I know this is not game musc, but it still sounds so awesome.
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I know this is not game musc, but it still sounds so awesome.
You gotta love this. It reminds me of playing Sonic on the Sega Genesis.
Anodyne is a mystery that I’m dying to unravel.
I’ve recently purchased a 2D platformer with Zelda-like qualities called Anodyne. The game is about a young man named Young. He travels across the land solving different problems, conquering obstacles, and discovering cards to collect. All of this effort will eventually lead you into a confrontation with ‘The Briar.’ Who is the ‘The Briar’? I have no clue myself. In fact, the whole world of Anodyne remains a mystery to me at the moment. I have only recently began my journey, but still I’m a bit lost as to the purpose of defeating this ‘Briar’ guy. It sounds like I’m criticizing the game, but it’s actually the other way around. Anodyne has me completely under its spell. I hardly want to stop playing it once I start. It’s the mystery of the land, the obscurity of the plot, and the indicated deceit surrounding the story that has me on the edge of my seat. I’m just hungry for more clues.
One very big clue could probably be the title itself. I looked up the word Anodyne and Google supplied me with a couple of definitions. Anodyne as an adjective means, “uncontentious or inoffensive, often deliberately so.” Anodyne as a noun means a pain-killing drug or medicine. I’m aware that the game’s website says that you’re actually traveling in his subconscious mind. Perhaps the protagonist is trapped in some sort of coma.
The music is something that deserves to be purchased. The soundtrack is in tune with the game in a way that adds so much to the world of Anodyne. You can hear the mystery, the lurking deceit, and the somewhat brokenness of the world through the music. You can really feel it.
That’s not all that has me intrigued with Anodyne. The game stresses strategy and puzzles in a way that is obviously influenced by the Zelda games. Somehow I like it more when Anodyne does it. I have a feeling strategy will play a big role in how the plot reveals itself. There are many clues in the game that emphasize deception as the player interacts more with the world. The meaning of the clues is clear, yet they still remain elusive.
The mockery and humor in the game is also a big hit with me. For example, the player starts out with a broom as a weapon. The game itself actually mocks you through dumbfounded statements made by the person helping you, and the sarcastic comments from the talking statues. It’s very refreshing for a video game to share my irony. The game had me making sardonic comments on some parts.
For instance, when I ran into the quack that calls himself a salesman.
I thought to myself, “Now that’s what I call gun control. Because I won’t be buying that gun for those prices.” Later on after I helped him with a dilemma, he has the nerve to give me this message.
I thought to myself, “Sure, but you won’t lower those prices, will you?” Not only is the game ironic and funny, but it’s also caught up with the times as well. I met a creature in the forest that informed me he has a Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp account.
You can see by now why I’ve fallen in love with this game. The different people you meet are quite the characters. Everybody has weird quirks, but that’s the beauty of it. The people never say what you might expect them to. One guy dressed in a lobster uniform felt the need to tell me that the mantis shrimp have 16 photoreceptor pigments in their eyes allowing them to see more colors than the human eye. What he said next struck a chord within me. He went on to say that it would probably be amazing and beautiful to see so many colors. But that we find enough ways to hurt each other with the colors we already have. I can’t quote him word for word, but what he said left me frozen for a minute or two. It was somewhat mind-numbing to hear a statement like that being made in a video game like this. A video game with playful graphics that’s supposed to inspire you to be the faithful hero and save the world. Except when you see comments like that being made, it really brings you back to wondering about the plot of Anodyne.
I’ll have to get back to you on that when I finish it. After all, I’ve only just begun the journey. So far, I only have one thing to say about Anodyne, and it’s a quote by Mr. Darcy from the classic Pride & Prejudice. “You have bewitched me, body and soul. And I love, I love, I love you.”
Mega Man has the best music.
I’m not a master of Mega Man games, but I love their soundtracks. One of my favorite songs is “Dr. Wily‘s Castle Part 1” theme from Mega Man II. I absolutely love the energy bouncing around on that track. The rhythm and melody sounds so intricate. They blend together so well that they sound completely wrapped up in perfect harmony with each other. Therefore, an analysis is in order. I’m going to decipher what was going on with Dr. Wily’s Castle theme.
Motif & Form
The form had me totally confused at first until I actually started paying attention with my ears. I originally wanted to say that the form is A-B-A’-B’-B-C. I think it’s A-B-C-D-B’-E with A being 16 bars long, and the other sections 8 bars long each.
I believe the first section with the riff-like melody is Section A. The repeating intervals serve as a rhythmical motif.
