Suikoden II – “Fugue ‘Praise to My Master’ (North Window Castle BGM)” (Miki Higashino)November 10, 2010
Following up on “Toccatta and Fugue in D minor”, this next song covers what the second half of Bach’s piece is – the fugue. Fugues are another musical form that came into its own in the Baroque period, this one characterized by two melodies playing in counterpoint – or contrapuntal (again, easily observable in the bar visualization). Essentially, this means that there are two or more melodies playing simultaneously, and both usually respond to (or play off of) the other.
“Fugue ‘Praise to My Master’ (North Window Castle BGM)” from Suikoden II (1998) is a fine example of a fugue in organ. Here, the two melodies are very clear, with each playing in call and response before crossing over to play simultaneously – so this is an example of a permutation fugue. Again, the piece appears in a large castle (this time that of the Neclord, a vampire). There is certainly an amount of praise going on here (particularly the triumphant rising section at 1:40). Unlike most vgm, this piece also has a conclusion. Further, it turns out the Neclord is actually playing this theme on the organ and the piece stops the moment you enter the room (actually, that website is pretty cool…). Kind of ironic too that the song is called “Praise to My Master” We can thank Miki Higashino (Suikoden series, Contra III: The Alien Wars) for this amazing composition. It’s too bad the game is impossible to find for less than $100 – Konami really needs to re-release it on PSN.
I would like to say there are more fugues in game music, but they tend to be quite rare in earlier compositions (mainly because there were so few instruments possible, but also because fugues are not easy to compose). One piece that is actually named a fugue doesn’t appear to be one – “Funky’s Fugue” from Donkey Kong Country. While it’s a wonderfully hip surfing dude theme befitting of the Main Monkey (and some awesome “HI-YA!” sfx), I’m not seeing much in the way of multiple melodies here – it is more a layering of multiple instruments. There is a little bit of countermelody at the 30 second segment, but I don’t think it’s enough to warrant the title, particularly as it is not sustained throughout. It’s not that Robin Beanland can’t write fugues, or that it is impossible to write one using the instruments chosen, it’s just that the track appears to be only in name for the benefit of alliteration.