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YangustheLegendaryBandit

Yangus's Thoughts: Dragon Quest XI's Symphonic Suite

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Welcome Slimes and gentlemen to another edition of Yangus's Thoughts! This time around, it's not going to be about a video game, but rather, a soundtrack! Specifically, I'll be talking about the latest Symphonic Suite for the series.

This all started thanks to Fates. After hearing of his success with importing the SS via Amazon Japan and after I had troubles with ordering Dragon Quest VII's Symphonic Suite, I opted to kill two birds with one stone and ordered both VII and XI's Tokyo Metropolitan Symphonic Suites. Sure enough, the arrived a few days later and were listened to in quick succession!

Like many here, I've been eager to get Dragon Quest XI, but most of all I've wanted to hear the new music composed for the game. With series composer Koichi Sugiyama being well in his 80s, I was extremely curious how the new music for this entry would turn out, particularly how Sugiyama's musical vision would play out in Symphonic form, the best way to experience Dragon Quest music in my opinion.

Well, this brings us to the entire point of this Yangus's Thoughts. After listening to the Symphonic Suite several times the last week, I felt inspired to share my thoughts beyond my initial impression posts elsewhere on the Den. Maybe this is just a way to help pass the time till we learn more about the western release of Dragon Quest XI, or maybe my love of music pushed me into trying this idea out. Whatever the case, I just wanted to share my opinions with my fellow Denizens, just like the past Yangus's Thoughts!

Unlike past YTs I've done, this new entry will be split across several smaller entries. I want to dedicate a post to one or two tracks off the Symphonic Suite at a time, rather than trying to follow my writing formula from the past. There are 19 tracks on Dragon Ques XI's Symphonic Suite, so at the most there will be 19 posts from me about the music. I figure this way, it will give me a better chance to break down tracks that feature multiple songs, such as track 7 of disc 1 which features three separate songs.

I by no means claim to be a music expert, so I'm sure there will be some aspects that I either don't mention or may glance over. Much like other YTs I have done, these are all simply my opinions and what I've noticed and/or felt from the experience I've had over the subject matter.

 

With all that out of the way, please look forward to updates to this topic!

Edited by YangustheLegendaryBandit

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Sounds like an interesting series, I'd like more clarification on the quality of XI's soundtrack. It's the one aspect of the game I've been on the fence about.

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5 hours ago, Psaro said:

Sounds like an interesting series, I'd like more clarification on the quality of XI's soundtrack. It's the one aspect of the game I've been on the fence about.

Hey, glad you're looking forward to updates. My goal is to get started this weekend, so you can look forward to a few posts soon enough. :thumbsup:

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Disc 1, Track 1:

Overture (XI)

The Overture, the start to every DQ game. With XI's arrangement, if you've seen one of the trailers for the game, you're already familiar with this song. But really, if you've played ANY other DQ game, you've heard the Overture before!

How this rendition differs though is due to the opening. Featuring an extended take on the DQ 1-3 rendition, beginning with a brief back and forth call between the trumpets and baritones (I BELIEVE they are baritones at any rate, though they could be french horns) playing the opening notes of the main Overture melody. We hear a constant drumroll during this before a transition into the string section playing alongside a harp progression and timpani taking over for percussion. And then bam! You're into the DQ1-3 Overture rendition.

I enjoy this new opening for the DQ1-3 style, as it helps build up that sweet brass opening one will hear when listening to, say, Dragon Quest II's symphonic suite.

The main part of the Overture is a mix of ideas from other symphonic suites. We have a trumpet focus similar to what DQ7 has, while having an equal sound amongst the instrument families and a proud march of the drums like with DQ5 and 6's rendition. Hearing a good balance of sound amongst the instrument families is nice, showing how each plays a good role across the many songs of DQ11's symphonic suite.

However, I feel they should have done more of the blending of families,  perhaps leaving the main sound of the trumpet for the very opening portions. The trumpets we hear in the main melody are rather weak in a few places, and I believe it should either be the trumpets are the main focus or should be blended in, not this strange middle ground. Perhaps if the trumpets had been a little more blended with the rest of the orchestra, it wouldn't sound quite so noticeably weak in the main section of the Overture. Or let them play through the first round of the melody, then let other instruments cover the repeated melody.

 

My gripes aside, it's the Overture. It's a classic piece for the series. I would listen to other renditions of the Overture before DQ11's, such as DQ4's, but with what 11's symphonic suite gives us, it's a good performance.