You hear this motif in the treble clef in Section C, and you hear it in the bass clef in Section D.
Motif in Section C:
Motif in Section D:
Then, we have the B section which is 8 bars short. The notes in the treble clef serve as a melodic motif. You can also see the same melody in the bass clef of Section C. The variations of this motif are almost strategically difficult to translate. I can look at the notes and see the patterns and the similarities. I’m just not sure if other people will agree with me. I shall try my hardest to point out the similarities in the notes.
The relationship between the half-note, the two eighths, and the dotted quarter note is the key to the motif. In the first bar, you see the half note and the two eights. In the third bar, you see the half note, an eighth, and the dotted quarter note. The notes in the third bar make a more simple version of the notes in the first and second bars. Notice that both sets of notes in the first and third bars start the same way. If you count the last tied eighth note that begins the second bar as an extension of the quarter note, then you have your dotted quarter note from the third bar. The only difference is that there’s a half dotted note in the first bar, and just a plain half note in the third bar. Yet, the exact pattern of notes is shared.
I believe this song is in A Major. I noticed it frequently borrows from the A Lydian scale by using the raised fourth. For example, you can see D# being used in the treble clef in the second bar of the song making the would-be B minor into B Major (it changed from ii into II). It’s easier for me to understand the song by thinking this way. I’ve read that in some cases II can be considered an equivalent to V. I understand now how the song can hold its own without the dominant V being used if II is also seen as a dominant chord (and it is the dominant in this case).
The chord progression in Section A is Cm – Amaj – Bmaj – Cm. In other words, it’s iii – I – II – iii.
The progression is DM7 – Cm7 – DM7 – Bmaj – Cm (IV – iii – IV – II – iii) in Section B. The first two bars accentuates the D note in the bass clef. The next two bars repeat the same gesture with the C note. The first two bars in the second phrase stress the D note once again. The third bar of the second phrase goes into Bmaj with the B in the bass. The last bar ends with C minor as C is repeated often in the bass.
Some of the chords in Section C are a bit ambiguous. The progression in the first phrase is Cm – Amaj – Cm with C minor continuing in the last two bars of the phrase. The first bar of the second phrase could be a compound chord consisting of Emaj and Bmaj leading into the next bar with the same chord. It’s funny to throw the two dominant chords together. The last two bars are C minor.
The progression in Section D is Cm – Bmaj – Cm. C minor spans across the first three bars in the first phrase. B Major is used in the last bar of the first phrase, and in the first two bars of the second phrase. C minor once again appears in the last two bars of the second phrase. The progression is iii – II – iii.
The progression for the first phrase in Section E is Amaj – BM7 – Cm. C minor is used in the last two bars. The same progression can be seen in the second phrase as well.
When I hear this song from now on, my ears won’t be overwhelmed by the composition. The song seems to be a lot more simple than I thought it would be. The composition mostly uses three chords (Cm, Amaj, Bmaj). The first section is 16 bars long and the other sections are 8 bars long. It sounds very simple on paper, but it sounds so good at the same time. Simple is the best way to go.
Picture By: Cam Evans
I love the motif in Midna’s Desperate Hour.
This is a really hard song for me to analyze. The song is “Midna’s Desperate Hour” from the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess soundtrack. The reason I wanted to analyze this song is because the bass melody in this song is similar to the bass melody of one of my own songs. I’m really focused on how the song and the form works. I will be honest and confess that I’m not too sure how to analyze the harmony, because it seems so ambiguous to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone comes along and corrects me on whatever I find. There could be compound chords or anything in this composition that I can’t see. Still even though it’s difficult for me, I love this song and I want to try. For anyone who wants to follow along, you can get the sheet music here.
First, I noticed that this isn’t even a long song. It’s not even in a complex form. ABAC is what I believe it to be. The intro is four bars long, section A is 16 bars long, section B is 8 bars long, and section C is 16 bars long with a 4 bar outro at the end that leads back into the intro. It sounds long and complicated, but if you look at the sheet music and listen, it’s not that long at all.
The intro of this song can be seen as a motif for the bass. The only other time I see the 6 eighth notes descend is at the very end of the C section, right before the song repeats itself. Other than those descending notes in the fourth bar, the upward motion of the melody will be heard and seen throughout the song.
The first phrase consists of 8 bars. There are variations from the notes in the first phrase that pop up everywhere in the song. Not only are there different variations of the motif, but the variations replicate the melodic contour as well.
In my opinion, I see this as the motif because the sound of these four notes make the song what it is. They set the ground rules so to speak. Notice the contour of the melody. It starts at A, jumps up a sixth to F, travels a half-step down to E, and finally goes down a third to C. You can see this same contour replicated in the first phrase of the B section.
