Well, I’ve been promising this one for a while, and here it is: ‘Cross-Pollination’. It’s a minimalist piece, which… doesn’t really mean an awful lot.
I’ve written it in E minor, always a reliable minor key, and set an ostinato to run pretty much continuously for the first three-quarters or so of the piece. That gives a pretty strong sense of rhythm, and the rest of the work is just done by building up the various string instruments around it. Once most of the instruments have started playing, we stick in a bit of phasing, which is when one of the lines gets a bit out of sync with the others. Basically, most of the lines are playing eight beats; in one of them, I stick an artificial ninth, and that means that it gradually starts lopping further away from the rhythm of all the others. It gives this weird feeling of things not quite being right, things changing slowly into other things. Eventually it gets back into sync, at which point a vibraphone introduces a new line that also does a bit of phasing.
Once the phasing fun’s run its course, the piece changes entirely and runs through an ascending sequence of chords built around tweaking fourths with unusual majors, minors or sevenths (I put my theory into practice!) and from there trundle abruptly into the end. It’s a very simple piece, so I don’t have a lot to say about it; that seems to make this a good opportunity to take a look back at Chiptune Chaos so far and see how we’re getting along!
I SHALL NOW PROCEED TO MAKE UP THE PLOT BASED ON THE SOUNDTRACK!! (I really am just making it up as I go along, so apologies that it’s probably very rubbish.)
Our imaginary game now has eight tracks for its OST, which I think is a good start. It doesn’t yet have a main opening theme, but it does have the theme for its first boss battle. The player character would be alone at this point, having woken up somewhere or stumbled into an unknown cavern, and encounters a monster that boasts great power. Being crafty, the protagonist manages to figure out a way to defeat it. On its death, it transforms back into the friendly sheep-like creature it usually is, and the protagonist – let’s call him Sporklord for now – finds a strip of what seems to be very fancy cloth.
Returning home, Sporklord takes the cloth to the village tailor and discovers that it’s part of an Imperial Guard’s cloak. He becomes suspicious that the Emperor might be turning friendly animals into monsters for some nefarious purpose, and decides to journey to the capital. So he recruits his friend Alan the rogue and heads off. On their way out, they’re joined by a girl called Patchwork, who they vaguely know because she’s considered a bit of an oddball around the village. She doesn’t really explain why she’s coming along, but they can’t shake her cheerful attempts to follow them on their grand adventure, and so she joins the party.
Proceeding along their way, the group get to know each other a bit better. They fight various bandits and whatnot, and eventually come to the outskirts of the capital. As they sit outside, preparing themselves to enter, they find themselves getting nervous, but reassure each other. (That track would probably play a few times throughout the game in various ‘getting ready for big moment’ situations.) When they finally emerge into the big city, they’re accosted by the Goof-Off Hitman. He shows them around, buys them a few drinks… then tries to kill them. When they defeat him, he joins the party, tells them his real name (he’s actually a girl called Vega) and tells them that the job to kill them came from the Imperial Citadel itself. Patchwork recalls some of the people she’s met in her odd and well-travelled life, many of whom she’s lost, and wonders why the Emperor would order their deaths. Vega doesn’t know why; she just gets money and orders.
They fight their way into the Citadel, helped by Alan’s sneaky skills, where the Emperor (a friendly, frail, joyous old man) clearly doesn’t know anything about what’s going on in the kingdom (or whatever the imperial equivalent is). His advisers have been misleading him, in particular one really nasty one called Obvyusli Seekretli-Eevul, who murders the old Emperor when Sporklord deduces that he’s been surreptitiously running the kingdom for nefarious purposes. The party are forced to flee. Sporklord’s pretty upset at the idea that they’ll now be hunted by the Imperial Guard and will never be free again, which is fair enough. Patchwork, Alan and Vega manage to convince him that if they want to be free, they just have to restore the rightful order. They’re ambushed one more time on their flight out of the capital, by Imperial Guards who are beginning to show signs of turning into monsters just like the sheep near the village (at that point, ‘Cross-Pollination’ plays).
And… that’s the plot so far, according to the soundtrack! Going forward, it looks like I’ll need more character motifs, more general area and overworld themes… more of everything, basically!
THE SAGA CONTINUES!!