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Requiem Re-imagined: Anime's Musical Magnificence in 'You See Big Girl' and its Arrangement





Introduction

Requiem! Many classical music fans have heard of the term, but what exactly is it? Requiem is one of the classical music genres that serves in honor of the dead. Because it is related to the theme of death, most famous requiem music after the Mozart era has its characteristics of grandeur, massive, and magnificent sound. Due to these characteristics, requiem is considered to be one of the most challenging and hardest ones to compose. You need to take care of the instrumentation, structure, and melody to convey its meaning. If you successfully deal with all these traits, it becomes the most effective musical device that will convey the meaning to the audience.



"You See Girl" from "Attack on Titan"



While many people would think that Anime is an intricate and fascinating media genre, it is true that most of the music from anime suffers from a lack of rich sound due to many reasons such as financial issues. Because of this, many music fans might have doubted if the music from Anime could capture the essence of grandeur musical genres such as requiem. However, here is a counterexample. "You See Big Girl" from "Attack on Titan" has been notably listed as one of the most well-composed and effective Anime music. When you listen to it, one thing you can clearly hear is that it resembles the musical characteristics of requiem. But why did the composer write such music? "Attack on Titan" is set in a world where humanity resides within enormous walled cities to protect themselves from the Titans, gigantic humanoid creatures that devour humans seemingly without reason. As we can clearly see, it is a dehumanized apocalyptic world where protagonists fight against these monsters. This perfectly fits into the theme of requiem. However, even though the composer chose the right musical genre, requiem is such a challenging one to compose. If the composer fails to write music, it would give you an amateurish feel through music, which will eventually lead to negative results. Then, how did this music succeed in capturing the nuance of requiem?


Its successful composition lies in several factors. First, there is a very important musical device, which is ostinato. Ostinato is a repetitive musical theme that consistently recurs throughout the piece. In the music, this ostinato serves several meanings. First, it gives tension and intensity in music. This ostinato is often accompanied by accents in percussion, creating undoubtedly high tension throughout the music. However, when it comes to the contrasting section, it also creates a calm atmosphere. These motifs are played repetitively, creating a sense of anticipation and tension as they build up towards key moments in the music. If you listen carefully to this ostinato theme, you will be able to enjoy the music more deeply from different angles.


Dynamics, which refer to the volume or intensity of the music, also play an important role in the music. Interestingly, this music includes sudden silences and crescendos that shed light on the dramatic moments in the anime. Not only sudden silences but also gradual crescendos were used to build tension and excitement leading up to climactic points in the music.



Arrangement by Torby Brand

This sounds so sophisticated to play with. However, there is an excellent arrangement that allows you to enjoy this wonderful and magnificent music. Torby Brand, a YouTuber, uploaded the piano arrangement of "You See Big Girl," which surprisingly captures the mood of the original music. Furthermore, the arrangement not only captures the essence of the original composition but also adds a personal touch, inviting musicians of varying skill levels to engage with the intricacies of the piece. Through its innovative adaptation and accessibility, Torby Brand's arrangement of "You See Big Girl" exemplifies the transformative power of music, bridging the worlds of classical requiem and contemporary anime soundtracks for audiences to enjoy and explore. Torby Brand used the episode version of the track as a reference, which gives you a more dramatic feeling. Moreover, Sawano’s live performance gave inspiration for the arrangement, which many fans would be thrilled to know. Most importantly, the arrangement has been cleverly done, liberating its level for everyone to enjoy playing this music. Here, we are delving into the harder version of the arrangement while there is also an easier version.



As I said earlier, the repeating pattern of ostinato plays an important role in making the overall mood in the original music. However, as Torby Brand arranged this music for one instrument, it might have been hard to maintain the ostinato melody. How was it managed? The music introduces this repeating melody in the first place and continues to play it until around 1:30. The main point of this part is to keep gently playing this melody with soft and quiet dynamics, as it serves as a device to making the first part mysterious and interesting. The next part moves into the new phase of introducing the main theme by switching it into the new accompaniment. This part does not include ostinato, which gives you a whole different vibe while maintaining the overall mood as it does not offer modulation. The key point is to use the wide range of pitch while playing the same melody until 3:30. In order to convey the intention, you may need to keep in mind that giving a gradual change in dynamic will make a big difference. From the beginning to this point, it lays the groundwork for the climax. From 3:30 to 4:30, it is critical that you allow yourself to immerse into the climactic part. It is a magnificent and grandeur part where everything explodes. The arrangement helps you to feel this by using a lot of skills such as embellishment in accompaniment in both hands.



Conclusion

Whether you are a fan of Attack on Titan or not, this arrangement is a big chance for you to practice the magnificent and massive type of music. It will allow you to play the requiem-inspired music on the piano, which is extremely rare. For anyone who is interested, here is the link for the sheet! More importantly, even if you feel scared at playing such a hard version of the arrangement, there is also an easier version which will allow you to dive into the music! Why don’t you start practicing playing the music?



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