Aftershok Composes: Bouken Desho Desho for Four Saxophones

It’s been almost an entire two days in the making, but, at last, I am proud to present to you all the culmination of nearly 48 hours’ worth of work, sweat, and instant noodles. Written/arranged by me and performed by my four other identical quintuplet brothers (pictured), this arrangement of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya‘s “Bouken Desho Desho?” is written for saxophone quartet.

In all seriousness, though, what I thought would be an arduous, overly-ambitious summer project actually turned out to be a leisurely nighttime click-a-thon through Sibelius and a single lively morning recording session. You may note my somewhat unusual setup; I myself own a bari sax, an alto, and a soprano but not a tenor. I thought it might be strange to arrange for a soprano without a tenor (a soprano with two altos would have been altogether too shrill), and I hate transposing (whether the computer does it for you or not), so I decided to go AAAB. Fun fact: My vintage bari only goes down to low Bb. Having written lots of low A’s for the bari part, I actually resorted to rolling up a piece of cardboard I had lying around to lengthen the bell of the horn to get that extra half-step. This required lots of editing and rapid launching/docking of said cardboard apparatus between when I needed low A vs Bb (not to mention dubious intonation), but I think it turned out OK.

One of the biggest challenges for me was deciding how much to “jazz up” the score; I found myself constantly wanting to incorporate wacky, extended-interval chords and other hipster jazz nonsense. In the end, I think I struck a good balance between playing it recognizably straight and giving it my own spin. Give it a listen if you so wish and be sure to let me know what you think!

Bouken Desho Desho? for Saxophone Quartet

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P.S. My quintuplet brothers’ names are Miguel, Mikhail, Mickey, and Mikiel. People have trouble telling us apart sometimes. They also don’t seem to know how to take pictures with their mouths closed.


A huge jazz nerd and unabashed fan of alternative rock, I joined Anime Instrumentality in December 2010. I tend to get very passionate when it comes to music and try my best to understand how it works. An enormous fan of The Pillows, among my favorite anime composers include Ko Otani and Yoko Kanno. My tastes in anime vary wildly, but I try to be as thoughtful about my viewing as I am about my listening. I play the saxophone.

14 thoughts on “Aftershok Composes: Bouken Desho Desho for Four Saxophones

  • May 17, 2011 at 3:14 am

    “hipster jazz nonsense”, that would make a great name for a Frank Zappa tribute band!

    Anyways, I’m so impressed you have your own Sax quartet. Whatever you’re paying them isn’t enough.

  • May 17, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Okay, I’m no sax player nor music student, but why is an A note on sax totally sounds like a C note? I was confused when you said “the bari part has lots of low As”, because my not-so-tone-deaf-but-maybe-tone-deaf ear tells me it’s a C. Can you explain why?

    Anyway, nice rendition there. I liked the way you put some edginess on the intro/outro, then goes classy into the verse, then a nice variation of bass lines (or tenor lines or whatever you call it on brass) on the chorus. You should totally form a real quartet and play some more. Then you can use your identical faces as a marketing tool. But anyway I kid. 😀

  • May 17, 2011 at 7:21 am

    The saxophone is a transposing instrument, meaning the notes that are written are not the same as the sound of the note at concert pitch. The bari sax’s notes are generally written in treble clef a major 13th above the way they sound, eg a written C5 produces an Eb3. As a result, it’s known as an Eb instrument. In fact, a lot of wind instruments are transposing instruments. For example, the most common trumpets and clarinets are in Bb having their music written a major second above the sound, and the piccolo while a C instrument has all it’s notes written an octave lower than the actual sound.

    From my experience playing clarinets, this transposing instruments thing makes it so much easier to pick up a different member of the same instrument family. Instead of thinking C4 entails covering up all the left hand tone holes on the standard Bb soprano clarinet, but on the alto clarinet, and Eb instrument, it’s played by closing no tone holes and pressing no keys, I just have one set of fingerings for all clarinets (simplifying a bit) and just read and finger a D4 on the Bb instrument or a G4 on the alto.

