Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight – Chaconne c. moll (KCE Nagoya Sound Team)

October 30, 2009

Here is a simply fantastic baroque organ piece from Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight for the Sega Saturn (1998). The game is commonly known as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in the US (PlayStation, 1997), but the Saturn version was only released in Japan (and quite frankly, aside from this song, it’s not really worth tracking down). That being said, some heavy organ music is an excellent choice for this time of year, and this song in particular is one of my favorites from the game. You can almost see the passion of some crazed nobleman storming into the keys!

Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight – Chaconne c. moll

“Chaconne c. moll,” or “Chaconne in C Minor,” is composed in a musical style that originates from Spain in the 16th Century and later finds its way into the hands of such baroquian masters as Bach and Brahms. The form is characterized as “variation on a repeated short harmonic progression, often involving a fairly short repetitive bass-line.” This form thus seems particularly suited for videogames, which are replete with repetition and variation, but more importantly, it allows a small set of notes to be explored in great detail, creating some excellent surprises for the listener.

I’m actually not 100% sure who the composer of this track is. Most of Symphony of the Night’s score was composed by Michiru Yamane, now famous for her work in the rest of the Castlevania series, but the credits for the Saturn version are vague at best. However, judging from the quality of the piece and its strong gothic style, both hallmarks of Yamane’s work, I have concluded that the track is probably hers. (I have sent her an e-mail and am awaiting a response – update to come!). Additionally, it is inconsistent with the classic Castlevania remixes composed by the KCE Nagoya team (H. Suzuki (Sound Direction), T. Ohsono (Music),  J. Kirashima (Music/Sound Effect), and K. Okada (Music)) – though this is not to say I don’t enjoy at least a couple of their mixes.

That being said, the entire Symphony of the Night/Nocturne in the Moonlight soundtrack is simply amazing and hands-down one of the best vgm scores ever produced. It has incredible variety, with everything from baroque and classical to techno and rock, and this respect for music is reflected in not only the game’s title but also those of the tracks. It was my second game music album I ever owned, and I still listen to it from time to time. Castlevania’s soundtracks are now much more accessible thanks to their re-release on iTunes (just do an iTunes search for Castlevania). At $9.99, it’s a must-have for Halloween. Sadly, “Chaconne c. moll” and the other Saturn tunes are not available.

Incidentally, Yamane has recently left Konami and is now working independently at her own studio. She’s also joined Japan’s Video Game Sound Creator’s Alliance, with the lucky ID number of 033! I am glad to hear she will be working on original material, but also hope to hear some new Castlevania work from her. Best of luck, Yamane-san!!!

“Chaconne c. moll” plays in the “Cursed Prison,” a level that aside from its awesome title and fantastic music, is quite forgettable – namely, it is merely a series of hallways with nothing of interest going on, aside from a few mummies hanging from cages and chains. It’s really just a shortcut between two main areas, the Marble Gallery and the Underground Waterway. The level, along with some other mostly ho-hum new material, sadly lacks the polish of Konami’s main studio. Thankfully, the original version has been re-released on the PSP, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network.


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