Yesterday and the day before, we talked Raid Boss battle themes, and we will do so again today! The article of interest for today is “Shrouding Dark Cloud”, which first showed up in the original fight against the Guard Armor in Kingdom Hearts I, and is now also the battle music for the Guard Armor Raid Boss in Kingdom Hearts Union Cross. And just as the title suggests, today’s article is going to be about pieces that incorporate different time signatures–that is, the number of beats per measure changes throughout the piece.
Let’s first listen to “Shrouding Dark Cloud”, with its epic horn riffs and awesomely mobile, syncopated bass line:
This epic battle theme includes two different times signatures, that it seamlessly goes back and forth between. The horn riff section and less intense break-down sections are both in 4/4 (four beats per measure), and the strings + awesome bassline part + driving percussion is in 6/4 (six beats per measure). I’ll count it out for you here 🙂
The cool thing about this track is that nothing else changes when the time signature changes. It’s not a dramatic difference and does not mark a switch of instrumentation or mood or anything: it is simply allowing some beats to be longer, and some to be shorter.
You could also argue that including different time signatures into the same piece throws off the listener’s inner compass a bit. Now the beat itself does not change, so the rhythms stay steady the whole time. It is simply the number of beats per measure that changes, so the downbeat is in a slightly different place from where you might expect it to be.
In fact, the transitions between time signatures were so subtle that I did not even realize the changes until recently, when I really began to study this incredible series’ music. This simple yet very effective concept of different time signatures shows that Yoko Shimomura is not afraid to break from the norm a bit–though this is certainly not the only piece that shows how unafraid she is 😉 She also strays from the usual 4-measures-at-a-time standard, with some groups of six measures of the same time signature, and even some groups of five measures with the same time signature.
Sometimes music can start to become a bit stale if there is too much repetition and not enough variety. Keeping things interesting is something that Yoko Shimomura generally really excels at, and this piece is no exception. Adding in those extra two beats every other section adds a bit of length and development to the bassline and makes the whole piece that much more captivating. ♪
Stay tuned for more Single-Track Analysis Articles of tracks from Kingdom Hearts Unchained X / Kingdom Hearts Union Cross! One article every day in the month of April 2017!