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'The String Arcade' reimagines classic video game music into string quartet

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After a successful Kickstarter campaign to re-imagine and record various classic video game music into classical string quartet, Bay Area composer Dren McDonald is proud to announce that his brainchild “The String Arcade” will officially release on Febraury 11. CD and digital download versions can already be pre-ordered via iTunes and BandCamp.

With experience in video game music that includes “Ghost Recon Commander” and “Ravenwood Fair,” Dren McDonald and Jason Poss (“World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King”) go beyond emulating memorable video game music themes. Each piece of video game music in “The String Arcade” has been re-imagined to capture the emotions associated with the game. As it says on the tin, "The String Arcade" is performed by a string quartet composed of local musicians in addition to an appearance by the Videri String Quartet. You can sample what “The String Arcade” has done thanks to a free digital download of “Grasswalk” from “Plants vs. Zombies.”

“The String Arcade” features 15 original arrangements and two CD bonus tracks. The album spans a wide timeline of video games that include classic video game themes like “The Legend of Zelda” and “Altered Beast;” contemporary video games like “Portal 2” and “Minecraft;” and casual games like “graBLOX” and “Scurvy Scallywags” as interpreted and performed by a string quartet You can check out the track list on “The String Arcade” website.

In addition to giving a new spin on video game music, “The String Arcade” also aims to inspire young musicians. In addition to picking out a few tracks from games popular among children, all album proceeds will be donated to the Alameda Music Project. This tuition-free after school program launches in September. Maybe a new acclaimed string quartet will come out of this program.

Pre-orders of “The String Arcade” digital download on iTunes will be $7.99, a 20% savings over the $9.99 release date price. The CD version--featuring two bonus tracks not included in the digital download--can be pre-ordered at BandCamp for $9.99, which regularly goes for $11.99. Whether you like video game music or string quartet, "The String Arcade" will be an interesting addition to your music collection.

I remember the good old days of video games when developers got creative with their video game music in reaction to the limitations in sound that old video games had at the time. This was how classic and memorable video game music came to be. As modern technology has resulted in run of the mill video games with music generally sounding generic, great video game music today is few and far between. As today's video games inevitably become “retro” and “classic” many years from now, what video games do you recall have some truly good original music?

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