Topic: Characters, music, personalities.  (Read 140661 times)

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Solais

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #90 on: September 29, 2009, 06:52:40 pm »
It's really strange how people get a character's personality good, even though their personality is reflected in the music instead of their actions. I wonder, is this the power of the music over our subconscious?
I love Sanae, and I'm really glad that her music reflects the same Sanae that I know and love.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #91 on: September 30, 2009, 01:43:26 pm »
We're on to the penultimate entry for MoF!

Kanako Yasaka - The Venerable Ancient Battlefield ~ Suwa Foughten Field

Despite the deep, menacing growl of the power heard in Sanae’s theme, Suwa Foughtern Field is very measured, very careful in its show of power, instead preferring to present its majesty to quell any opposition. Immediately after writing this, a thought occurred to me and I had a listen to Gensokyo Millennium, which, as it turns out, is surprisingly similar in instrumentation, structure and general mood. It is appropriate to say, then, that Eirin and Kanako will share certain features, and, indeed, I can think of a few off the top of my head, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
As a note, I noticed some comments over on the ZUN interview thread that claim that certain other tracks on MoF are based partially off Suwa Foughten Field – this is misleading, as the only similarity (and I apologise if the similarities actually run deeper and I haven’t noticed) are the segments where broken octaves go up and down to the key notes of a chord - thus it is more accurate to say that they share motifs or passages. Yeah, this is nitpicking to an unnecessary degree, but this are musical thread, and thus are serious business. :V

It is quite interesting to see just how little effort Kanako has to expend to appear majestic and awe-inspiring. There are exactly two motifs that carry a proper melody, both only presented after careful, almost gentle preparation by sequences of arpeggioes or broken octaves, but despite this there is never a moment where the feeling of majesty goes away. This tells me that this is what Kanako is like naturally, which should come as little surprise – as a major god, it is her very nature to be larger-than-life, to be above little, petty things that concern mere mortals. She does not shine with awesome divine power for any kind of discernible reason, it’s just what she does.
It bears explaining then, what methods are used to present that majestic feeling.

The pre-introduction uses a very specific electronic sound that is the closest to vocals that it can get. Playing large arpeggioes, the sequence of which quickly scales large lengths of the keyboard, using that sound that then doubles up on the repeat, all in minor, all at a blazing pace, this little bit presents a tremendous buildup of power, all in the space of a few seconds. Due to the echoing, open nature of the vocal sound, the feel of that power, instead of privately-focused, like we would get on a piano, becomes cosmic, as if the presence of the power resonates with the world itself. This immediately presents Kanako, or her power, at least, as something far greater than the immediate surroundings, with a presence beyond the visible.

This is reinforced by the broken octaves in the introduction. The octaves follow the key notes of a chord, each note being repeated one octave above before continuing to the next, creating the sound of a myriad echoes, giving the impression that everything that the deity does has immense repercussions, no matter how small it appears to the deity themselves. I haven’t pointed this out before, and I’ve only just realized that some of you readers might not know this, but an octave is the interval between one note and its next identical harmonic equivalent, 12 semitones up or down if using a keyboard instrument. It is a strong interval indeed because it is essentially playing the same note twice simultaneously, and being able to distinguish both notes, instead of just one note, but louder. Making one note into an octave emphasizes that note, gives it an echo, making it feel powerful. Suwa Foughten Field’s non-melodic sections love their octaves.
Just in case the listener didn’t get the idea, the broken octaves are followed by unbroken ones, in a measured tempo, slowly putting together a diminished chord. As usual, diminished chords tend to put the listener on the edge, making him wary of where all this potency is going. All in all, the introduction serves to show the listener the divine might of a god, their very nature making the listener feel uncomfortable, unsure of their position before the god. All this while, Kanako hasn’t even shown her personality. She was just there.

The first melodic part follows a measured tempo, never breaking into fast-paced passages, putting together a well-controlled 2x8-bar melody. Time signature is ¾, presenting an elegant dancing pace to the listener, showing Kanako as one certainly not lacking grace, in thoughts or bearing. Of course, the instrumentation, this time doubled-up trumpets, show prominent, absolute self-confidence, as well as the ability to show oneself without shame or doubt. This shows, perhaps, Kanako’s natural noblesse oblige, as it were, her natural ability to show herself as befitting nobility to set an example to her lessers.

All of this seemed to be just an off-hand comment by her, a little indulgence to directly deal with the listener, as Kanako backs away, her divine presence once again taking over while she stands off, aloof once again. This time, we are also presented with a gentle intermezzo in major, composed of simple chords being slowly put together, note by note, the vocals’ open sound presenting a warm feeling, as if the positive sound of the major chords is coming from everywhere at once. Still above the petty concerns of mortals, Kanako is still capable of sympathy on some degree, her blessing feeling like warm sunshine gently caressing the multitudes below.

The second melodic part is much like the first, once again careful and measured, with long trumpet notes showing no need to rush. In 4/4 time, this is a more human part of Kanako, a few chord progressions moving from major to minor show a gentle wistfulness, never so harsh as to be bitter, but maybe melancholic, to show that even Kanako has wants and desires that are not fulfilled. The ornamentation present, a few turns here or there, show that she might even wish for some little whimsical fun, and might allow herself to have some if not for the requirements of her position. This is the part that really evokes sympathy with her, and I feel it does so very well.

I’ll round off here, as this seems to be my longest article yet, with a summary. Kanako is, by her very nature, charismatic and awe-inspiring. Behaviour appropriate to a position of great power is part of her character. However, despite the aloofness and impartiality that this might force on her, she can be sympathetic to her lessers. Finally, she carries all-too-human desires that her great power cannot fulfill, and might wish for an opportunity to let her hair down, as it were, to be able to ignore her status and position for even a brief time.

