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Ace of Trump

track cover

track cover

Tags: The Felt

By Hilary Troiano ( Tumblr ).
Cover art by Homestuck.
Released 2/4/2010.
Duration: 6:29.

Listen on Bandcamp or YouTube.

Read artist commentary.

Tracks that reference Ace of Trump:

From Fandom:

Artist commentary:

Hilary Troiano:

Someone sent me a PM asking for some commentary about my two MSPA songs, so here it is. (source)


So, someone on the MS Paint Adventures Forums asked me if I would be willing to give some commentary on my songs which have appeared on the Homestuck albums. Well, two of them. For those who don't know me, my name is Hilary Troiano, and I'm the artist behind Ace of Trump on the Midnight Crew album and Homefree on Volume 8. I'm entirely self taught, I never really took a music theory class or anything, in fact in high school I was trying to learn how to perform music, you know playing trumpet in orchestra... but I wasn't really all that good at it. I spent more of my days in middle school and high school kinda playing around with the music synthesizing program on my computer and I guess somewhere along the way I figured things out.

In college I started getting into MS Paint Adventures, I was there for the ending of Problem Sleuth, and when Homestuck rolled around I really liked the inclusion of music, and... went onto the forums and found that they had a thread where people were just posting up songs that they wrote as sort of a fan contribution. I... didn't really have any Homestuck-related ideas yet but I followed the thread anyways and I was really interested in the program they were using, a program called Famitracker which allows you to kind of replicate the sort of chiptunes that you would hear on the NES.

Um, I'm very much influenced by video games in my music, I especially love chiptunes, like the kinds you would find in the NES era or, even on the Genesis or the SNES. Um, before anyone asks, yes I'm a fan of Nobuo Uematsu, but I think my favorite video game composer would have to be Noriyuki Iwadare. If you don't know him, he's the composer who did music for the Lunar series, the Grandia series, third game in the Ace Attorney series, he's one of the artists working on a new game coming out, um, Icarus something or other- oh my boyfriend's gonna hate me for not remembering that [laughter]. Um, I specially recommend the Lunar series, I think Radiation will back me up on this, but anyway anyway. So, I-I-I— one of my other main influences is anime music, like, I think a good example would be Suzumu Hirasawa if you don't know him, he did music for a lot of Satoshi Kon's work, like Paranoia Agent or the movie Paprika. Um, a-and yeah I also listen to American music I just don't take after it as much I think.

Um anyway anyway so. When I started playing around with this Famitracker on the Homestuck forums I posted a few songs and I guess I got the music team's attention. Um, and then when I got to the forums I didn't really know what-what to do like I posted a lot of my old work and it was like 'Wow, this is really old and bad!' and they were already moving away from chiptunes so, I didn't really know what to do until I noticed that, I think it was Hussie who was posting a thread about how he wanted to do like a Midnight Crew album like he wanted to have all these fake bands for Homestuck that would just add to the story so, well, I mean I love jazz music, my sister in particular she, helped me— exposed me to a lot of jazz, like she was part of our high school jazz band and was, at one point the best baritone saxophone jazz player in the... state I think? I don't know, it's a small state. [laughter] I'm from Rhode Island for the people who don't get that! Um, [laughter]. Anwyay, so, the deadline was kinda rapidly approaching but I did wanna get at least one song on there just to show people that you know, I'm part of this team and I'm pretty good when it comes to jazz music, like, I-I-i-it's a genre I love and that I— that I'm really familiar with.

Um, so, let's see, Ace of Trump. I guess the first thing that I thought of when I came up with this was that I wanted something that really did sound like the band was playing it like, I mean a lot of people for that— for that album they just did any sort of jazz thing but... I went back to the flash where we see the Midnight Crew first playing their jazz instruments and, tried to identify what everyone was playing and use that as the basis for the song, like we see Spades Slick on the piano of course, Hearts Boxcars playing the bass, Diamonds Droog on the saxophone and Clubs Deuce on the oboe. I thought this one was a pretty interesting choice because oboes aren't really that common in jazz but, you know, I like it! I-I was actually kinda disappointed in— when I saw that the album art had it changed to what appeared to be a clarinet but, I-I think oboes are better so, you know whatever. Anyway, the whole basis for the song actually is the card game Hearts, um, and that's why in the intro, besides the sort of jazzy drums and the trumpet, the only thing you can hear is the bass which would be Hearts Boxcars's instrument. This is present throughout the song to kind of establish this as his game.

Um, anyways so the whole intro I.. kinda wish I had either made it shorter or a little faster cuz, yeah I wanted it to drag but it really dragged! I think that was probably the worst thing about the song, um [laughter]. But anyway, it set the scene, kinda, kind of a gritty dive I wanna say. And, probably some guys with nothing better to do starting to sit down for a card game. Um, wheeeen, when that whole introduction section finally ends we- things suddenly pick up pace which when I assume that the cards are being dealt and everything's being set up. Um, Hearts Boxcars is actually, even though it's his game he's not, he himself isn't supposed to be a player in this. The ones that I see playing would be Spades Slick, Clubs Deuce, Diamonds Droog and at the time, a femme fatale that wasn't really named because I m-I mean this was before Snowman's introduction and I was like you know, 'There's all this noir and it hasn't even included a femme fatale!' Well screw it, there's gonna be one in this song because I said so! Um, and that's-that's the trumpet actually that's... um... I mean, I-I guess that was probably a biased choice because I myself play the trumpet but I also did it because you know there's a pun! It's the trump! [laughter] Hearts trump all in the game of Hearts.

