In honour of the planetarian book club, I have something to give to the community.
Introducing (what I believe is the first ever(?)) planetarian arrangement album!
This album consists of 9 of the tracks in the original planetarian soundtrack, and I have also provided sheet music for every single track I have arranged. The files are only in MP3 for the album and PDF for the sheet music just to save my internet from going crazy, but if anyone likes it enough to want a WAV, FLAC for the soundtrack or a SIB or MIDI for the sheet music then I’ll see what I can do. There’s also a commentary but I’m also going to post it here:
I chose to arrange planetarians soundtrack because despite it being a fantastic VN, there aren’t actually any arrangements of the OST, not even key has any arrangements of the entire album, it’s just Gentle Jena. To me, this is a massive issue, how could something so beloved not have much musical representation - so I aimed to fix that by producing sheet music of most of the tracks. While making the sheet music, I realised planetarian used a lot of percussion throughout, and I have a lot of experience playing percussion and a lot of knowledge of the small details each percussion instrument has, so I thought I’d also record these arrangements as well. All of this was recorded by me, and a small portable recorder, which while pretty high quality, is still not much compared to a proper recording set up. Every sound you hear is from an unsynthasised instrument, but some of the effects have gone through a lot of editing, so they may sound quite electronic due to that. Also because of the recording situation, many of the MP3’s will have to be turned up in volume. I’ve tried to find a work around but it just ends up with a lot of static, so I apologise for the inconvenience,
I know how annoying it is to not have music at a consistent volume, and I will try to rectify this in any other
potential future efforts.
In general, the scores are used to represent the general idea of how the piece is structured.
In many cases the instrumentation should not be taken literally, as it is only a means to produce
specific timbres, and also benefit me when determining how each part goes, and what instruments to
use for my own arrangements.
Now, onto the pieces:
Hoshi no Sekai: (score) This piece is quite simple, so the parts are very accurate.
However, the original piece has a lot of effects added to make the notes ring out more.
So even though it only lists 2 parts, practically it should have more.
(recording and editing) One issue that I had is that glockenspiel notes are difficult to play delicatly,
so I had to redo the recording several times to get a softer feeling, but you can tell hear
the impact of hitting the note in the final version.
Honky Tonk: (score) The hardest part of this was identifying the bass notes in the marimba part
due to how low they are. Otherwise this was quite an easy arrangement - should be pretty accurate.
(recording and editing) The low end of the marimba rings quite a bit, meaning it’s difficult to emphasise
short note lengths in a recording - so I tried to condense the length of each note to reduce the
ringing, however it is still prominent in the final recording, but I think it kinda works. The
melody was original just going to be played on a glock, but after hearing it the texture was too thin
for my tastes, so I added a vibraphone part as well.
Metronome: (score) Once again, quite an easy piece - it repeats a lot of content throughout
so once I figured out on melodic line or harmony I could just reuse it.
(recording and editing) Given how this uses a bass drum and snare to keep everything in time, I had to
be very precise with my editing, which made this piece quite difficult in a lot of regards. When recording
all the instruments separately, it’s easy to edit them to be around the same length, but it’s difficult
to make each note line up with each other. This is something which I consider throughout the album,
but I tried to make it as subtle of an issue as possible.
Ame to Robot: (score) This was one of the most difficult pieces to arrange. First of all you have the continuous
vibraphone part which contastly changes notes and has no pattern whatsoever, so I had to slow down
the piece to a quarter of the speed to check each note. Then there’s the bass line which has incredibly
weird timings when changing chords, and the harmonies are really difficult to identify. There is most
likely a mistake somewhere in that part but it’s so difficult to tell that instead of checking chord,
by chord, I’m just trusting my ear based on what sounds right.
(recording and editing) Recording this was quite straight forward, each of the bars in the vibraphone
part were done separately and stitched together at the end. One thing I’m not happy about with this
is the overall feel of it. It’s very different to the original and it doesn’t sit too well with me.
However, I’m unsure of how I could make any changes to this without redoing the entire thing, which
would take a lot of time. so I’m leaving it as is for now.