Ondine

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #92 on: September 30, 2009, 03:35:12 pm »
I just wanted to pop in and say that I've been following this thread for a while and I really enjoy your style of analysis. Luna Dial is spot-on. <3

I'm a big fan of Medicine Melancholy because she seems so broken -- there aren't a lot of Touhou characters quite like her, in that she's so dark and a little creepy... So she stands out to me. [And I seem to have a thing for animate dolls in fiction anyhow. It's weird.]

Looking forward to your take on Native Faith and Flowering Night! :D



[By the way, since you mentioned it, I'd like to hear your rendition of the Septette on piano if you get around to it. :0 ]

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #93 on: September 30, 2009, 06:29:11 pm »
Well, Native Faith is due next, of course, but you're going to have to wait a bit for Flowering Night. As for piano Septette... I'm kinda torn, since I'm practicing Nuclear Fusion... but hey, I can do both.

Lloyd Dunamis

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #94 on: September 30, 2009, 07:52:20 pm »
Nooo~, why didn't I click on this link earlier Dx... Anyway,

I've read only a few of the analyses, and I'm already astounded! This "something about music, instrumentation and composition" that you know is really something! >w<

I wonder if ZUN ever thought of these things for the game's music... Well, he did mention  in Kaguya's theme comment: "I don't express emotions through songs, I make songs with emotions."
I'm a little discontent on some of his short BGM comments though... maybe I'm just expecting too much...

MoF's themes are my most favorites. Considering that MoF is like a (faith) comeback of Touhou (or something that sounds like that), MoF's themes in general delivers this calming sensation, as if it's inviting me up to only Kanako knows, IMO.


Oh, may I have a small favor? You'd probably not think of listening to it and write up an analysis of it because it's not anyone's theme, though... maybe after finishing the last MoF theme...
[wish to add more, but I'm getting sleepy... head getting heavy D| ]
« Last Edit: September 30, 2009, 07:55:28 pm by Lloyd Dunamis »
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Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #95 on: September 30, 2009, 10:01:59 pm »
I've read only a few of the analyses, and I'm already astounded! This "something about music, instrumentation and composition" that you know is really something! >w<

I wonder if ZUN ever thought of these things for the game's music... Well, he did mention  in Kaguya's theme comment: "I don't express emotions through songs, I make songs with emotions."
I'm a little discontent on some of his short BGM comments though... maybe I'm just expecting too much...

MoF's themes are my most favorites. Considering that MoF is like a (faith) comeback of Touhou (or something that sounds like that), MoF's themes in general delivers this calming sensation, as if it's inviting me up to only Kanako knows, IMO.


Oh, may I have a small favor? You'd probably not think of listening to it and write up an analysis of it because it's not anyone's theme, though... maybe after finishing the last MoF theme...
[wish to add more, but I'm getting sleepy... head getting heavy D| ]

Thanks for the positive comments! Heck, any comments are welcome, since they prove to me I'm not talking to myself, and that'd be crazy.  :V

As for ZUN's comments on his tracks, well, let's not forget that ZUN is always drunk, all the time, so everything he says should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, I feel that writing pieces through one's emotions, as opposed to expressing emotions through them...eh, it comes down to the same thing, that the pieces have feeling in them, and I can grab onto stuff like that and interpret the hell out of it.

Mountain of Faith remains my favourite overall soundtrack across all the games as well (although SWR comes extremely close with its gorgeous variations on the core theme), but Subterranean Animism comes out ultimately on top due to a certain gem the size of a star blazing with nuclear fire.

As for the favor... well, go on, what is it? Don't leave me hanging like that. I'm always ready to listen to something Touhou-related.  :)

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #96 on: October 01, 2009, 10:21:16 am »
Ok, well three pages later I think I have a few comments about U.N. Owen Was Her. It is one of my favorites and I just got around to thinking about it.

I'm one of the people that would like to think of Flandre as not so much crazy, but more naive than anything. Think about it, she's been locked up in a basement for basically her entire life. The only interaction she has with people is with the SDM crew.

Imagine it like a small toddler that just hasn't exactly been taught well. Nobody would go so far as to call them crazy or out of their minds, they're just kids that don't know much better.

I think U.N. Owen does a pretty good job of showing us that side of Flandre. The song has a playful (and dark, I'll give you that) attitude throughout, and reading through the dialogue Flandre mostly attacks the heroine wanting to play. What kid wouldn't want to play when they've been locked inside?

Quote from: EoSD Extra
Flandre: I have a play toy over here...
Reimu: What do you want to play?
Flandre: Danmaku.
Reimu: Oh, making patterns. I'm pretty good at that.

...

Flandre: Oh, and I was thinking of visiting you with cake and tea, in thanks.
Reimu: Try not to bring your kind of food to a human's place.
Flandre: It's not too sweet, is it?

Flandre is definitely more sane than people would want to think. U.N. Owen shows the playfulness of her, as she is a little child, but it also shows the darkness that she's learned from her sister. Flandre is a vampire after all, so she thinks nothing of the food or drink that she's given. I think U.N. Owen shows a more naive, playful darkness of Flandre than some sort of craziness.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #97 on: October 01, 2009, 10:56:56 am »
I think U.N. Owen does a pretty good job of showing us that side of Flandre. The song has a playful (and dark, I'll give you that) attitude throughout, and reading through the dialogue Flandre mostly attacks the heroine wanting to play. What kid wouldn't want to play when they've been locked inside?

Flandre is definitely more sane than people would want to think. U.N. Owen shows the playfulness of her, as she is a little child, but it also shows the darkness that she's learned from her sister. Flandre is a vampire after all, so she thinks nothing of the food or drink that she's given. I think U.N. Owen shows a more naive, playful darkness of Flandre than some sort of craziness.

