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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

Alone (Sheba's Theme) | Golden Sun | Orchestral Cover

Prepare your tissues and bring on the tears; we're all about to cry along with this orchestral cover of Alone (also known as Sheba's Theme) from Golden Sun.

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:

"One of the saddest themes of the franchise, alongside "Sorrow and Regret" ( - both in the same key!), how does Sakuraba create a tragic atmosphere through music?

To begin, we open in a minor key (Em; E-G-B). Minor keys are your cheat sheet to creating tragic emotional music, although it is very possible to do so in a major key as well.

This minor tonality is combined with an extremely delicate instrumentation; Sakuraba's original was scored merely for strings and a celesta-like instrument. I complemented this by utilizing various bright mallet instruments (singing bowls, hand bells, vibraphone, glockenspiel, celesta, etc.) and expanding the accompanying forces to include soft (yet assertive) brass.

Beginning in E minor (0:03), we quickly drop down to D major with a touch of contrary motion (the parts moving away from each other; note the E dropping to a D, and the G climbing to a D). Symbolically, outward contrary motion denotes things moving away from one another, akin to Sheba being perpetually separated from her people. This harmony moves to B major in 1st inversion (D♯-F♯-B) which can safely return us to our home tonic of Em via a perfect cadence (V-i; B major to E minor).

We swirl for a bit around these two chords, before falling to our good friend the submediant (chord VI; here, C major; C-E-G; 0:15), which jumps surprisingly up an augmented 2nd interval (enharmonically a minor 3rd spelt differently) from C to D♯ - an extremely stark jump, as we return to the tonic.

From here (0:19), the material is repeated with arpeggiated development in the bassline. To complement this, I expanded the instrumentation, and reinstated the classic Sakuraba echoing technique prominent throughout the entire OST (and early 8/16-bit music in general).

As this section closes, we get another repeat of this material with some further development (0:36). Here, strings and choir are added with doleful countermelodies. I added various semitonal dissonances to further invoke this tragic aesthetic (e.g. F♯ + G at 0:42 in the violins). Towards the end, the new strings treat us to a gorgeous major 7th chord (C-E-G-B; 0:48) as we transition into the climax (0:52).

Here, the opening material disappears and we are thrust into an orchestral passage of brass, strings and choir. Although it commences in E minor, we quickly adventure to various distant keys; D minor (1:05) to F♯ minor via a tertiary modulation (1:09) and back to D minor (1:13). These rather distant keys again signify Sheba's inherent distancing from her people. In this climax, I also expanded the chordal harmonies to include various missing notes (e.g. E♯ at 1:10) to bolster these utterly melancholic harmonies.

As the section closes (1:17), I decided to add a brief moment of silence rather than looping instantly - an effort to emphasize the final swelling chord and enhance its trailing impact.

And to close us off (2:35), I wrote a brief closing phrase referencing some earlier material, now with additional soli instruments (Schindler's List maaay have popped into my mind here) before culminating on a final E minor chord that slowly swells and tails off into the distant nothingness.

And for fun, I made a little music box version of this arrangement as well ➤"


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