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Vainamoinen

Anachronox music in Costume Quest 2

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Not sure if I ever get a proper answer, or if there's already one around somewhere, but here goes. :)

I've been listening to the Costume Quest 2 soundtrack on bandcamp and came across the track "Witches' Bog". Now that one sounded oddly familiar. Camden Stoddard, never heard the name. After some searching, my music library yielded the 14 year old track I was having in mind: The final scene from the game Anachronox!

Here's the original:

Here's the Costume Quest 2 arrangement ("The Witches' Bog"):

http://doublefine.bandcamp.com/album/costume-quest-2-original-soundtrack

I'd like to know the exact rights situation here. Who was the original composer of the motif, how were rights acquired or possessed by Double Fine, and who had the frankly excellent idea to rearrange this piece for CQ2?

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This has been discussed before actually. It seems to be a case of using stock samples and different composers coincidentally arriving at a similar melody. Camden Stoddard is the studio's (lead?) sound designer by the way. You may have met him in the Double Fine Adventure documentary series.

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This has been discussed before actually. It seems to be a case of using stock samples and different composers coincidentally arriving at a similar melody. Camden Stoddard is the studio's (lead?) sound designer by the way. You may have met him in the Double Fine Adventure documentary series.

FINALLY someone answers, thanks!

I wish they had elaborated on this further though. :(

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A couple of people on a message board tried to make a "thing" of this. Turned out there's actually a THIRD piece of video game music that actually sounds a bit like this. It's easy for the same idea to be arrived at multiple times, it's just quite coincidental that this time there were also similarities in the arrangement of the piece.

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A couple of people on a message board tried to make a "thing" of this. Turned out there's actually a THIRD piece of video game music that actually sounds a bit like this. It's easy for the same idea to be arrived at multiple times, it's just quite coincidental that this time there were also similarities in the arrangement of the piece.

The stock music theory isn't bad, but flawed in that these three pieces are all different arrangements of the same motif, not the same piece.

But why have that one arranged track labeled with a different composer (?Who probably isn't the composer of the motif?) while all the other tracks are composed/arranged/produced by McConnell?

Of course, it would be stupid to get outraged over this, but *sigh* it's the time of stupid conspiracy theories and hyperbolic accusations in game culture. Of course the music industry is very, very well guarded in copyright respects. It probably wouldn't even be fans of Anachronox or Heroes of Might & Magic fans who would have found out about this track first – if anything it would have been the actual rights holder.

Game developers would never risk stealing music, that could make the entire game unprofitable. And Double Fine, errrr, with McConnell on board?

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The melody itself is very similar in all 3 pieces and there are similarities with the arrangements, and at least in the case of Anachronox and CQ2 I think they are quite different from the rest of the music in the soundtrack. Which made me wonder whether they all had a particular classical inspiration, at first, but I couldn't identify any such thing.

But it's not entirely impossible or even unlikely that 3 composers just came up with a very similar musical idea. Once you eliminate transposition there are 2,985,984 ways to order 7 notes, which sounds like a lot but in tonal music only a fraction of those combinations will sound musical. If you just work in an 8 note minor scale like these pieces (and this is oversimplifying in lots of ways) it's more like 200k, and less than that if you take into account that when working in a particular style, as all these pieces are, you'll tend to be pushed towards certain musical choices, and it's much more likely in almost any style that writers will use adjacent note intervals in a scale in a melody, and 4th and 5th intervals.

It's really not unthinkable that 3 composers working in a sort of prokofiev-ish idiom with similar sets of instruments would, over the course of 20 years, all independently come up with a similar musical idea.

Heck, as Peter McConnell pointed out to me, this piece I made recently is, while obviously different, not that melodically dissimilar to the one we are talking about, and also Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

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The melody itself is very similar in all 3 pieces and there are similarities with the arrangements, and at least in the case of Anachronox and CQ2 I think they are quite different from the rest of the music in the soundtrack. Which made me wonder whether they all had a particular classical inspiration, at first, but I couldn't identify any such thing.

But it's not entirely impossible or even unlikely that 3 composers just came up with a very similar musical idea.

It's not just one idea, not just seven notes. It's a sequence of at least three rather distinct, consecutive motifs present in all three arrangements. It's certainly not a coincidence. The idea of a classical inspiration is neat, but neither have I heard anything really similar before, to my knowledge. Also, at least one of the three credit sequences would at least point to the original composer... I hope... :)

/edit: Directly under the Heroes of Might & Magic IV video, composer Steve Baca claims to have invented the piece.

thanks!!! i really liked this piece when i wrote it!!

Anachronox came out one year earlier, in 2001...

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I think you vastly, vastly underestimate the likelihood of ideas like this coming up multiple times, seriously. They're all the same style of piece, they're practically pastiche in the type of orchestral music they are attempting to evoke, and the motifs are not all that distinct, so it's really not all that unlikely that 3 composers would come up with something pretty similar. And the rest of apart from the main melody isn't motifs, it's just arrangement stuff, and not exactly original (though effective). And that's the stuff which could easily have been influenced by the samples in the stock library used.

It's a coincidence. At absolute worst, it's unintentional copying, and I highly doubt it's even that since the pieces are relatively obscure so it would be a remarkable coincidence in itself if two people accidentally heard it and then used it in one of their games.

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It's a coincidence. At absolute worst, it's unintentional copying

I don't think it's either, and I don't underestimate the likelyhood of anything, especially not accidental plagiarism.

Stock samples influencing the result also doesn't sound too sensible to me, mostly because those pieces are not composed of the same stock samples. It's the same motifs arranged with (to my ear) entirely different stock samples. E.g. Stoddard's samples are vastly superior to those used in the 15 year old Anachronox and HoMM4 arrangements.

Intentional reference to a classical piece or regression to public domain/stock tracks are the theories I find much more likely at the time.

But I see that answers aren't to be found here. :( I'll be back when I'm wiser...

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