Ludomusicologists on Twitch: Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past Part 1

…In which we begin showing our faces on the stream. The more we do it, the more we seem to refine the format and tech side of things. This isn’t my favorite playthrough; Ryan initially wanted to do the whole game in one week. Speedrun + scholarly commentary = not happening. I was definitely off my game in terms of talking about the music, because it was going by so fast and speed running requires doing a lot of things sort of out of order, so I was super thrown by that. Felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.

Live and learn, though. That just tells me I should do a personal run of the game down the line on my Twitch, to get a second chance at talking through it! That said, in listening back, it’s not like it’s completely devoid of musical analysis. And I dug the playing with format–marking objects up top as we got them in the game was a cute touch, and one I’d love to see happen again at some point.

Broken Strings Winter Recital

So, I had this gig teaching chamber music. I’d go in a few times a week to coach small groups on classical repertoire, preparing them for OMEA Solo & Ensemble contest and school performances.

One day, my violin/viola duo admitted that they were working together on a heck of a lot more than Mozart. When they told me that they were arranging and learning music from video games, I couldn’t believe it. “Do you know what my dissertation is about?!?” I asked them. The group immediately shifted focus. They got their 1 ranking at OMEA on the Mozart, then we threw ourselves into the task of building up a repertoire of video game music in the hopes of putting on a full recital. Initially, the music directors were a little skeptical about the rigor of the work–until I showed them the score for our Castlevania arrangement. These two were performing such wickedly difficult material, and they were excelling at it because they were passionate about learning the music.

They were insistent on trying to learn pieces in the original keys, as close to the original tempo as possible (while acknowledging that some of the tempos in, say, Mega Man, are almost impossible to execute on our instruments). This entire process taught them–and me–a great deal about arranging, texture, rhythm, and what is idiomatic for keyboards vs. string instruments.

We finally put on a full recital here in town, taking a donation at the door for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. We raised $150 for the cause, and shared some wonderful music with our audience. Several of my friends who came were floored to learn that these two were in high school–they assumed based on the final product that these two were college students! Their dedication, passion, and musical maturity really came together to create something truly special, and I am still so proud of what they accomplished.

Concert Order:

  1. 0:00 Donkey Kong Intro
  2. 0:34 The Legend of Zelda Medley
  3. 7:45 Underworld (Kid Icarus)
  4. 8:42 Brinstar (Metroid)
  5. 11:05 Tetris Medley
  6. 15:50 Child of Light Medley
  7. 20:26 For River (To the Moon)
  8. 22:47 Ori and the Blind Forest Medley
  9. 30:40 Pokemon FireRed Medley
  10. 35:56 Ms. Pac-Man Interlude
  11. 37:00 Zelda II Medley
  12. 44:07 Asgore (Undertale)
  13. 48:10 Unforgotten (Halo 2)
  14. 50:42 Rocky Maridia (Super Metroid)
  15. 53:34 Hopes and Dreams (Undertale)
  16. 1:00:13 Ghost Battle (Undertale)
  17. 1:02:21 Still Alive (Portal 2)

Steam Sale 2017 + Friday Night Meatballs

I really shouldn’t have let myself buy ANY games this year…seeing as how all I’m really playing at the moment is Breath of the Wild (holy moly, the Switch is cool). But it’s hard to turn down games when they’re only a couple of dollars. Gotta complete the wishlist, even if I have a few dozen at this point that I still need to play…

Here is my current Steam-sale haul:

  • 140
  • Actual Sunlight
  • Audiosurf 2
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 3
  • Never Alone
  • Neverending Nightmares
  • Overcooked
  • Typoman

Last November, I was trying to be more proactive about what I wanted out of life post-divorce. One of those things was community. While I’ve always had a flair for making and maintaining a lot of close friendships, I had felt the ground completely shift underneath me when I lost my husband. I wanted to be more deliberate, I wanted to foster connections and closeness and to make this process less of a to-do for everybody involved.

Inspired by this article, in which a young couple with small children begins a weekly tradition of hosting dinners for family and friends, I instituted Friday Night Dinner. Just about every week, with very few exceptions, we gather at my place (or a friend’s), cook a group-friendly meal (spaghetti with meatballs or tacos, with accommodations for those with special dietary needs), gather, converse, and then spend the night playing board games or video games together. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but now we have a steady crowd every single week. Because it happens weekly, it’s less of a burden to plan for–it’s an open invitation, and folks can attend as they are able and interested.

As a bonus, here’s a recipe for my famous eggplant “meatballs,” which were hugely popular with everybody when I started making them during Lent. If you start your own Friday Night Dinner, you can use this recipe to get things rolling (ah, the puns!).

Eggplant “Meatballs”

  • 2 eggplants, sliced into rounds
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt + Pepper
  • 8 oz. package prepared Pesto
  • Gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  1. Place eggplant rounds on a foil-lined sheet; drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes or until perfectly browned (this will vary by oven a bit, so roast until they look good to you!).
  3. Place eggplant rounds in a food processor and pulse. The texture will be like a thick hummus.
  4. Transfer puree to a bowl. Add in the pesto, breadcrumbs, and parmesan and mix well until the mixture is neither too wet nor too dry (you should be able to roll them into a ball easily without the mixture falling apart in your hands).
  5. Roll and either place back on a foil-lined sheet (and then bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes), or plunk right into sauce to simmer. This recipe makes several dozen meatballs depending on the size you roll them to.

While we’ve seen some really great moments in the group (beating Mega Man 3 and Castlevania together, trying virtual reality for the first time), we find ourselves gravitating to innovative group games like those in the Jackbox Party Packs, or classic console games, especially platformers. Every now and then the crowd will thin out enough after dinner that we’ll rock something like Bloodborne, with just a few folks playing while everybody else hangs out, talks, and serves as the audience.

That said, I’m so excited to finally add Overcooked to our party-game-arsenal. Do you know it? It’s absolutely hysterical to watch or to play, and it’s one of the reasons I gave in to the Steam sale at all this year!

What games are you adding to your library?

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Ludomusicologists on Twitch: Chrono Trigger, Part 4

This week we were joined by Will Myers. It was nice to have another string player on the stream! In this iteration, we discuss the effect of chromatic descent, hot vs. cold timbral juxtaposition, and play through some of the best parts of the game (musically), including the Ocean Palace. We were also joined on the stream by some of our favorite musicologist friends, and so there was a lot of lively discussion about the SNES sound chip in the embedded chat.

Ludomusicologists on Twitch: Chrono Trigger Playthrough, Part 3

We were joined this week by Shariq Ansari (@Darkesword). I also had my violin next to me during the stream for random figuring-out-of-pitches and melodies on the fly. As we do more streams, we’re starting to play with the best way to broadcast, as well.

Initially, we were on Skype with Ryan, and then listening to the feed delayed slightly through Twitch. It made it a little hard to talk about things, since it wouldn’t always line up for all of us at the same time. Then we tried some basic screen-sharing, which seemed to work a little better. Now he’s using a different broadcasting software and thinking of making some computer upgrades–hopefully the streams get smoother and smoother from a tech standpoint!