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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

Trouble is Brewing | Golden Sun | Orchestral Cover

Enjoy this (totally appropriate) theme to start off the new year ;)

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:

As one of the few tracks used to signify danger, how does Sakuraba achieve this emotion through music?

From the first bar, we are thrust into dissonance. The starting note in the violin scrapes fiendishly against the other instruments (E against E♭ - a semitonal dissonance). The violins continue swirling through various chromatic progressions (E-F-E, followed by A-G♯, and then E-F again), which is exacerbated by the entry of a countermelody in the 2nd violin (0:08) that is given similarly chromatic material.

All the while, the bass instruments bellowing underneath follow their own chromatic descent (E♭-D-C♯). And to cement everything together, a drum kit plays a surprisingly simple beat, whilst low drums maintain momentary booms of doom deep below.

Trying to pinpoint a tonal center here would be a moot point, although there does seem to be some focus on E (particularly E Hijaz; E-F-G♯-A-B-C-D-E) if we looked solely at the violins. But the bass material combined with the abundance of chromatic notes would instead suggest atonality (music without any particular tonal stresses).

This chromaticisms continues for some time and reaches a climax at 0:17. Here, Sakuraba employs a devilishly chromatic chord: G♯-A-B♭-E♭-F. And even after taking out the worst chromatic offender (A), the remaining chord still lacks any proper tonal attachment (A♭-B♭-E♭-F), further creating the sound of instability.

From 0:24, we repeat the opening material with a new countermelody in the brass. This commences on E (again suggesting some focus on E) and is similarly chromatic (E-D♯-G-E-F-F♯-G-F♯ etc.). This is joined by another drum kit, this time consisting of various improvisatory drum fills as if the meter has started to collapse. I also added some semitonal woodwind trills to complement this.

By 0:39, the collapse is pushed further with additional chromatic falling, and at 0:45 I decided to extend the track by an additional 8 bars, taking the material up a 5th (to B). This enhances the sense of oncoming terror by making the music sound as if it is getting closer, and the sense of collapse is further complemented by the free falling of brass at the end of their phrase (1:00). All the while, a new chromatic ostinato in the flutes and violins scratches the ceiling of this palette.

To finish, I wrote a short ending (1:59) that slowly creeps into view, eventually forming an unstable diminished 7th chord (D♯-F♯-A-C) that rises chromatically before finishing with one final bare 5th chord in the low instruments.

In general, it is through the extensive use of chromaticisms, lack of tonal center and increasingly semitonal harmonies that contribute to the track's success in conveying danger.


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