New Arrangement: "Felix Battle Theme" (Golden Sun: The Lost Age)
Here to bring an end to the year - the epic Felix's Battle Theme, now remixed for an orchestral cover.
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"Functioning as the general battle theme for The Lost Age, how does Sakuraba convey intensity, aggression and energy?
Like many of his battle tracks, we get an introduction (0:03). Here, it begins with an intense series of ascending diminished 7th chords (e.g. C-Eb-F#-A), creating an exceptionally crunchy ambiguous sound. The tempo ("speed") is also rather fast at 160 beats per minute, and melodically the track is packed with rapid 16th notes. Altogether, they create an instantaneous vivid energy - very suitable for a battle.
After the introduction, we shift into F# Aeolian (F#-G#-A-B-C#-D-E) with a grand string melody outlining a major 7th chord (0:07; D-F#-A-C#) alongside a descending harmony. Here, I have expanded this string material with numerous countermelodies and complementary chromaticism.
As we progress into the 2nd half of the phrase (0:12), we expect another 4-measure phrase. But this is a battle track! Thus, we get a 3-measure phrase instead, interrupting the previously established regular phrasing. The trigger for this interruption (0:15) is an intense clash of ascending and descending diminished 7th arpeggios (D-F-Ab-B).
This chord is used as a pivot to modulate from F# to A Aeolian (A-B-C-D-E-F-G) - a tertiary shift up a (you guessed it) 3rd. Here, a lyrical oboe takes over the string melodic role while a glockenspiel provides the subtle countermelody from Sakuraba's original. As the phrase enters its 2nd half again (0:22), once more the phrasing is cut short - this time to merely 2 measures - as the strings reclaim their melodic role with some additional added-note harmonies (e.g. major 9ths; 0:24; C-E-G-D).
At 0:25, we begin the pre-climax climb - an exciting passage of fleeting string material, newly added syncopated brass, and additional snare drum counter-rhythms as we slowly ascend harmonically from B to C to D to D# diminished 7th (D#-F#-A-C) accompanied by a swift woodwind scale and brass crescendos.
We have reached the climax (0:31), now in E Aeolian (E-F#-G-A-B-C-D). Here, the strings proudly perform an incredible melody involving 2nd and 6th clashes (e.g. E-F#, C-E-A, and B-D#-G). Accompanying this is our good friend the oboe, now returning with a glockenspiel and harp to provide the classic Sakuraba arpeggio movement, all the while the remaining instruments distort the rhythm with syncopation (e.g. 3 against 2).
This is the first time we get our long-promised regular phrasing (a full 8-measure phrase goes undisturbed). And at 0:43, it even manages to loop for another full 8-measures uninterrupted as the trumpets takeover the string melody, and the strings provide a new countermelody in 3rds. As we conclude in B major, we drop down via a plagal cadence (IV - I; B to F#) for our loop.
On the whole, quite a short battle track (akin to Colosso's Battle Theme), but nonetheless exciting in so short a time!"