Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Song of the Week 40: 'A Link to the Piano' by Zylance

Hey there, I'm finally back. Due to a two-week vacation and various internet issues, I haven't been able to do much at all with RPS. So...I've come home, my internet is finally running properly again after over a month of problems, and I'm glad to be back. I have to thank Met for putting all of the links to our song reviews on OCR and also for him having many connections which will help promote RPS; I was shocked to see the dramatic rise in pageviews this month. So, this week's Song of the Week is a remix based of the game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: another great classic that I unfortunately have never played. I was really surprised that this hasn't been a Song of the Week before; it was probably one of the first (if not the first) remixes from OCR that I've ever heard back in 2009 when I first discovered the site. So here's Zylance's (he was Zoola at the time) only remix: 'A Link to the Piano'. Let's check it out now, shall we?

The first thing everyone has to realize is that this is a solo piano piece. The song starts out with the piano creeping in slowly with a rhythm consisting of the notes G, C, and D. There are no complex chords at the moment, but even the simplicity of the notes are blended together to make it sound more complex. This repeating pattern of the rhythm grows broader at 0:08; not only is the rhythm increasing in speed, but the bass notes are getting deeper. The treble notes remain the same, but the bass adds depth and change to what's being played. At 0:22 the introduction to the piece starts to conclude, for the music starts to slow down and end with a shortly-held E note. After this note is released, there's a short pause that lasts for about three seconds (0:26-0:29). Starting at 0:30 there's a new section where the more complex "Zelda chords" are introduced. Although the rhythm played here resembles that of a waltz, it's in 4/4 time instead of 3/4. Each chord is similar in sound and the bass notes in each measure are almost identical. The highest note in each treble chord becomes higher, creating a sort of slow buildup. There's a slight change of pattern coming up at 0:37; instead of the three main notes/chords being played, every other measure includes a triplet. Not only that, but the volume increases with each measure as well. This sequence will happen twice, and then there's another brief pause. At 0:47 the first main sections of the song begins to play. The melody is played by the treble notes while the bass notes cover a more major interpretation of the sequence from 0:30-0:47. When I heard this section for the first time, I could instantly tell that this music was from a Zelda game (even though I already knew where it was from before listening to it). It wasn't because I knew it beforehand, but it had that feeling in the music that presented in almost every LoZ. While this melody is playing, I notice how the volume of the song fluctuates and gets louder to add emphasis (especially at the third note of each measure). At 1:04 the piano repeats the rhythm it was previously playing at 0:47, although there's a minor change of pitch. After that melody is played one more time, a new section begins at 1:20. This new section has the bass notes playing the usual rhythm (note, note, chord, repeat) and the treble notes play a new melody that's a little more major than the last. Also, this section changes key signatures; it's now 3/4 time, making it even more like a waltz. Like the previous melody, it repeats itself for a couple seconds starting at 1:31. This repetition doesn't last long, for everything starts to slow down at 1:38. The new section starts up at 1:44 after another held note. I've noticed throughout this piece that every transition to the next section is merely just a held note, a pause, and the next section jumping in. It's simple, but I like it. This new section is much quieter in volume and a little simpler chord-wise. The key sig has also turned back into a slower 4/4 time. The treble notes, blended with very low, slightly-syncopated bass chords, play three eighth notes for every two measures-after two measures the notes will repeat but go down in pitch. There are many occasions when the pattern will go up in pitch but go back down again. This section lasts for quite awhile in fact; it goes from 1:14 to about 2:19. There's another "ritardando, pause, new section" transition at 2:14, although this new section is extremely similar to the last. The biggest difference here has to be the dramatic rise in volume. Here you can tell that no more chords are being used; it isn't until 2:27 when a chord is used by the treble notes. At 2:34 is probably the most powerful part of the piece, or the climax. Coincidentally 2:34 is exactly half-way through the song. This here is a repetition of the section back at 1:44, but much, much louder. At 2:42 the notes speed up a little bit, going from eighth notes into stretched triplets that gradually slow and quiet down. At 2:49 the next small sequence is a group of large, familiar chords that are used in many Zelda games. These chords are also quite loud, which is a dramatic contrast to the quick, quiet, treble triplets (try saying that five times fast!) that are to follow. At 3:07 the triplets from before start off another new section, but it has the same feel as the almost silent section at 1:44. This time around it's much simpler rhythm-wise but much more complex in the chords. There's only one minor chord for each measure, making the piece sound very melancholy right here. There isn't any addition of notes until about 3:20 or so. It's a long section also, but thankfully it's not too repetitive with the notes. At 3:55 (yeah, this was almost a minute long section) things start to change a little bit. It's the same melody and rhythm, but each measure will accelerate just a little bit. I love how they do that there. It isn't until about 4:15 when the sequence of chords change and the tempo slows down a bit. After the song gets back up in volume and pitch, large, loud chords are played with a couple quarter notes in between. At 4:27 the chords are now becoming even longer to change (although the only thing changing at the moment are the low bass notes that are getting lower with each hit), and even three seconds pass before the final chord of the section is hit. Starting at 4:44 the song is now starting to conclude. There's probably about four chords being played in the last fifteen seconds of the song with a medium-high G note playing before each chord. At 5:00 the treble and the bass join again for the final time until nothing else can be heard.

Pros: Excellent piano work, I have to say. It's very soothing, deep, relaxing, and the notes blended very well. The amount of chords used throughout the song was great, since it's hard to get a good interpretation of the chords used in the LoZ games. Also, I liked how almost every section in the song was different or had a different feeling. Being a pianist myself, I'm very impressed.

Cons: The biggest problem that I had with the song was the sensitivity of the volume. There were times when the volume worked for what was going on, but I thought that the volume went up and down way too frequently. It was also too loud at some points as well (2:34 for example). The song also should be cleaned up and mastered a little bit so it sounds smoother.

Overall: I have always liked a good solo piano piece, but this particular one catches my eye. It's a great arrangement for a classic Zelda game that is not only powerful, but it includes some calm elements at the same time. While there are still a couple things to clean up with this song, Zylance brings us a great piano-centered remix.

Rating: 8.8/10


John Torkington said...

Hi! Well, I'm not sure if this is the best way to contact you, but I'm John Torkington aka Zoola aka Zylance! I just read your review of my 6 year old song, and I'm pleased to hear you enjoyed it. This has actually happened a few time over the years - I all but forget this remix then somebody finds it and writes some very kind words. While my 15 year old self most certainly didn't put as much thought into this piece as you give me credit for, I truly appreciate the analysis and review.

Met said...

Thank you for your feedback, it makes it all the more worth while for the authors here (myself included) to write reviews. I believe this was actually one of Reogan's first OCR tracks that sort of launched him into the site (just as One Girl in All the World by The Wingless was my starting point). Definitely a good piece of piano writing. I've actually had plans for a while to do a writeup/review of The Silence (as posted on Protagonist Records) but I never did largely due to my aversion to writing about lyrical music. Now that I know you're interested I'll certainly put that one back in the list. However, we're extremely swamped this fall with personal stuff and we still owe Meteo Xavier a ton of reviewing that we're still working on. When we do tackle The Silence, it'll probably be Spring of 2012; I'll let you know when and if we do. Thanks for the kind words.