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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

Xian | Golden Sun | Ethnic Orchestral Cover

Step into the ethnic realm of Xian with this Chinese-styled track from Golden Sun.

Featuring SableProvidence on the Dizi, check out their other work! ➤

Feel free to check out the landing page with links to the recording, sheet music and more!

If you are one of my Patrons, you can now find the MIDI, XML and SIB files I created for this arrangement now available to download from Patreon!


Arranger's Note:

First heard in the village of Xian & Lama Temple in the original Golden Sun, how does Sakuraba convey the orient through music?

The first answer is, of course, pentatonicism (strictly adhering to only 5 notes) which is a common characteristic of East Asian music. Here, these 5 notes are E-G-A-B-D (E minor pentatonic), and are the only notes used in the entire track.

Another characteristic, largely one as a result of pentatonicism, is that of parallel 4ths & 5ths (i.e. material that moves together at the interval of ether a perfect 4th or 5th). The opening has an example of this, looking at the strings moving largely a perfect 4th apart (with the 3rd appearing on occasion to adhere to pentatonicism). This intervallic parallelism persists throughout the entire track.

A further element Sakuraba could draw on would be the use of authentic oriental instruments. In his original, Sakuraba displays the heavy use of drums, strings & choir, with oboe and marimba melodies - an unfortunate lack of authentic instruments due to the hardware limitations of the time. But here, I have remedied this by incorporating Dizi (a membraned-flute), Suona (a reed), Sheng (a mouth organ), Pipa (a lute) & Guzheng (a zither) - traditional Chinese instruments that significantly enhance the oriental sound.

For the first statement of the melody (0:04), it is presented in the strings, pipa and guzheng. As it repeats (0:24), we now have additional dizi, sheng & string glissandi.

Moving into the 2nd section (0:42), the suona & violins deliver a new melody, soaring atop alternating bare 5ths chords in the choir & guzheng. This progresses to a faster mallet section (1:00), introducing marimba & guzheng on the melody with more bare 5ths accompaniment. This faster material continues through to the loop.

To close, I wrote a short ending (2:33) using the opening earlier material, now solely for the oriental instruments as a pleasant finisher to this East Asian track.


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