Sky's Game Music Analysis

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    Finally, a challenge I actually have time and motivation for!

    So anyone on here that's known me long enough knows I freaking adore video game music. I've pushed for years to have it seen as a legitimate musical genre and so for my challenge I want to share game music and why it's so brilliant.

    A lot of the time it's thematically brilliant so I will be spoiling the context, with warnings that look like this at the top.

    Maybe this isn't a talent per se...but I still want to do it :rofl:

    For moderating purposes: This is my entry, not my language one. I don't have the time, resources or energy to really manage it.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SkyRees)
    Finally, a challenge I actually have time and motivation for!

    So anyone on here that's known me long enough knows I freaking adore video game music. I've pushed for years to have it seen as a legitimate musical genre and so for my challenge I want to share game music and why it's so brilliant.

    A lot of the time it's thematically brilliant so I will be spoiling the context, with warnings that look like this at the top.

    Maybe this isn't a talent per se...but I still want to do it :rofl:

    For moderating purposes: This is my entry, not my language one. I don't have the time, resources or energy to really manage it.
    :woohoo: Go Sky!
    2 weeks of fab music, I am looking forward to it :woo:
    Best of luck
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:



    #1: "Four Legends", from Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (2013)
    Spoilers for most of Bravely Default



    https://youtu.be/6q_CazSZIUU?t=2m30s

    (You'll need to watch the video along with music for this one!)

    Thematics
    Oh boy is there a bucketload of it in this! The first and foremost reason I absolutely adore this piece is that it's actually a medley of about 9 different songs from the rest of the game - you don't actually know that the first time you hear it, because this is the opening cutscene! When booting up the game you hear this basically every time, so if you stick around to listen, you immediately start to recognise more and more of the song each time.

    This is genius. A piece itself must be pretty great to make you want to listen to it multiple times, or be addictive in some way - but this game doesn't take the conventional route, no, it exposes more of the game itself the further in the game you get. And that is saying quite a lot, because even a section of the final boss theme of the game is in it!

    What also makes "Four Legends" AMAZING is that it's not only a medley of songs from the game itself, but it serves as a summary of the whole game in just 5 minutes. I'll go into this further in the Musicality section about where this correlates, but I think it makes an excellent piece in that you can hear it the first time and have a taste of what's yet to come, and also hear it back at the very end and be full of nostalgia too.

    Finally is the fact that the "Four Legends" refers to the fact that this is a medley of the 4 main characters themes, and that each character is presented entirely within their section; Agnes' section is rather serious and relies on harp and choir to signify her status as a religious leader, for example. The entire arc and essence of who these people are is hinted at within the first 7 minutes of the game. If that isn't one fantastic way to set things up, I don't know what is.

    Musicality
    I should point out - this isn't about music theory. I know precious little of it, so I'm only going to talk with regards to what I know - that's largely instrumentation, effects and significance of things. Do forgive that if you were coming here for that - I was self taught so I can't honestly help.

    2:30 - 3:43 Agnes - Original / "The Crystal Sparkles"
    Agnes is the Vestal of Wind, essentially a religious leader in Bravely Default for the "crystal religion" (it has a proper name, but I forget it) and the instrumentation does an amazing job of signifying this through the use of bells, choral progressions and a harp. The continued force of the piano bass and bells followed by the choir repeating variations of the same melody instantly fits the importance of what's happening (which you can see, roughly. She's preparing for a ritual, basically) and goes from sounding slightly melancholic to empowering and major-key once she finishes preparing. This integration of sound with action is so effective, and still so subtle. The momentum it builds from that change in harmonic at 3:05 - 3:10 is effective because the tempo increases as if building up to something - but stops suddenly in a jarring fashion as the crystal itself is revealed; the use of a choir is powerful here because you can hear the silencing of breath quickly.

    From 3:15 - 3:40 we see the first instance of foreshadowing; the piece that plays here, "The Crystal Sparkles", is not something you'd be hearing for another 5-6 hours into the game, and becomes a real "OH THAT'S WHAT THIS IS" moment! The use of choir and harp is maintained, but retains a more regular repetition and chord progression here even with its raise in volume. This is utilised so to not distract from the main focus - the crystal you can see glowing powerfully at the time - but rather emphasise its structure. This part ends with the same abrupt sweeping sound to transition seamlessly with the action - the crystal becoming corrupted.

    3:41 - 4:01 "Signs of An Enemy Attack"
    Less obvious this time, but with the main action segment, brass is introduced for effect, following staccato rhythm to juxtapose the legato, flowing nature of the rest of this scene. Woodwinds follow an ascending pattern while strings maintain a higher pitched spiccato rhythm to maintain the flow of action. It doesn't follow a set melody in this section likely to not distract from the relatively tragic dialogue ("Let our bodies be her shield" for one). The really impressive part here in both visual and music is the final section, where a flame flickers out to obviously represent a grave loss of life - an all instruments die out with it except for one singular piano note that echoes away until it's cut out as well. It's a minor detail, but one with a bit more thought you begin to understand for the thought-provoking union of visual and audio. You'll know it makes you feel sad, but not be exactly sure why - and the music exacerbates this. Within the first 4 minutes of turning the game on.

    4:01 - 4:56 Ringabel: "The Beginning Country" / "Love's Vagrant"
    I don't think you can juxtapose much more than the heavy, droning choir accompanying mass death, with a sunny and Mediterranean inspired instrumentation! But it's matched perfectly with the dialogue here, where he says "Foretelling its death is a hoax in poor taste". Immediately you get the sense of who Ringabel is - a joker, light-hearted and taking things easy, and even the music follows this. This is an early example of musical foretelling, because if you're paying any attention, you'll recognise the first town's music just from this. The interesting part is that in some ways, you glean just as much from the simple instrumentation from 4:01 - 4:17 as you do from the detailed music in Agnes' section.