The four notes use the same contour as the motif. The half and quarter notes that were used in the motif can also be seen as a different version here with the half note being shortened to a tied quarter note and the quarter note being lengthened to another tied quarter note. The four notes are not used at the beginning of the first phrase, but instead at the end. Gives it a different sound, yet the song never loses its familiarity.
The second motif that gets repeated throughout the composition is in the last four bars of the first phrase. I call it the second motif, because it’s significant in this song.
This motif is really precedent in the C section. It shows its true colors in the 3rd and 4th phrase of section C.
Nobuo Uematsu will make me leave the V behind for the VII.
Anyone remember the Zanarkand theme from Final Fantasy X? No, not the “To Zanarkand” theme. I mean the song that plays the first time you see the haunting ruins of Zanarkand. When “Someday the Dream Will End” plays while you’re running through the ruins, it really hits home that the journey is almost over and the dream of Final Fantasy X truly is about to end.
I chose this song to analyze this time, because I’ve always been fascinated by the mystical and otherworldly feeling in the music that held me in one place for too long in the FFX universe. I’ve listened to a lot of video game music and even though I’ve come across a thousand songs that I’ve fallen in love with, “Someday the Dream Will End” will always remain in my top 5 of favorites. This is the perfect time to analyze the song so that I can finally understand how the music is able to sound so enchanting. You can find the sheet music here.
This is the first two bars of the song. The first six notes in the first bar of the song is the motif of the song. Or you can even say that the first two bars makes the motif. I shall explain why.
This particular pattern of notes pop up throughout the song in various ways. In fact, the whole first section (section A) can be seen as a template for the entire composition. I see different variations everywhere in the song and I will point them out.
The notes in the first two bars of the B section copies this pattern above completely. In the B section, the notes of the original motif have been lengthened and the pitches move down an octave. Instead of the quarter and two eighth notes as you see in the original motif of the A section (in the picture above), you see a half and two quarter notes in the B section. The pitches are still D-E-F E-F-G, but they have moved down an octave.
The first two bars of the C section is a variation of the motif in both the A and B sections. The three notes in the first bar of section C have the same half note and two quarter rhythm as the rhythm in the motif of the B section. The notes are just played backwards.
The first four notes in the second bar are a replica of the rhythm in the third bar of section A. The melody has the same contour with different pitches. Although, the first three notes of both melodies match each other (A-G-F).The fourth note is an eighth instead of a half note, but the similarities are still there.
As you can see for yourself, there are a ton of variations throughout the score and they’ve all come from one simple melody.
I believe this song is in the key of D minor. For one thing, the first chord in the entire song is a D minor chord. That’s a big clue. Another reason why is because it sounds like a minor scale. I know that major scales have the potential to have that ‘sad sound’ minor scales have, but I’m sticking with D minor on this one. If we were to look at this score from a theoretical point of view, which we will a little, I’d say that I’m a bit surprised that Nobuo Uematsu only used the V in the first section of the song three times and used the VII exclusively throughout the entire composition. Not only did he not exclusively use V, but he used v which is the minor version. I’m surprised, because I’ve just been brainwashed into thinking that the V trumps all and everything and it MUST be used exclusively in order for the song to sound good and IS OVER 9,000!!!…..If my sarcasm isn’t already a big enough clue, I am currently in the process of being more open-minded when it comes to music….that means I don’t really think of V in that light anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I still think it’s great and I like to use it, but I’ve knocked it off of whatever pedestal I’ve had it on. Actually, I’ve done that to music theory in general. I’m just surprised by the fact that Uematsu only used it three times, because I wrongly assumed that every other composer had it on a pedestal too. Clearly, I have a lot to learn. Moving on now….As I said before, I shall still speak theoretically from time to time and use Roman numerals to explain some things. But only for the people that are either big on theory and prefer reading an analysis that way, or for the people who only understand music under those terms.
It’s interesting to see the way the song starts, and to hear it as well. Be mindful that the bass is, at the moment, written with the treble clef. I missed that the first time I looked at the sheet music. In traditional composition, it is common to use I-V as the first two chords to establish the scale you are playing in. However, Uematsu uses the tonic which is the D minor chord (i) and then he uses a compound chord made of the C and F major chords. After studying it for a couple of minutes, it actually made a little sense to me to mix these two chords together and use them after the tonic. For one thing, F major (III) has a more positive sound by it being a major chord which adds a nicer sound to the C major chord. The C major chord (VII) is seen (in my opinion) as the dominant in this composition. So, it is literally going from the tonic to the dominant. By there being a compound chord that are both major chords, it just makes it sound a lot stronger and makes it sound really pretty as well.
