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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

Isaac's Battle Theme | Golden Sun | Orchestral Cover

TandA lets out a howl! A brand new orchestral arrangement (complete with licensed sheet music & parts) of Golden Sun's Isaac's Battle Theme.

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:

"Undoubtedly the most popular track, and the most recognizable to those even outside of the franchise, how does Sakuraba present the intensity of a battle?

To begin, we are thrust into action with diminished 7th chords (B-D-F-A♭). To enhance the intensity, Sakuraba pits two of these chords against one another; note the bassoon and contrabass in the 2nd beat of the 1st bar remain on B-D-F-A♭, while the orchestra pivots to C-E♭-F♯-A. This creates a remarkably aggressive semitonal clash.

These diminished 7ths jump to our tonic of A minor (A-B-C-D-E-F♯-G♯-A; 0:04), where the melody dances on the tonic triad (A-C-E). We then drop down to the flattened 7th (G) with a suspended 4-3 chord (G-C-D to G-B-D), with the 4th (C) acting as the familiar pivot note between the two chords, so to not make the jump too abrupt.

We would then expect the harmony to descend down another tone to the flattened 6th (F), but interestingly Sakuraba chooses to jump up a major 3rd (a tertiary shift) to B major (B-D♯-F♯). This sudden reversal of the harmonic direction is quite exciting as the melody then steps up chromatically from D to D♯ (0:08).

This then progresses (as we expect) into E minor (E-G-B) - the dominant minor from our tonic of A - where we then get a brief sequence as this harmonic progression repeats a 3rd higher (D to G; another tertiary modulation). This shift from E minor to D major allows a natural expansion of the outer voices (contrary motion), where the bass descends (E to D) while the melody ascends (E to F♯), creating more excitement.

When we reach G, it is but a fleeting visit as we are quickly engulfed in another tertiary shift to E major (E-G♯-B; 0:11), acting as the dominant chord to return us safely back to the opening tonic of A - a perfect cadence (chord V to chord I; here, E to A).

On our return to A, we once again jump down to G, and now we receive our further descent down to the flattened 6th (0:15). This descent continues (as expected) to the dominant (E), which is prepared with another suspended 4-3 chord (E-A-B to E-G♯-B), accenting the upcoming perfect cadence back to our tonic of A.

When we return to A (0:18), we receive the most climactic bar of the whole track (bar 8). Here, the orchestra are largely homophonic (playing the same rhythm), but this rhythm is syncopated (off the beat), creating a wonderful rhythmic dissonance.

In this bar, we descend once again from A to G to F, but this time linger on the flattened 6th (F) rather than tailing off on the dominant (E). This F acts as another tertiary pivot back to our tonic (0:19), where this material is repeated.

But while the first statement of this material was 8-bars long, the repeat is cut a bar short at only 7-bars long. When we get our dominant preparation in the 7th bar (on E), Sakuraba shifts cheekily into a passage in F major / E minor (0:34) for a brief 4-bar respite.

Following this, we return to A (0:43) and get a Dorian progression of A minor to D major (A-C-E to D-F♯-A); a minor tonic to a major chord IV. This partially repeats, but in the opposite direction, from A to F - another tertiary modulation. We swim between these two chords momentarily. When we reach the end of the phrase, our tonic has surprisingly turned major (A-C♯-E).

From this, we fall intriguingly into F♯ minor (the relative minor of our tonic major) for a brief interlude phrase preparing us for the loop to the beginning. Harmonically, we move from F♯m to E to D and back to E, all while sitting on top of an F♯ pedal. The last of these chords (E major atop an F♯) acts both as a dominant chord (E major) and a tertiary shift (F♯) as we return to our opening tonic of A for the loop."




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