    Revo, the artist, demonstrates his ability so perfectly from here onwards when at 4:18 the music changes flawlessly into an entirely different genre altogether with a blend of chill jazz and Mediterranean instruments such as the accordion (again foreshadowing because the first town, shown in the video, is actually based on that area). That takes serious doing just to blend well at all, I should add. As 4:38 or show also shows ("We've yet to meet, and I'm in love" ), the music subtly changes key to have a slightly more exotic, romantic element to it - playing perfectly in sync with the nondescript women fawning over him - which just sums up his character in not even a minute. 4:48 - 4:56 is also excellent in its utility of silence for dramatic effect, a trick clearly inspired by the Piano Concertos of the past. To make it brief, for four notes in a bar the style goes (1-2-3-4), where it's filled (orchestra-piano-piano-piano/orchestra) and the silence inbetween 1 and 2 accentuates the power behind the piano's entrance. It's cleverly used here just with dialogue. The music shuts up, Ringabel says "nearby?" and the ladies have a collective lady-shower, and the music kicks back in to finish off the scene in a cheery sense, even including the return of the acoustic guitar from the first part.


    4:56 - 6:00 Edea: "The Immortal Country" / "That Person's Name Is" / "Below the Duchy's Banner"
    I BLOODY ADORE THIS SECTION. This part here is honestly what drew me most into the piece, and having finished the game there's even more symbolism to it. You wouldn't know it when you first listen but this basically spoils the first 5/8 chapters of the game just from the motif.

    The juxtaposition continues between the sunny finale of Ringabel's music to the dark, looming strings of a cold yet gentle world presented to you (more spoilers because this is literally the final city of the game lmao) and it does a great job of making it feel frigid especially compared to the tropical tones of Ringabel's section. The seriousness builds up and as the camera pans to a dark room with a student and her master, Revo again decides to use dramatic silence to break up the sections. It's well-hidden this is actually the music for Eternia, the Immortal Country, even if you finished the game.

    5:07 - 5:20 is my absolute favourite part of this track, seguing into "That Person's Name Is" - interesting the music for the main non-monster bosses of the game, which if you haven't gotten to that point would make you wonder why Edea's music is associated with the bad guys...anyway, it fits the combat excellently through the use of a faster-tempo melody that part of the title screen uses, and combined with the accordion from Ringabel's section coming back, their entire romantic subplot is hinted at way before you meet either of them. In just 13 seconds so much is revealed about their characters! THIRTEEN SECONDS! The music ends on a deeply bitter note which feels unresolved and highlights that despite the energy Edea exerts during her fight with Master Kamiizumi, she is still weaker than she anticipates.

    5:21 - 5:43 is quite literally a soft, non-energetic piano rendition of the main antagonists' theme ("Below the Duchy's Banner" ), again more foreshadowing that she is in fact tied to the enemy (The Eternian Knights), which makes even less sense to you when her first appearance in the game has you saving one of the character's life. It's designed to confuse and be subtle, which the piano doesn't exactly give away. Interestingly her master says "Make for Caldisla", the place where Ringabel was hanging out and in fact had part of his section's music from - more hinting.

    5:43 to 6:00 concludes her section quite nicely by turning into a more militaristic, staccato melody that grows with intensity and a rapidly increasing tempo likely to show the change from one-on-one combat to her leading an entire army. The trumpets and trombones give a triumphant, powerful message and in fact represents her personality in the game a lot better than you might expect from the beginning. While the other sections had a clear visual and musical cue to give away certain parts of their personality, Edea's is confusing and conflicting - and it's entirely intentional. Revo's music goes a very long way to hinting at this emotional disconnect long before you'll ever even pick up on it in the game and it is geniusly done. Her section ends with a resolute, full-orchestra chord that resonates and ties up her scenario well.

    6:01 - 7:08 Tiz: "You Are My Hope" / "World of Scattering Flowers"
    Again wanna say how well-done this section is for what it represents. Instrumental styles often vary depending on what they're trying to present, and you learn basically at the start (if not from the visuals) that the final "Legend", Tiz, is a simple country-boy farmer living in peace; the use of traditional Irish instruments makes me very happy alone, but it works very well - the fact that for most of "You Are My Hope", the first song, only one instrument takes the lead instead of many instruments changing around in the other 3 scenarios, which is probably meant to represent the continual, familiar life of a country farmer. You already learn quite a bit about Tiz simply by thinking about that, really. There isn't too much to say about it, other than that it's a relatively sweet melody with many trills, taking roots from Celtic styles and further proving that Revo knows how to blend and demonstrate plenty of different styles and make it look easy!

    The thing I love here is that from 6:01 - 6:35, all of that sweet and gentle energy takes a foreboding tone when everything changes - the Irish tin whistle goes down a rapidly descending chromatic scale (known as a "fall" ) and as the earth begins to shake, that peace is literally disrupted by the gradual growing crescendo of strings and brass that were literally never there before - finishing only with Tiz's brother, Til, clinging for dear life.

