COVER: Grand Prix Circuit


It has been a while, I know. Projects fell through. A lot of projects fell through. This one was quite a ride…

After the big orchestral cover of Lemmings the last thing I wanted to do was to follow it up with another orchestral cover. I had a few things lined up, but I never really got to a point where I thought I could publish any of it. Then massive hardware failure happened and desperately in need of a new project I found myself surfing YouTube for Top-10’s of C64 tunes. Quite a few featured this gem from Grand Prix Circuit. Although I was blessed to grow up with a C64, I had never heard about this gem.

Grand Prix Circuit is a racing game released in 1987 developed by Random Access and Distinctive Software and published by Accolade. It has been released for the Commodore 64, Amiga, ZX Spectrum and Macintosh amongst other systems.

The music is by Krisjan Hatlelid one of the greatest video game music composers from that era. Yes, the same guy that worked on Pipe Dream and composed the original Wings of Fury theme, amongst many others.

I did end up with an orchestral version, but this is by no means my first choice. It just happened. My first instinct was a dance/techno version even though YouTube has a few of these, I have not yet found a version that does the original justice. I set up a sweet bass and went on to strings to get the basics locked in and levitated towards an orchestral setup. Turned out to not work, so I changed the bass to a distorted electric bass and found myself on track to make a metal cover. This would be obvious given the drums and rhythm of the original. Also turned out to be kind of boring. Drums drowned out the melody, so I halved the drums. Almost orchestral in sound, I decided that this was the way to go.

The middle-8 came naturally from the C64 original soundtrack. I needed something that sort of held the same rhythm as the intro theme and had a different chord progression. The menu theme practically suggested itself with very few alterations. And the big orchestral chorus naturally lends itself to a change of key starting in D-minor and ending i E-major.

What I imagined from the get go was to remove the theme from its context as a racing game theme since it shares many qualities with Wings of Fury with an epic melody on top of a slow rhythm that relies heavily on a roller coaster of a chord progression. The melody is fantastic even outside the confines of a racing context and deserves to be free. The there-and-back-again story is also a transcendent hallmark of story writing, hence the there-and-back-again music should be equally transcendent. Hence, no sound effects this time around. But I did include a C64-sample as a gimmick to acknowledge the heritage of the original theme.

Finally a big thanks to one of my favourite composers Krisjan Hatlelid for an amazing tune.