STA: KHUx.17 – Go For It! / A Lesson in Mixolydian Mode

The Coliseum is one of the most thrilling parts of Kingdom Hearts Union Cross. After you complete Quest 130 of the Story mode, you get to embark on monthly rapid-fire challenges to earn Coliseum Coins and unlock special skill medals and avatar parts (special-themed clothes for your character). On the first of every month I usually blast through a few dozen rounds and earn hundreds of coins, unlocking all of the milestones on a couple of the Coliseum boards.

And of course, one of the most exciting parts of the Coliseum is the music! While “Olympus Coliseum” has a very slow-moving, open, grand feel, “Go For It!” (the Coliseum battle music) is packed with energy and driving vitality. Though not my most favorite mode, “Go For It!” uses one of the eight Gregorian modes, Mixolydian, which is the topic for today’s article.

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STA: KHUx.16 – Olympus Coliseum / A Very Brief Introduction to Counterpoint

Ah, the land of Greek gods and goddesses, and the mighty Hercules, the Olympus Coliseum has some of the most heroic and valiant music in all of Kingdom Hearts. But what about “Olympus Coliseum” gives an impression of heroism and grandeur? In other words, what makes this piece of music sound very open, and stylistically rigid, like our hero Hercules? Today we are going to be talking about perfect intervals and step-wise motion, two very important key features for melody-writing, following the strict rules of counterpoint.

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STA: KHUx.15 – To Our Surprise / A Brief Explanation of the Snare Drum

The battle music in Wonderland, “To Our Surprise” is an incredibly upbeat and sprightly track, whose energy comes primarily from the punchy staccato notes in the main melody as well as the driving percussion: namely the cymbals, timpani, and snare drum, the last of which will be today’s article’s main focus.

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STA: KHUx.14 – Welcome to Wonderland / A Lesson in Contrast

Back in college, I had a composition professor who taught me so many great things. One of the lessons she taught me that really stuck though was about contrast. She was always saying things like “There’s too much of this same rhythm”, or “Change the melody line so it goes down this time; it’s only been going up”, or “Why don’t you change the key/tempo?” Those suggestions—sometimes really drastic and sometimes very small—were always very helpful and as a whole made my music better. In today’s article, we’re going to look at “Welcome to Wonderland”, a lovely example of the power of contrast.

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STA: KHUx.13 – Arabian Dream / A Lesson in Phrygian Dominant Scale

As I briefly mentioned in yesterday’s article, I am going to be talking about the tonality of the Agrabah music today! This one is bit music theory-intensive, but please bear with me! For those of you who have read my article about the Fire Emblem Fates theme song, or have studied it in school or wherever, the phrase Phrygian Mode/Scale may be familiar. The Phrygian Dominant Scale is extremely similar—the only difference is one note. But before we get into that…

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STA: KHUx.12 – A Day in Agrabah / A Lesson in Triplets (and Duplets)

Today’s article is inspired by “A Day in Agrabah”, which originally played in Kingdom Hearts I, and is also in Kingdom Hearts Union Cross as the music for all of the Agrabah quests. There are lots of cool things about this track, from the instruments that are used to the interesting tonality (which we will talk about tomorrow!), and the rhythms. This article is going to focus on the rhythms, and more specifically, on triplets. And since we’re talking about triplets, we’re also going to talk about duplets, because the two pretty much go hand-in-hand.

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STA: KHUx.11 – Risky Romp / A Brief Introduction to Uncommon Violin Playing Techniques

Today’s article is quite exciting! Similar to yesterday’s article, this topic is inspired by the track we’ll listen to today, but not necessarily focused entirely on the piece itself. Today we are going to be talking about some of my favorite violin techniques: pizzicatospiccato, and ponticello. Now I am not a violinist, so I am not a complete expert on this subject, but I remember really enjoying learning about playing techniques (for all kinds of instruments!) in my upper division classes in college. If you happen to be a violinist, please try out these techniques, and let me know in the comments how it goes! 🙂

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