    Honestly even the music doesn't try to be optimistic as it transitions into a key-pitched rendition of "World of Scattering Flowers" - another piece you don't hear until scenes involving Agnes, hinting something between them even in a tragic scene, perhaps. The music itself is actually fairly simple, just playing a lamenting tune quietly over the sound effects of rubble, but gives you just enough time to match it with the despairing look Tiz gains seeing Til fall into the chasm. There's a very subtle but noticeable reverb on the final chord, which may actually be a cruel joke on Revo's part - reverb is used to give an echoing effect, and where would you hear an echo?
    ...at the bottom of a chasm, probably. ;-;

    7:08 - 7:25 "Prayer"
    This is a lonely-sounding music box that represents something - it's meant to be reminiscent of the music for a new chapter, and so ties up the beginning of the game after the cutscene as if to say "This was a chapter of their lives, and you're starting a new chapter now". It's ingenious, really, just as much as it is fitting. Even down to the last note there's detail - there's a slight reverb added to it as you normally do with music boxes, but Revo takes advantage of that to make the final note out of key - it sticks out at you as it is, but with the reverb it lasts just that tiny bit longer, before silence takes over to let you process everything.

    Closing
    So, there you have it. My little rambling and fawning over why Four Legends is absolutely amazing. Every section is crafted with so much care and attention to detail, and the most minute of details have a real, subtle but powerful effect on both the visuals and even audio itself. I hope this has convinced you, even just a little, that video game music can have real care taken into it right down to the tiniest parts - it's integrated with the gameplay sometimes, and foreshadows things arguably better than even film music does at times. From the use of several genres to the use of his technology to make the emotions cut that little bit deeper, I think this is an excellent piece to start this off with :woo:
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
    :woohoo: Go Sky!
    2 weeks of fab music, I am looking forward to it :woo:
    Best of luck
    Am glad you're enthusiastic about it, thank you
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SkyRees)
    Am glad you're enthusiastic about it, thank you
    Ofc I am :yay:
    :rave: GO SKY! :rave:
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:

    #2: "Somnus", from Final Fantasy XV
    Spoilers for end-game FFXV

    (come ooooon, you knew I was going to put a Final Fantasy one in here somewhere. This is me we're on about :rofl: )



    Thematics and Context
    For context, Final Fantasy XV was a game with probably one of the most troubled developments in history. For an entire decade we actually weren't sure if it was ever going to release; I personally saw the cycle and my own life change quite a lot between 2006 and 2016, so to hear this song finally play after a decade of waiting in vain, this was already a very special piece for many people.

    "Somnus", the main theme of the game, is actually the only piece of music we knew about for seven years, and we weren't even really sure it was going to make it into the final game. But it was, essentially, the musical thread of hope and I think a lot of people heard this song on November 29th 2016 and breathed a collective sob. (i was totally one of them don't tell anyone~)

    Somnus is a dark, brooding piece about uncertain future; a tension that dances on the line between calm and passionate. Despite not being particularly creative with instrumentation (piano and strings are fairly standard for Yoko Shimomura, the composer), it does what it needs to without resorting to a full orchestra - surprisingly harder than you would imagine. There are two main variants we knew about - a lyrical version, which we knew about from 2006, and a violin-solo version, which was used from 2015 onwards. The thing is, we loved the lyrical version a lot and was so afraid it had been cut from the game when it didn't appear on the title screen - the violin version did.

    But, towards the end of the game it becomes incredibly self-aware. The final chapter takes place in the city of Insomnia (hence "Somnus"), after a period of 10 years pass in the game (sound familiar?) and it references the very first things we ever saw of FFXV, right down to the massive staircases. And the really special thing is that, after we thought the lyrical version was dead and gone, it returns at the very end of the game, right here in the city where XV began in 2006. Thematically as the Royal Family of Insomnia's theme, and as a player - one that kept up with the development, too - it strikes you extremely hard when you're unaware and/or not expecting it.

    The lyrics to Somnus itself is pretty thematic, because although the story of XV changed dramatically from 2006 to 2016, the same central idea behind them remained the same. For example, in the original draft, the world was going to end because the goddess Etro was locked in her slumber, and presumably the end of the game would have dealt with that. Instead there are no gods in XV especially, but the light of the world has faded and eternal night reigns. Which is notable, when you have lines like:

    "Deus dormit, et liberi ignem faciunt nunquam extinguum" -> "God sleeps, and children light a fire that will never fade" -> People in XV's eternal darkness trying to build the unattainable, ie a fire that never dies

    "Et nocte perpetua / In this endless night
    En desperationem / In desperation
    Auroram videre potest / He can see the dawn
    Manes tempus expergiscendi / That the next morning will bring

    The song is used right at the end of the game to show that, true to the lyrics, you are the one fulfilling the final part of this song. If that isn't rad as hell idk what will impress you.

    Musicality
    Referring only to the lyrical version, since the only difference is playing off the richness of violin vibrato. There isn't a great deal between them, I just prefer the vocals...even though I'm a violinist... #shame

    0:00 - 0:20 | The piano takes a bold start, immediately playing off the bittersweet chords and the low, firm bass, mixed with the resolute, descending melody. It's effective because it sets the tone of the piece well from the very beginning, which follows the "99 rule" - that the first and last 9 seconds often determine whether a person enjoys a piece (or even carries on past the first 9).

    0:20 - 0:53 | Main melody begins, carrying a dejected and yet half-hopeful tone where the chords change, and subtle strings start in the back, which works well enough to feel kind of full without exploding when it comes in later. The focus is immediately on the vocal.

    0:54 - 1:16 | A lonely cello begins to join in, which accentuates the feeling of hopelessness expressed in the first part well - and the use of slight naturals and accidentals outside of the key continues to exacerbate the "bitter" half of bittersweet. The vocals start rising towards the climax, ending on one very long and powerful note where the singer's vibrato soars, reminiscent of opera in a way. The early trailers for FFXV suggested it was going to be based on Shakespearean tragedy, so it wouldn't be surprising to see some cues taken from that.

