Friday, June 8, 2007

In a 1-3 Mood

(Originally 16 December 2006)

Honoo no Tobira is old, but I've always been late to picking up anime-related music, although perhaps that is set to change with some more dedication. As usual, this has been a result of me bumbling around YouTube looking for FictionJunction YUUKA stuff. I had come across Honoo no Tobira about the same time as Nowhere and Seiya, but it's taken a while to grow on me, and it's not because of the video (although the C/M is pretty). Whatever complements what's in my head at the moment, I'll latch on to. Instead of describing what's currently in my head, let me describe the song's appeal.

Kajiura likes those Baroque rustic harmonies and scales (modes), and they've made appearances here, and in Akatsuki no Kuruma, probably Key of the Twilight, among others. They might not even be Baroque, but something older and from folk music as opposed to the church music that dominated the era. After a while the novelty wears off, but Honoo no Tobira keeps things interesting by putting a hard emphasis on beats and one and three. The immediate effect is that it's different - the lack of any back beat drive was enough for me to feel a bit off balance. Back beat is almost taken for granted most times, because it's got quite a bit of energy. Taking it away, you can't play as fast and loose, and the music moves towards a more structured outline.

It could be akin to an Allemande: 4/4 time, heavy accent on 1 and 3, moderate tempo and very dignified. It matches well with an atmosphere that has a healthy dollop of Baroque amid the more contemporary instruments and arrangement.

The 1-3 is the biggest draw for me. There isn't the drive that is typical of most contemporary pop music, but a drive that still exists. There are no breathers like in Kouya Routen. Coupled with the little flourishes and entries, like the bit of electric guitar that leads into the chorus and the flute line in the second verse, the song just steamrolls along like clockwork. Even when everyone drops out save for the piano and Yuuka, the intensity is sharpened instead of blunted.

The piece's final bridge brings back memories of Key of the Twilight. A chorus takes over the line as caller. Even though they are softer in volume, they compensate because they are, well, a chorus. And it's hard not to notice something that speaks softly and carries a big stick. Yuuka takes the response position. Solid balancing in this section.

Debussy being fed up with traditional concepts and structures of harmonic development, quipped to a friend at a concert, "Let's go — he's beginning to develop!" I, for one, welcome our new modulating overlords. The call and response develops into hints of counterpoint. The harmony only switches to two keys quickly (I have zero perfect pitching ability, so don't actually quote me on this) before going back for a codetta, but with the form, chorus, and arrangement, it packs some power.

I don't loop it all the time as it's not something I can just sort of shove into the background. I appreciate the sophistication and dignified stance so much I just zone out and bask in it all.