Gamer Symphony Orchestra

By JoCo July 22, 2008

Another fantastic cover of “Still Alive,” this time with an orchestra and a chorus (it’s song #16 in the Spring Concert 2008). There’s even a little section that features the latin-flavored version of the song that plays on of the radio in the game.

Don’t you people have work to do?


MitchO says

No I don't have any work to do. Don't you have a Bowie classic to reconstruct?

This must be a great time to be a young person. Orchestras in college performing video game music! Back in my day, you joined the chess club and you LIKED IT.

Matthew says

Not to start a flame war, but while the arrangement was awesome, the quality of that performance was horrible. I'd like to hear it done by a professional group, though.

JoCoHead says

I didn't know I had such 'talent' in my own backyard.

And since they're gaming geeks and band geeks, they'll have plenty of time on weekend to practice, practice, practice!

Marcy says

I went to Video Games Live! last week and I would have given almost anything to hear them do a certain song from Portal...

Jorge says

That was pretty awesome.

I love that little mambo-alive number.

selene says

that was awesome!!!!!
oneday im going to do the opera version cover..

Gingerlink says

I love the song on the radio and it's done very well here. I'm kind of split as to how the rest of the song has been done...

Matt Mayfield says


Yeah, the violins or violas seemed to have some intonation problems. The winds and percussion sounded pretty together though. In fact, it seemed to me like there was just one violinist with a tin ear who was bringing down the whole group... It sounded like a very small chamber orchestra, which doesn't leave much room for sloppiness.

Matt Mayfield says

I remember my undergraduate conducting prof talking about how, in a small string group, it works to have 1 or 3+ players on a part, but not 2 because of intonation issues. They may have had 2 players on the first violin part, leading to those intonation problems.

Either way it was a clever arrangement and a unique venue for a great song.

Diana T. says

Actually, we have four first violinists, but I don't think the recording situation was as good as it could have been (you can't really hear all the 1sts, and can barely hear the 2nds or viola at all, as well as some non-string parts sounding a bit weak at times). I can assure you though, it was pretty awesome in person. (~~GSO 2nd violinist~~)

Anyway though, thanks for featuring us!

Demetrius says

AaaGH!!! I get that latin-flavored radio version stuck in my head for days at a time - *this* time starting a few minutes ago when I read that!

Laura says

@Matthew -

That was the first time the GSO has performed in a real concert hall, and not everyone is used to the acoustics. I don't think the quality was horrible. I think those were some poorly chosen words on your part. We don't make profits, so we don't have the best equipment to work with. It's very very hard to sound amazing on cheap equipment - that's why professional musicians use professional brand instruments. None of us are professionals. But I guarantee you we are not horrible. No where close to horrible.

-Laura, first alto saxophone

Ceridwyn/Percephene says

Kudos to the GSO! I really enjoyed this, and a couple of your other songs which I had a brief listen to before feeling guilty about work's bandwidth!

Don't be knocked by the critical comments, this is the internet, there's always someone out there who doesn't agree with you, what you guys have done is awesome!

Makes me wish I still played the flute! I miss being in an orchestra!

Ryan says

"We don’t make profits, so we don’t have the best equipment to work with."

It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

W says

"It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools."

Although professional-caliber musicians can make themselves sound good on a wide variety of instruments, this statement only shows your ignorance. Would you use that statement to diss a TF2 player who attempts to play on a high-latency dial-up connection?

Also, this is obviously a student group (i.e. not a typical "School Orchestra") as they are not listed on the Ensembles page for the University of Maryland Music school, and instead are listed as a Club. For amateurs with entry-level instruments/recording equipment it came out pretty well... but there's obviously room for improvement.

shine says

Oh, that's painfully awesome.

BradOFarrell says



DOOWOP. Awesome.

Leonardo Herrera says

A cruel but fair critic can be painful but useful. Cruel critic by itself is just tasteless.

This was really good. Yes, they sound like amateurs, because that's what they are. That's not a bad thing.

Andrea says

That was a really cool cover. :) Hooray!

Matthew says

I must apologize. "Horrible" was a bad choice of words, indeed. As a musician myself (French Horn FTW), I understand the difficulties small or volunteer ensembles can have. After giving it a few more listens, I think it's really only the intro the could use some work (intonation there really is bad, and the ensemble was not together rhythmically). The exposed parts at the beginning make me cringe, but the rest is some good stuff.

As to the other comments, I think you are using your equipment and concert hall is a bit of a scapegoat. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your music, and I understand the time crunch that is college which limits your practice time, but it's up to the director to determine if a group is ready to perform a song, and that one may have been a bit borderline (16 songs in one concert seems a bit overwhelming).

