Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior) is known for its classical references. This makes perfect sense as the series’ composer, Koichi Sugiyama (also a composer of television) was classically trained. The soundtrack certainly has its classical roots – take the song “Menuet”, which borrows heavily Hayden and especially Mozart. Full of beautiful, uplifting notes in the major scale, Sugiyama aims to create a joyful melody illustrating the legends and themes of the game (only a short reference to minor scale is used in the middle, around 1:40). The juxtaposition of bold, sweeping notes in the first segment of the song with the short, punctuated bursts of energy in the second portion aid in making the song memorable by providing a strong, recognizable melody.
The minuet was originally a French social dance characterized by lots of short steps, but became integrated into the suite (a series of compositions) during the Baroque era. The minuet was sometimes used at the end of an overture (which is fitting, considering this song plays at the end of the “Overture”).
The tracks in the Dragon Quest 4 Symphonic Suite are fully realized in their orchestral form – how they were viewed in Sugiyama’s head prior to their transferrence to the 2A03 Famicom sound chip. The music is, in fact, too ambitious for the system to hold and desires an orchestral arrangement. This version was played by the NHK Symphonic Orchestra and seems to have been conducted by Sugiyama himself. Read the rest of this entry ?