Monthly Archives: April 2014

115: Perscriberent

Latin; Verb: perscrīberent – third-person plural imperfect active subjunctive of perscrībō

Fragment from Yuji Nomi's penultimate piece in his score for "The Cat Returns."

I have never been more excited to take apart a film score. Something about Nomi’s glittering writing for The Cat Returns just fires my spirit stronger than Hisaishi in recent times. I’m still in the very slow process of following through with my decision to arrange (more or less) the whole film score, but I’ve been riveted on this piece for a while. “Escape” shapes the climax of the film when Haru, Baron, and Muta flee the Cat Kingdom. A cursory glance at the fragment I’ve transcribed above shows that Nomi wrote this piece as a sort of canon in three voices. It is uncommon for a musical form like the canon to feature prominently in a film score these days, hence my excitement over this piece. This will prove a pianistic challenge given the range and motion of these three voices, even if discounting the flute ostinato that provides backing.

“Escape” was written for a full-sized orchestra. Reducing it and containing it within the eighty-eight keys is not necessarily appropriate to the grand spirit of the piece, but it will entertain me a while as a very engaging exercise. The chief brainsore in the queue right now is the glissando played twice by the woodwinds (once when Muta flings Haru high up the stairs to give her a head start, and again when the Baron turns a somersault over the Cat King in their duel). It has a very nebulous rhythm to it and the notes are glazed over so airily that I can only distinguish that it ends on an F-sharp. Once I tackle that, the rest of the piece will come much more easily.

I’m not sure if (musicologically speaking) this piece was written to be a cousin to “The Abduction to the Seraglio” (Haru is forcibly kidnapped from the Cat Bureau atop a delegation of courier cats who whisk her away to the Cat Kingdom) with its constantly “descending” motif starting on the submediant, with its three-note backing ostinato (flute triplets in “Escape” against dotted notes in “Abduction”), and with its fluctuations between D minor and B minor (“Abduction” starts in B minor and hints at D minor at the end; “Escape” starts in D minor and hints at B minor at the end). The two could at least be emotionally linked because both play over exceptionally turbulent sequences.