New Arrangement: "Festival in Izumo" from Golden Sun: The Lost Age (2002)
We have slain the Serpent, rescued Susa & Kushinada, and now we can celebrate with a glorious festival, now with an orchestra to cover us.
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"In short, Izumo is a representation of ancient Japanese culture. Through its pentatonic melodies, architecture, and even the shape of the island itself, all of these point towards Japan.
Therefore, Japanese elements were of the utmost importance for this arrangement. The original track was remarkably sparse, only consisting of a percussive ostinato and single melodic instrument, with near total absence of harmony. As such, there was far more room for expansion than I would usually have when tackling these arrangements.
Since this percussive ostinato is a crucial characteristic of the track, the arrangement begins with this ostinato on its own (0:02). When our melodic instrument arrives (0:10), I matched it closely to Sakuraba's track by placing it in the Piccolo Oboe ("Piccoloboe") - the rare highest of oboe instruments - which can be taken by the flute if not available due to its scarcity. These two elements (percussion and oboe) continue for some time, almost identically to Sakuraba's original outside of additional harp flourishes.
Development commences at the conclusion of the first phrase (0:26) where more Japanese elements begin to enter, including a 17-stringed koto and string pizzicatos in 4ths/5ths, complementing pentatonicism (using only 5 notes). Here, harmony is also added for the first time, outlining an E pentatonic modality (E-G-A-B-D) with some added notes for some extra spice (C♯; 0:35; suggesting E Dorian).
Harmonically, we climb through E-G-A-Am-Bm, all remaining relatively close to the pentatonic center (E-G-A-B-D). The C♯ - C♮ progression strays from true pentatonicism, but I felt that it contributed far more excitement to the harmony than had I remained strict to pentatonicism. Towards the end of the phrase, a piccolo is added to double the melody (0:39). By 0:45, the strings develop with more movement, with the violins moving in parallel 4ths and 5ths, again complementing pentatonicism and Japanese elements.
Here, I made a decision that I've only done twice before (in "Sorrow and Regret" & "Jupiter Lighthouse") - I extended the duration of Sakuraba's track. Originally, the track looped at 0:47, but I took the liberty of repeating the entire track to allow for additional development and to get the most out of this material.
As such, this 2nd half of the track (0:51 - 1:27) is structurally a repeat of the 1st (0:10 - 0:47), but now with the strings playing with the bow ("arco"), additional tambourine ostinati, and additional woodwind support from bassoons and clarinet.
By 1:10, the harmony alters slightly, shifting up to G rather than remaining on E (0:30). The clarinet soars up to the major 3rd (B), while the strings shift from their ostinati and into sustained chords to anchor Sakuraba's original melody, now found in piccolo, piccoloboe and koto. All the while the drums and harp continue the rhythmic ostinato that has remained uninterrupted.
We get one final suggestion of E Dorian with a shift to A major (1:23; A-C♯-E) before we conclude with a final statement of the percussion ostinato, allowing a loop back to the beginning.
Overall, very surprised how this one turned out considering I hadn't programmed a koto before, and drums have always caused me problems in mixing but for some reason gave little trouble this time. Nevertheless, a very pleasant and joyful festival tune - enjoy!"