    1:16 - 1:27 | The strings start the second half's melody, joined by continual, forceful chords from the piano to represent the beginning of the action. Remembering this song was meant to highlight the fact war was brewing, hiding just behind niceties and weak treaties, this brief crack through the peace shows that just as easily as there's peace, so too is war. I said yesterday that sometimes a lot can be told in just a small amount of time and this section goes quite far to proving that.

    1:27 - 1:42 | The piano finally gets a chance to show off its strength, taking the characteristic solo of Shimomura's style, where instead of descending as in the first half, it now rises passionately and quickly like the escalation of war (for example the treble clef skips 2 whole octaves at one stage). The bass uses more naturals than usual to contrast, but also uses a technique common in romantic music - the way that accidentals/naturals are used after a normal in-key note to make the bittersweet kind of sound in romantic music gives it the heartwarming effect, and it's being used here in a mocking fashion. This is a remnant of the "Romeo and Juliet" scenario in the original, which of course foreshadows there's more at play than just war. The idea of even mixing war (and with it, death) and love is an idea straight from the Gothic, which also complements the musical style relatively well too.

    1:43 - 2:17 | The vocals return, notably more impassioned with the continuation of the strings and piano (bass now taking a broken-chord approach to give an agitated, energetic effect), yet falling back into a quiet rendition of the beginning segment as if to imply things would begin as they had always ended in a cyclical manner, which the final game implies quite heavily. Violins also join the main melody now, probably for padding, but potentially just to show it's not just one voice anymore, but many. The slow, quiet descent towards the end was heavily utilised in trailers to pan to a shot of the main character Noctis asleep on a throne, after the rest of this section had been him fighting soldiers. It's a type of disconnect that works well with the action and both reminds older players of that repeated scene.

    It's worth noting there are two other variations of Somnus that use parts of this - Magna Insomnia, which is the final boss theme and combines it with the antagonist's theme in an operatic fashion (fitting, since he sees it as a show the entire time) and Somnus Ultima, a strong rendition of the second half that takes the silence and energy from it in the final cutscene - except without the repeated section, giving further credence to the idea the repetition was about the fact several Kings of Insomnia had to go through what Noctis did.

    Closing
    The power and genius behind Somnus is realistically in how much it plays to nostalgia and foretells things that remained from 2006 all the way to only a few months ago; unlike Four Legends not everything has a meaning to it in the instruments, but rather how they're used to connect with the player.
    Online

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SkyRees)




    #1: "Four Legends", from Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (2013)
    Spoilers for most of Bravely Default




    https://youtu.be/6q_CazSZIUU?t=2m30s

    (You'll need to watch the video along with music for this one!)

    Thematics
    Oh boy is there a bucketload of it in this! The first and foremost reason I absolutely adore this piece is that it's actually a medley of about 9 different songs from the rest of the game - you don't actually know that the first time you hear it, because this is the opening cutscene! When booting up the game you hear this basically every time, so if you stick around to listen, you immediately start to recognise more and more of the song each time.

    This is genius. A piece itself must be pretty great to make you want to listen to it multiple times, or be addictive in some way - but this game doesn't take the conventional route, no, it exposes more of the game itself the further in the game you get. And that is saying quite a lot, because even a section of the final boss theme of the game is in it!

    What also makes "Four Legends" AMAZING is that it's not only a medley of songs from the game itself, but it serves as a summary of the whole game in just 5 minutes. I'll go into this further in the Musicality section about where this correlates, but I think it makes an excellent piece in that you can hear it the first time and have a taste of what's yet to come, and also hear it back at the very end and be full of nostalgia too.

    Finally is the fact that the "Four Legends" refers to the fact that this is a medley of the 4 main characters themes, and that each character is presented entirely within their section; Agnes' section is rather serious and relies on harp and choir to signify her status as a religious leader, for example. The entire arc and essence of who these people are is hinted at within the first 7 minutes of the game. If that isn't one fantastic way to set things up, I don't know what is.

    Musicality
    I should point out - this isn't about music theory. I know precious little of it, so I'm only going to talk with regards to what I know - that's largely instrumentation, effects and significance of things. Do forgive that if you were coming here for that - I was self taught so I can't honestly help.

    2:30 - 3:43 Agnes - Original / "The Crystal Sparkles"
    Agnes is the Vestal of Wind, essentially a religious leader in Bravely Default for the "crystal religion" (it has a proper name, but I forget it) and the instrumentation does an amazing job of signifying this through the use of bells, choral progressions and a harp. The continued force of the piano bass and bells followed by the choir repeating variations of the same melody instantly fits the importance of what's happening (which you can see, roughly. She's preparing for a ritual, basically) and goes from sounding slightly melancholic to empowering and major-key once she finishes preparing. This integration of sound with action is so effective, and still so subtle. The momentum it builds from that change in harmonic at 3:05 - 3:10 is effective because the tempo increases as if building up to something - but stops suddenly in a jarring fashion as the crystal itself is revealed; the use of a choir is powerful here because you can hear the silencing of breath quickly.

    From 3:15 - 3:40 we see the first instance of foreshadowing; the piece that plays here, "The Crystal Sparkles", is not something you'd be hearing for another 5-6 hours into the game, and becomes a real "OH THAT'S WHAT THIS IS" moment! The use of choir and harp is maintained, but retains a more regular repetition and chord progression here even with its raise in volume. This is utilised so to not distract from the main focus - the crystal you can see glowing powerfully at the time - but rather emphasise its structure. This part ends with the same abrupt sweeping sound to transition seamlessly with the action - the crystal becoming corrupted.