Thanks for doing this, though. I've had the song stuck in my head for the last day, so it can't be that bad. ;-)

Brittany says


Thanks for revising your comments. The constructive criticism, when it is indeed, constructive and not just criticism, has sparked a bit of discussion within our group, which encourages me, because I feel we'll be even better this coming year. We are barely two years old as a performing troupe, so for us to get to perform in a actual concert hall instead of wherever they fit us, and for us to have our music featured on Mr. Coulton's website are huge accomplishments and have us very excited. I personally feel like we can only get better, and this chance to get our work out for more people to see is helping us get there.

I know as a student group and not an official music group, we are incredibly limited in our equipment and practice space/time, and I know for a fact that there were definite issues that night with the microphones picking everyone up. But I just want to say, thanks again for rephrasing. It just personally makes me happy when people on the internet step beyond just saying "you suck!!!!!111!" and the like, so I wanted to put in a response.

And I think we're all glad you like the arrangements! Our members write them, so that's high praise for them.

-Brittany, Chorus Member (Alto)

Jen says

Wow, thanks for the plug, Mr. Coulton! Also, thank you to everyone who took the time to listen and comment. The GSO is a fairly new organization, and the chorus has only been involved for two years, and I feel that with experience and exposure we will grow and mature as musicians.

Thanks for all the comments and critique!

~Jen, Soprano Chorus Member

Jeff says

I was wondering when JoCo's legions of followers would send him this link. I was there in concert and LOVED the performance to pieces. They were totally having fun and it translated to the performance.

I think I've seen the GSO in an earlier incarnation the first time I was at UMCP and now that I'm back to the university I'm so glad to see that the group is STILL going strong with talented musicians and singers. Keep up the good work, I hope to enjoy their show a few more times before I leave UMCP again.


PS Couldn't have picked a cuter incarnation for GLaDOS! :-p

Devin says

The arrangement is good and I enjoy the idea behind it but the execution was poor. The intonation in the introduction is really bad and throughout the entire song it isn't much better. The vocalist is also off in many places. I play the cello and I know how hard it is for string players to play in tune.

For a volunteer group this was just ok. I would put it on about the same level as a decent High School orchestra. It isn't on the same level as most college music groups. Note I am talking about actual sponsored college music groups not clubs.

Please don't take the criticism the wrong way. I don't think anyone wants you to stop playing or thinks that you suck beyond hope. It was a fun piece but you definitely have a lot to work on.

Aramael says

Well, I play cello too -- and I thought this was wonderful. Jon, I wish every musician was as tickled by this sort of thing as you obviously are.

Ayla says

@ Jen-

You mean the chorus has only been involved for one year! The semesters before Fall '07, they had to borrow people from other choruses. We're still growing and definitely need more members - in all of GSO, not just the chorus!

I'm really looking forward to next semester, when we can really get our act together and hopefully sound perfect by Concert Time.

Jen says

@Ayla: Ah! You're right! My apologies. The 'official' GSO Chorus was a brand new addition starting in Fall '07! :)

Lhyzz says

The arrangement is definitely very good, very well done. But yeah, the string section is lacking. There is at least one instrument that hasn't been tuned properly. A little painful to listen to for those of us with near-perfect pitch.

Wayne Elgin says

Nice interpretation! I found the video of it:

Grondzilla says

Coming to this as a non-musical type my impression was of a very creaky start that improved significantly as the musicians 'warmed up'. I certainly felt the arrangement was lacking a little something. It is true that the recording comes off as a little flat and I suspect that it would really stand up better with a richer sound...APPEND...just watching the video on Youtube and with the *improved* sound quality the 'washed out' feeling in the first 3rd of the mp3 is not nearly as off putting.

An excellent kick at the can GSO folk.

Massimo says

Hahaha. Brilliant!

Eric Lobdell says

Excellent! Again, intonation problems, but I'm sure you guys will get there. The important thing is that you're having fun, and it sure seems like you guys are. Perhaps more of Mr. Coulton's music could use arrangement?

Also, the Legend of Trogdor is definitely worth a listen.

Alex says

Well, we do have a new semester coming up, and I wouldn't mind having another crack at this song. Now if I could only convince the arrangers to do the Mercenary song "Oh No You Diddn't". That'd be good.

Alex (Bass in Chorus)

some person who listened says

You know, as a music student, I can say that yeah, it's hard to put together something like this and I appreciate the effort. It's a great idea and I wish there was something like at my school. The arrangements are interesting and it's amazing you got so many musicians interested in this.

That being said, I feel like there's really severe problems in the ensemble. Intonation, tempo, cohesiveness, tone. All of these have to be addressed. I think when you're in a new group like this, and you're trying to do something ground-breaking, you need to make 300% effort to make sure you release quality product. Especially since it is on the internet and is reaching a broad audience. I know it's a student group, but students make really amazing performances all the time. I think that everyone needs to step up the effort and address this issues. The director especially should be conscious of what things need to be fixed before performance time.

Anyway, I mean for this to be constructive and not cruel. I hope you guys continue your efforts and strive to be the best you can be.

anson says

how about portal game