Cover: Lemmings – Just Dig


Just Dig you say? Yeah, well, dig this…

Following the orchestral version of Wings of Fury I did not really want to step out of my comfort zone. Rather, I kept to orchestral covers for a bit. Lemmings may have been released first for the Amiga, but my introduction to the game was on the Commodore 64. Nonetheless the variation of Pachelbel’s Canon called “Lemming 1” according to www.vgmpf.com┬ábut more commonly known as “Just Dig” dubbed after level 01 of the game is a theme I hold in high regard.

This cover has been conceived in three iterations. The first version was finished back in 2011. We do not speak of it in polite company. It was done quickly and haphazardly with no real structure or harmony. Basically it was just assigning the existing melody to classical instruments and nothing more.

The second iteration was completed om August 4th 2013. Now this version had actual structure and I would guess about 70% of it was used directly for this last installment. My biggest problem with it, however, is the lack of the middle 8. Just Dig has two themes to it following the same chord progression (more or less lifted from Pachelbel’s Canon). However, the base tempo of these themes vary slightly. And what I found was that 4-5 minutes of just 2 themes bouncing between instruments was – at the end of the day – boring. I needed something more.

And so when I was asked to reconsider a cover of Just Dig, I went through the original sound track and found “Lemming 3”. And while Just Dig runs in D major, Lemming 3 runs in C minor. And one quick transpose later, H minor. I know I am going to be corrected here and people are going to wonder what in the … is H? I was taught from a very young age that C-flat is H and that H-flat is B. This is likely going to confuse some of you lot overseas. D major and H minor share the same key signature and hence the transition from one to the other is quite smooth.

The problem with Lemming 3 was the base rhythm. Just Dig follows (in my arrangement at least) a 12/8 rhythm. Lemming 3 follows a 4/4 claves rhythm. And this made the transition awkward. I basically rewrote or restructured Lemming 3 to follow a 12/8 rhythm based on the rhythm the glockenspiel is playing. I thought it turned out great. This also allowed me to mash the themes from Just Dig into the H-minor scale altering them extensively. And this serves as my middle 8. I opt to adhere to the structure of the Viennese waltz in this piece with the transition from H-minor to H-major rather than back to D-major. To me this helps keeping the cover fresh and vibrant… well, fresher and more vibrant than the alternative.

The original themes Lemming 1 (Just Dig) and Lemming 3 were composed by Brian Johnston and, please, join me in thanking him for these wonderful tunes.