ReMix:Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance "Behold the Winged Cathedral" 5:23

By Shnabubula

Arranging the music of one song...

"Chapel Sky"

Primary Game: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Konami , 2002, GBA), music by Michiru Yamane, Soshiro Hokkai

Posted 2006-02-13, evaluated by the judges panel

Sam wrote a mini-opus in his original submission email, from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

"...this is arguably my favorite game soundtrack of all time. I don't say that lightly. I listen to A LOT of game music, and I don't listen to any of it for nostalgic reasons. I listen to it to study, just like I do with Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Bartok, Poulenc...... and all of them. I make no distinction in my mind. If I like a game music composer, I will get every one of their soundtracks through spc/psf/gsf blah blah blah or purchase.... and I mean every single one. With Soshiro Hokkai, there is only this one [and his 3 tracks from Aria of Sorrow: Black Moon, Premonition, and Dracula's Fate] BUT it somehow manages to possibly trump ALL of my other game soundtracks combined. The problem is many many many people hated this soundtrack and probably still do.

If this manages to make it on to the site, I'd like to ask a favor. What you did with Noriko Matsueda was so amazing, emboldening her name over and over. Seriously that was so great. Not only did it acknowledge that she composed the original, but it brought her in to the spotlight. Because Michiru Yamane wrote three songs from this soundtrack, her name shows up and I think because of her fame, people would be inclined to give her the credit, so if this does get accepted, it would be sooooo cool if you could do something similar for Soshiro Hokkai. OK!!! Enjoy!"

I wonder if Soshiro Hokkai dreams... What kind of man *is* Soshiro Hokkai? How much wood could Soshiro Hokkai chuck if Soshiro Hokkai could chuck wood? Is Soshiro Hokkai somewhere feeling lonely... or is someone loving him? These and many more questions might run through one's mind (or not) when listening to Shna's latest (posted) ReMix, from what's potentially his favorite game soundtrack, Harmony of Dissonance. Larry writes:

"Arrangement is all sorts of bueno, and if you check the source tune, you really see how it fits in Sam's style already. It actually sounds like something he could write if he was a composer for Gameboy Advance material, so this mix was a pleasing upgrade of sounds and extension of the compositional ideas of Hokkai's original."

This is more 'traditional' Shna, in that its sound palette is distinctly... non-traditional. The "rhythmically-spliced-Japanese-woman-talking" really brings the heat. Some of Shna's stuff reminds me (or vice-versa, who knows) of Hiromi, whom I recently checked out after reading about her in Keyboard Magazine. Instead of describing the overall piece or doing a play-by-play, I'd like to focus on one specific moment that struck me: at 3'42", right after coming out of a storm of breakbeats, Sam lets loose with a flurry of running arpeggios underneath a swirling, beautiful bed of pads, and it's literally a breathtaking juxtaposition. I think that's when his material works best - he does, after all, juxtapose a lot of unorthodox instruments together, and also from a sequencing perspective performs some unusual twists and turns. Often, these *can* seem jarring, though one gets used to that after a while. But occassionally, not through anything as random as trial-and-error but seemingly also not through anything as scientific as pure calculation and conscious intent, he creates extraordinarily striking transitions that are... singularities. You wouldn't find them anywhere else, and they're beautiful. Even if you only have a couple moments like that in a piece, it's worth raising some eyebrows elsewhere and elsewhen to accomplish. And no one can question Sam's dedication to his craft and appreciation for game music - we'll close with the postscript from his email:

"PS: If this makes it on to OCR and just ONE person likes it enough to check out the original soundtrack and that person gets anywhere near as much joy as I did from that soundtrack....... then my life purpose will have been fulfilled."



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Sam Ascher-Weiss
on 2014-10-25 09:05:46

finally found an upload of this on youtube:

Hopefully anybody familiar with this song will find that amusing.

on 2011-06-02 05:53:53

this game was one of the first gba games i ever bought. and that was back in the day before i listened to anything BUT videogame music, due to my lack of anything but a gameboy and headphones in terms of media playback devices. So naturally, I liked this soundtrack. Im suprised not many people liked it. i spent mucho time listening to the main castle theme, deaths theme, and the marble corridor themes.

on 2010-04-29 11:18:50

Pretty good. There were some parts that were spot on, but a few that seemed a little too self-indulgent. Overall a victory though. :-)

on 2009-05-04 08:39:52

.. the processing is astounding! 8-O

great job shnabu!

on 2009-04-22 01:00:39

This is quite possibly my favorite OCRemix ever, and I don't say that lightly. At once gorgeous and dissonant, alien and familiar, unpredictable and yet logical. A masterwork.

on 2008-12-18 02:13:17

This piece... is.

(that's a good thing i think)

on 2008-10-30 13:11:10
"PS: If this makes it on to OCR and just ONE person likes it enough to check out the original soundtrack and that person gets anywhere near as much joy as I did from that soundtrack....... then my life purpose will have been fulfilled."

Well, I have news for you, Shnabubula. I played the game long before ever coming on OCR, and I did like the original soundtrack. Your remix captures the essence of the original perfectly, and (of course) makes it even better.

So, the review.

I really like the synth at the very start, but I'm glad you have some piano start at 0:08, otherwise it might sound bare.