That's a fair point. You mention that she is like a child and thus her attitude is "doesn't know better" - I also totally agree with that. Unfortunately, the tone of the piece depicts harshness and cruelty, thus hinting that Flandre may be one of those kids that pull the wings off insects and tortures small animals, hurts anything weaker than her - because she doesn't know better. She is immensely powerful, so that "anything weaker than her" suddenly begins to include an awful lot of things, including people. I would mention that 500 years of this attitude would make for one hardened serial killer, but Gensokyo+ means she just needs to be taught a few object lessons in compassion and consideration and she should be fine.

Basically, if Flandre was just an amoral little girl who was neglected when growing up, I would be fine at calling her childish. However, she's an amoral little girl who was neglected when growing up with superpowers, and that makes her dangerous, which is why she can so easily be called crazy, when she's actually just misunderstood.

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #98 on: October 01, 2009, 12:11:23 pm »
I am somehow questioned by your analysis on Kanako. It is hard to explain but I do not sense any sympathy in her music as you described in your post. She is suposingly a selfish bitch who conquerored the Moriya shrine by brute force. Her entire theme to me sounds like one big: "I am the mightiest godess of the mountain as I command the wind and rain" and "All of Gensokyo's faith belong to me."

Sympathy for the lessers is the last thing I expect from her. ( just a personal opinion )

Also on the entire MoF songs: Didn't ZUN more like based all themes ( including stages ) on japanese folkore music?
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Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #99 on: October 01, 2009, 12:24:06 pm »
Final entry for MoF. I'll be quite prompt in moving onto SA, so if I've missed something (that isn't Youkai Mountain) tell me now!

[edit] I may have overemphasized the sympathy in Suwa Foughten Field, but it's definitely there, check out 1:26 to about 1:50. Major key, soft vocals, slow pace - all suggest to me a benevolence. Not the benevolence on a personal scale, but of an emperor to his people. She cares about her people as a whole, even if she might not care the tiniest bit about a single guy. As for the other points - hell yes. No arguments there, she's got high-and-mighty down pat.

Suwako Moriya - Native Faith

Much like with Septette and Cruel Sisters, I have trouble listening to this one without Silver Forest's Kero Destiny sort of superimposing itself onto the track. This isn't a bad thing, honestly, as Destiny strikes me as a fun romp, no strings attached, everyone laughing happily and generally having a good time. The fact that the piece is mostly all in major, using mostly warm sounds, with no menace in the lower registers, supports this. Instrumentation-wise, the piece is surprisingly minimalistic, with the melody exclusively in piano's hands with a pipe organ thrown in extremely briefly to play an ornament - all this showing a Suwako that isn't overly deep, with few bells and whistles. The Suwako you see is the Suwako you get.

And what do we actually see? The melody is a pretty simple 8-bar affair, harmonically-speaking, with very straightforward chord progressions that support the melodic line to satisfactory conclusions when they are supposed to, by Classical standards. What makes the melody stand out is its love affair with syncopation and triplets, breaking rhythm all over the place. However, this is so consistent that it doesn't confuse the listener. Instead, the listener is enchanted by the well-meaning simplicity of the harmony and the major key into nodding along in time to the drumbeat with a silly grin on their face. (Yes. The listener. Totally not me.) This translates well to Suwako - her straightforward, well-meaning attitude is enthralling. She's the kind of person you simply can't consider being mean to, as that would be akin to kicking a puppy. She could most certainly be somewhat hyperactive, possibly eccentrically so, or simply extremely unpredictable in her pace, but one simply goes along with it due to the energy, hmm... genki is an excellent word here, that flows off her.

The second melody is a little harder to qualify, as it ties in closely to the chord cascades that we hear across the piece. These to me sound like something of nature, more than of an individual - pouring rain, a running stream, insect swarms, things like that. Heck, if you've ever heard a frog choir, these cascades sound remarkably like one as well. All of these suggest, much like Kanako and her echoes, how closely tied to nature Suwako really is (once again, no surprise, she's a Shinto-esque goddess). The second melody starts off with clearly discernible chords, somewhat slow compared to the usual pace of the piece, that, after a couple of ornaments and studies, completely dissolve into these flowing chord cascades. It is as if Suwako slows down to have a go at something outside of her element only to quickly realise it's not her cup of tea and whisks herself off to go what she does best, for which the best word would be frolicking. I suppose this is natural for a goddess - after all, they are not supposed to do things beyond their jurisdiction. That shows something about Suwako then, who quite often goes out to do these things, even though it always ends up with her quickly letting whatever she was doing go - she is a person who indulges her curiosity, but only for as long as it's comfortable for her, perhaps somewhat whimsical, a little bit selfish.

Considering the attitude of the piece and its features, I think it's appropriate that Suwako is depicted commonly as an adorable little girl despite her being millenia old, as the piece then fits her perfectly, both in manner and in bearing.

[edit] As for Japanese folklore music... No idea. I might be able to make a comparison if I heard some, but I'm not familiar with any as is.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2009, 12:27:15 pm by Fightest »

Lloyd Dunamis

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #100 on: October 01, 2009, 12:57:04 pm »
Thanks for the positive comments! Heck, any comments are welcome, since they prove to me I'm not talking to myself, and that'd be crazy.  :V
 
 As for ZUN's comments on his tracks, well, let's not forget that ZUN is always drunk, all the time, so everything he says should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, I feel that writing pieces through one's emotions, as opposed to expressing emotions through them...eh, it comes down to the same thing, that the pieces have feeling in them, and I can grab onto stuff like that and interpret the hell out of it.
 
