Making Music Together through Animal Crossing: New Horizons and a YouTube Collab!

March 28, 2020, 5:26 PM · It's been a little over two weeks since that Shostakovich concert, and now I've been stuck inside the house. That's not to say it's been all doom and gloom, despite the fact I can't attend concerts as great evening breaks. I've picked up my copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and have been playing Nintendo's latest game a ton with my family, and I've been composing and planning some short pieces I can write and record and put on YouTube. In today's entry, I thought I'd share a little behind-the-scenes for my latest violin project.

I'm sure I've mentioned him before, but one of my favorite music YouTubers is StringPlayerGamer (SPG for short), who, by commenting and connecting with him on YouTube and Twitter, asked me to be a part of a collaboration video he's doing to celebrate the release of the latest Animal Crossing game.

The track he chose is "K.K. Cruisin'". In the Animal Crossing games, there's a singing dog who drops by your town every Saturday night at 8pm (and I will see if he'll drop by my island tonight, or if I'll have to wait to unlock something...). His Japanese name is "Totakeke", a pun on one of the game's composers Kazumi Totaka, in 2001. This turned into "K.K. Slider" with the 2002 release of the original game in North America on GameCube. That game had 40 tunes sung by K.K. himself which you could get for your record player at home, and all of them were in a new genre, all composed by Totaka-san himself - talk about being a versatile composer! Each new entry in the series has more music from K.K. Slider. "K.K. Cruisin'" has been there from the beginning. It's got this fun blues/funk sound to it that's really fun, and SPG wanted us to improv or arrange an 8-bar solo; the more virtuosic the better! He also said he would adjust his accompaniment to fit the style that we were doing, which is really neat!

Because I didn't completely trust my skills in jazz improv, I opted to compose something. I composed my "improv" on my violin, however, and copied down what I liked from what I was playing. I ended up composing the second half of it first, and then the first half; the chords are basically the same, and I ended up mostly using the E-flat minor pentatonic scale, just because it sounded good, with a few chromatic passing or neighbor tones here and there. It was something that I could definitely play, sounded a little virtuosic, and was really fun to whip up and practice throughout the week.

Today, at noon, I finally filmed and recorded my solo and sent in the files via Google Drive so he could start putting the video together. It was fun making a little set with the game running on the TV, and my Nintendo Switch and game box on the sides of the dresser as well, with me playing my violin off to the side. As I worked, it really began to hit me how effective this technology was as a means of communication in these COVID-19 times. Not just Animal Crossing, which a lot of my friends are getting and will be a great way to virtually hang out in the game, but also in transmitting music as a means of bringing people together. Music YouTubers have always made music covers while apart, and this is just another example of that - all these events have just happened to line up perfectly to give us all a means of communal happiness in a time which can seem so isolating and distant.

I'll definitely send a link to the video when he uploads it sometime in April! And if you're curious about my Animal Crossing adventures, feel free to check out my blog I've been keeping since 2011 (off and on) with City Folk on the Wii. My Animal Crossing Blog

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