    3:41 - 4:01 "Signs of An Enemy Attack"
    Less obvious this time, but with the main action segment, brass is introduced for effect, following staccato rhythm to juxtapose the legato, flowing nature of the rest of this scene. Woodwinds follow an ascending pattern while strings maintain a higher pitched spiccato rhythm to maintain the flow of action. It doesn't follow a set melody in this section likely to not distract from the relatively tragic dialogue ("Let our bodies be her shield" for one). The really impressive part here in both visual and music is the final section, where a flame flickers out to obviously represent a grave loss of life - an all instruments die out with it except for one singular piano note that echoes away until it's cut out as well. It's a minor detail, but one with a bit more thought you begin to understand for the thought-provoking union of visual and audio. You'll know it makes you feel sad, but not be exactly sure why - and the music exacerbates this. Within the first 4 minutes of turning the game on.

    4:01 - 4:56 Ringabel: "The Beginning Country" / "Love's Vagrant"
    I don't think you can juxtapose much more than the heavy, droning choir accompanying mass death, with a sunny and Mediterranean inspired instrumentation! But it's matched perfectly with the dialogue here, where he says "Foretelling its death is a hoax in poor taste". Immediately you get the sense of who Ringabel is - a joker, light-hearted and taking things easy, and even the music follows this. This is an early example of musical foretelling, because if you're paying any attention, you'll recognise the first town's music just from this. The interesting part is that in some ways, you glean just as much from the simple instrumentation from 4:01 - 4:17 as you do from the detailed music in Agnes' section.

    Revo, the artist, demonstrates his ability so perfectly from here onwards when at 4:18 the music changes flawlessly into an entirely different genre altogether with a blend of chill jazz and Mediterranean instruments such as the accordion (again foreshadowing because the first town, shown in the video, is actually based on that area). That takes serious doing just to blend well at all, I should add. As 4:38 or show also shows ("We've yet to meet, and I'm in love" ), the music subtly changes key to have a slightly more exotic, romantic element to it - playing perfectly in sync with the nondescript women fawning over him - which just sums up his character in not even a minute. 4:48 - 4:56 is also excellent in its utility of silence for dramatic effect, a trick clearly inspired by the Piano Concertos of the past. To make it brief, for four notes in a bar the style goes (1-2-3-4), where it's filled (orchestra-piano-piano-piano/orchestra) and the silence inbetween 1 and 2 accentuates the power behind the piano's entrance. It's cleverly used here just with dialogue. The music shuts up, Ringabel says "nearby?" and the ladies have a collective lady-shower, and the music kicks back in to finish off the scene in a cheery sense, even including the return of the acoustic guitar from the first part.


    4:56 - 6:00 Edea: "The Immortal Country" / "That Person's Name Is" / "Below the Duchy's Banner"
    I BLOODY ADORE THIS SECTION. This part here is honestly what drew me most into the piece, and having finished the game there's even more symbolism to it. You wouldn't know it when you first listen but this basically spoils the first 5/8 chapters of the game just from the motif.

    The juxtaposition continues between the sunny finale of Ringabel's music to the dark, looming strings of a cold yet gentle world presented to you (more spoilers because this is literally the final city of the game lmao) and it does a great job of making it feel frigid especially compared to the tropical tones of Ringabel's section. The seriousness builds up and as the camera pans to a dark room with a student and her master, Revo again decides to use dramatic silence to break up the sections. It's well-hidden this is actually the music for Eternia, the Immortal Country, even if you finished the game.

    5:07 - 5:20 is my absolute favourite part of this track, seguing into "That Person's Name Is" - interesting the music for the main non-monster bosses of the game, which if you haven't gotten to that point would make you wonder why Edea's music is associated with the bad guys...anyway, it fits the combat excellently through the use of a faster-tempo melody that part of the title screen uses, and combined with the accordion from Ringabel's section coming back, their entire romantic subplot is hinted at way before you meet either of them. In just 13 seconds so much is revealed about their characters! THIRTEEN SECONDS! The music ends on a deeply bitter note which feels unresolved and highlights that despite the energy Edea exerts during her fight with Master Kamiizumi, she is still weaker than she anticipates.

    5:21 - 5:43 is quite literally a soft, non-energetic piano rendition of the main antagonists' theme ("Below the Duchy's Banner" ), again more foreshadowing that she is in fact tied to the enemy (The Eternian Knights), which makes even less sense to you when her first appearance in the game has you saving one of the character's life. It's designed to confuse and be subtle, which the piano doesn't exactly give away. Interestingly her master says "Make for Caldisla", the place where Ringabel was hanging out and in fact had part of his section's music from - more hinting.

    5:43 to 6:00 concludes her section quite nicely by turning into a more militaristic, staccato melody that grows with intensity and a rapidly increasing tempo likely to show the change from one-on-one combat to her leading an entire army. The trumpets and trombones give a triumphant, powerful message and in fact represents her personality in the game a lot better than you might expect from the beginning. While the other sections had a clear visual and musical cue to give away certain parts of their personality, Edea's is confusing and conflicting - and it's entirely intentional. Revo's music goes a very long way to hinting at this emotional disconnect long before you'll ever even pick up on it in the game and it is geniusly done. Her section ends with a resolute, full-orchestra chord that resonates and ties up her scenario well.

    6:01 - 7:08 Tiz: "You Are My Hope" / "World of Scattering Flowers"
    Again wanna say how well-done this section is for what it represents. Instrumental styles often vary depending on what they're trying to present, and you learn basically at the start (if not from the visuals) that the final "Legend", Tiz, is a simple country-boy farmer living in peace; the use of traditional Irish instruments makes me very happy alone, but it works very well - the fact that for most of "You Are My Hope", the first song, only one instrument takes the lead instead of many instruments changing around in the other 3 scenarios, which is probably meant to represent the continual, familiar life of a country farmer. You already learn quite a bit about Tiz simply by thinking about that, really. There isn't too much to say about it, other than that it's a relatively sweet melody with many trills, taking roots from Celtic styles and further proving that Revo knows how to blend and demonstrate plenty of different styles and make it look easy!