From the dominant it heads directly into the Bbmaj7 chord (VI), and from there into the Am7 chord (v). Technically, the first four chords are i – VII/III – VI – v. The song goes from the tonic into the compound major which includes the dominant. From the dominant, it goes into a major sixth chord that heads into a minor fifth. Personally, I’m a big fan of the sixth chord. It has a very sweet sound that I’m very fond of. Apparently, Uematsu must like it as much as I do since you’ll be seeing it a lot in this composition. I noticed he likes seventh chords a lot too.
The next four chords are even more interesting than the first four chords. The ‘answer’ to the motif starts off with the Gmin7 chord (iv) that heads back into an Amin7 chord (v). Here’s where it gets interesting. It heads from Am7 into a Bmin7(b5) chord that heads into a Csus4 chord. Basically, the progression is iv – v – bvi – VII. I guess that would be a simple way of putting it when it’s actually more complex than that.
The Bm7(b5) chord is written as a B minor seventh chord with a flat fifth (B – D – F – A). The notes look simple enough but the fact that it has a flat fifth makes it a diminished chord. A B major seventh chord would’ve looked like this: B – D# – F# – A. A B minor seventh chord would’ve looked like this: B – D – F# – A. So the fact that there aren’t any sharps anywhere in the chord means it’s diminished. Not only is it a diminished chord but it is also a non-scale chord. Notice that I’ve said before that the progression is iv – v – bvi – VII. I used bvi to describe the Bm7(b5) chord because it isn’t a B flat chord which is a note that is included in the D minor scale (D – E – F – G – A – Bb – C – D). It is B minor instead of Bb minor. Therefore, I’ve named it bvi because it is a flat sixth chord according to the D minor scale. Get it? In a way, you could see it as a chord borrowed from the D Dorian scale (D – E – F – G – A – B – C – D). Borrowing from modal scales (Ionian, Dorian, Phyrgian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian) can be seen as a jazz technique. That’s what I hear anyway.
Going from the Bm7(b5) chord, the progression heads into the Csus4 chord (C – F – G). Sus chords are also seen as jazz chords. C is also acting as the dominant. It’s very fascinating to see how the weak dominant which I’ve dubbed as v (Am7) is going back and forth with the strong dominant which I’ve dubbed as VII (Cmaj) in this first section of the song. It almost seems like they’re both battling for dominance with the C major chord beating the A minor chord out. We haven’t gotten to the next two sections yet, but I can tell you that VII is mostly used as the dominant. As a matter of fact, the perfect example lies in the picture above. Am7 is at the end of the second bar with Csus4 at the end of the first phrase (first four bars). Then in the next two bars, Am7 leads into Gm7 only for that chord to lead into a dominant C7 chord. Yup, A minor is getting its ass kicked.
The next five bars can be considered the last phrase of section A. The first phrase ends with Csus4 and it begins the next phrase with a Bb7 major chord (VI). It doesn’t have it written on the sheet music as a seventh chord, but there is an A note added in the bass. Therefore, I’m naming it as a seventh chord. Bbmaj7 to be exact; it is not a dominant seventh (would be: Bb – D – F – Ab). The progression goes from Bb major to the weak dominant Am7. From there, it goes to Gm7 (iv) which leads into the strong dominant C7 (C – E – G – Bb). The C7 chord is a dominant because Bb makes it one. So far, the progression of the first two bars of the last phrase is VI – v – iv – VII. From the C7 chord, the song goes to Fmaj7 (III) and then into that flat sixth (bvi = B) from earlier. Not only is this a dominant seventh chord, but this flat sixth is also a B7sus4 chord (B – E – F# – A). Want to know what’s funny? If you look in the treble staff right above the chord, the melodic eighth notes are C# and D. If you add C# to the B7sus4 chord, then you could also see it as B7sus2 (B – C# – F# – A) as well. In the end, the notes gradually end up at D as a half note to add to the sustaining B7sus4 chord. The notes in the very last bar still maintain that sus2 and sus4 action, along with the D still being there. The notes are D – E – C# – D. Confusing? Well, that’s chromaticism. And it sounds so darn pretty, don’t cha think?