 Mountain of Faith remains my favourite overall soundtrack across all the games as well (although SWR comes extremely close with its gorgeous variations on the core theme), but Subterranean Animism comes out ultimately on top due to a certain gem the size of a star blazing with nuclear fire.
 
 As for the favor... well, go on, what is it? Don't leave me hanging like that. I'm always ready to listen to something Touhou-related.  :)
 
Thanks. Though sometimes when I read, I tend to not reply because of diffidence in my replies. (just writing one post/comment takes me more or less an hour, not to mention the three new posts before I could even post mine) >x<

Eeeh, ZUN and his drunkness... Sometimes, I just want to think that ZUN is thinking straight, and mean what he says (at least in comments). Ah well, that's his life, I guess.
So eitherway, one composes music with this feeling... Hnnn, nice point.

>.< Ack, I shouldn't have removed the "as well" in my "MoF's themes are my most favorites."

Oh, okay, sorry for that. I am referring to the Player's Score theme. Although it is an MoF theme based on Kanako-sama's, SA and UFO resounds the same Player's Score BGM. ZUN must have liked the effect of the music.
Quote from: TouhouWiki: MoF - Music comment
It's too lonely when the Game Over screen is silent, so I put this in.
 Oh, how mysterious, it's even more lonely, now.
 
 But why?
Though short, it gives me goosebumps when I hear it.
Depending on the player's situation, this piece gives:
-A feeling of accomplishment, <some deep meanings here I'm unable to interpret>, for those who have finished the game defeated the boss (of Story mode or Extra); and
-A feeling of failure... a thought of "protagonist was unsuccessful of youkai extermination, youkai dominates" of some sort.
... I couldn't put my thoughts to words appropriately, and what I've written is somewhat obvious IMO >x<, but that pretty much sums up my opinion in a way.

 ... Now that I mentioned it, yes, I seem more attached to stage themes for some reason o_o
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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #101 on: October 01, 2009, 01:09:51 pm »
Inspired to do a bit of my own analysis here, although there are better things I should be focusing my brainpower on  :-X

Going back to Necro-fantasy and Necrofantasia for a bit, the similar sections speak of Yukari and Ran's bond as mistress and shikigami. While in real life Necrofantasia is close to 'Necro-fantasy with added stuff', in the context of canon the similar sections could represent the portion of Yukari's power that Ran has been given as a shikigami as well as the traits she picked up from the border Youkai during her centuries of service.

Still, as a nine-tails she has considerable power of her own and it shows in the 'copied' sections being louder and brasher in Necro-fantasy than they are in Necrofantasia. Those sections also seem to be less busy and more straightforward than than in Necrofantasia so perhaps Ran mildly disapproves of Yukari's attitude with regards to the latter's position and powers, and she is determined not to be as frivolous as her mistress when acting as the Yakumo representative.

Just my two cents, probably not even worth that.   

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #102 on: October 01, 2009, 01:22:21 pm »
UN Owen, Native Faith, and Flowering night are mainly the three songs that hijack remixes on Niconico Douga. These songs must stand out a lot to a general viewer/listener.
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Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #103 on: October 01, 2009, 02:59:26 pm »
Going back to Necro-fantasy and Necrofantasia for a bit, the similar sections speak of Yukari and Ran's bond as mistress and shikigami. While in real life Necrofantasia is close to 'Necro-fantasy with added stuff', in the context of canon the similar sections could represent the portion of Yukari's power that Ran has been given as a shikigami as well as the traits she picked up from the border Youkai during her centuries of service.

Still, as a nine-tails she has considerable power of her own and it shows in the 'copied' sections being louder and brasher in Necro-fantasy than they are in Necrofantasia. Those sections also seem to be less busy and more straightforward than than in Necrofantasia so perhaps Ran mildly disapproves of Yukari's attitude with regards to the latter's position and powers, and she is determined not to be as frivolous as her mistress when acting as the Yakumo representative.

While I would say that the 'copied' sections in Illusionary Funeral only seem louder and brasher because the rest of the piece is far more demure than Necrofantasia, otherwise I agree with your points. I also remember that I omitted mentioning the characteristics that come from two characters sharing a theme, so it's good that you noted it.

As for focusing brainpower... You could do far worse than musical analysis.  ;)

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #104 on: October 02, 2009, 06:27:57 am »
Gah, you guys, here I was about to go on to SA, and just now realised I almost missed SWR! You should warn me about these things!  :V

So yeah, two new characters were introduced in SWR as far as I remember, I'll get onto them soon.
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #105 on: October 02, 2009, 07:17:25 am »
A funny thing struck me when I read through your evaluation of Maiden's Capriccio. For all the grim undertones the original has, almost all the remixes are cutesy candy-clouds-and-flowers kind of tunes (case in point: Waki Miko Reimu and its ripoff spinoff Neko Miko Reimu), while Mystic Oriental Love Consultation and other earlier themes are the ones that get violent/dark remixes. Why do you think that happens?

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #106 on: October 02, 2009, 08:03:31 am »
A funny thing struck me when I read through your evaluation of Maiden's Capriccio. For all the grim undertones the original has, almost all the remixes are cutesy candy-clouds-and-flowers kind of tunes (case in point: Waki Miko Reimu and its ripoff spinoff Neko Miko Reimu), while Mystic Oriental Love Consultation and other earlier themes are the ones that get violent/dark remixes. Why do you think that happens?

