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Does anybody else think Green Hill Zone sounds sad?


Devsman
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4 hours ago, Devsman said:

I could never put my finger on exactly why, but it sounds kinda sad to me.

Not like weepy sad, but more like, a little bittersweet or something.

Anyone agree?

oh, I thought you were going to point out that the first section of the music is all root position chords leading to a long run of parallel 5ths.   While more recent piano renditions of the piece fix this problem, generally, parallel 5ths and octaves are to be avoided in western and western influenced music. So yea, it sounds a bit "sad" in that regard.  XD

but you mean actually sad. Like emotion sad. Gotcha. 

I agree that Green Hill Zone is definitely more intimate and melancholy. Dare I say even slightly lugubrious and wistful, but that's what made the game stand out further from the competition.  Nakamura was a great fit for the first two games and even though i'm loving jun senoue's work i was always secretly bummed out that Sega never brought Nakamura back in during the Sonic Adventure days.  It would have been glorious imo after that whole thing with Michael Jackson, his sound team, and Sonic 3.  

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/14/2021 at 10:06 PM, DarkeSword said:

I mean, it's in a minor key. That's probably why.

Hm, I dunno. A lot of times minor doesn't sound sad to me exactly, but maybe like dramatic or edgy. Sometimes it even kind of contrasts a fast tempo so the song doesn't end up sounding like something out of Barney. Like in a lot of rock music.

As a kid, I usually heard it more like that, where it just would have been too much to be fast and also cheery so they mellowed out the melody a bit. It's kind of recent that I really started noticing it sounded a little sad.

Edited by Devsman
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2 hours ago, Devsman said:

Hm, I dunno. A lot of times minor doesn't sound sad to me exactly, but maybe like dramatic or edgy.

Darkesword's just being curtly dismissive, as always.

For me personally, I don't get the same impression but I can imagine how you might. Especially if I listen to it in my head as a slow solo piano song or something like it, I can definitely hear a lot more melancholy; specifically like someone or something trying to put on a bright, happy front while being far more down behind it.

I feel like there have been songs I've also much later caught subtle emotional hints and impressions like you have though I couldn't name any examples of memory right now.

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18 minutes ago, Meteo Xavier said:

Darkesword's just being curtly dismissive, as always.

For me personally, I don't get the same impression but I can imagine how you might. Especially if I listen to it in my head as a slow solo piano song or something like it, I can definitely hear a lot more melancholy; specifically like someone or something trying to put on a bright, happy front while being far more down behind it.

I feel like there have been songs I've also much later caught subtle emotional hints and impressions like you have though I couldn't name any examples of memory right now.

Yeah, that's exactly how I'd put it.

Another tune that does something similar, but I understand why a little better, is Aurora's Theme from Child of Light, which has a really obvious minor chord progression, but the melody focuses on the major third between the third and fifth to make it sound cheery in spite of its own key:

 

It's so effective that there's even a solo version that could completely fool you:

Heh, I'm trying to learn some music theory, so I've been looking for stuff like this to try to understand it.

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On 6/16/2021 at 1:10 PM, Devsman said:

Hm, I dunno. A lot of times minor doesn't sound sad to me exactly, but maybe like dramatic or edgy. Sometimes it even kind of contrasts a fast tempo so the song doesn't end up sounding like something out of Barney. Like in a lot of rock music.

As a kid, I usually heard it more like that, where it just would have been too much to be fast and also cheery so they mellowed out the melody a bit. It's kind of recent that I really started noticing it sounded a little sad.

Sure, fair enough. It may also be because the progression of the melody and backing track sort of has a downward motion. The highest the melody goes is in the second measure. After that there's a lot of descending lines in it.

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, DarkeSword said:

Sure, fair enough. It may also be because the progression of the melody and backing track sort of has a downward motion. The highest the melody goes is in the second measure. After that there's a lot of descending lines in it.

Ah, I think you're onto something here. I just came up with a few simple melodies to hum as-is and then a whole step lower, and it does tend to sound sad, even if it goes from a minor chord to a major.

Edited by Devsman
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you really think it's minor key? i am sure this is technically major. but the minor parallel is surely strong in the song.

the 2nd part is very minor, including the bVI modulation.

it's a very major minor tune. i can easily see why that would make some people perceive more of a sad note....bittersweet is serviceable, i like the word "whimsical" but i don't know if native english speakers feel the same. it seems one of those very open words on the fringes of its meaning.

it's very definitely easier to feel whimsically, bittersweetly nostalgical about this tune than about the super mario bros. main theme, right?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm late to the party on this one but I want to throw my hat into the ring and point out I never ever once considered this song to be in a minor key. 

The song starts out in C Major, it's the opening of the piece and stays in the root note chord for 8 bars, so the introduction is 100% in a major key. However, that synth part during that section puts a lot of emphasis on unresolved chords - the chords in that opening riff have an Em to Dm little riff going on, before going up to F, then back down again to Em and Dm, with Dm holding over the C root chord, which leaves some serious tension because you're expecting it to resolve to C, and it doesn't. Then it goes Dm, Em, F twice, then there's one more F chord, before it resolves on Em to finish the sequence - all over that C root. The interesting thing about the E chord is that over a C root, that creates a Cmaj7 chord, which is a very cool little jazzy thing - it's a C chord with a B on the top - it's SO close to resolving because that B wants to be a C really, but it just doesn't QUITE get there, which leaves that tension just there enough while giving things a decent resolution to the progression - however, it leaves things a little unfulfilled, which is why you don't feel "happy" when hearing it. 

Another song in the Key of C that is undeniably happy with similar ideas is Metropolis Zone - that also has some cool synthy chords playing over a C major Root - but the different there is that both the beginning and ending of those little riffs start and end with a C major chord - they unquestionably resolve completely, which makes them sound more...fulfilling? Well either way, that's the difference between why you're feeling sadder about Green Hill.

Then of course, the piece plays around with that F-Em-D-C chord sequence over that popular melody (Which is a descending sequence - much of Green Hill Zone is descending, which has been already pointed out, which I agree adds to the whole sad feel - you want something happy, move upwards and resolve with straight major chords, forget sevenths!). On top of that, you've got a cool descending arp thing in the background, which is doing descending sevenths of all those chords. So that sequence starts with F major yeah? You've got an arp thats going E-C-A-F in the background, and it's doing the same thing for all the chords in that section. So you've got a feeling of unresolved tension constantly - those chords play around a lot with F and E, but even when it resolves to C major at the end, because it's keeping that seventh in there, it's not quite resolving properly in the ear of the listener - it's very pretty, but it sounds sad.

Basically, the reason you're feeling melancholic when you listen to this song is because of all the unresolved tension created by the chords and backing elements. There's probably more to it than that but yup, throw some sevenths in there and suddenly everything feels slightly sadder. 

Edited by WillRock
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20 hours ago, Rozovian said:

Cmaj7. A C7 is an Edim over that C. Flat 5th. Tritone for the E. And that REALLY really wants to resolve somewhere, probably to an F or C# chord.

Ah yes - that's my bad there, my theory is ever so slightly rusty hahaha. 

My original point still stands however :)

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