  • May 17, 2011 at 10:05 am

    My four identical brothers and I think we are getting paid just enough.
    Corsac basically nailed it, but let me add just a touch of history to his explanation. The inventor of the sax, Adolphe Sax, was a Belgian man who lived in Paris. When he first developed the saxophone, he actually made quite a number of them (the exact number escapes me; probably mid-10s) in all types of keys and octave ranges, even one keyed in C (like violins and flutes) and F. The story goes that the types produced for use in French military bands were the ones keyed in Eb and Bb because music written for miltary bands of the time were mostly written in those very keys: Eb and Bb. This made it very easy to score for those instruments (the key would never move beyond a single flat). On the flip side, its use in symphony orchestras never took off. Orchestras in general tend to be much more conservative institutions than bands, and they were not very accepting to suddenly having a new instrument to have to score for. That, and Mr. Sax allegedly got into a bit of a fight with one of the major orchestra composers of the day. This is why C and F saxes (keyed for use in orchestras) are so rare today (basically nonexistant).

    Also, if you could really tell those low notes to be concert C’s then that is pretty impressive in itself!

    Somehow I don’t think that being a transposing instrument has anything to do with having similar keying between family members (because the music you’d be reading would have transposed for your instrument anyway, right?), but my experience switching between saxophones has been similar to your on clarinet.

  • May 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I think what I meant to say is due to the music being transposed, the keying/fingering is the same across the family making it easier to switch between members of the family. (I think we agree on this.) And because of this discussion, I am now imagining an early clarinetist, before the invention of the almightly bladder pad, attempting to play music in concert pitch across multiple keys with multiple clarinets.

    Also, I have to agree with Aftershok that being able to tell that the note is a C is a pretty impressive thing in and of itself.

  • May 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I enjoyed listening to it, but that may be because I was eating a candy bar at the time.

  • May 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Ah, I see what you’re saying. Also, everything about music was several magnitudes more difficult in those times. Those were the days when musicians were real men who wore powdered wigs and white stockings. Ergonomic key layouts and programs that notate music for you? Nonsense!

    You may be surprised to learn that I arranged/performed the candy bar as well.

  • May 18, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Oh, so I was right then. Thanks for that little bit of history, as well as the compliment :)

  • May 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Them beats are freeeeeash.

    Nice job on the arrangement. I know how painful using Sibelius can be, so kudos for sticking with it until the end. Are we going to see any future arrangements within the anime op/eds?

    “My quintuplet brothers’ names are Miguel, Mikhail, Mickey, and Mikiel.”

    You should check out my Sextet, includes, other than myself, the five best performers in the world; Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, Dylan and Dylan.

  • May 21, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    It comforts me a little bit deep inside that someone out there shares my pain about Sibelius. If you have another, better program to suggest, PLEASE let me know, especially if it has similar functionality!

    I say this because I do plan to arrange many OP/ED’s like this in the future (I’m actually done with one of Hare Hare Yukai, but I’m not 100% happy with it and my high standards prevent me from publishing it immediately), but continuing to use Sibelius may be a bit of an obstacle. I’m currently working on “Cruel Angel’s Thesis.”

    You guys should really consider adopting some different names, those are too similar.

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  • May 22, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Whooaaaa amazing job! :)

    I don’t know much about this type of music but this wasn’t so bad!

  • May 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Not really sure what else to use. I’ve only dabbled in Finale outside of Sibelius, but sincerely doubt I will make a switch anytime soon. Finale is not that bad, but could be just as annoying depending what you want. Once you learn all the shortcuts in Sibelius, I would say it’s the superior system, but that’s my opinion.

    Yeah, well I don’t blame you with high standards? When are musicians and ever completely satisfied with their own work? Rarely always. Even my older stuff I shake my head too, but I enjoy them regardless 😉

    I’ll be waiting for Cruel Angel’s Thesis.

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