Xenosaga is one of Yasunori Mitsuda’s best works. Mr. Mitsuda is known for his high quality of composition and memorable melodies as well as a mix of Eastern and Western music. One of the most interesting pieces from the Xenosaga soundtrack is “Last Battle”, which is an excellent example of minimalism.
Minimalism is characterized by severe limitations in the number of instruments, silence, concept music, continuities, and phase shifting, the last of which “Last Battle” is characterized by. Phase shifting is taking two identical sound samples and playing them back at slightly different speeds to create a gradual shift in the music. Steven Reich was one of the first composers to use the form. Above is Piano Phase, played by James Wiman and Brandon Kelly.
“Last Battle” begins with a kind of phase shifting, beginning with two short complementary melodies, one on piano, the other on violin, which has a little tail emulating a fade-shift that is played out further at 0:22. Of course, this phase shifting is not extended throughout the piece, as it is difficult to maintain interest in a largely conceptual work. Also uncharacteristic of pure minimalism, “Last Battle” gradually layers new instruments throughout the first movement such as organ, bells, choir, and drums. As such, Mr. Mitsuda takes elements of the form that are interesting and applies his own style. Read the rest of this entry ?