New Arrangement: "Lemurian Ship" from Golden Sun: The Lost Age (2002)
There seems to be a lot of overworld themes lately ;) - here it is, a new orchestral arrangement of the sailing overworld theme from the JRPG, "Golden Sun: The Lost Age" (2002).
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!
"What makes a good sailing theme? Perhaps some shimmering imagery of water, the flowing and swaying of waves, some seagulls ... alright, perhaps not the last point. But nevertheless, Sakuraba does a fine job at conveying a sailing atmosphere in this track.
Foremost, we open with a quick, flickering string ostinato ( enhanced here with flutes). This bright quivering occurs throughout a good portion of Sakuraba's original (and continues for the entire track in this arrangement), and is essentially a musical embodiment of ocean waves rising and falling, even perhaps shimmering in the glint of the warm sun due to their high register.
Beneath this, we have a steady march-like bass ostinato (similar to the previous "Traversing Weyard") - as expected for an overworld theme to drive the player forward - complemented by a persistent snare drum rhythm.
In between this ostinati sits a melody - a simple, delicate little line spelling out a C major triad (C-E-G). Sakuraba originally placed this in the strings (most likely violas), and I have enhanced the texture by pairing this melody with some horns for some added depth and firm drive.
Harmonically, it is very simple. We start in C major and conclude the first 4-bar phrase with an imperfect cadence in G major (G-B-D; 0:09). But in the next phrase, Sakuraba interestingly pushes the tonality up a tone to D minor (D-F-A; 0:13), and from there, up further to Eb major (Eb-G-Bb; 0:15) - a staggeringly distant key from our recent home of C major.
This form of tertiary modulation (they are everywhere, I swear!) progressing from C - Eb invokes the emotion of triumph due to its common use in film music as a signifier of heroic-ness (e.g. the fellowship in "Fellowship of the Ring"). As such, its use here similarly creates this sense of heroism - a sense of triumphing over darkness.
In addition, this sudden and abrupt departure from the home tonic of C major into the distant Eb major may well symbolize travelling to distant lands, which is exactly what the player is doing as this theme plays.
The opening 8-bar phrase is then repeated near verbatim (0:18), but here I took the liberty of shifting the flutes up an octave for some extra shimmering, and added a trumpet doubling on the main melody for added grandeur. The timpani also comes out in full force to enhance the rhythmic undertow, and towards the end of the 8-bar phrase (0:31), a trilling piccolo is added above to complete the glistening aesthetic.
At 0:34, we progress into the 2nd section with a marvelous string melody playing in the Db Lydian mode (Db-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C-Db) - Lydian being an oft used scale in film music due to that special sharpened 4th degree (here, the G). Of course, Db as a scale itself is once again incredibly distant from the home key of C major (harmonically, of course - intervallically it is but a mere semitone away!) - see how far we are travelling!
To further enhance the sailing aesthetic, I decided on adding a flickering soprano recorder to double the melody (0:39). This was to invoke a sense of a sea shanty through the use of a small, common wind instrument that may well have been readily available for sailors.
At 0:50, a wonderful interrupted cadence takes us from G major downward into F major - or F Lydian, to be more precise (F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F) - as we get an awesome clash of that sharpened 4th (here, a B) both in the string/flute ostinato and brass melodies. To enhance the shimmer further, I added syncopated glockenspiel, crotales, triangle, harp and tubular bells.
Finally, we progress to the dominant (G major; G-B-D; 0:58) as we prepare to return to the tonic of C via a perfect cadence. Here, I brought out a quiet melody in Sakuraba's original (the violins)."