    The thing I love here is that from 6:01 - 6:35, all of that sweet and gentle energy takes a foreboding tone when everything changes - the Irish tin whistle goes down a rapidly descending chromatic scale (known as a "fall" ) and as the earth begins to shake, that peace is literally disrupted by the gradual growing crescendo of strings and brass that were literally never there before - finishing only with Tiz's brother, Til, clinging for dear life.

    Honestly even the music doesn't try to be optimistic as it transitions into a key-pitched rendition of "World of Scattering Flowers" - another piece you don't hear until scenes involving Agnes, hinting something between them even in a tragic scene, perhaps. The music itself is actually fairly simple, just playing a lamenting tune quietly over the sound effects of rubble, but gives you just enough time to match it with the despairing look Tiz gains seeing Til fall into the chasm. There's a very subtle but noticeable reverb on the final chord, which may actually be a cruel joke on Revo's part - reverb is used to give an echoing effect, and where would you hear an echo?
    ...at the bottom of a chasm, probably. ;-;

    7:08 - 7:25 "Prayer"
    This is a lonely-sounding music box that represents something - it's meant to be reminiscent of the music for a new chapter, and so ties up the beginning of the game after the cutscene as if to say "This was a chapter of their lives, and you're starting a new chapter now". It's ingenious, really, just as much as it is fitting. Even down to the last note there's detail - there's a slight reverb added to it as you normally do with music boxes, but Revo takes advantage of that to make the final note out of key - it sticks out at you as it is, but with the reverb it lasts just that tiny bit longer, before silence takes over to let you process everything.

    Closing
    So, there you have it. My little rambling and fawning over why Four Legends is absolutely amazing. Every section is crafted with so much care and attention to detail, and the most minute of details have a real, subtle but powerful effect on both the visuals and even audio itself. I hope this has convinced you, even just a little, that video game music can have real care taken into it right down to the tiniest parts - it's integrated with the gameplay sometimes, and foreshadows things arguably better than even film music does at times. From the use of several genres to the use of his technology to make the emotions cut that little bit deeper, I think this is an excellent piece to start this off with :woo:
    I only just found this, and love what I've read/heard so far! Definitely feels like you've put a lot of time and thought into this.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by AngryJellyfish)
    I only just found this, and love what I've read/heard so far! Definitely feels like you've put a lot of time and thought into this.
    Haha, thank you for taking the time! Am glad you're enjoying it so far
    I've always kinda wanted to do something like this, so the time and thought is well worth it
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:

    #3: "Gwyn, Lord of Cinder"
    Spoilers for the end of Dark Souls
    Name:  Gwyn_Lord_of_Cinder.jpg
Views: 6
Size:  203.2 KB

    This piece is from a game series extremely dear to my heart, so please excuse me if I go on a little today. Dark Souls is a series that's helped me through some of the hardest days of my life through its allegory for fighting depression, and this is important even within the game itself - let alone what I think of it. So, I'm sharing them today because they mean a lot

    Listen, but not yet:



    Thematics and Context

    As with everything in Dark Souls, the music is designed with context in mind - the game is unique because it refuses to spell anything out, not even its story! The music fills in part of these gaps, and in fact the only music that ever plays in Dark Souls 3 is during the boss fights. It's chaotic, energetic, and hopelessly sad, because that's exactly what it's going for. Already I'm starting with praise - the music literally dictates what you should be feeling. Sad? Panicked? In awe of grandeur?

    All three at once, constantly?

    In the Dark Souls trilogy, there is the concept of the "First Flame"; this is the world's energy,which must be rekindled unless the world falls into darkness. This is because a certain warrior, Gwyn, tried to ward off the world's original demise by fitting its essence into a flame. For a time it actually worked and his kingdom was prosperous, and he was known as the "Lord of Sunlight". He is in fact continually referred to even during Dark Souls, where the world has gone to complete hell (and is in fact ending).

    Depression is a rampant and ceaseless theme in Dark Souls, hopelessness present in nearly every character. Some are crestfallen and just give up, becoming "Hollow" and walking the earth without humanity, others turn hostile mourning the loss of those close to them. Some remain positive despite having mentally cracked - if you've ever seen the phrase "Praise the Sun!", that's because a jolly fellow named Solaire cracked and decided the Sun was his salvation, and that he needed to "find his own Sun". Sound insane? It was. But we loved him.

    At this point, I'd like to just share with you some examples of the regular music you get for boss fights in Dark Souls - most of whom are innocent, just suffering like you, I should add:
    Like fighting for your life against distorted gargoyles of the Church?
    How about an insane but deadly dragon, that betrayed his kind in search of eternal life?

    You get the idea. It's unrelenting, sorrowful and terrifying in equal measures. Because this is the kind of hellscape you're traversing in Dark Souls, until you reach the very end, the First Flame - a beautiful land with white as far as the eye can see (note: Gwyn is the Welsh word for White, and considering they used Welsh and English mythology in Dark Souls II and III, it's probably not a coincidence)

    Now, listen to Gwyn, Lord of Cinder and keep reading.

    I'm sure you'll notice something different here...it's a slow, gentle and sad piano alone, contrasting to every single piece of music. You realise when you finally get here and hear the music that Gwyn isn't the mighty saviour you thought he was, nor is he a demon. He's a tragic figure tied to the very Flame he created, and gone insane to protect. So much so in fact, the game doesn't call him the Lord of Sunlight anymore...he's instead little more than a Lord of Cinders. This one piece blows away every expectation you have about the final boss of a brutally difficult game, and the fact the music changes to reflect that is simply incredible. Because if Gwyn himself is little more than a charred husk of a man, the orchestra (and indeed the world itself) dies away with him.

