinySm4sher featured my work in his videogame video blog, Same Sky! He introduces his VG music spotlight and my Super Mario Galaxy arrangements at 3:14.

Eddy is currently a Reviews Editor at I believe this is his first time venturing into the world of vlogging, so head on over to his YouTube page and give him a couple stars and some feedback about what you’d like to see in his future videos.

April 25, 2009

Final Fantasy X Piano Collections, by Masashi Haumazu

I confess: the only Final Fantasy game I’ve played is FF4, but I’m pretty familiar with the music in the series. I need to spill my love for this gorgeous album that I finally got my hands on.

The Final Fantasy Piano Collections is a series of piano arrangements from the games. These arrangements sometimes adhere closely to their original inspiration, and other times they take on their own adaptations.

The tracks from the Final Fantasy X Piano Collections mostly fall into the second type. Arranged by Masashi Hamauzu and performed by Aki Kuroda, these piano pieces are beautiful, intimate, and remarkably inventive versions of the original melodies. Some tracks seem to draw influence from late romantic and early 20th century works like Debussy’s piano preludes (an era I’m in love with, I should mention!)

The “Besaid Island” theme from the game has an ambient melody that repeats itself. This imaginative piano version flips that motif inside out, transforming those few notes into a lovely musical piece.

The gentle charm of “Rikku’s Theme” is brought to the higher ranges of the piano with hints of bossa nova.

The planing chords of “Song of Prayer” are reminiscent of the mythical splendor of “The Sunken Cathedral” by Debussy.

April 11, 2009

“Waltz for Debby” by Bill Evans

Videogame music isn’t the only kind of music that inspires me, believe it or not. I wanted to share one of my favorite songs today – “Waltz for Debby” by the legendary Bill Evans, one of the sweetest melodies I know of. My boyfriend introduced me to Bill Evans a few years ago, and I quickly came to love his lyrical piano melodies. This piece is a musical portrait of Bill Evans’ niece, and originally appeared as a piano solo on his debut album, New Jazz Conceptions.
The Bill Evans Trio performs “Waltz for Debby.”

Also, in this video, Monica Zetterlund rehearses the vocal version of “Waltz for Debby” with the Bill Evans Trio. I’m not sure of the lyrics since I unfortunately don’t speak Swedish, but this is the lovely English version:
In her own sweet world
Populated by dolls and clowns
And a prince and a big purple bear
Lives my favorite girl,
Unaware of the worried frowns
We weary grown-ups all wear.
In the sun, she dances to silent music,
Songs that are spun of gold
Somewhere in her own little head.
Someday all too soon,
She'll grow up and she'll leave her dolls
And her prince and that silly old bear.
When she goes, they will cry
As she whispers “Good-bye.”
They will miss, her I fear
But then so will I.

April 2, 2009

“Good Egg Galaxy” Video and Sheet Music, from Super Mario Galaxy

I’ve been sick and holed up in my room for the last few days, but somehow I managed to find the energy to perform the “Good Egg Galaxy” theme. This is the first Super Mario Galaxy song that I transcribed to sheet music, back when the game just came out. The arrangement has gone through a lot of changes since then, as I’ve become familiar with the music and a little more confident in myself as a pianist. Hope you enjoy it!

Good Egg Galaxy
Format: PDF
Difficulty: Advanced
Info: Version 3, updated to match what I play in the video. Smash your piano appropriately. (Hear the original.)

March 31, 2009

“Wind Waker Unplugged” Video, by Fredrik Larsson

Many Zelda games seem to possess their own musical flavor, from the Chinese opera-inspired soundtrack of Majora’s Mask, to the melancholy digital sounds of Midna’s world in Twilight Princess. Even though I haven’t played much of the game itself, the charming Celtic-inspired music of The Wind Waker has grown to be one of my favorite Zelda soundtracks.

I found this one-man band medley video of mostly Wind Waker themes by Freddie25 on YouTube, and I can’t help but to feel awed and inspired long after the final chord.

March 27, 2009

“To the Gateway” Sheet Music and Video, from Super Mario Galaxy

To the Gateway
Format: PDF
Difficulty: Intermediate
Info: This peaceful theme is heard in Gateway Galaxy, and the first time you enter the Comet Observatory. Watch out for all those sharps and double-sharps! (Hear the original.)

March 26, 2009

“Buoy Base Galaxy” Video #2, from Super Mario Galaxy

My second attempt at “Buoy Base Galaxy,” with less mistakes, fuller chords, and fewer bleeding thumbs than my first video. The quality of the first one bothers me, so I’m mostly just pleasing myself here. (Though, I rush in this one... I’ll never be happy!)

March 23, 2009

Organizing the Library

If you see any drastic changes around here, don’t be alarmed – I’m just trying to get cozy. First of all, I posted some information about song/sheet music requests, so if there’s a song you’d like me to play or make sheet music for, check it out.

Secondly, I categorized my sheet music by difficulty level. I took a lot of things into consideration when I was judging the difficulty of each arrangement, and this is generally what I came up with (keep in mind that these are just guidelines, everyone is different):
  • Beginner sheet music is intended for pianists who are learning the ropes and have been playing for around a year or two.
  • Intermediate sheet music is intended for pianists who usually play for fun, have a few years of experience, and are pretty comfortable with reading music.
  • Advanced sheet music is intended for pianists who have been studying seriously for awhile and are more technically capable.
Lastly, I’ve been working on a lot of Super Mario Galaxy arrangements over the past few weeks, so you SMG fans can be expect some goodies in the days to come.