The next two sections are kind of dull. It’s not that they don’t sound as pretty, but there’s just more repetition than anything. Section A just happens to have more action I guess. As we move onto section B, I want you to notice that the bass clef is used for the bass. Section B’s first phrase starts off with a Bbmaj7 chord, goes straight to the seventh tonic chord, back to the major sixth chord, onto to the tonic again, and finally goes to Cm7, then to the final F7 dominant seventh. The progression for the first four bars is VI – i – VI – i – vii – III. The III acts as a dominant at the end of the first phrase while the usually dominant VII chord has been reduced to a minor seventh chord. This kind of gives it the sound of a deceptive cadence. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the 3rd note in a chord is sometimes placed in the melody while the other notes are in the bass (Bass: Bb-F-A, Treble: D | Bass: D-A-C, Treble: F).
The second phrase begins with the VI major chord as well. The major sixth chord goes into the dominant VII. From the VII, the progression goes into the diminished flat sixth, then to Gm7, and finally into another dominant C7. I believe there’s a mistake with the B7sus4 chord. I don’t see the sus4 anywhere. Had the D in the treble clef been an E, it would make sense. Sadly, I believe this is a typo either with the note itself, or with the name of the chord. I believe the chord is simply a diminished B7 chord (B – D – F – A). The simple progression of the second phrase is VI – VII – bvi – iv – VII.
Section C has nearly the exact same chord progression as Section B. The only difference is that the tonic in the second bar of the first phrase in section B has been replaced by the dominant VII chord circled in the second bar of the first phrase of section C. The motif has changed for section C as we discussed earlier. The first three notes in the first bar have the same rhythm as the rhythm in the first bar of the B section. The notes are just played backward with different pitches.
The very last section is a repeat of section C. The differences are the same as the differences between section B and section B’. The notes in the bass are changed. The bass in section C’ has been augmented to a repeated chord of 8 eighth notes. The chord progression has not changed. It is the same progression from the original section C.
Now we start the song all over again. Simple, right? I love how complex the song sounds, and yet after the analysis it seems so simple. I’m glad that I now have a better understanding of this song since it is one of my favorites. I’ve actually learned a neat trick or two. I’d like to compose with seventh chords and try putting the 3rd in the treble and leave the other notes in the bass. I’d also like to compose with more VI chords. There are a lot of good examples of variation and repetition in this song, and both are something I need to really study and work on. It’s funny. I said I wouldn’t make this analysis as long as my last one. It still ended up being over 2500 words long. What can I say? I love music.
If anyone is interested in hearing the audio version of this sheet music, I could put together an arrangement to better follow along with the sheet music. Please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, we can follow along with the original “Someday the Dream Will End” composed by Nobuo Uematsu from the Final Fantasy X OST. Enjoy!
First Picture By: Nikita
The narrator in Exoplanet: First Contact has funny dialogue.
Exoplanet: First Contact has a new trailer that includes funny voice acting narratives, horrendous alien monsters, and intriguing gameplay. I’m really impressed with the sound effects and the gameplay. I would rather there be a locking mechanism in the game to lock onto enemies as you shoot them, but that’s only because my aim is so bad. The sound effects really caught my attention. The music sounds really good and it fits the mood of being stranded on an alien planet with aliens and monsters trying to kill you. The monster growls are something to be feared. Especially if you can’t see if one is going to attack you from behind or not. There’s something startling about hearing the growls before you can actually see the monster. The gunshots actually sound really good too. I don’t like to see a gun being shot, and it sounds like a pen smacking a table. I give them two thumbs up for the sound effects. The graphics are something to be admired. The textures in the game have me wondering what engine Alersteam is using. The narrator is hilarious to me. “…drinking and taking shits…I can smell the civilization in the air.” I laughed when he said that.
‘Answers’ is a Final Fantasy English theme I actually like.
I think I’ve stated before that the Final Fantasy series is lacking likable English theme songs. Well, I’ve finally found one that I like, and I think it’s the best out of all of them. First, let me state my case on the matter.
