A month ago, I had talked about the degree to which Madoka’s background music resonated with the anime community. All of a sudden, people were talking about how epic Yuki Kajiura’s music sounded and the fan response got to the point where we saw people trying to recreate all those memorable pieces as a stopgap while waiting for the soundtrack’s release. As a BGM fan, I felt like I was witnessing something special.
So as we look around today, the music scene surrounding Madoka is still alive and well and there have been a few arrangements that have caught my attention since the last post. My musical tastes, being what they are, tend to gravitate towards certain types of arrangements moreso than others, so that’s what you’ll be getting here. Anyhow, if you’re curious, check them out after the jump!
I’m usually not one for OP/ED arrangements because they tend to be a bit overdone. However, there’s just no way I can turn away from this, so here’s the first one. It happens to be my favorite of the lot, and so, I do hope you enjoy this jazz arrangement of the ending theme, “Magia:”
Talk about not being able to have seen such an arrangement coming. A pure piano arrangement? Sure! Get someone to play a mournful violin solo of the song? Yeah, I can see that. But smooth jazz? The cognitive clash that comes out of this is part of what makes it enjoyable because the original stood out for being a really heavy, intense piece, filled with a discordant atmosphere throughout. Here, the keyboard work is so mellow that you can relax to it, perhaps in a jazz lounge with a pint in hand. It also makes a departure away from the source material through an enjoyable bit of improvisation in the middle to spice it up a bit with variety. I don’t often see jazz arrangements outside of the Platina Jazz series, so this was a very welcome change.
The next piece features my favorite instrument: the piano. Now, piano arrangements are a bit more common, but once again, most tend to cluster around OP/ED themes. This one takes things a bit further through a 7-minute piano medley of the BGM. It’s something I’d like to see more of at any rate:
It starts off with that melancholy piece that feels emotionally heavy, as if it’s weighted down by the tragic burdens the show’s characters must carry. As the piece begins to shift, it slows down just enough to reinforce the burdening image before picking up the tempo to transition into Mami’s battle theme. The piano work here feels really intricate, and the way it’s performed brings a grandiose aura to the piece as a whole. The sense of motion associated with all the action going on makes it feel like this piece flies at a rapid pace while showing off Mami’s dignified, cool demeanor, brimming with confidence.
Those who’ve seen the anime know this flash and dazzle doesn’t last, and the piece moves into the minor key where things turn dark and grim, with dissonant tones coming to the fore before ending almost abruptly (guess what happens here!), replaced by an ominous, chaotic atmosphere. Here, the lower registers give off a groaning sound that, when combined with the rest of the piece, feels grotesque, befitting a fall from grace. The ugly, monstrous feeling dominates this section, depicted through the piano’s grinding melody. Soon after, tragedy sets in and with it, the short motif from Fur Elise which serves as a transition to Kyoko’s prayer.
I really like Kyoko’s prayer. There’s a melancholy gentleness of spirit flows about it as though to say that she knows what must be done and what must be done is so very heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there’s no hope in sight as the piece winds down with “Magia,” leaving you hanging without a faint glimmer of hope to really cling to. It’s depressing all the way to the end.
Is this next piece hopeful? I’d hope so since it’s very much emblematic of the anime’s end. Here’s yet another piano arrangement courtesy of the talented Animenz:
While Kajiura is best known for her brilliance with EPIC violins and choruses, it’s very easy to overlook some of her more tender themes. I really like how this theme channels that bittersweet emotion just right. Here’s what Animenz says about the piece in general:
I also noticed that this is one of the few soundtracks of Madoka which is actually in a major key. And damn, I really love this track, it’s gives you a good feeling and at the same time it’s incredibly sad. As if the music wants to tell you: “Don’t worry, everything will be fine“. Once again, many thanks to Yuki Kajiura for composing this epic piece of music!
Well, I couldn’t think of how I should name the sheet (I actually thought about naming it Untitled soundtrack 2 but it sounded just silly) and so I decided for “last theme – miracle” because it’s the last heard soundtrack of Madoka. And a miracle truly happened.
Some Miscellaneous Notes:
There’s more than just these arrangements floating out there. For one, Zakufan showed me an arrangement of the brooding, melancholy theme played by a music box. There’s also an ocarina arrangement tucked in his set of links!
I’m extremely curious to see what kind of Madoka arrangements come out of this summer’s Comiket. Sure, we’ve had a ton of electronica and trance versions of anime music, TAMusic is probably going to put out more garbage, but wouldn’t it be great if there were some symphonic, piano, or jazz albums of anime BGM mixed up in there somewhere? I’ve raised the possibility of someone going all out and setting Madoka to a symphonic poem. I’d do it if I knew enough about music composition to do it.