I don't think that's necessarily true, a quick search on Youtube presents plenty of aggressive remixes of Dream Battle. You do have a point about the cutesiness though - Love Consultation doesn't seem to have its equivalent. I would say that is simply because Consultation came out at a time when attaching cute songs to Touhou themes wasn't in vogue, whereas Capriccio did. Musically speaking, there's nothing prohibiting either piece from being cutesy or violent.
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #107 on: October 02, 2009, 11:16:05 am »
You're probably right about the timing. Capriccio is indeed one of Reimu's newest original themes. The ones she got after that were remixes of pre-IN themes.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #108 on: October 02, 2009, 12:47:54 pm »
So then, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. Instead of every theme and track being unique, it instead goes for mood-appropriate variations and remixes on a core theme. Of course, the character themes are also still there for the actual fights, but the rest of the music is based on Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (the track). For me, this is a good thing, as the core track is gorgeous, and I don’t mind hearing it over and over again, especially if it changes moods all the time.

And so, speaking of character themes…

Iku Nagae – Crimson in the Black Sea ~ Legendary Fish

Legendary Fish consists of two parts that are impossible to miss – slow, deliberate piano chords is one part, uplifting trumpet is the other. Considering the contrast between the two and the way the second part is composed, I would judge that these parts present separately Iku as herself and Iku as a herald of catastrophe.

To justify this, I’ll have to start with the second part. After the menacingly deep, harsh, unforgiving and uncompassionate first part, suddenly a crystal-clear trumpet sings out a lengthy melody, carrying its entire passage pretty much by itself. The motif is very distinct due to its repeated usage of the fanfare announcement interval – the fourth going upwards. Considering the instrument and the pitch at which it’s used, the entire passage becomes one long declaration, a long call to attention, a rousing speech or a dire warning. Considering Iku’s exact job is to present the latter, I feel confident in saying that the trumpet sections are Iku’s announcements of disaster. This in mind, she is quite impartial to the actual disasters – the announcements lack regret or sorrow, as they are mostly in a major key, do not show a personal opinion – the melody is non-legato, so no smooth and sympathetic presentation, but neither do they make light of the deal – the notes are long, with little ornamentation in the passages, and the tempo is comparatively mild. In other words, Iku is absolutely professional about her job – it is her duty to inform everyone of upcoming disasters, not to offer sympathy or advice. She is an excellent announcer who knows how to get everyone’s attention without injecting emotion into her work. She is not completely callous however, and understands the impact of what’s coming in her wake – she takes the time to emphasize and repeat her declarations by the change of key in the melody’s repeat section until she is sure that everyone present is aware of what’s coming.

The first part is then Iku herself. Characterized by the melody’s slow pace, a minor key and a piano chord on every bar’s strong beat, supported by rock guitar, this part is grim, serious. The emphasis on strong beats is severe, the first few seconds even adding a clacking sound on those beats as well to make them stand out even more. To me this shows a great focus on precision, in thought and action, in Iku. Considering the second part, the impartiality it presents, suggests to me that Iku more or less lives her job, her personal attitude being almost no different than her professional behaviour. Perhaps even beyond that – she is naturally harsh, curt, maybe a bit menacing – the first part is mostly in a low pitch – but has to rein these qualities in somewhat when doing her duty, after all, being impatient and menacing to terrified people would only bring about a panic.

Sometimes Iku is portrayed as a minder of sorts to Tenshi, and this seems to be highly appropriate. Iku’s attitude is very no-nonsense, by-the-book and practical, and thus would be an appropriate countermeasure to Tenshi’s mischievous shenanigans. 

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #109 on: October 05, 2009, 11:57:47 am »
Back from the weekend to present...

Tenshi Hinanai - Calamity in Heaven ~ Wonderful Heaven

The entire piece strikes me as one long train of thought, always going forward, occasionally dwelling on one matter or another, but never returning to a thought already settled, as evidenced by the piece's structure of four parts before the loop, each part different from all the others, yet each part always naturally flowing into the next, whether by rhythm or instrumentation. Of course, each part comes from Tenshi herself, so they all tell something about her individually. As a whole, however, this structure shows Tenshi as someone prone to long stretches of introspection and consideration, although explicitly with no hindsight. This seems reasonable, considering that Tenshi, canonically, is bored of her Celestial way of living, and boredom usually leads to long bouts of thinking. Unfortunately, the resulting thought processes may take the most bizarre of directions, resulting in fantasies and daydreams. Although the later sections will demonstrate it better, I will say right now that Tenshi is a dreamer, a romantic. She is kind of person to escape into a fictional world if her current one is unsatisfactory. As we've seen with Haruhi Suzumiya, this sort of thing leads to trouble if that person is imbued with any kind of supernatural power - they will enforce their surroundings conform to their fantasy, despite the wishes of those who do not want this to happen. This is pretty much as described by Tenshi herself in the events of SWR - having heard of the adventures of the incident resolvers down below, too impatient to wait for another incident to crop up, she sets herself up as the bad guy, and is overjoyed when people play along with her game - hence her being so enthusiastic about "being punished", as opposed to out of some masochistic tendencies (which I dislike somewhat as a fanon thing, unless it's Word-of-God-approved).

So what does Tenshi actually dream about? As usual, I'll break the piece down by parts to analyse.

The first part, those first 15 or so seconds, make for a tense introduction with their diminished chords and metallic sounds. There's really no better way to describe that sound than with "steely", considering it's played on a metal xylophone (also called metallophone). It's a harsh and strong sound, completely lacking any warmth despite its resonance. This very resonance, combined with the "vocals" in the background, gives a sense of great magnitude. This section presents someone completely detached from their surroundings. They have been hardened, jaded, and stand above anything their environment can present to them. After all, familiarity breeds contempt, and the Tenshi presented here has nothing but contempt for her home, a home that has lost its ability to evoke her sense of wonder. As a dreamer, Tenshi would feel confined and held back by such a place, and would lash out against it, her sense of hatred unjustified but strong.

