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The Music of Bonku

Bonku's music goes through massive transformations because of the complexity of Bonku's character. My previous blog covered the development of Bonku's theme. This blog will explain my use of chords and the harmonic language of Bonku.

Using Harmony to Create Character Development

In some scenes, Bonku is a loving stepfather just trying to get himself and his stepdaughter, Anne, back to the human world. In other scenes, he does some very evil things to achieve his goal. These contrasts have musical equivalents in three different types of harmony.

1. Polytonal harmony

2. "Tristan" harmony (Wagner)

3. Diatonic harmony

Polytonal Harmony

The balance of The Forgotten Realm is threatened by the human presence which is musically described with the chromatic melodic lines of Bonku's theme and polytonal harmonies. I used the four Bonku chords to create the polytonal harmonies. (also see my previous blog post).

The Bonku chords can be used to create polytonal harmony by simply superimposing them on top of each other and thereby creating a characteristic dark, dissonant mood.

This orchestra sketch shows how I have worked with polytonal layering. Notice that layers 1 and 2 stay in the same tonality and layer 3 switches between the 4 Bonku chords during this segment.

"Tristan" Harmony

In some scenes we get closer to Bonku and the music needs to give a feeling of deeper understanding of Bonku and his motivations.

I used the four Bonku Chords in a different way to emphasize the human, but also slightly restless, sides of his personality. Combining the chromatic theme with minor chord harmony tends to create minor chords with added 6, which can be inverted into the minor 7 flat 5 chord also know as the Tristan Chord.

Richard Wagner used this now very famous chord in his opera, Tristan and Isolde, to describe longing and suffering, and the purpose is the same in Forgotton Anne. As you will find out very early on in the game, Bonku is longing to get back to the human world.

In this excerpt most of the harmonies are Tristan chords and you also hear the chromatic theme in different solo instruments. It's my hope that these harmonies, combined with the chromatic theme, will help open up Bonku's personality to the player.

Diatonic Harmony and Theme Transformation

As I explained in the previous blog, the diatonic scale was used for the Caretaker´s theme to symbolize the balance of the Forgotten Lands. However, in one scene you hear a diatonic version of Bonku's otherwise chromatic theme. It would reveal too much of the story to explain why, so I will just tell you how I did it. First I took the chromatic theme and transferred it into a diatonic scale. Then I harmonized it with very simple minor and major chords.

The solo cello plays Bonku's diatonic theme in this excerpt. On top of this you can also hear a solo violin playing Anne's Theme.

Audio demos are recorded by Copenhagen Phil conducted by James Morgan

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