ReMix: Final Fantasy IV 'The Dark'
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Patrick Waters writes:
"The Dark gestated in 2005 as one of several now lost and indefinitely abandoned projects following a massive data loss; the rebooted project began in late 2007 to be finished February 2008. The short tone poem draws on the music of Mahler, particularly his first and seventh symphonies, and of Debussy.
A bassoon begins the piece, intoning the opening motive of the melody; it is joined by the other bass instruments of the orchestra as the line unfolds. In the second section, a solo violoncello carries the primary melodic material, colorfully accompanied by pizzicato and staccato strings and woodwinds. The final section explores the canonic possibilities of the source tune as various parts of the orchestra laminate the texture leading to the climax with chromatically altered harmonies, resolving to the sudden and subdued coda-like conclusion; the final, hushed utteration of the motive comes from the lowest register of the solo cello.
Scored for two flutes, alto flute, three oboes, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, three horns, three trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, tam-tam, celesta, two harps, organ, and strings with solo violoncello."
That's certainly an official-sounding, borderline hoity-toity description - but is the mix any good? Thankfully, yes, though I must say it would have been amusing to have a submission email namedropping Mahler and Debussy attached to a mix filled with generic, FruityLoop-preset trance. Mr. Waters is certainly wielding the vernacular, but he's wielding it accurately, so props. Very quiet, deliberate introduction, living up to its title with a cavernous bassoon solo that feels like you're tiptoeing around a sleeping dragon. Dynamics are excellent, though - don't turn it up too much because it's quiet, as that does change. Vinnie writes:
"...really cool harmonic elements that add a lot of character to the original. Great balance of new and old. It's very quiet for most of it, but the dynamic range is used fairly well, and the quiet moments work. You get that sense that the instruments are bubbling under, waiting to burst out."
"Great writing at 1:29-1:40. The harmonic changes at reminds me of the overworld theme from Final Fantasy VII and works really well. Natural use of 5/4 from 1:40-2:11, doesn't sound forced as some odd time signatures easily can. Even the 7/4 that follows fits like a glove. Great support-writing throughout and good instrument choices."
I'm glad he pointed out those signature changes, as I didn't even notice them the first time through - everything flows very naturally. This is a fantastic example of an orchestral arrangement that conveys power and emotion without bombast: lots of subtle detail and part writing that weaves a rich, integrated tapestry. I might start sounding hoity-toity myself (too late), but it's the type of music that basically requires such language to effectively describe. I think I can personally classify this mix as "deceptive" - it seems very direct, almost simple, but it progresses in a fashion that really spirals into something simultaneously enveloping and developing, not to mention enjoyable. It's a smart arrangement, but it doesn't shove its tricks in your face or beat you on the head with them - an excellent, very deliberately-crafted ReMix from trickwaters.
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