I'm always getting requests for Donkey Kong songs (this would be my 4th if you include Stickerbush Symphony Acoustic), and the song that comes up the most, by a large margin, is Gang-Plank Galleon.
Donkey Kong music has a pretty unique feel to it. I imagine the game's creators saying to David Wise 'I don't know, make it sound like, jungle-ish... or islandy'. Gangplank has this cool thing going on where it's kind of intense and laid back at the same time. If that makes any sense.
I had options for the intro, either do it on keys, acoustic, or lead. I decided to go with lead and saved the acoustic part for the outro in the video. The keys only idea never saw the light of day. It still makes a special guest apperance as the flute player for the intro.
The main thing that threw me off in the original is how the first run through of the melody is played for only 12 measures (like 3 sections) rather than 16 (four sections). I always expected that 3rd section (when the harmony line comes in) to lead into a climactic 4th section but instead it cuts right to the chase and goes into the next part of the song. So yeah I changed that, haha.
Next, I extended the sped up section to twice the length. I felt in the original the speed section was way too short. In my first couple of drafts, I had the speed up section at it's normal length (8 measures) and everytime I listened to it, it bothered me how short it was. Like right when you start feeling like punching crocodiles and barrel blasting, it's gone. I kept it at 8 measures for the last time, at the end of the song.
The solo bit and following instrumental break afterward are an original bit I came up with. Just practicing my compositional skills some.
Story time! So I'm going to tell you my earliest and first memory of playing Donkey Kong Country. I actually didn't own the game for SNES because I guess I'm deprived. I can't remember if I was in high school or middle school, but I was at a tattoo parlor with my sister, and while she was getting inked, I was in this back room they had and they had a TV with a (an?) SNES hooked up and Donkey Kong Country in it, which me and a couple of others took turns playing. Whenever I hear a DKC song or get reminded of the game, that day crosses my mind for atleast an instant.
Fear not DK fans, we'll get to another DK song sometime later. Till then!