Edited by YangustheLegendaryBandit

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Disc 1, Track 2:

Start of the Adventure - The Hero Goes Forth with Determination

 

Our first two part track! This will be common for a lot of the tracks, so I will focus on each part. With that said...

 

-Start of the Adventure:

This piece plays in the opening cutscene where the protagonist is discovered as a baby floating down the river after an incident in a far off castle. Though I don't know what all is said in the cutscene, our protagonist is discovered by a kind old man who was fishing near the river the next morning, and is no doubt taken in by the friendly old fellow.

The composition is short, clocking in at about 45 seconds. Strangely this song is played at a faster tempo compared to the in-game version, though this is not a criticism against the symphonic version as it still envokes the same emotion of the Synth rendition.

With our symphonic version, we have the violins playing a gentle melody with cello bass line in the beginning, along with a soft harp that briefly takes over for the violins in two places. The brass sections takes over the bass section while the violins continue, but we quickly have a lovely transition to the cellos now playing the melody, their deep tones giving a feeling of surprise and happiness, no doubt reflecting the old man's shock at finding a poor baby floating down the river. We end with a farewell with the violins raising in volume with a final flourish from trumpets, celebrating the start of the game and our protagonist's life in his new home.

Honestly, this is one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack. It does a great job bringing up emotions of confusion at first, but then becoming something of joy and a new start. I think the instrument choices are a good mix (especially those cellos playing the melody and that final call from the trumpets), and gives me the goosebump feeling a Dragon Quest song of this kind should create.

 

-The Hero Goes Forth with Determination:

And now we find ourselves at the overworld theme of the game! I remember I wasn't so keen on this song when gameplay first popped up, no doubt due to the quality of the Synth used for Dragon Quest nowadays...

That opinion, however, has completely changed.

We start with a drumroll akin to a march, as if to get your party in marching time. A triumphant melody from the trumpets quickly follows, taken over by the tubas and french horns, the drums never letting up that marching beat. We have a good bass line of "dun, dun, dun, dun," from the violins, played at about a pianissimo so as not to overpower the low brass when they claim the melody. The violins, however, take over the melody for a few measures, having a bit of a playful time before the tubas take back the reigns as the only instruments playing. A combined call from the instrument families has the violins take the lead again, with a "one and two and..." drum beat picking up from the drum/cymbal (though a soft sound, mind you). The tubas and horns emulate the fun melody of the violins from a few measures ago in their own style before another call from all the families takes us back to the repeat of the song.

Much like Start of the Adventure, I think this song has a great mix of instrument choices. As I said in the Overture post, it demonstrates how every instrument family is important since they all bring a new sound idea to the table. Hearing this version for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised! It became a bit of a guessing game who was going to have a melody next.

I enjoy the percussion in this song. It, when combined with the other parts, brought to mind the overworld theme of Dragon Quest III, Adventure. You're setting off into the unknown, a fascinating world awaiting beyond the fields and mountains! The song motivates you to push forward with all you've got, embracing what trials may await while keeping your head held high.

This has become one of my favorite overworld themes in the series by far, and honestly I wouldn't have guessed that considering my initial take on the song back when we first saw gameplay. The symphonic version really drives home what Sugiyama was going for, providing that classic sense of adventure the series has given players. I think the song will strike a chord with those who grew up on the NES games most of all, especially if you've found yourself humming the likes of Endless World or Adventure.

 

This track is overall fantastic. It's a wonderful start to the symphonic suite, giving two good renditions of songs back to back.

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Listening to track 19 out of context on the OST before it plays in the game is a shame imo.

Epic track right there

Edited by Hopeful Death

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6 hours ago, Hopeful Death said:

Listening to track 19 out of context on the OST before it plays in the game is a shame imo.

Epic track right there

It was pretty epic to listen to without any context. Plus it began to stir up the imagination on how exactly this game connects to what all plays in that song.

Also, kind of jumping the gun by bringing up track 9 of disc 2! That post is a still a long way off! :laugh:

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Man, just listened to the overworld theme. It does sound so much better than the in game version. I want to remain gratefull that we got voice acting, but this is going to bother me when I get to play the game. Really wish we got orchestrated music. But, oh well. 

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I really should get back to this topic. Especially now that DQ11 has a release date.

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