The very first English theme in the Final Fantasy series is “Eyes On Me” sung by Faye Wong on the Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack. I know a lot of people might be really mad at me for saying so, but I just do not like this theme. The lyrics are nice, the vocals are exquisite, and the music is great as usual. Still, I just can’t get into it. The second English theme is “Melodies of Life” sung by Emiko Shiratori from the Final Fantasy IX soundtrack. I’m being completely honest when I say it sounds like they were trying to copy the “Eyes On Me” theme from FFVIII with “Melodies of Life”. Technically, you can already tell I didn’t like that one either. The third and fourth English themes came at once on the Final Fantasy X-2 soundtrack. “Real Emotion” and “1,000 Words” were okay, better than the last two, but they weren’t my all time favorite. I think Jade from Sweetbox did a great job on the English themes, but I actually enjoyed Koda Kumi’s Japanese versions a lot more than the English versions. It has nothing to do with the singer, but more so the lyrical content of the songs. The fifth English theme, “Kiss Me Goodbye”, sung by Angela Aki comes in second place when it comes to ballads in the FF series. “1,000 Words” beats it by far in my opinion. Although, I have to admit the vocals in “Kiss Me Goodbye” blew me away. Again, my choices have more to do with the lyrical content than the vocalists. Last, but not least, the sixth English theme from the Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack. I could never tell if people were more upset that Leona Lewis sang the theme, or that “My Hands” sounded like a pop radio hit. Personally, I felt like she did good, but my hands felt like they wanted to cover my ears when I first heard the theme. I think it was a poor choice for FFXIII, because not only was it not written specifically for this game (it was written for Leona’s Echo album) it just didn’t fit the mood of the game in my opinion. They made the same mistake with the seventh English theme sung by Charice for Final Fantasy XIII-2. I favored “New World” over “My Hands,” and that was only because I really like Charice’s singing. It not only had the same pop quality as “My Hands” did, but it had horrible lyrics too. I think these themes failed me personally, because I believe that a song has to have great lyrics with great flow. You know what I mean? In most of these themes, the lyrics either don’t flow the way I expect them to, they seem to have no flow at all, or I don’t like the way they flow period. I can’t tell you what the problem is. This is the only way I can explain it: The lyrics aren’t all that great, and they don’t flow with the music properly.
Now, I had long given up my hope for a Final Fantasy English theme that I could actually fancy. Then, here comes the rebirth of Final Fantasy XIV with an English theme that has me completely obsessed with it. “Answers” sung by Susan Calloway is the theme for the new Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The vocal ability of Susan Calloway is something to be admired. The woman can sing her ass off. That was the first thing I noticed when I heard the song. The second thing I noticed was how intrigued I became by the lyrics she sang. For once in the history of all Final Fantasy video game music English themes, here’s a theme that is not a ballad. Has anybody else, besides myself, noticed that? While “Real Emotion” is not a ballad and sounds more like a dance hit, it is still a love song like the rest of them. “Answers” with its male choir, Uemastu’s Pink Floyd rock influenced style, and the incredible story written in its lyrics is nowhere near being a love song. And at the end of the day, maybe that’s the real reason why I love it so much.
Picture By: pop culture geek
Music Analysis of Dearly Beloved
Let me start by saying that I am NOT an expert at analyzing game music or any kind of music nor will I pretend to be. I’m doing this, because I enjoy the satisfaction I feel after studying a composition and walking away with an understanding of what’s going on. I’m also doing this to improve what little compositional skills I have. I’ve read somewhere that the best way to learn is to teach. Luckily, I won’t be teaching anyone since I suck at teaching. However, I came up with the bright idea to write a ‘guide’ so-to-speak. I wanted to make this analysis something I can come back to and read whenever I feel the need to. Usually, I just analyze a piece of music by studying its sheet music and then I move on. Afterwards, I wonder if I learned anything at all really. To remedy this problem, I’ll be writing my thoughts about the composition on paper…not literally, but you know what I mean. Hopefully this will challenge me, and actually help me to improve in some areas. If it actually helps, then I’ll be posting a lot of these from now on.
I’m going to be analyzing Yoko Shimomura‘s Dearly Beloved. This is the version from Kingdom Hearts II. I chose this piece to analyze, because it’s the song that inspired me to decide on which career path I wanted to take in music. Yoko Shimomura is also one of my favorite composers. I think her compositional style is intriguing, and it always manages to impress me. Maybe one of these days I’ll sit down and analyze her compositional style to better understand what makes her music stand out. If I follow through with that idea, I’ll be sure to post it up here.
There are three things in particular I want to study in this composition. I’ve been having serious issues with melody, form, and harmony (in other words, the whole she-bang). This song is the most harmonically pleasing to my ears, and I’ve always wondered how I could replicate that effect. With that being said, let’s begin.
I believe that this song is in ABA form. I will pinpoint where A begins, ends, and I’ll do the same with B. The song starts with a 6-bar intro that also includes a small part of the motif on the treble clef in the second and third bars. After the intro, section A begins on bar 7:
Section A is 8 bars long consisting of two four-bar phrases. Remember that section A starts on bar 7. The first phrase starts at bar 7 and ends on bar 10. The second phrase starts on bar 11 and ends on bar 14:
Section B is also 8 bars long with an extra measure added in which makes it 9 bars long. This is fan-made sheet music. In my opinion, it seems to mix components of the original composition with components of the piano version. I’m mostly trying to analyze the original composition so I tend to ignore bar 23. When I skip over it and go into section A’ from section B, the timing fits with the original composition.