Winters Tale: (score) Okay this one was a pain. Besides having to figure out the pitch of each individual note
played in the vibraphone part (which I’m not convinced is 100% accurate as is), there was the difficulty
trying to calculate the harmonies to this piece, which was really difficult because
the bass part isn’t that prominent, so I had several different attempts at writing out the chords.
In the end I think I’ve got it though, but there might be an incorrect harmony somewhere in the piece.
(recording and editing) Recording this was quite simple, the parts are quite simple and it’s meant to
sound quite free, so I could be less strict with the speed of each separate recording. One thing that does
concern me is how it’s rendered. This piece uses a lot of reverb. A lot. The big problem with that is
it can potentally causes some crackling issues, which I obviously want to avoid, so I had to edit the sound levels to be low enough that it wasn’t too noticable.
Gentle Jena: (score) This has been arranged a lot, so there’s not much to add.
(recording and editing) This was probably one of the most difficult ones to do, because everyone knows it. I played the piano part more than any other part in this entire soundtrack because I wanted to get it perfect. There was also the issue of syncing it up with the vibraphone part. Gentle Jena is usually played quite freely, which is an issue when trying to put two parts together, so there are many occasions where the two parts are slightly out. In the end, I think it turned out pretty decently though.
Makkio Hito: (score) Another very difficult piece to arrange, because how the heck do you even find a tempo for it. How do you quantify those small flourishes of melody into a stable rhythm. To rhythmically arrange this piece is very difficult, and thus the timings in this arrangement should only be an indication of when to play, not something exact.
(recording and editing) Recording was easy, editing less so. The biggest issue with this piece is sustain. The original uses synth strings to hold the chords, and it’s very difficult to make an instrument that produces chord sustain them for as long as this piece requires.
Itsukushimi Fukaki (score) This follows on from Hoshi No Sekai, so the main melody isn’t an issue, calculating the exact notes is each harmony was through. In general, the vibraphone part is only an indication of what type of chords to produce and should not be taken exactly. The bass line was also quite difficult to figure out at times because of everything else that is going on within the piece.
(recording and editing) The difficult part about this piece was trying to get the feel of the original. This piece is both a very sad, yet very hopeful piece, so I had to balance the instruments, double some up at different octaves, etc… to try and find something which is reminiscent of that. In the end I think it turned out okay. There were some occasions where I almost teared up listening to it but that might have just been through lack of sleep - it’s really difficult to tell when you’ve been working on something for several weeks.
Gentle Jena Extended (score) Since this follows on from Gentle Jena, it was actually really easy to do this despite the multiple different parts happening, there shouldn’t be that many issues with it. It’s quite percussion heavy because there are a lot of rhythmic parts with different timbres, so I used multiple instruments to represent those timbres.
(recording and editing) This is the most rhythmic piece in the entire soundtrack, which is both really good and really bad. Since the rhythms were so precise, I had a lot of content to line up the different recordings, but that also meant I had a lot of work and editing to make each recording as precise as possible when lined up with the others. Another issue is that when I recorded the Oboe part, it was slightly out of tune, so I had to repitch the entire Oboe part, but I’m not that good at telling how out of tune an instrument is, so there may be times where the Oboe’s intonation is slightly off.
I should also note that I didn’t do ‘Human Warrior’ because unlike every other piece in planetarian, it is styled electronically, and thus is not meant to be played using real instruments, and trying to arrange it would have been incredibly difficult and I didn’t think the pay off would be worth it. As for the vocal theme, I didn’t do an arrangement of Hoshi Meguri no Uta because everything I arranged had the intention of being recorded, and I don’t know anyone willing to sing the melody line. In the future I might do an instrumental version, but for now these pieces were my priority because I knew I could record all the parts. Also, personally, I don’t think the soundtrack is fantastic, I think it’s decent/good, but I also think it has a lot of room for improvement, which is part of the reason I created sheet music, so that others can try producing something which will hopefully be better than my stuff.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you enjoy my arrangement album and/or the sheet music I created.