In the penultimate STA: KHUx article, we are going to be talking about the theme of one of the Kingdom Hearts series most interesting and tragic characters. While I don’t know exactly what happens with Roxas, as I have not yet finished KHII or 358/2 Days, I do know that Roxas is a character you get to know and love, which makes it all that much more heart-breaking when you have to say good-bye to him, whenever that is. Again, I haven’t played all the games through yet so I don’t know exactly what happens… All I know is that it is very sad…!
Which brings me to today’s topic: music that is both major and minor. Near the beginning of this series, we talked about modal mixture, where a piece of music is mostly in a major key, but will borrow some notes from the parallel minor.
In today’s article, we are going to be talking about relative major and minors, which are keys that share a key signature. In this case, it is F Major and D minor.
Let’s listen to Roxas’s Theme, from Kingdom Hearts II.
What a beautiful theme…
When the music starts out, it is definitely in the key of D minor. The bass note is clearly D, and the overall feeling is very dark and ominous.
What happens around 00:14, and then even more so around 00:23? The tonal center shifts, from D minor to F Major. The set of notes, however, does not change. D minor and F Major have the same key signature, meaning they also share the exact same set of notes. It just depends on where the music implies a finality, which changes from D to F, and back to D.
Here are the D minor and F Major scales, both which use the same notes, but have different tonal centers.
This could easily be interpreted as Roxas’s struggle to stay positive and his attempt to validate himself and his life… Ahh it’s just so sad…
Most music either stays in the same key, or dramatically modulates to different keys, but I would say it is more uncommon for a piece of music to shift so seamlessly between the major and relative minor. It is a very subtle difference, but very powerful. Can you think of any other pieces that do this? I’m sure there are lots, though I cannot think of any others at the moment… ♪
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!