Game Music: Castlevania – Symphony of the Night

Symphony of the Night OST CoverCastlevania is one of those series to have left a genuine mark in history and the evolution of gaming. Alongside Metroid, the series even gives it’s name to the Metroidvania pseudo-genre. And like Metroid, it has has some truly memorable soundtracks. Symphony of the Night is heralded by many as one of the best video soundtracks ever.

To give the score its full name, Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight.

You don’t need to have played much of the game at all to recognise the music as being quintessentially Castlevania. Despite the electronic and heavy metal tones throughout it maintains a sound that is recognisably Transylvanian, vampiric and firmly rooted in the 1700s.

It was composed by Michiru Yamane and her work was so well received she went on to score many more Castlevania games including Lament of Innocence and Dawn of Sorrow.

Many games have areas, levels or locations that cross themes, requiring a soundtrack which does likewise. SotN is no exception, with locations ranging from a royal chapel to underground caverns, and Michuru Yamane weaves the music around them effortlessly – compare “Door to the Abyss”, with “Dance of Pales”, or the exquisite “Finale Toccata”. But (and I think we’re past spoilers here) there is an entire extra section of the game present in the Inverted Castle, and the theme shifts again to a more chaotic style. The Underground Caverns, for example, have “Crystal Teardrops” as their theme, but the inverted counterpart, The Reverse Caverns uses “The Lost Painting” – recognisably similar themes, but markedly different nonetheless. For a part of the game that – arguably – most players will never reach, that’s a moving devotion to the soundtrack. How easy it would have been to just reuse the themes to the non-inverted locations, or to do a minor reworking…

Even if they don’t know the composer or the title everyone recognises Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D-minor”, whether from early horror, Fantasia, Phantom of the Opera or any number of musical works that sample it. But did you spot it in the melody of “Finale Toccata?” Listen again[1]ht

Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D-minor (Frederik Magle)


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