Anyway anyway anyway, um, so, so we have after the cards all get dealt we have the first solo which is Clubs Deuce, which I thought was really appropriate for the fact that if you've ever played the game of Hearts, the first card that lead like the very first trick is always the two of clubs, so of course the game starts with him. He's-he's... um... okay sorry I just had a brain fart! [laughter] Um, so halfway through that we have the trumpet breaking in which is where the hearts actually break the suit because if you ever played the game of Hearts again, um, you can't play hearts until they're broken, like you have to not have any of the trump suit that led the trick and only have hearts available to play. Um, so halfway through the trumpet comes in and starts messing things up, then play passes to Diamonds Droog on his saxophone solo, um things get— start getting more and more intense just going through the different hands. Um, then it moves to Spades Slick, which is where things start getting kind of interesting, and where this femme fatale theme starts to really come into play. Like, there's a thing in the game of Hearts where the queen of spades is actually the most dangerous card like, in-in fact the ace of spades is the one card you really, REALLY don't want because usually, if you, if you... play it and there's, the person after you has the queen of spades, that this queen will come out and you will get her and as it turns out she's worth 13 points and it's a game where you want as few points as possible, so it's basically like you just got all the hearts in one hand and you just lost the game, no that wasn't a 4chan pun, don't you DARE leave lousy comments about that on my, on wherever I end up posting this.

Um, anyway so, so it's during the Spades run, this whole really complicated piano solo um [laughter] I should address this, I think I remember at some point someone was like 'Wow that piano solo was amazing, you must be an amazing player!' ...I don't play the piano at all it's all synthesized I just tried to make it sound like a real piano was playing [laughter] I don't even know if it's possible to play, if someone can play it, ummm... I'll be impressed! Send me a video of you doing it, I wanna see! But no I don't think it's actually possible and if it is it's certainly not possible by me. Um, anyway but there's this whole messy piano solo that-that leads the way as we hear all of-all of the instruments in the background but, a-as the piano section goes on it slowly very slowly but surely gets completely dominated by the trumpet, um, and, it ends on kind of a sadder note because of that because um... one-one thing about Hearts is that um, if someone— well for the most part what you really want to do is you wanna make sure everybody else gets the hearts and the queen of spades and that you get none of them but, there's something else that you can do where if you get all hearts it's called shooting the moon and everyone else is stuck with all... with getting, um... 26 points instead of you, I think that's how it goes, it's been a while since I've played actually but, um, so slowly this femme fatale just keeps accumulating heart cards and at the end of the game it just ends with her kicking their asses because you know, that's how femme fatales roll they just beat men at the game of Hearts heuheuheuh [laughter] sorry.

Yeah, Ace of Trump is just basically one long pun. But, I mean that's-tha-that's kind of how I write my music, I don't... I spend more time trying to think of how to tell it as a story than just be like 'Okay let's add the drums, let's add the melody' like, every song that I write has to have some sort of like... it has to be able to stand on its own, I- and I think I really accomplished that well with Ace of Trump, I think it has one of the most distinctive stories to it than to any than any other song that I've written... um, which- I mean I'd be glad to share my music with you guys but I don't think most of it's very good, uhh there's a reason only two of my songs have appeared on albums. A-and, part of it also is just that uh, I've had a lot of problems with my life lately I've been, graduating college, trying to find work, um... and I-I mean I'd love to get back more into writing music but... I think more and more I'm moving towards my real passion which is you know, programming, developing, developing software and, more than that I'd love to get into video game design and development just, starting to make these games that I'm so obsessed with. Aaanyway [laughter] kind of got off on a tangent there.

(Commentary continues talking about her other track, Homefree, before returning to this song. You can read the relevant transcription of that segment on that page.)

And, I don't know, I-I-I think I'd like to do more in the future, like, for example I-I really wanted to actually do a remix at least of Ace of Trump like I believe for one thing that any song can be turned into a swing song, and on the other hand any swing jazz song can be turned into a, non-swing jazz song and, if you took-take the swing out of it, Ace of Trump could actually-can actually sound r-pretty sinister and intense so, I-I kinda wanna do like a battle remix of it you know, call it 'Ace of Swords' or something [laughter] that's a Terra reference for those who don't get it um [laughter] but I don't know, we'll-we'll see. If-if I don't contribute any music to the MS Paint Adventures music team, don't think that that's the last you're ever gonna hear of me 'cuz, I... I don't know, I've got some ideas of my own, I think you'll see me around somewhere.

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