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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

New Arrangement: "Gloomy Caves" from Golden Sun (2001)

And to end the year, here is another track from the classic JRPG, "Golden Sun" (2001) - "Gloomy Caves" or "Mysterious Caves" - now orchestrated with high quality samples. Feel free to check it out!

Feel free to download the score and recording here!

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 your Patreon Google Drive folder!


Arranger's Note:

"To accompany the explorations of a mysterious cave, or unsettling dungeon, Sakuraba presents us with this unnerving track that juxtaposes functional harmony with uncomfortable atonality.

The track begins predominantly in E minor through the outline of an E minor triad (E-G-B), followed immediately by the dominant of B major in the 2nd measure (0:05; B-D#-F#). But then, we begin to slip away from functionality with a chromatic step downwards to E#-G# (0:10), suggesting C# major (C#-E#-G#) - quite the distant key from the tonic of E minor.

This 4-bar harmonic progression continues again at 0:12, now with an additional string passage soaring high above, further outlining the E minor to B major progression. Then, once again, this snippet of functional harmony is warped into wandering chromaticisms at 0:17. Where previously this short passage suggested C# major, now the tonality is almost fully obscured, highlighting an extreme diminished chord of E#-G#-B (more easily read as F-Ab-B), which descends chromatically before returning once more to the brief respite of functional harmony (0:23).

This juxtaposition of functional and dysfunctional seemingly mirrors the player's exploration of an unknown cave; keeping to familiar territory, before wandering off to some place new, then back to the familiar, followed closely by discovering something else new.

A stark change occurs at 0:32 with a sudden shift to a 5/8 meter, decimating the previously functional 3/4 meter. Here, the tonic of E minor is withheld somewhat, but we are treated to some unsettlingly dissonant stabs built on "major 7th + sharp 11th" chords (e.g. "F-B-E" seen in the trumpets of measure 13; 0:33), which are such uncommon chords that their name could easily be called any number of things.

After these chords jump out and scare us, we return to the more functional 3/4 meter (0:41), but now almost entirely atonal with no discernible tonic center: the woodwinds flurry around and chase each other in a darkly chromatic sense; the violins and vibraphone repeat an ostinato that could debatably be tethered to B major; and the lower strings fall slowly downwards in a chromatic spiral unrelated to the other material. We are most certainly in alien territory here.

With the entry of the panpipes (0:51), we get a small addition of melodic material that attempts to solve this atonal harmonic puzzle; the first measure potentially swims around C minor/major (C-Eb-G / C-E-G; 0:51), but this is thwarted by the G# appearing in the violins and vibraphone. Thus atonality remains the likely contender here.

By 1:01, we return to the 5/8 material heard previously at 0:32, again outlining a tonic pedal on E, and with our good friend the "F-B-E" chord. However, where the previous appearance of this material (0:32) retained its functioanl 4-bar phrasing, here this is reduced to an unnatural 3-bar phrase, further adding to the uncomfortable aesthetic.

After this persistent juxtaposition of functionality and dysfunctionality, we finally get some closure with a more traditional modulation into the subdominant - A minor (A-C-E; 1:06). But, keeping with the unsettling theme, this respite does not last for long as Sakuraba introduces the tritonal augmented 4th interval (D#), found in the violas of m.29 (1:11), constructing a diminished chord (A-C-D#) suggesting that something is still out of place.

This creeps down chromatically at 1:17, before returning once more to A minor, now also with a dominant 7th chord being suggested at 1:24 with the appearance of D# and F# over a pedal of A. This dominant 7th is completed at 1:30, now with the B in the bass, preparing for a perfect cadential return to the opening in E minor."


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