This thought is quite quickly cut off, naturally, judging by how elegantly it flows into the next part. Part two is made up of a set of two practically identical 4-bar segments repeated many times. Instrumentation is quite dense, with piano, guitar and horn making up the melody and its accompaniment, and the sound is muted, none of the notes carry, despite their instruments' normally doing so. Most of the notes are non-legato, so, although there's an overarching melodic line, this entire section seems confused, fragmented, unsure of where it is and where it's going. The key change halfway through does little to alleviate the fragmentation. This shows to me how poor a situation Tenshi is in, from her point of view. It's a very confined segment, with no room for thought to lift off. Despite the normal power of the instruments present, they are not allowed to show it all, instead being cramped together forcefully. It is no wonder that Tenshi is driven to rebellion against her household.

Part three then shows what it is that Tenshi wishes for. The claustrophobic confinement is gone, all there is are the metallophone and the "vocals", their sounds echoing and resonating like nothing before, this time alternating between a hopeful major and a bitter minor, before exploding into an all-major trumpet fanfare. I mentioned before that Tenshi is a dreamer and a romantic - she revels in emotion, in drama. It doesn't matter to her whether it's grief or joy that she's feeling, she just wishes to experience these intense feelings first-hand, and at full strength - that is what ultimately makes her happy. Hell, consider the name of her Final Spell track: "Childish Ecstasy" - she is ecstatic because she gets to play, to have fun for its own sake, to experience simple, childish joy.

Finally, the fourth part elegantly flows from the third by sharing the trumpet's long, expressive notes. No longer feeling the confinement, this part is one long joyous outburst, loud and clear. There is no pause, only escalation by means of the accompaniment building up in density. This part is here to show others what Tenshi is really like when free from the limitations she experiences, always energetic, always looking forwards, never stopping. It would be unfair to generalize Tenshi as an emotion junkie, as the reason for her distress seems genuine. It's hard to say, however, whether it is indeed the fault of the household for forcing unfair limitations on her, or whether she feels confined by a generally well-meaning home, but this is a secondary matter in this case. I would lean to the former, considering how easy it seems to make Tenshi feel happy.

I feel this does Tenshi justice. The above presents Tenshi's shenanigans in SWR as something like a teenage rebellion, a call for attention, or the kind of outburst a teenager can have when finally away from whoever's in charge of them. I'll claim once again that Tenshi isn't a masochist (unless Word of God etc.), but instead revels in anything that makes her feel extreme emotion (which bodily harm upon her can, indeed, achieve). Of course, if anyone has something to say, do so - I'm willing to discuss, and Tenshi is one of my more favored characters.

Prody

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #110 on: October 05, 2009, 01:05:28 pm »
For Tenshi's theme, I feel that the xylophones are a unique touch to a touhou song. I love instruments that produce these sounds!
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I wonder if anyone knows the true meaning of the last song in Nanairo?
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Solais

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #111 on: October 05, 2009, 01:52:43 pm »
Hmm interesting. Like most people, I always thought Tenshi as a selfish bastard, she was one of those I liked the least. But, after reading this, now I know why is that: She's just like a normal teen. She's in her rebellious stage, and she thinks she can do anything; or she can be like the adults 'who can do anything without worry'. Thus, she reflects my old self: Thinking she can do anything and not respecting anything or anyone. No wonder why I don't like her.
Also, I've made a surprising connection with another girl: Sanae. Considering her behaviour in the new games, she's in the same stage; well not really, she's more mature, so she's already leaving this stage, but she's still there. The only difference is that Tenshi is an extrovert while the newer games imply that Sanae was an introvert, or a loner. So what we see is the rebellious stage of these two different personality: Tenshi goes "Come on, I'm bored, fight me!" while leaving her "paradise" (the heavens, aka home), what she finds boring and limits her, and goes boldly facing the reality. And Sanae goes: "In this world, I can beat anybody!", just like how we nerds play different kind of games and MMOs; because Gensokyo is the ideal world for Sanae, what she always dreamed about, this is like her "WoW". Of course, she still stick to her "parents" just like how introverts, or we nerds mostly stick to ours.
Or at least this is how I see them.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #112 on: October 05, 2009, 02:49:00 pm »
Hmm interesting. Like most people, I always thought Tenshi as a selfish bastard, she was one of those I liked the least. But, after reading this, now I know why is that: She's just like a normal teen. She's in her rebellious stage, and she thinks she can do anything; or she can be like the adults 'who can do anything without worry'. Thus, she reflects my old self: Thinking she can do anything and not respecting anything or anyone. No wonder why I don't like her.

I think that's a bit mean to Tenshi. Now yes, she does indeed not consider the ramifications of her actions, but I feel the reason she's like this is a genuine problem with her upbringing. Now, I'm not saying there are issues to the point of domestic disturbance, but she could certainly have been neglected as a child, which could lead to rather severe psychological issues. Gensokyo+ means that these didn't really form, but she still might feel that she doesn't owe anything to her elders, who are most likely trying to impose a certain kind of lifestyle on her. Don't forget, Tenshi's a simple soul, it doesn't take much to make her happy, so there's certainly some blame to lay on whoever brought her up. On the other hand, we see Tenshi quite content back up in Heaven at the end of SWR, so this was probably a single exaggerated outburst, meaning she's also to blame, in this case for her perception of her home. I think it's a case of mutual misunderstanding between Tenshi and her home that led to this, which, honestly, makes for a nice story with an eventual happy ending.

Nice observation on Sanae and her similarities to Tenshi, by the way!

Solais

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #113 on: October 05, 2009, 06:10:51 pm »
Uh, thanks. And yeah, it's probably a little mean to Tenshi, but I'm also a little biased: Where I live, the 'normal' teenager is just like Tenshi. So I didn't really thought about what kind of upbringing she had, because, y'know, it would be like the same damn thing what's it on TV these days. They say this and that, and who to blame, without doing anything, and these kind of teens became normal. I know, my whole high school class was like this (I still remember when they burned my neck with a lighter during an english lesson... eek).

