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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Namco Taiko Blog 2 (10 August 2017) - Behind the Notechart(s): Mitsusegawa Ranbu

Before this year's summer break, Yamaguchi of the Taiko Team stopped by to talk about his charting job for the latest geared-with-Ura-at-launch Namco Original from Yellow Version.

The third of the Summer Rewards Shop newcoming songs to be spotlighted on this family of features, Mitsusegawa Ranbu is the latest Taiko song to be classifiable under the "Japanese-styled Rock" genre, together with former classics such as Yuugao no Kimi. For this song, Yamaguchi wanted to express two different kinds of drum accompaniments for the song in the regular Oni (support to vocals) and its Ura Oni counterpart (support to the instrumental base), so his main themes for this feature will be about the two key aspects that make the two modes very distinguished from one another: the musical theme and the note density arrangement.

The former aspect is the one that made the top-difficulty branching approach for two different play-styles; the background motifs, in fact, might lead to different charting interpretations in accordance to the song's major elements. Having 'Ranbu' in the title, Yamaguchi started with the idea of the Ranbu being the base for all notecharts, up to then have the two different branches that have been decided with the just-explained criteria: the main one (regular Oni) following the powerful vocals and a secondary one (Ura Oni) which focuses on the rich tone of the instrumental accompaniment.

The note density theme is the one aspect that differenciates the two Oni notecharts the most, but while their musical theme dictates most of the differences on this topic, there are a couple common rules that are applied to both modes' creation:

1) Balance the pace of the notechart between 'Excitement' and 'Rest' portions
In simpler terms, the 'Excitement' sections are the ones where the tasked notecharter wants to pack up the song's pivotal points in terms of notechart difficulty (such as during Choruses), which have to be juxtaposed with a fair amount of 'Rest' parts where the playing pace slows down in anticipation of a busier section to clear. To take care of those aspects means to have a better control on note density!

2) Avoid sudden changes in note density as much as possible
Packing denser note portions often translates in a difficulty increase by the velocity shift required to hit them, but an overabundance of highly-dense portions may leave the background song's sense of musicality lost in the air, translating play sessions into a mechanical exercise in chart-following without the need of a sense of rhythm. That surely doesn't sound good for a rhythm game, doesn't it?

Regular Oni Chart

Being the Oni variant that follows the singing component the most, it's no surprise for it to bear the highest amount of special notes, mostly to drag out selected long words of the song. Bein a chart tailored for a song following the 'Ranbu' theme, Yamaguchi opted for many different 1/16-based notechart formations to give a dancing feel to the mode, much like this following notechart extract shows.

The stanzas showcased are the first ones after the song's first lyricised stanzas, dubbed "Melody A" by Yamaguchi. Instead of dragging out each long word with a drumroll or something similar, selected note formations are repeated in many variations to give a sense of overall continuity

Ura Oni Chart

Predictably enough, this is the one mode where denser note formations are spotlighted to give a better sense of a drum-base accompaniment to the already-existing instrumental base. The main concern for this Ura Oni's creation -outside the urge not to over-stuff resting portions with too much dense clusters- was weighting the pace of the note showcased so that they might make for a better tailor fit to the player's feelings as he/she progresses throughout the song and is served with even more busy drumming sections.

The extract portions above better exemplify this concern, spotlighting the stanza before the beginning of Chorus A/Chorus B and said choruses' respective first stanza. As you can see, Chorus A's prelude isn't that much busy, as the notechart portion before its beginning is more rest-reliant (also due to the fact that at Stanzas 19-20, the song hasn't even clocked the 30-seconds of running time). As the player gets more accustomed with the song as he/she goes along, the pre-Chorus portion hosts a more dense note formation to back up the higher pace, and so does Chorus B's overall charting direction.

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