Section A’ is 10 bars long, and is actually 8 bars long if you want to repeat the song over and over like the original composition. The first phrase starts on bar 24 and ends on bar 27. The second phrase starts on bar 28 and ends on bar 31 (if you want to repeat the song):
This is the motif. The notes in the motif are C – G – F – D with C and F falling on the strong beats, and these notes repeat in the next bar. The pattern of the notes starting from C is down a fourth, down a second, and then up a sixth. Up, down, down, up. Sadly, I wouldn’t have paid any attention to the intervals in the motif had I not noticed the same pattern with the four quarter notes in the intro:
These two bars in the intro are nearly a complete replica of the original motif. They each share the same pattern of down a fourth, down a second (disregarding the added notes such as the high G on the second beat in the first bar and the middle C on the first beat in the second bar). However, the last quarter note just so happens to go down a second instead of up a sixth. Regardless of that fact, they both share the same pattern.
Now, the first phrase consists of our two-bar motif, and our two-bar ‘answer’ to the motif. The pattern changes in our ‘answer’. Instead of the usual up, down, down, up, the melody goes up, down, up, down. Then, the last part of the ‘answer’ goes down, down, down, down. I know I’m probably using elementary terms to explain things, but it’s better than nothing right? In the first bar, you have the notes Eb – D – G – F. In the second bar, the notes are Eb – D – C – Bb. I think it’s interesting that Eb leads on both bars. This is our melodic ‘answer’ to the motif:
Put the motif and the ‘answer’ together, and you have our first phrase. Notice the shape or contour of the melody. The motif has an inverted arch to its shape, and the last part of the phrase kind of ascends and then descends:
The first three bars of this phrase are repeated in the next four bars only the notes are doubled using lower octave notes. The fourth bar also ends differently here. The melody in the last bar ends with the motif pattern (up, down, down, up):
After this phrase, our section A melody ends. Simple, right?
The section B melody is the flute’s part in the original composition. I have a feeling that the motif in the B section is actually just a variation of the motif in section A. We’ll find that out in a moment when we analyze it. For now, we’ll use the name, ‘second motif’, to lessen confusion. The motif in section B consists of a few chords. The melody nearly has the same pitches as the first motif. The rhythm is just different. It has more of a block chord style:
If you pay attention to what notes play on which beats then the melody almost completely follows the pitches of the first motif. The notes in the first motif are C – G – F – D. The chords in the first bar are Ab Maj – Bb Maj (I’m involving the second set of eighth notes with the chord from the first set of eighth notes). The note C is the third in the Ab Maj chord, and the note D is the third in the Bb Maj chord. The dotted half notes fall on the first beat, and the first set of eighth notes fall on the fourth beat. In the second bar, the chord and intervals are F min – C and G – E and E. The notes C and G make a fifth, and the notes E and E make an octave. The F min chord falls on the first beat, the fifth interval falls on the second beat, and the octave falls on the fourth beat. The first beat being stronger emphasizes the F min chord. The notes C – G – F – D occurs in the second bar of our first motif as well. The note C is the fifth in the F min chord, and the note G resembles the fifth in the interval C and G. The D does not fit with the octave. I assume switching pitches is a form of variation.
The ‘answer’ to the second motif follows the same pattern as the first two bars. I’m starting to wonder if these are two-bar phrases rather than four-bar phrases. The first bar in the ‘answer’ has the same dotted half-note chord falling on the first beat, and it has the eighth chords falling on the fourth beat. The rhythms change in the second bar. Notice there are eighths being used on the first beat instead of the quarter-note chord that was used in the second bar of the motif. This is a great example of variation:
The ‘answer’ to the second motif follows the same pitches as the ‘answer’ from the first motif. The four notes in the first bar of the ‘answer’ of the first
motif are Eb – G – D – F. The chords and intervals in our ‘answer’ of the second motif are Eb Maj – F and A, G and B. The Eb note is the tonic in the Eb Maj chord, and the F note falling on the fourth beat is the tonic in the F and A interval that is also falling on the fourth beat. In the second bar, the intervals are G and G – F and F – G and G. Now, in the second bar of our ‘answer’ in the first motif the four notes are Eb – D – C – Bb. The notes from the ‘answer’ of the first motif don’t match up with the intervals in the ‘answer’ of the second motif. However, switching pitches is also seen as a form of variation. Although I don’t think it applies here. I think the only variation that applies to this ‘answer’ is the similarities shared with the rhythms of the second motif at the beginning of this phrase. I’m going to combine the four bars to show you what I mean:
This is the first phrase of the B section. The dotted half-notes and the eighth notes are shared between the first two bars and last two bars. The last bar of the ‘answer’ might differ from the last bar of the motif, but the rhythm still follows the same pattern. The eighth notes replace the quarter notes on the first beat, but the half notes in both bars still fall on the second beat. As I said before, it’s a good and simple example of variation.
The last two bars of this phrase will look differently from other sheet music you find online. I modified the last two bars so that they’d sound more like the original composition instead of the piano version. Personally, I like the way the last bar adopts the pattern of the motif. By doing this, the melody eases its way into section A again.
The section A’ melody is the same melody from the second phrase in section A. The melody has added in octaves and it has been lengthened to make section A’ longer, so it follows the same patterns that the melody in section A followed. The melody looks like this and ends with this:
I believe the key of this composition is in Eb Major. At first glance, I thought it might have been in C minor, but I think it’s in Eb Major after a closer look. The intro seems ambiguous at first. Well, it does to me. It uses the AbMaj chord exclusively throughout the entire intro. We can safely say the intro begins with IV. The C is doubled in the treble clef, and in the bass the E is the root and the A is on top. The E and A are tied together over two bars, and the A is tied over three bars. In the 5th and 6th bars, the C is prevalent. We can assume that it’s either a continuation of the AbMaj chord or it’s a C min chord. I think it’s still the AbMaj chord at work:
I like to reduce the notes in order to figure out the chord progression. If we analyze by simply looking at the first and third beats, it’s much easier. This is not the only way to go about it, but it’s the way I prefer personally. It’s very difficult for me to figure out the chord progressions in this song.
After studying a reduced version of this composition, I believe the chord progressions for the first section are ii – V – I – vi. I came to that conclusion based on the major beats. In the first bar, the notes (in order from bottom to top) A, C, E, and F make me think it’s a Fmin chord which would make it ii. The notes B, C, D, and F in the second bar make me think it’s a Bbmaj9 chord (C being the 9) which would make it V. The notes E, E, B, and G in the third bar make me think it’s the tonic Ebmaj chord. The notes E, E, B, and C in the fourth bar make me think it’s a Cmin7 chord which would make it vi. Then again, it could be the tonic chord again in the last bar with the C acting as a passing note. The progression would simply repeat itself in the second phrase:
The chord in the second bar could be the altered bass chord Fmin/B, or it could be the Bmaj chord with the 9th and 11th added into the chord. The former doesn’t really make sense, so I’ll go with the latter. The next two bars really stress the tonic, so I can only assume that’s what it is. This progression starts out repeating itself in the second phrase with IV – V in the first two bars. Then, the next two bars appear to focus on the Cmin chord. It looks to be Cmin7 in the third bar, and just Cmin in the fourth bar. The chord progressions for the first phrase would be IV – V – I – I, and the chord progression for the second phrase would be IV – V – vi – vi indicating a deceptive cadence.
The chord progression in section A’ is just plain confusing. It looks like the Fmin chord is playing again in the first bar of the first phrase. The second bar is confusing. The notes B, C, E, and F are mind boggling. It could be a Cmin chord with the E being the third and the B being the seventh. The F note is just throwing me off. Maybe the F can be seen as a passing tone. The chord could start out C min on the first beat, then it switches to Csus4 on the third beat. It might not be a Cmin chord at all. It could be an Fsus2 chord. That would make the beginning of the progression be ii – iisus2 which is kind of weird. I think I’m going to say it’s an Cmin7 chord which would then make the progression start out as ii – vi which is still weird. Perhaps it still follows the same progression from the first section, and I’m just reading it wrong. I’m completely perplexed with this chord:
The chord in the third bar is the tonic, and the chord in the fourth bar is the Cmin chord. That would make the progression for the first phrase of this section ii – vi – I – vi. That progression repeats itself in the second phrase as well.
I’ve learned that the song is in ABA form and each section is 8 bars long. I’ve learned that motifs and melodies can be simple and compositions can be easily expanded through variation. I’ve learned that chord progressions confuse me to death and that I need to work more on that. At the end of the day, I’m not a musical genius. I’m just trying to better myself. I’m glad to have analyzed this song, because I love it so much. When I listen to it now, I feel like I understand everything that’s going on. I feel more in tune with the music itself.
What do you think? If anyone has any suggestions, comments, or corrections, please feel free to make them known.
First Picture By: seyed mostafa zamani