The original soundtrack has quite a unique sound that really lives up to the game's title, Harmony of Dissonance. At 0:17, when the running piano part comes in (and who knows what else), it almost starts to sound dissonant, but for some reason, it doesn't. I still don't know why. :|

Are those... coughing sound effects at 0:17 and 0:22? :shock:

At 0:25, when that... thing... comes in. What IS it? It sounds like a cross between a synth with a cold, a chipmunk, and a whale. I swear, I have no idea what it is. Sounds good, though. =p

And then we finally get melody at 0:34. Yay! The highly odd-sounding voice (?) that accompanies it could've been left out without damaging the mix (maybe even improving it, imo), but it works. I must say that whenever I play it out loud I get some strange looks from my family.

I like how at 1:08 the other instrument takes over the melody. I like it better.

At 1:25, the mix gains a bit more depth. I've listened to it a bunch of times, but I still can't pick out WHY it does. Good work, anyhow. ^_^

The section from 2:15 to 3:25 is my personal favorite, and contains some of your best work yet, Shnaby. I especially love how at 2:22 the *searches for description, fails* thingy comes in with the high note running pattern just like in the original, and it sounds awesome and makes the entire mix worth listening to. At 2:30, that same instrument really goes wild and picks up some serious speed. Awesome.

At 2:49, everything comes together in a glorious display of dissonance that somehow works and is pleasing to listen to.

The drum bridge at 3:26 is great, and I like how the synth comes back in at 3:29 and repeats over and over the first phrase of the melody.

Everything starts winding down at 3:42, and the high note at 4:15 with the other synth coming in below it on melody works perfectly.

4:58 is another section reminescent of 2:15, and then promptly goes into the ending. The isolated voice at 5:17 (if only I could understand what it's trying to say!) and last note remind me of a technique used in classical music, when the entire band will pause (or just fade or hold a single note) and have a single instrument play a note or two, then all come back for the ending. Leroy Anderson's Christmas Sleigh Ride is a perfect example of this.

'Nuff said. I like this mix, despite all the quirkiness and lack of organization in some places. 4.25 out of 5.

on 2007-12-04 18:04:20

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. The parts seem to alternate so that a curtain after curtain is pulled to reveal a blissful, nearly incomprehensibly beautiful soundscape after another. I like the panning breakbeats. I love the cut-up vocal samples, they remind of me of some Steve Reich stuff I should really track down again. I feel they sort of, erm, ground the piece. I noticed the cough at 01:24 just before I read this thread, heh. Subtle, musical humour which shows how playful this piece actually is. Spoken voice is a kind of an "everyday" element in this track which connects it to the real world. That's what I mean with "grounding".

... a beautiful chaotic entity ... It meant to be mind candy, to tease the order in your life with the flavor of chaos.

Well put mr. Heart!


on 2006-10-04 12:09:25

This song reminds me of a Boards of Canada song (I THINK Telephasic Workshop) with the voices. I liked certain parts of the song, but some of the effects and voice samples prevented it from being a keeper for me.

on 2006-07-21 01:44:58

Downloaded this song after going through all of shna's posted songs. Really liked the style of his, and I was inclined to listen to the soundtrack afterwards. Nice work.

on 2006-06-27 23:00:37

Was listening to this again, and I have to say that this is ridiculously skilled.

Probably my fave on the site. Again, congrats! This piece is truly inspirational :)

on 2006-04-05 05:35:02
Hahaha.. where did you get those voice sample from?

And for the guy who asked what she's saying.. it's just saying the girl ate everything.. the congee is tasty.. surely can't eat it.. there's no flavour.. in all mixed up jumbles. I can't hear entirely. Haha.. so jokes :D

haha, i said the same thing when i first heard it.

love the remix, but it is just REALLY weird for me to hear a a repeated voice sample of a girl say "that bowl of congee has no taste" and "that girl ate it all" in cantonese. hehe i guess you'd have to understand it for it to sound weird to you.

on 2006-04-01 14:05:56

To explain why I typed that subject, one will need to understand what Castlevania is. Castlevania is chaos...a beautiful chaotic entity that sparks awesome adventures and grave dangers. Anyway, this remix showcases what Castlevania is all about...sweet beautiful chaos. The Japanese woman voice is like the whispers of spirits that you just can't or barely understand. The switching of beats and styles was a treat for my ears and mind, and the overall package of the song makes it one of my absolute faves that will never leave my MP3 Player. I will agree that the song is not rhythm friendly and undanceable, but the purpose of the song is not for me to do the Hustle or Bump N' Grind with a hot woman. It meant to be mind candy, to tease the order in your life with the flavor of chaos. Shnabubula, you did a sweet job and your talents will never go unrewarded, thank you.

on 2006-03-22 13:13:41

Very interesting, to be sure. Shnabubula is a talented dude. Technically excellent, but not very fun to listen to. It's very random and undanceable. Different is good and I love the drums about halfway through. Fighting the status-quo is good, but there is a reason that songs tend to follow the usual pop-patterns: our brains like it. And those voices: those just don't work. And near the end, a lot of the instruments seem to be stepping on each other's EQ toes. Blah, blah: I'm rambling.

on 2006-03-13 17:31:04

I like listening to this remix when i'm writing. Okay, more when i'm writing the darker moments and chapters. And also for training sessions among bad guys.

Anyway, this remix is just like a much improved version of the original. It's enjoyable to just listen to, and it would also fit perfectly into the game. I think it's too bad that the game isn't as good as the other Metroid-like Castlevania games, because the music in the game is great. More songs from this game need to be remixed, and I hope all of them will be at least this good.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Konami , 2002, GBA)
Music by Michiru Yamane,Soshiro Hokkai
"Chapel Sky"

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