Sunday, January 3, 2016

Great Video Game Music - Paternal Horn - Nights Into Dreams

You might not be into gaming yet still know the name of Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic's popularity has progressively waned through the years as the games he's been featured in have steadily grown worse and worse. Sonic Team, the group behind many of the Sonic titles, just can't seem to get things right when it comes to the blue hedgehog.

They've had some success with other attempted franchises though, included the cult hit Nights Into Dreams from 1996. By today's standards, Nights isn't that impressive of a title, though its fans will obviously and justifiably state otherwise (as much can be said for what it did for its time) its music though is gorgeous by any standard,

Naofumi Hataya, working along with Tomoko Sasaki and Fumie Kumatani put together a beautifully rich and deep tapestry of sound that few games can compare to. One of the first tracks in the game is "Paternal Horn," a lush and intricate song in its own right and made even more so by the full version of it that released as part of the official soundtrack


Most video game songs work off of relatively short, repeating melodies that can vary anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, some annoyingly less than that. "Paternal Horn" not only doesn't loop, but its full version is over eight and a half minutes long and maintains its originality throughout. Variations on the main melody are played out and expanded upon with extended piano/keyboard solos synthesized horns, harmonica, rattling electronic drums, and all of it themed around providing a musical sense of wonder and magic.

In the world of video game compositions, "Paternal Horn" ranks as one of the most elaborate and spectacular. As it relates to the game itself, there's no need for this piece to be as long as it is...it actually defeats the purpose of being in a video game as very seldom is music relevant for that long a time period. For example, what good is a 9 minute song when a level can be completed in 3 minutes? If the music resets when your character is defeated, when are you ever going to hear the rest of the song?

"Paternal Horn" was made not only to work for the game's atmosphere, but it was expanded upon for the sake of the art of music. This is a trend that is far more frequent in gaming compositions today, but was much more of a rarity in 1996. Sit down for a spell and take it all in when you have the chance, you'll be impressed.



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