It's a bit of a heresy to post a not-so-high-quality transcription in what I now consider @eptakyrios topic, but here's what I made, my very first arrangement: Song for Friends which I subtitled "The Story of Kurugaya".
So basically what I intended was to transcribe Song for Friends fulfilling the following criteria:
- Toning down the difficulty.
- Conveying the feelings of Kurugaya's route.
- Following the vocal melody but disrupting it at times with the piano accompaniment.
As for toning down the difficulty, mainly what I did was to completely eliminate all chords in the right-hand accompaniment during the first and second verse. While it takes out a lot from the original vibe of the song, I feel like it was necessary to make it playable by not so proficient people like me. Secondly, while the vocal melody and the piano accompaniment could have been combined without omitting much, it would have turned out to be a complete mess of chords and probably a constant 3 voices to be played throughout the whole song.
This leads us to the third point I listed: my approach was to take the vocal melody and the low-pitched accompaniment and, if I could fill in the blanks with the higher-pitched accompaniment, then I would, but I wouldn't write too many chords which would have upped the difficulty too much. So I ended up taking away the vocal melody when I felt that the piano accompaniment could give a more varied feeling to the melody. This happened mainly at the bridge to the chorus and the final part of the chorus.
Finally, the second point and what I considered to be the most important: making it convey the feelings of Kurugaya's route. Because of this, I'll spoiler tag the whole explanation due to obvious Kurugaya route spoilers.
Kurugaya was aside from everyone at the start, and she didn't really understand what emotions are, so to portray this, I started off sticking to the piano accompaniment during 16 bars, without any of the vocal melody being shown. This would show the dull gray life that Kurugaya was living at that point. To further show this sentiment, I added the note "Senza espressione" which translates to "without expression", so that these first 16 bars should be played without articulating as much as possible. This means, reducing the accent on the "strong beats" of each bar and avoiding making it sound too much as a legato.
then we jump to the bridge and first chorus, which represent the time where Kurugaya discovers the Little Busters! and starts understanding what Joy is. This is why the note "Festoso", which roughly translates into "with joy", is used to indicate a more cheery way of playing, accentuating the higher pitches of the vocal melody over the lower pitches of the accompaniment. The fact that the vocal melody doesn't have chords helps making it a more plain melody which also helps transmitting that feeling of joy. To further enhance this feeling, the loud, syncopated accompaniment takes the place of the vocal melody at the latter part of the chorus, allowing three more rising notes before returning to a slightly modified vocal melody with extremely loud left-hand octaves.
The following part of Song for Friends is the second verse, with the same melody as in the beginning. In this arrangement, this time the vocal melody is played to depict how Kurugaya had been changed by the Little Busters and had snapped out of her lonely, gray life. To add a bit more of colour to this part, a simple embellishment is made at bars 28 and 29.
Following is the chorus again. The mood is still the same: Festoso, it's meant to be played just as the first one.
Now we move on to the verse/bridge to the last chorus. At this point, Kurugaya has accustomed herself to the life with the Little Busters! This is conveyed with a "Comodo" (comfortable) way of playing, slowing tempo a bit and using "legato" or a lot of pedal. On a side note, I chose the high pitched part of the accompaniment for this part since it is barely audible but made me feel like it could represent quite well the three girls messing with the Little Busters. During this part, the bullying was barely important. However, then, on the bar previous to the chorus, an octave spam getting progressively louder depicts how the bullying got worse and Kurugaya snapped.
Now we're approaching the end, with once again, the happy feeling to the chorus due to her spending her days with Riki, however, she is well aware that that it can't go on forever, so a "Pesante" (heavy, slow and sad) way of playing is advised, slowing the tempo and and avoiding the accentuation of the vocal melody too much. The accompaniment is also changed slightly to combine rising and descending groups of notes instead of just using ascending ones. This helps giving a very subtle sad connotation to the accompaniment, although this effect isn't too big (this a big failure due to my inexperience composing).
Finally, we have the main motif again except that the left hand is playing some minor chords which accomplish two things. First, minor chords have a gloomy sound that help with the purpose of making the ending slightly sad. Secondly, using those minor chords forced me to use some notes that were off scale, so there's a small feeling of them not belonging there. This was made to represent the chaotic world in which Kurugaya and Riki were living during the end of the route. Since I know that these chords will be to the liking of anyone, I added and Ossia with the regular accompaniment from the beginning in case you prefer it. And, to finish the piece, the left hand stops playing and the right hand starts rising in a D arpeggio while getting more and more silent until disappearing, just as the world ended at the end of Kurugaya's route
Well, if you've read through that massive text wall, you have my thanks. I'm well aware that the cover is far from perfect, it's my first one after all, but I still ended up pretty satisfied with the way it ended up being.
If you want to download it, be it the MP3, the MIDI or the PDF file with the sheet music, all of those links are in the description of the youtube video I linked.