March 20, 2009

“Midna’s Desperate Hour” Sheet Music, from Zelda: Twilight Princess

I received a few requests to perform “Midna’s Desperate Hour” from Twilight Princess on YouTube, so I transcribed it to sheet music a few months ago in preparation. 

Midna’s Desperate Hour
Format: PDF
Info: A somber piano piece that occurs when Link carries the weakened, wounded Midna to see Princess Zelda. (Hear the original.)

I’m more likely to transcribe a simple piano piece than an orchestral one, even though playing complex music from sheet music seems more helpful. With orchestral pieces, I like having the freedom to choose what instruments and musical textures to accent, and I interpret the original differently each time I perform it. Transcribing notes to paper is difficult when I don’t have a specific plan (as opposed to something like the “Boss Battle Piano Medley” arrangement.)

On the other hand, when the original piece is a piano solo, I try to replicate it note-for-note, which makes writing sheet music more helpful. That being said, please enjoy “Midna’s Desperate Hour.”

March 9, 2009

Super Mario Galaxy, Sheet Music Set: Part II

I’ve gotten a lot of score requests for these two songs, so here they are at last. Enjoy!

Format: PDF
Difficulty: Advanced
Info: An epic orchestral piece from Super Mario Galaxy, based on my video cover. (Watch me play it, or hear the original.)

Format: PDF
Difficulty: Intermediate
Info: An arrangement combining “Rosalina’s Story” and “Sad Story.” These two themes play during Rosalina’s story readings in the library. (Watch me play it, or watch the original story reading.)

March 5, 2009

“Boss Battle 2” Video, from Star Fox 64

Three days in a row! This one goes out to my fellow sort-of-old-school gamers. My gaming roots lie in the N64 - it was only a matter of time before I indulged.

March 3, 2009

Super Mario Galaxy, Sheet Music Set: Part I

Format: PDF
Difficulty: Intermediate
Info: The simplified version of the Comet Observatory waltz; it sticks closer to the in-game version. (Hear the original.)

Format: PDF
Difficulty: Advanced
Info: The arrangement from my Comet Observatory Medley video. (Watch me play it, or hear the original.)

File Select
Format: PDF
Difficulty: Beginner
Info: The music that plays during the file select screen. This is good place to start if you’re just learning to read music or play piano! (Hear the original.)

February 23, 2009

This One’s for You

Thank you to everyone for the kind comments on my blog and YouTube channel up to this point. I haven’t responded to all of them, but I promise that I read every single one! Sometimes I just feel shy about writing back and saying hello. I’ve only been on YouTube for a few months, and I’ve never “put myself out there” like this before, so I’m still getting used to receiving compliments and letters (and the occasional flame). Overall, I’d say I’ve gotten a friendly welcome to the internet. It’s encouraging to know that my work is appreciated, so thanks again for all your support. ♥

I’ve been pretty busy in “real life” for the past week. My friends and I just finished recording a piano-flute duet that I composed last year, featuring a real mic set-up, a real flute, and a real grand piano. We spent two days recording the piano part, two days on the flute, and one day mixing. I’m so excited – now that I have my recordings ready, I can put up my composition portfolio (and hopefully, a job will follow!) I owe my friends so much for this; it was a huge favor.

On the internet end of things, I’ve been getting “Buoy Base” sheet music requests every day (no joke) so I should probably get to that. I’ve also been practicing for my next video… I won’t say what it is exactly, but it’s an N64-era boss theme. I hope you’ll enjoy the things to come!

February 13, 2009

Fantasia for Ryan

“Fantasia for Ryan” is a love song that I composed and performed on Valentine’s Day in 2006.

This piece was inspired by the music of Joe Hisaishi and a bit of jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara, two composers that the recipient of this piece and I both admire. I spliced this video in the middle, since I didn’t want to start over after messing up near the end of the piece (I’m short on time this week)... I also forgot to smile since I was a little nervous, but I’m always happy when I play this.

February 12, 2009

Chrono Trigger Piano Arrangements, by Zohar

A few weeks ago, I came across a very talented pianist who goes by zohar002 on YouTube. I was blown away by his Chrono Trigger piano works; his arrangements are rich, elaborate and creative interpretations that maintain the essence of the original melodies. For anyone who’s heard of the Final Fantasy Piano Collections, I think these arrangements are worthy of their own “Chrono Trigger Piano Collection.”

If you’re interested in some challenging but beautiful Chrono Trigger piano arrangements, I encourage you to check them out here (for both sheet music and MP3s): fffa123jp's Yahoo! Briefcase

In “Corridors of Time,” Zohar somehow manages to juggle all of the instrumental melodies between two hands, giving an epic touch to the bittersweet nostalgia of the original.

In “Secret of the Forest,” his delicate touch and embellishments evoke the sleepy mystery of Guardia Forest.

January 20, 2009

“Buoy Base Galaxy” Video, from Super Mario Galaxy

The awesome “Buoy Base Galaxy” theme from Super Mario Galaxy. This is my first energetic piano cover on YouTube, and what an epic battle it was. My arms were sore, my fingertips felt raw and I cut my right thumb on the keys!