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Variations on a Theme from "Dragon's Lair"

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Here is the mockup of a piece I submitted to "From Bits to Bangers". Spent a month composing this going through some research first and then actually composing, because I didn't know a thing about "Dragon's Lair". Apparently it is a really hard-to-beat 1983 game where you need to go through different levels and fight a dragon in the end to save your princess (Daphne). I didn't know that my description would end up in submissions thread (might've misread the OP), because I would've guided listeners a little better than I did, but anyways here is the original description: 

"So I took Dragon's Lair track here. This is free variational form with developement in different fields. I went from studying the soundtrack and noticing it's medieval feel, so I went for this too at first with my work and it goes sort of from just typical folk Dorian scale to a sort of modern polytonic harmony in the end. This track played at a dungeon level, so I wanted to represent that too, going with some nocturnal feeling, developing into some conflict in the end which resolves and goes back to Dorian scale in the end, referencing the 'peaceful' beginning. "

Originally named Dungeon Variations, though it's not the dungeons, that the original track plays on, it's in the mines, but whatever 😄 There are a few moments that I was considering while composing this:

1. So first thing is the context, because it is a story based music, so it has to follow context heavily. Medieval context is a must, and an original track asks for a ballade like approach. Hence why I was questioning this "From Bits to Ballads" offence by one of the judges, because you simply can't YOLO this track (or Kirby's too) and go for heavy metal Castlevania-like approach. You can, of course, but that would not be a good "Execution of a Given Challenge" in my head. 

2. Characteristics of the initial theme: all in downward chromatism. In the game the hero dives more and more into the depths of the castle and this chromatism in theme supports this feeling when you enter the mines level. I wanted to retain this and develop as I can. 

3. Nocturnal feeling is a must. Supporting major-minor relations and going from folk Dorian scale to heavy polytonical textures in the end introducing the main theme has to retain that spooky feeling of the original. 

So by all that I had Theme 1 (T1) which is simply a variated form of the original melody. Theme 2 (T2) which is the original melody by itself. And characteristic chromatic downwards motion.

All in all creating story through chromatic motion downwards (spooky, sad, nocturnal) or diatonic (representing the hero, good, radiant, light), just to be there as a certain contrast to the chromatic motion. 

1. Piece starts off with the intro, setting the medieval mood of T1 in Dorian Scale, which uses diatonic relations for setting up a mood. Later on introducing main hero fanfares later on entering the castle and facing his fate. You can hear chromatic downwards motion in clarinets in the woodwinds line after fanfares. 

2. Initial setup of a original theme. Getting introduced to a T2, variated from the original rhythmically in a clear nocturnal texture, followed by developement using chromatic motion downwards in lower register at the same time as diatonic motion upwards in the higher registers. 

3. Modulation to D minor with chromatic downwards motion setting up the next section, which uses variated form of T2 setting up uncomfortable mood. Constant changes in lows between I and VII# makes sure this feeling stays there. Thick harmonies in clarinets and horns are used to enhance that feeling of unease. All that is supported by pedal tones in Trumpet and Trombone lines. Dangers of the castle seems to evade as Trumpet introduces a diatonic upwards motion melody. 

4. Diatonic upwards motion in Viola solo line now features I-VIm harmony from the original theme, indicating that even in the light there is darkness now and the new danger might be approaching. After that flute line refers the T2 again, variated to be slower rhythmically as bassoon line refers T1 one last time before the culmination. This section lives in a distinctive contrast to sections 3 and 5.

5. Culmination itself uses the original theme in its full form. With the initial melody there are two counterpoints. One is in violas and clarinets, and the other one is in trumpet line. Both are there to support the final battle mood. Trumpet is enhancing strong harmonies while constant moving. Double tonguing in flutes is introduced to reference the initial track's melody delay FX.

Ending is open. After all you don't know if you've beaten the dragon, or have to reset the whole game and repeat your path. If former - horn solo just sends you back to the beginning, if latter - it means you are in peace again with your love interest and can live happilly ever after in your medieval magical fantasy world 😄 

Thanks for reading and listening. I hope you enjoyed. 




Edited by AlexeySavelyev
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  • AlexeySavelyev changed the title to Variations on a Theme from "Dragon's Lair"

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