    You're going to have to fight the man that ultimately saved the world and reduced himself to little more than ashes even if his attempts were in vain. This fight is a mercy killing and the music doesn't try to hide that.

    Musicality
    0:00 - 0:02 | This section is getting special mention just because I can't exaggerate how many tears just three notes have caused for so many players. It's by the end of the third note you've had just enough time to realise this isn't like any other boss fight in the game. I think it's so impressive that Sakuraba managed to tie it to the game, that within just 2 seconds you've had enough time to see Gwyn as a mess, notice the music is different and be thrown entirely off-guard mentally.

    0:03 - 0:24 | Contrary to the music in the rest of the game, this is relatively melodic, and for instrumentation, you only hear two pianos (presumably a reference to you and Gwyn) so there's not a lot to say. The choice of a piano is probably due to his style, although it could also be that it isn't really used all that much in Dark Souls except for low, bassy notes. If Sakuraba had chosen strings instead it probably would have just resembled other pieces, so it's a solid choice there.

    There's a lot to unpack here, so we'll go by the four staves. For Stave 1 (Piano 1, Treble) it's responsible for the legendary three notes and it soars relatively high. The choice of C Major is also interesting, as it makes a sorrowful, pure sounding effect without relying on minor keys. There is a "plucked" kind of sound emitted through the use of 2-note arpeggios between an octave in most notes, giving a graceful air to the piece.

    For Stave 2 (Piano 1, Bass), the same three note triad (A-C-E) repeats cyclically all through this section, which keeps the feeling constant and could be interpreted as a reference to the cyclical, repetitive nature of the First Flame, where the same thing is repeated to keep it alive but nothing ever changes - the world returns to ruin eventually - which would be well-planned on Sakuraba's part. Stave 3 (Piano 2, Treble) does the same thing through the use of of a C-F doublet for one beat going to a B the next, which resonates with Stave 2 sometimes, and at others makes it sound discordant (the F note in the chord is discordant with the E note of Stave 2's triad). Something as simple as that has a huge impact on the nature of the song and it's so well-thought out. Stave 4 (Piano 2, Bass) is used only to play an extremely heavy bass note lasting 2 bars occasionally, counteracting the light and high notes of Stave 1's melody and retaining the sense of urgency and gravity immediately.

    0:24 - 0:48 | The same format continues for most of the piece, which is why I gave it extra time - the real variable now is Stave 1, the melody, which in this section takes a new phrase, rising higher up the piano to continue an airy type of lightness. Some of the arpeggios now are slightly dissonant as Stave 3 changes its chords a little, making it more clear as the piece progresses it isn't meant to be as happy as C Major implies.

    0:48 - 1:00 | Reprisal of the first few seconds, but with a noticeable difference - the melody's notes are now being played ever so slightly more forcefully, utilising sforzando (sfz) to make certain notes have more impact.

    1:00 - 1:24 | First major change appears here, where the treble staves alternate between arpeggiated and power chords almost erratically, and with greater use of octave shift than before. A type of arpeggiated scale is used by one of the staves to keep the momentum of the piece going and Stave 4 continues its job. The way that Sakuraba manages to keep the flow of the piece going without changing the overall downcast dynamic is honestly impressive, even more so with only a couple of instruments (like I said with yesterday's piece, Somnus, for not relying on a full orchestra).

    1:24 - 1:36 | Extreme use of dissonant chords here but in a way that both feels natural and actually leads somewhere, which I can't help but applaud. Starting with only a couple of chords, it builds up and becomes more and more distorted, every note being repeated. I'd like to think this is again a nod to the way the world is constantly reborn by the FIrst Flame, but becomes more and more pained, that pain louder and louder, with every passing repetition until the transition at last comes.

    1:36 - 1:59 | Continuing the same motif as before, the style is clearly different now; the momentum carried by the doubled and rolled triad staves are gone, and it's entirely intentional - Gwyn himself is tiring from maintaining that flame for so long, so the first half represents the desperation and using his energy to protect the Flame, possibly so you don't have to light it and bear his responsibility...and the second half highlights just how far this god has fallen. The arpeggios are there and more constant, not in a graceful manner anymore, but a quick and agitated sense. The heavy chords for the bass staves highlight this, serving as the crescendo for the entire piece as so much sforzando is applied to the chords they're probably more like a permanent dynamic shift. The bass isn't playing a heavy low note anymore so much as serving as the tone-changer, which I can't see any real lore reason towards except moving the piece forward.

    2:00 - 2:10 | I adore this part because it ties together all the different sections of the piece (the heavy bass notes, the dissonant chords, the first melody and the 'completed' chords without sounding terrible - and even for a piano, that's something awe-inspiring to see pulled off well.

    2:10 - 2:34 | The bass begins moving beyond more than simple low whole-notes now, showing one final push of energy on either side's behalf (could be Gwyn, could be you overpowering Gwyn) and the return of other patterns from earlier in the piece. From around 2:18 onwards something interesting happens to the melody - it starts to be slightly delayed (by about a half-beat or so, but still significant) as if to make note of Gwyn's aged life about to fade. Indeed, even though the piece starts to become heavily more chord-based (as in, every single beat is a chord), it is so much softer and slower towards the end, which I think could signify any number of things - the end of the Age of the First Flame? You could snuff out the flame at the end if you wanted. The end of the Gods of Lordran? Possibly, given Gwyn was the last link to them. It just symbolises the end of something, and makes you reflect on your time with the game a lot, something impressively handled by just eight or so bars.