Fortunately, just as you said, Tenshi probably got ye olde good ending, just like in those old films: she went to face reality, and during hardships she learned that she is just a child. Or something like that.
At least, this thinking redeemed her for me (and also my hated old self). Now the only remaining character I don't like is Sakuya. I don't really have problems with her personality and her character, besides that she always kicks my ass in all the VS games, and that she's too popular.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 06:15:33 pm by Solais »

Fightest

  • Fighter than anyone else
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #114 on: October 05, 2009, 07:44:25 pm »
Uh, thanks. And yeah, it's probably a little mean to Tenshi, but I'm also a little biased: Where I live, the 'normal' teenager is just like Tenshi. So I didn't really thought about what kind of upbringing she had, because, y'know, it would be like the same damn thing what's it on TV these days. They say this and that, and who to blame, without doing anything, and these kind of teens became normal. I know, my whole high school class was like this (I still remember when they burned my neck with a lighter during an english lesson... eek).

Fortunately, just as you said, Tenshi probably got ye olde good ending, just like in those old films: she went to face reality, and during hardships she learned that she is just a child. Or something like that.
At least, this thinking redeemed her for me (and also my hated old self). Now the only remaining character I don't like is Sakuya. I don't really have problems with her personality and her character, besides that she always kicks my ass in all the VS games, and that she's too popular.

Whoa, that is pretty awful. This kind of stuff was always on the other side of the TV from me, so I have no personal experience, but I can totally see where your animosity comes from.

As for Sakuya's popularity...Well, I can't justify that in-setting. That's a matter of your personal preference and I'm cool with that. In fact, in-setting she's not very popular either, from what I remember of canon.


On a more general note, tomorrow I'll be starting with Subterranean Animism. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to do UFO once I get to it, though I might have to resort to more unusual means since I don't have the OST. Like Youtube. Nice and exotic, that.

Solais

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #115 on: October 05, 2009, 09:06:44 pm »
I'm talking about Sakuya being too-popular in the Fandom. I just don't know what is good in maids.

Anyway, SA. SA actually stands out in its stages' music for me, rather than its boss music. Stage 3 music is just like some music in a Traditional Village, it visuals some kind of a traditional japanese festival to me. It is also said in some scenarios that there's actually a festival there. And it's an underground traditional village. I was in an underground village before (there's one in Transylvania, Europe, it was actually a salt mine; and there was even a church there! With its colorful mosaic windows, it really felt like the Palace of Earth Spirits. At least if I remember right.) and it had a really cool atmosphere.

And then Heartful Fancy is something even more nostalgic than Mysterious Mountain, but now I know the answer why: it sounds a lot like some old games' end level music what I've played when I was a child. It was a pleasant surprise when I heard it.

And then Lullaby of Deserted Hell. No comment. Best Stage theme EVAR.

I'm looking forward to your posts.   

Lloyd Dunamis

  • aka Amanie
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #116 on: October 06, 2009, 06:07:14 am »
And then Lullaby of Deserted Hell. No comment. Best Stage theme EVAR.
*rapidly waves hands up&down* I SECOND THE COMMENT!! >/////////////< No words can describe SA's stage 5 theme's goodness!
... well, unless we start analyzing it... but meh! >/////////////< *over-excited, causing danmaku hearts to flow all over*

It's so unfortunate of me that I can't enjoy Lullaby of Deserted Hell's stereo goodness very well right now because something in our old computer's speaker out connection obstructs the left-side signals >_>

SA tracks 8 (Heartfelt Fancy) to 17 (Future Dream) were the first Touhou BGMs I've ever listened to, from a NicoVideo, and loved. I didn't know which stage themes were from boss themes then. I'll write thoughts of mine that I remember during those days (the BGM title below indicates the only part of the title I can read from Japanese):
"Heartfelt Fancy"- some deep-meaning 1st-stage theme with slow-but-heavy danmakus around in some mansion.
"<something> 3rd eye"- some kind of a vampire's theme, since I do remember that there's a vampire in Touhou... but a 3rd-eyed vampire?
"<something> Lullaby"- some serene, foggy ruins where the player moves cautiously for zero-visibility bullets or something.
"<2nd to the ending music>"- the first place I thought of is a tavern. Next is a menu BGM.

Some climax parts of other tracks caught my attention as well, but I'm not able to materialize its description. <and I'm out of words +_+>
« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 08:08:54 am by Lloyd Dunamis »
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Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #117 on: October 06, 2009, 06:36:42 am »
I'm talking about Sakuya being too-popular in the Fandom. I just don't know what is good in maids.

Anyway, SA. SA actually stands out in its stages' music for me, rather than its boss music. Stage 3 music is just like some music in a Traditional Village, it visuals some kind of a traditional japanese festival to me.

And then Lullaby of Deserted Hell. No comment. Best Stage theme EVAR.

Yeah, that's what I was talking about too, regarding Sakuya. My fault, I tend to be really unclear what I'm on about.

As for SA - yeah, I mentioned upthread that this is where ZUN gets all creative. He forgoes his usual blazing-fast tempo and instead goes for more melodic stage themes. This was most prominent for me in Stage 2, where the focus is all melody, and a mellow one at that.

Fightest

  • Fighter than anyone else
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #118 on: October 06, 2009, 02:21:06 pm »
Right then, finally starting on Subterranean Animism. As I keep saying, it's really the stage music that makes the soundtrack unique, as many of the stage tracks focus on a compelling melody. These melodies also tend to be far more...lyrical than those of the previous games, slower, with more room to evoke emotion and imagery.

