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Altin Peak's Flood from Golden Sun (2001- GBA)
Growing up as a bassoonist, you spend a lot of time explaining what your instrument is to friends, family, and other people you meet. Examples of the instrument in popular media are few and far between. I have been a gamer my entire life, getting my start with the Sega Genesis and the N64. The system that most captured my attention and accompanied me everywhere I went was my trusty Gameboy Advance. My favorite game for that system (and still today) was 2001’s Golden Sun from Camelot. You might imagine the reaction of a young bassoonist, not used to hearing their instrument played outside of their own band class, to hearing not just a snippet of bassoon sound, but a full track devoted as a bassoon duet. Even through the midi sounds of the soundtrack, the timbre was unmistakable. Golden Sun is a JRPG with many of the typical elements of that genre: young heroes banding together to save the world from evil magic users, sorcery, swords, and inns for resting; it also has a unique class system of great depth, gorgeous visuals, a full soundtrack, and an epic story that was too large to fit on a single cartridge (2003’s Golden Sun: The Lost Age is actually the second half of the first game). In the game this track is used twice, both cases deal with regular people whose lives have been upended by the greed of their lords plundering nature for their own benefit. In the first iteration, Tret Tree, a lord turns to logging a sacred forest in order to build a new palace for his wife. The forest’s guardian spirit lashes out against all humans, turning them into trees as punishment. In the second iteration, Altin Peak’s Flood, the people of Altin mine too deeply into the mountains surrounding their village and disturb the resting place of powerful water spirits which summon a flood, completely submerging all but the highest points of the village. Luckily for both groups, the party of Isaac, Garet, Ivan, and Mia come along and save the day. This track is used in both cases. It consists of a slow mournful melody over a mostly static accompaniment. I feel this insistent, unchanging harmony captures the situation of both groups: the villagers trapped, fully-conscious as trees, and the villagers clinging to the cliffs overlooking their flooded homes. In the original midi version by Motoi Sakuraba, the two bassoon parts are accompanied by guitar. With the composer’s permission, I transcribed this version for two bassoons and marimba. I'm joined in this recording by Sara Fruehe, bassoon; and Doug Rosener, marimba.
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