    2:34 onwards | The piece loops because it has to for game reasons, although it should be noted...Gwyn is actually quite weak, comparatively to the myriad of demons in Dark Souls that can and will make you rage. The song actually lasts about as long as it needs to, because you probably will end his life in about 2 and a half minutes. So everything I've written here is essentially choreographed to the fight, making it all the more astounding and thought-provoking.

    Closing

    For a song about so much relating to fire and flame, it's telling how well Sakuraba managed to draw together a cold and empty-sounding piece for just two pianos. The irony of the piece in light of the entire game's soundtrack is a highlight and the way it goes against everything a player would know up until this point signifies it. Final bosses in video games tend to be giant demons or gods with roaring orchestras pouring from the heavens, but Dark Souls plays the contrarian and delivers a whirlwind symphony of sadness and creativity for just as long as it needs to. Even in video games this game - this song, even - was a revolution from old, worn-out standards, and even without all of that manages to be a true masterpiece in its own right.

    I also covered this song with a clarinetist friend of mine back in January, envisioning what it would be like with more instruments in the style of an atmospheric wave. I envisioned Gwyn knowing he would die, and thinking of his two children during the battle.

    You can listen to my idea here, inspired by what I learned above. :yep:
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    SpiritSharD might be interested in this but BEWARE THE SPOILERS :O

    SkyRees, wow this is so detailed and fab, you've put so much into it :O
    I feel guilty ngl :rofl:
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
    SpiritSharD might be interested in this but BEWARE THE SPOILERS :O

    SkyRees, wow this is so detailed and fab, you've put so much into it :O
    I feel guilty ngl :rofl:
    Another Dark Souls fan, then? If he's only played DS3 then aye, spoilers - though it'll put into context some things about the
    Spoiler:
    Show

    Soul of Cinder


    Don't feel guilty! I just ramble about game music absolutely loads, it's just something I enjoy. And mainly because I see each entry as a chance to convince people game music is a legitimate genre :rofl:
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SkyRees)
    Another Dark Souls fan, then? If he's only played DS3 then aye, spoilers - though it'll put into context some things about the
    Spoiler:
    Show


    Soul of Cinder



    Don't feel guilty! I just ramble about game music absolutely loads, it's just something I enjoy. And mainly because I see each entry as a chance to convince people game music is a legitimate genre :rofl:
    I believe so :mmm:
    Ooh

    Oh it is! I haven't been one for video games (parents banned them) but I have played halo before and I like that soundtrack a lot :hide:
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
    I believe so :mmm:
    Ooh

    Oh it is! I haven't been one for video games (parents banned them) but I have played halo before and I like that soundtrack a lot :hide:
    Banned them?! :zomg: :rip:

    Swear to god I'm bring my DS or something when I see you, we need to fix that :rofl:

    Funnily I've ever played or heard Halo, but I'm sure it is :')
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    #3.5 but not really

    If you want proof that game music can sound amazing for arbitrary reasons...listen to this.



    Sounds good, right?

    The lyrics are literally the f*cking Japanese instruction manual for Fire Emblem 1 :rofl:
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SkyRees)
    Banned them?! :zomg: :rip:

    Swear to god I'm bring my DS or something when I see you, we need to fix that :rofl:

    Funnily I've ever played or heard Halo, but I'm sure it is :'
    Yeah they're really against it
    Omg pls :woo: I used to play on my friend's ds in the library in year 7 but then they banned it lol
    I liked Mariokart

    Omg play it
    I'm terrible but I love it :lol:
    Remind me to link you to it later!!!
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
    Yeah they're really against it
    Omg pls :woo: I used to play on my friend's ds in the library in year 7 but then they banned it lol
    I liked Mariokart

    Omg play it
    I'm terrible but I love it :lol:
    Remind me to link you to it later!!!
    Oh then I have so much to show you, goddammit... :rofl:
    Mario Kart is pretty fun, we have a reallllly old version at home Mum still likes to play. So much so she now beats me at it

    Halo is for Xbox consoles, I never had one (always preferred Playstation!) so I can't ;-;
    Will do though!!
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SkyRees)
    Oh then I have so much to show you, goddammit... :rofl:
    Mario Kart is pretty fun, we have a reallllly old version at home Mum still likes to play. So much so she now beats me at it

    Halo is for Xbox consoles, I never had one (always preferred Playstation!) so I can't ;-;
    Will do though!!
    Aw I wan play :puppyeyes:

    Oh right I did not know this :hide:
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CheeseIsVeg)
    Aw I wan play :puppyeyes:

    Oh right I did not know this :hide:
    You will, promise. Missed sharing games with people, anyway Soon! :hugs:

    Is okay c:
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SkyRees)
    You will, promise. Missed sharing games with people, anyway Soon! :hugs:

    Is okay c:
    Aw :hugs: I look forward to it Sky :cube:
    Online

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SunlethSky)
    Another Dark Souls fan, then? If he's only played DS3 then aye, spoilers - though it'll put into context some things about the
    Spoiler:
    Show


    Soul of Cinder



    Don't feel guilty! I just ramble about game music absolutely loads, it's just something I enjoy. And mainly because I see each entry as a chance to convince people game music is a legitimate genre :rofl:
    Literally first thread I've ever intentionally "Watched". This is incredible detail!

    I've played all the DS's. You're right, that music is epic. I love Abyss Watchers!
 
 
 
Write a reply… Reply
Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. Oops, you need to agree to our Ts&Cs to register
  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: April 24, 2017
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Poll
Tea vs coffee
Useful resources

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Quick reply
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.