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The Music of Master Bonku and The Caretaker

In Forgotton Anne, we decided early on that each important character of the game should have their own theme music: Anne, Master Bonku, Mr. Fig/The Rebels, and The Caretaker. In this blog I will focus on Master Bonku and the Caretaker because they represent the two main opposing powers in the Forgotten Lands.

The Forgotten Lands are a world of forgotten objects and the presence of humans, Master Bonku and Anne, is an anomaly. I wanted this to be very clear in the music and have attempted to achieve it by using a diatonic scale for The Caretaker's theme and a chromatic scale for Master Bonku's.

The Diatonic Music of The Caretaker

Western music has been based on the diatonic scale since the Middle Ages and it's still used by most composers today. It has universal qualities which made it a natural choice as a basis for The Caretaker's theme and as a symbol of the natural balance of the Forgotten Lands. Below you see a natural a-minor scale, the seven white keys of the piano.

As the story develops, it becomes more a more clear that a deeper force or power is at work in the Forgotten Lands. The power is centered around the mysterious Caretaker, a kind of goddess who maintains the balance of the Realm.

The music of The Caretaker doesn't develop much during the game and there is no chord progression to give a feeling of harmonic direction. The reason is that the music describes the deep fundamental power that creates stability in the Forgotten Lands. But the balance is threatened, so I also used the diatonic scale to create an inner tension by playing adjacent tones from the scale simultaneously while holding a deep drone in the bass.

The music keeps rather quiet until the climax near the end of the game and only here does the music break out of the diatonic scale.

The Chromatic Music of Bonku

A chromatic scale consists of all twelve tones within an octave, all the white and black keys on the piano, and can be used in countless ways. In this game, it symbolizes the disturbance created by the human presence in the Forgotten Lands.

Unlike the Caretaker's music, Bonku's goes through massive transformations because of the complexity of his character. In some scenes, he is a loving stepdad trying to get himself and his step daughter (Anne) back to the human world. In other scenes, he shows his dark side. His music is often multi-layered and comes in many variations. But most elements fit into one or more of these 3 categories of music material: Bonku Main Motif, Bonku Chords and Bonku Theme.

Bonku Main Motif

The main motif is what everything else is derived from and is a simple row of falling minor thirds. In its pure form, use it to add a sense of destiny and inevitability to Bonku's character. The falling movement is in contrast to the upward movement of Anne's Theme and Mr. Fig's Theme.

Bonku Chords

The main motif is also used to create the harmonies of Bonku's music. The four notes become the root note of four minor chords which are used throughout the game to create the Bonku sound. 6 seconds into this example you hear a chord change from chord 4 (F# minor) to chord 1 (Eb minor).

Bonku Theme

Bonku's theme is created by simply filling in the minor thirds of the main motif (red notes) with chromatic notes (black). Many variations of this theme are heard throughout the game and I use it to add to the human and tragic aspects of his character as well as to hint toward Bonku's influence in scenes where he is not present. In the climax of the final scene of the game, the main motif becomes the bass line with the theme on top.

The Caretaker and Master Bonku live in the same world, the Forgotten Lands, but represent opposing powers. In this game, the diatonic scale symbolizes the ancient, fundamental power of nature and the chromatic scale describes the human presence which threatens the balance. If you pay attention while playing the game you might notice a surprising development in Bonku's theme near the end. My next blog will cover this and other aspects of Bonku's music.

The music is recorded by Copenhagen Phil, conducted by James Morgan. (except nr. 1 and 3)

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