New Arrangement: "Mars Lighthouse" from Golden Sun: The Lost Age (2002)
The 4th and final lighthouse - the cliffhanging "Jupiter Lighthouse", now for orchestra!
Feel free to check out the landing page with links to the recording, sheet music and more!
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"Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and now Mars. We've spent days on this quest as both protagonist and antagonist; journeying far to the north to save Weyard from crumbling away; to find our final objective nearly ready to topple off the edge of the world into the darkness below, dooming Weyard forever ... it is quite the climax. How can we convey this severity?
We open with a single swift melody racing ahead in unison (0:03), swirling up and down in an E Aeolian fashion (E-F#-G-A-B-C-D) as if complementing the gusts of wind that aggressively blow from the approaching abyss. This opening passage is quickly repeated (0:09), now with even more unison in 4 octaves, stretching out to 5 octaves by the end of the phrase (0:13).
From here, we jump instantly into F# Aeolian (0:16; F#-G#-A-B-C#-D-E), led by a fleeting panpipe melody sitting atop a syncopated bass ostinato. But time is of the essence, and so we quickly shift via a tertiary modulation into A Aeolian (0:22; A-B-C-D-E-F-G) for 4 measures, giving us the ability to drop back to our tonic of E via a plagal cadence (0:28; IV - I; here, A - E).
At 0:29, the opening rapid material returns in multiple octaves with a new panpipe melody sitting atop and chromatically descending stopped horn (0:34). By 0:36, this expands outward to 5 octaves, now also with the brass joining in the race with an abundance of dovetailing.
By 0:43, we shift to an exotic E major Phrygian scale (E-F-G#-A-B-C-D), utilizing the Hijaz tetrachord (E-F-G#-A) in a fantastically dissonant fashion (note the juicy crunch of E-F-G#). To complement this, we receive a syncopated bouncy bass ostinato, as well as a challenging piccolo trumpet melody soaring high above the dissonant chaos below. The piccolo and flute appear to take over the material that is too high for even a piccolo trumpet (0:52), as the ensemble then plummets far into the abyss that awaits the lighthouse (0:54).
Time is running out, as we step up once more to F# minor (0:56) with an earnest arpeggio that ascends urgently upward through F# minor - G diminished - G# minor - A minor. To enhance this severity, trombones rise and fall in their dynamics, and a ticking temple block runs amok. This material is expanded in 3rds and 6ths at 1:03 with additional counterpoint from a piccolo trumpet.
As we near the end, we reach one of the most dissonant passages in the entire soundtrack. We have managed to climb up to a dominant pedal (note the B in the bass instruments - the dominant - or 5th - of E) and watch from atop the lighthouse towards the growing abyss far below as the wind continues to spiral around.
But why is this part dissonant? Well, atop our dominant pedal we have chromatically descending triads starting with B minor (B-D-F#). With each new triad, we get a harsh clash against the dominant pedal (e.g. the next triad - Bb-Db-F - has a semitonal clash against B). But that's no all - the violins also go insane with a seemingly random flurry of swirling notes.
This dissonance is exacerbated at 1:16 as the violin material is doubled a tritone below (the most extreme Western interval) while the triad descent and dominant pedal continue, creating a suspenseful clash of sound that descends chaotically and urgently off the edge of the world.
As the chaos ends, our dominant pedal is allowed to enact its primary function, and we can now loop back to our tonic of E with no problem (1:22).
One hell of a final dungeon theme!"