The String Arcade: Classically Geeky Music

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String Arcade
Clockwise from lower left: Jason Poss (arranger), Philip Brezina (violin), Celia Harris (violin), Emily Onderdonk (viola), and Robin Reynolds (cello) at a recording session. Photo: Lorrie Murray, used with permission.

I love hearing videogame-inspired music, whether it’s taking old 8-bit tunes and arranging them for a rock band or playing making chiptunes versions of other songs. It’s a fun juxtaposition of style and substance, and can make you stop and appreciate the work that goes into the little ditties you hear in the background as you plant sunflowers and peapods.

The String Arcade - coverThe String Arcade, funded through a Kickstarter campaign last summer by Dren McDonald, is just about ready for release. McDonald is a composer who has written music for videogames himself, and the tracks on the album range from old school (Galaga) to more recent hotness (Plants vs. Zombies). (No Angry Birds, however.)

All of the music was arranged for a traditional string quartet, which really gives everything a classical (and classy) sound, pared down from a rock band or full orchestra arrangement. I wasn’t familiar with all of the tunes, but it’s a nice collection that works well as a whole. It has the quality of a movie soundtrack—you can picture a black-and-white noir version of Portal 2 while you’re listening to it, if you like. Click here for a sample track: “Grasswalk” from Plants vs. Zombies.

The album will be released on February 11, but is available for preorder now. You get a $2 discount if you order it ahead of time: $7.99 on iTunes, or $9.99 for the physical CD on Bandcamp. The CD version also includes two bonus tracks, the Altered Beast theme and a TRON arcade medley. (Because if you’re still using physical CDs like me, then you’ll recognize those two titles.)

The proceeds from the album sales will go to support the Alameda Music Project, a free after-school music program starting up this fall. For more about The String Arcade, visit the website.

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