A question for the musically inclined wingnuts out there...


Hello, btw, longtime visitor, first time poster.

I've been tinkering with an "interpretation" of the WC1 overture (just for fun), and for whatever reason, I just can't get the key signature right. Trying to break down this stuff and re-compose it shows me how much complexity the fat man had in composing wing commander. Re-doing music from Ultima Underworld is peanuts compared to this.

I've managed to work out the opening fanfare. It starts in a# minor it would seem, but of course, there's no such thing as a# major, and I can't get it to sound right. Been a while since I took any music theory, any ideas? I'd upload an mp3 of what I've completed, but there doesn't seem to be a way to upload them here.

Yes, I could simply import the MIDI, but where's the fun in that? Besides, the intention is a re-interpretation. Any help would be great, thanks!


Rear Admiral
There most certainly is such a thing as A# major, but it involves using double sharps (all seven tones are sharped, and three are double sharped). Which are theoretically possible. (A# B# C## D# E# F## G##). However, most people that want to write in that key would simply write in Bb major (Bb C D Eb F G A). For that matter, I wouldn't write A# minor as A# minor, but rather as Bb minor (five flats...a fairly common key).

This reminds me of a line from the old movie, the Goonies, that made me cringe once I took music theory. When they're playing the organ of death and have to play the right chords in order to not fall into the pit, the girl gets distraught because the sheet music is old and blurred and she exclaims "I can't tell if it's an A# or a Bb!". The joke of course, is that A# and Bb are the exact same thing. The more groanworthy joke is that one of the other characters immediately responds "If you don't play it right, we're all going to BE FLAT!".

I don't remember actually what the WC1 overture sounds like. I'm sure I will once I get around to buying the GOG version...


Rear Admiral
Whats wrong with B flat minor for the opening? Then switch to b flat maj. for the rest... Works when I play a scale in my head...


Rear Admiral
Yes, the most logical way to notate the overture is in B flat major (two flats). As Farbourne says, this is equivalent to A sharp major, but B flat major is easier to read and play. I recommend looking at the MIDI version; even with its help, there's plenty of work to do. I understand it was recorded from a MIDI keyboard, not notation software - the note beginnings and durations have nothing to do with tempo the MIDI file think it has.

You might also find this arrangement (previously discussed here) answers some questions, although it too is an arrangement, not a direct copy. The melody starts at bar 6, played by the horn; the chords played by violin 1, violin 2 and viola are also important. Put those parts together and you should have the familiar sound; everything else may be ignored. If you're reading the PDF, remember that horns are transposing instruments, sounding a fifth lower than written. Their melody starts on a B flat, as expected. If you own Sibelius, it's easier to open the source file and switch of transposition.
Last edited by a moderator:


Rear Admiral
Hi Rothbard,

Mahak is correct, that you're better off putting it in B-flat minor instead of A-sharp minor. But I just listened to it and it's actually in the key of C minor, ending in the parallel major. I'm in the 4th year of my music doctorate, so message me if you have any specific questions.

add: maybe I'm listening to something else. When you said "overture", I was thinking the opening screen of WC1 (and WC2) when Blair is conducting the orchestra. Maybe not what you wanted.


Rear Admiral
I think he means the intro sequence with some space combat... the classic WC1 fanfare/theme, not the origin logo. (the origin logo music is indeed c minor/major! And dag-nabbit, now I'm going to be going through ALL the music of Wing Commander and figuring out what key sig. they are all written in! Damn obsessive behaviours...)