Some friends of mine are developing an indie visual novel, so I thought I would contribute a few tracks. Inspiration struck me while working on other stuff, so I ended up creating a slowed-down, ambient rearrangement of a famous alt-rock song from the late '80s.
The rearrangement includes, among other things:
- slowing down the tempo by a factor of ~4 (which obviously means I didn't really work with the whole song, but only rewrote the intro and the main riff);
- writing in triplet swing tempo, while the original has a straight pulse;
- a significantly different choice in instruments, with no singing voice line at all and the addition of several synth pads for a more ambient-y feel;
- detuning the main riff for the finale.
The end result is almost unrecognizable - unless you speed the track back up to the original tempo, in which case the bass and the riff as used towards the end make it pretty obvious where it comes from, despite the detuning.
Would such a track be useable in a potentially commercial videogame without having to pay royalties to the original songwriters? Like, where's the boundary between a derivative work and an original composition when the rearrangement is very invasive to the point of the track being unrecognizable unless you listened very carefully?