Arcade Variations

for orchestra
2.2.2.2 - 4.2.3.1 - timp; 3 perc; str


Arcade Variations is a true Frankenstein’s Monster. Nearly every element heard throughout its duration was extracted from the carcass of an existing video game theme. The selected themes date from the beginning of the short history of games through the present. Their appearance in the piece, however, is organized in the shape of a wedge: the first themes to appear (after a brief introduction) come from the middle of this history, from 1998—2001. Subsequent sections combine material from earlier and later games, working backwards to the beginning, around the late 70s, and forwards to the year I began composing the piece: 2016.

The fun was in their combination. No section relies exclusively on the music from any single game – instead they are combined, often in counterpoint, and altered to fit within a given section. Some of the themes are easily recognizable, others are fragmented, transposed, or buried within a predominant texture.

This video below combines a recording of the premier with images drawn from each of the games. These images are timed to appear and disappear in synchronicity with the presence of each theme. The entire theme list, in order of appearance, is included below.

Performed by the Miami University Symphony Orchestra, Ricardo Averbach, music director and conductor, on the closing concert of their centennial season, May 4, 2017
Video by Per Bloland

**Theme Name – Game Name (year)**:
Entity - from Ico (2001)
Kotake and Koume - from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Scars of Time - from Chrono Cross (1999)
Halo - from Halo: Combat Evolved (2002)
Separation With Despair - from Shadow Of The Colossus (2005)
Air Man - from Mega Man 2 (1989)
A-Type - from Tetris (1985)
Pyramid-Marana - from ActRaiser (1990)
Title Screen Theme - Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994)
Prayer - from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)
Theme of Tara - from Metal Gear (1987)
Prelude - from Final Fantasy XIV (2009)
Journey to Skyhold - from Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)
Berzerk (1980)
Donkey Kong (1981)
Space Invaders (1978)
Rally X (1980)
Pac Man (1980)

This piece is dedicated to the Miami University Symphony Orchestra, on the occasion of its Centennial celebration.