Yamame Kurodani - The Sealed-Away Youkai ~ Lost Place

There's a duality in this track. There are two parts present, they're very clear, can't miss them, and they are very different from each other. The first part is a 2-bar repeating ostinato based on a minor chord, and the second part is a mostly major, flighty 8-bar melody. Considering how quickly the piece switches between the two, it shows that these two parts show core character aspects of Yamame that vie for front positions in her behaviour all the time.

The first part is most certainly menacing. The rock guitar is very pronounced here, playing deep, long chords, supporting the piano's doing much the same. It's a very simple ostinato, representing less a coherent thought but more something subconscious and dark, perhaps an unsettling mannerism or a way of speaking - something that is clearly unnerving about Yamame, but without so much development that you can put a finger on it. Now, Yamame is a disease youkai, so I would say this fits reasonably well - much like with Hina and her curses, one would always be on the edge with Yamame, never knowing if she might lose control and drop something nasty on you.

On the other hand, the melody itself is energetic, open, with the occasional ornament. The pitch is high and the articulation staccato, all in all suggesting a playful personality without ulterior motive or malice, one that does not give much thought to anything and reveling in the moment. The sheer contrast of this part with the previous one suggests to me that Yamame is not much aware of her "darker" side, or does not think of it as much as others might.

An interesting touch that I've seen in other pieces is the background acoustic guitar quickly plucking individual strings, the sound eliciting the imagery of a multitude spider's (for example) legs skittering about.

There's really not much more to Yamame than that. She's a spider, she's got disease powers, and that put a lot of people on the edge more than they really should, considering her light and simple personality.

Fightest

  • Fighter than anyone else
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #119 on: October 07, 2009, 09:57:08 am »
I figured not many would really care about Yamame. First stage bosses rarely get much fan attention, unless they have some weird quirk, like Letty's hitbox. Heck, Kisume is way more popular than Yamame, and she's just a midboss, due to her bucket-Ranka status. That said, the next one, from what I understand, is mighty popular, so I'll hope to do her justice.

Parsee Mizuhashi - Green-Eyed Jealousy

There is little in the way of showing combat in this piece. To me, Jealousy is more a demonstration of bitterness and second-guessing that only leads to psychological self-harm. With no input from the listener (or the player), Parsee is able to drive herself to desperation simply due to her attitude regarding her surroundings. Gensokyo+ limits the extent to which this develops, so Parsee’s insecurities never escalate to physical self-harm, but I would not put it past Parsee to be a miserable wreck most of the time, if in anyone’s company. Now, the piece demonstrates that Parsee is not completely controlled by her emotions, and that she is capable of making statements to herself, introspective or otherwise. Unfortunately, these statements could certainly send her off in the wrong direction, making things even worse. Let me show what brings me to these conclusions.

There are two parts to the piece that play sequentially, and then are repeated with embellishments in the second pass. Curiously, there is no introduction to speak of, the piece jumps straight into the first part of the melody, showing a degree of self-centredness, in that Parsee brings attention immediately to herself, without letting the listener prepare mentally. The first part on the first pass is a bitter melody of extreme proportions. The melody starts off in a quiet major, in a relatively low pitch, before emphasizing a transition into a high-pitched minor, as if saying “things can be pretty good… If only everything wasn’t so awful.” This is a forced transition, a rhetorical statement by Parsee, without letting the listener get a word in edgewise. Perhaps deciding that she did not emphasise her message enough, Parsee repeats herself, more forceful, yet still gentle.

I’ll go off on a slight tangent for the moment and emphasise Parsee’s gentleness and why I feel this is not a combat piece. The instrumentation employs the softest instruments I’ve heard in any track so far for its main melody. We have low synthesizer chords in the background with absolutely no edge to them, sounding more like a hum than anything else, but non-legato, preventing it from sounding like built-up power. We have non-legato piano playing single notes, avoiding chords completely, presenting a clear sound but without any force behind it. We have chimes for God’s sake, whose small and clear sound presents something far from aggression. To complete the impression, the melody is in ¾ time, presenting measured elegance and caution. Parsee is not a fighter, not with these characteristics.

Going back to the first part’s repeated force, those chimes emphasise all aspects of Parsee’s statement, both the bitter attitude and the forced rhetoric. The combination of these aspects with Parsee’s gentleness suggests a certain passive-aggressiveness to her.

The second part introduces something like an accordion to the melody, the closest Parsee might be able to get to the power of trumpets or organ. The texture breaks the flow of the previous sections, with many more chords and those upwards-moving intervals, making this section a declaration of sorts, more honest and open than the rhetoric of the first section. The suddenness of this section probably has Parsee cutting herself off, trying to put a stop to whatever thought processes were going through her head when she was going on about the grass on the other side. Parsee is most likely aware of where this would lead her if it got out of control. Unfortunately, she lacks the will to make it stick. The first part comes in more powerful than before, the force in her self-declaration now only making this part stronger. The piano has been relegated to scattered arpeggioes at a blazing pace in the background, giving me the image of a racing thought process, one never able to lock on to something concrete, eventually serving as a reinforcing background for the jealousy-fueled outburst. This is what I meant when I said that Parsee inflicts rather severe psychological harm on herself – constantly second-guessing herself, she subconsciously warps any common sense of hers, as well as emotions she feels naturally, into something that reinforces her feelings of bitterness at her own situation, the same feelings that lead to jealousy in the first place. Parsee exists in a self-destructive positive feedback loop that only stops if Parsee is in no position to form opinions. Despite this loop having an upper limit due to Gensokyo+, she’s still in a terrible situation caused by her own insecurities, and I’m having trouble finding any positive aspects in this.

Somewhat grimdarker than usual, I hope that this analysis nevertheless gives Parsee justice. I certainly have developed a lot of sympathy for her, and hope that she has a chance to get better.




 

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