Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 15, 2018

Narrating Near-Death Experience

Chopin’s “Revolutionary Étude” as an interpretive key in Eternal Sonata

Thomas B. Yee
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies

Abstract

Rarely do the worlds of classical music and video games collide explicitly; when they do, as in the 2007 JRPG Eternal Sonata, the result is of marked semiotic interest. The game’s complex metafictional plotline – involving multiple levels of narrative seeking to blend fantasy and reality – invites speculation and interpretation, particularly concerning its multivalent ending. This article uses recently developed analytical methods from the burgeoning field of musical semiotics to glean poignant interpretative meaning from the video game’s musical surface. By invoking music-theoretic work in intertextuality (Klein 2004), musical narrative (Almén 2008), and virtual agency (Hatten forthcoming), I argue that the video game’s musical score is a hermeneutic key for decoding artistic meaning in Eternal Sonata. Thus, ludomusicology contributes vitally to the semiosis of a video game’s meaning as a holistic, multimedia entity.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Robert Hatten (The University of Texas at Austin) and William Gibbons (Texas Christian University) for allowing me to peruse their forthcoming manuscripts prior to publication during the composition of this article. Additional thanks go to Matthew Thompson and the planning committee of the North American Conference on Video Game Music 5 for selecting the presentation version of this article, which I debuted in January 2018.

References

Almén, Byron. 2008. A theory of musical narrative. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Eco, Umberto. 1976. A theory of semiotics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Fryderyk Chopin Institute (FCI). 2015. Persons related to Chopin: Emilia Chopin. Chopin Information Centre (website), http://en.chopin.nifc.pl/chopin/persons/detail/id/6368 (accessed 2 June 2018).Search in Google Scholar

GameSpot. 2007. Eternal Sonata director Q&A. GameSpot August 8. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/eternal-sonata-director-qanda/1100-6176358/ (accessed June 2, 2018).Search in Google Scholar

Gibbons, William. 2018. Unlimited replays: Classical music and video games. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Hatten, Robert S. Forthcoming. A theory of virtual agency for Western music. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Hatten, Robert S. 1994. Musical meaning in Beethoven: Markedness, correlation, and interpretation. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kallberg, Jeffrey. 1996. Chopin at the boundaries: Sex, history, and musical genre. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kallberg, Jeffrey. 1997. Nocturnal thoughts on Impromptu. Musical Quarterly 81. 199–203.10.1093/mq/81.2.199Search in Google Scholar

Klein, Michael L. 2005. Intertextuality in Western art music. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University PressSearch in Google Scholar

Klein, Michael L. 2015. Music and the crises of the modern subject. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kubba, Adam K. & Madeleine Young. 1998. The Long Suffering of Frederic Chopin. Chest 113(1). 210–216.10.1378/chest.113.1.210Search in Google Scholar

Samson, Jim. 1992. Myth and reality: A biographical introduction. In Jim Samson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chopin, 1–8. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Szulc, Tad. 1998. Chopin in Paris: The life and times of the Romantic composer. New York: Scribner.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-08-15
Published in Print: 2018-08-28

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston