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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

Non-Adept Battle Theme | Golden Sun | Orchestral Cover

Time to bully Briggs and square off with Moapa, with this battle theme from Golden Sun!

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:

"Acting as the combat music heard when battling either Briggs or Moapa, how does Sakuraba create tension?

Like many of his battle themes, we begin with a dissonance anacrusis (an upbeat) that thrusts us in to the action. Here, he achieves this by pitting a two chromatic scales a tritone apart (E - B♭) that are also travelling in contrary motion (the bass moves upward, while the melody moves downward). The tritone interval itself is particularly special due to being the most unstable interval in our Western 12-tone equal temperament (the "Diabolus in Musica" or "Devil in Music"). Altogether, this creates a mighty dissonance.

After this, C minor (C-E♭-G; 0:03) is established as the tonic. But this only remains for 2 bars, shifting abruptly into D minor (D-F-A; 0:07), quickly followed by a tertiary modulation to F♯ minor (F♯-A-C♯; 0:09). Within 10s, we have travelled a tritone away from our tonic (C - F♯). This then fluctuates between E minor (E-G-B) and F♯ minor (0:11) for a moment, with some additional chromatic glissandi in the trombones and strings, before culminating in a tritone jump from F♯ to C minor (0:17).

Here, Sakuraba repeats the opening material, so for development, I added an extended clarinet and violin countermelody (0:23) as well as adjusting the forces of the E to F♯ oscillation (0:26), including a new violin countermelody (0:30).

Next, we enter our B section, modulating up a semitone into G minor (G-B♭-D; 0:34). Here, the harmony remains relatively stable, offering a common descending pattern of G - F - E♭ - D. Contrarily, the rhythm provides most of the energy here, switching to a loose 3-3-3-3-2-2 / 3-3-6-2-2 emphasis (see the clarinets and middle strings). As the section repeats (0:41), I added a new countermelody in the horns to add some development to this repeat.

For the final section (0:50), we receive an interrupted cadence (chord V to chord I; here D major to E minor), signalling the end of the G minor section as the music transitions essentially into double time (twice as fast, with the harmony now shifting every 2 beats rather than 4 beats). Whereas the previous section was focused on harmonic descent, this section is focused on harmonic ascent, moving up from Em - F♯/D - G - G♯/E - Am. Sakuraba uses 1st inversion chords to achieve this upward ascent in the bass (1st inversion = the 3rd of the chord / mediant is in the bass).

We get a juicy tertiary modulation from Am to F♯ (0:54), acting as a secondary dominant of Em (chord V of chord V; here F♯ to B), allowing us to return to Em for a final repeat of this section (0:58).

And to close us off, I wrote a concluding phrase (2:07) utilizing snippets of the opening trumpet melody (0:03), and resting finally in E minor, funnily enough (very distant from our opening tonic of Cm!)"

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