This thread is awesome. I don't really have enough of a tuned ear for music to analyze these things myself, but they make perfect sense when I read what you have to say. Kinda adds a whole new perspective of depth on my respect for ZUN's composing.
Thanks for the positive feedback, and keep it coming! ;D As always, I'm glad that I'm able to offer some new insights for everyone. And speaking of new insights...
Rin Kaenbyou – Corpse Voyage ~ Be of Good Cheer!
Orin is quite hard to pin down, and I think this is what gives her a lot of her charm. The piece hops through moods and attitudes like they were nothing more than masks one puts on and takes off, never staying in one for long, like someone who can’t decide on their favourite desktop background and changes it every day (who? Me? Don’t know what you’re talking about). It’s too early to say if the word “mask” is really appropriate – whether the piece shows us the real parts of Orin, or whether the real her is hiding underneath an extremely varied act is not immediately obvious. As usual, I’ll go through this piece part by part, and I hope that, by the end, I’ll have an answer.
The first part is a towering, majestic affair, with powerful chords and instruments instilling a sense of awe. At first I thought the main instrument was organ, but now I think I’m mistaken – that sound is created by a rather clever combination of brass and rock guitar. This, in itself, is probably not indicative of any character traits, but I do think it’s quite creative. Regardless, the long notes, the clear, ringing, high-pitched melody with little to no accompaniment, present the feeling of being the presence of something grand, powerful, with no room for tomfoolery. There is a genuine feeling in this section, no tells or winks in the form of ornaments or the like to tell us that this is a trick or a game – this is the real thing. Of course, this does not rule out a good act by Orin, although it does
tell us that she is certainly well-versed in self-presentation and bearing, she knows how to behave to be seen in a specific light, and this applies for all the upcoming sections.
Moving on to part two, the mood takes a whiplash turn into a far gentler, more lyrical direction. Almost exclusively in major, this soft melody is in stark contrast to the cold majesty of the part before. It is this contrast that is so evident between the five parts of this piece that convince me of what I mentioned above, that Orin switches between moods on an unpredictable, self-indulging basis. The melody here rarely ends far away from where it started, even though it might try to span large chords. The imagery in this part is of a cautious, gentle personality, one that cares for the listener, and makes sure not to surprise and overwhelm them.
Part three, compared to part two, is adventurous, more flamboyant. The accompaniment that was nothing more than a low hum in part two is now more pronounced, accenting individual chords, with the melody taking advantage of its high pitch to make this section a daring proclamation. The personality here is proud, boisterous, willing to satisfy its curiosity and taste for the dramatic.
Part four once again goes for the whiplash, suddenly moving into a lower pitch and a different key, sounding positively grim in contrast. We lose the melody, instead we get a passage that can only be described as brooding
. Even the piano sounds muted. In another piece this part could be considered a connecting segment due to its lack of development of the piece proper, but, considering how different it is to every other part, it suddenly acquires a life of its own, becoming an inseparable part of the mood montage that makes up Orin. For Orin, even the process of brooding, the train of thought that leads from cause to effect, is a well-presented exterior, an exaggerated presentation of what’s going on in her mind at the moment, shown with all the seriousness that was dedicated to all the previous parts.
The fifth and final part, true to status quo, is sharply different to the part before it. The piano has lost its muted sound, ringing out loud and clear a playful melody, full of ornaments and syncopation that show an unmistakable playfulness that we’ve seen so often in other characters. And yet this part is given equal attention to all the others, which rules out the possibility of this being the “true” Orin, who pretends to be what she’s not for the sake of fun.
What unifies each part is a certain sense of exaggeration of each one, as if Orin takes excessive care to show exactly who she’s trying to be. This precludes the personalities presented above as being natural to Orin. On the other hand, it’s not likely that she’d be able to construct so many personas without some sort of reference, so it’s likely that she’s actually intensifying aspects of her own personality, which is something I’d lean towards as opposed to all these personas being completely artificial constructs. In this case, Orin would bear a slight similarity to Tenshi, in that she loves experiencing her own moods and emotions, and cannot stand being in one state for a long time. It then makes sense that she would exaggerate her moods, even ones that only she can feel.
This is another one of those difficult pieces for me. There is a great variety in content, so I am entirely expecting conflicting opinions, and lots of them. I would be interested in what the rest of you have to say, as I’m not that confident about this particular analysis.