Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Cm (Op. 10)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I will continue analyzing Beethoven sonatas in blogs but I will no longer make YouTube videos on the subject as it takes way too much time. I have also struggled with some time to describe melodic line and harmony changes without being tedious, sounding like I’m merely describing every little thing in the music, and making YouTube videos does not help. I should hopefully do better. – I should still learn to condense this a bit. Sonata form movements are the hardest. It should only have 4 paragraphs.

The Cm sonata (Op. 10) is Beethoven’s first published piano sonata to have only three movements instead of four. Beethoven wrote the first four sonatas to sound like symphonies through many different means; he wrote them in four movements, wrote each movement to be large to allow subjects much space to develop, and often writes for orchestral parts such as clarinet parts in the Fm sonata (Op. 1) and horn parts in the Eb sonata (Op. 7).

Now Beethoven tries something different and writes a more typical sonata; with only three movements and with no obvious orchestral parts. Still, Beethoven develops his subjects and follows his ideas in a clear, forceful, concise way, in fact even more so in this sonata. It is useful to see the striking differences between this Cm sonata and the Fm sonata (Op. 2) Beethoven wrote a while back as both are dark and impassioned music but approached in very different ways.

The way Beethoven ends this sonata is also important; a fizzling out to a quiet finish rather than slamming thick chords at the end. Indeed Beethoven ends many future sonatas in this way as an alternate way to finishing a piece of music and fulfilling the journey back to the home key.

Allegro molto e con brio

The first movement is in sonata form and is based on the Mannheim rocket; an intense phrase where notes rise in a broken chord to a high register. The main subject in Cm is short but complex, broken into three parts. In the first part Beethoven forces two sharply contrasting colors together; a thundering Mannheim rocket played in dotted notes to make it even more intense followed by a soft sighing motif. In the second part Beethoven builds off a descending scale, starting at a high G (the dominant note), and repeats it, each new phrase more intense, until he hangs at a low G (again the dominant note). In the third part, Beethoven suddenly breaks away into new material again; right hand arpeggios resolving in Cm. Beethoven consistently plays Cm and Bd (diminished) chords the entire time, using Bd as a darker counterpart to G7. He uses only two chords for most of the main subject but he does much with them.

The transition is simply the Mannheim rocket again, using G (again) as the high note. Beethoven simply uses Cm and G the entire time and simply decides to break it off after he resolves in Cm. The main subject and transition here are very different from their counterparts in the Fm sonata (Op. 2). The Fm sonata main subject is far simpler as it slowly moves from piano to sforzando using a simple Mannheim rocket the entire time. The Fm sonata transition, by contrast, is complex as Beethoven makes a big deal modulating to Ab, using Dba (augmented) and Bbm to spice things up. But in this Cm sonata, it is quick and simple. Beethoven is fine jumping from Cm right to Eb (the mediant).

The subordinate subject is based on the submediant; the first phrase starts in Eb7, the second in C7, the third in Ab7. A simple descending base makes up the backbone while the soprano and alto parts fill the harmony in. From now on Beethoven stays in Eb, which is pretty typical for classical sonata form. The second subordinate subject is a rising arpeggio with an Alberti base underneath, harmonies simple Eb-Bb7. He quickly gets more interesting with a chromatic melody, using Ad and Aa harmonies. He thunders with the Mannheim rocket again for a while so he can lead us to the closing subject, but he uses Ebd and Cd7 instead of Bb. The closing subject itself is built on the small sighing motif we saw way back in the main subject to slowly fall to a low Eb, while Beethoven uses some Cm7 and Gm7. The purpose is to darken the Eb closing theme a bit and connect it to the main theme in Cm, to show how close we are to dark and minor keys.

Beethoven builds the development with two cores, both based on the less striking melodies in the exposition. He elevates those melodies by playing them in octaves in a very singing manner. But first he needs to make a bridge to lead you to the first core; and he does this with the Mannheim rocket subject in C (submediant leap from Eb), and he uses it like he did with the transition by cutting it off after he resolves. The first core in Fm is based off the filler melody of the first subordinate subject underscored by an Alberti base. The second core in Bbm is based off the second subordinate subject while the base is taken from the closing subject. The retransition is based off the sighing motif but he strings many motifs together to make a long melodic descent all the way from a high G (dominant) to middle C (tonic). Meanwhile, he keeps the base at G to emphasize a V-I return to the main subject. But do notice how many different harmonies Beethoven plays throughout; it’s anything but a boring V-I for 11 measures.

The main subject is just as before and Beethoven skips a transition altogether, making the journey even more streamlined. The subordinate subject comes right after, now in Db7 (IIb7 of Cm), and he breaks his descent by submediant theme to quickly move to Cm. However, do note how he frequently plays C also, the mutation of Cm to make the harmonies more interesting. But the quick resolution to Cm is a ruse. The second subordinate subject is in F instead (mediant of Db) then quickly goes to Fm (the subdominant of Cm). This is important as the subdominant is usually emphasized in a recapitulation but Beethoven delays for a while to keep the listener guessing. The closing subject neatly wraps it all up in Cm.

Adagio molto

The second slow movement is in sonata form without development but with a coda with a variation of the main subject. The main subject is in Ab and is played twice; the first in its “base” form and the second as a variation where the base becomes arpeggios and repeating 16th notes. The subject is based on a rising and falling third, the melody rises to a climax in Db (the subdominant) before making a long fall back to Ab. The transition is a striking contrast to the lyrical subject; a loud drop by two octaves. The harmonies sometimes blur together in the little sighing motifs and, while F7 is a striking submediant leap from Ab, the harmonies are the usual ones around Cm.

The subordinate subject in Eb is made of two different parts. The first part; we have a rising 3rd motif similar to the main subject, and it also peaks at a subdominant note (Ab in this case). The virtuoso 64th note arpeggios in Bb9 is a development of the rising 3rd. The second part; a long rising scale from G to Eb on dotted notes. This would be boring in itself but Beethoven uses Eba, Dd7, and Ad7 to make chromatic use of it. The variation that follows peaks in the harmony of Cb7, the tension highest in a distant key of Eb. The retransition is based on the subordinate subject and is in Eb, preparing to return to Ab.

The main subject has little change in it except some variation in the base, first dotted notes and later arpeggio triplets. The transition has an extra phrase; sighing motifs clumped together to make a chromatic descent to Db. Beethoven uses many distant keys such as Fb, Gbm, and Fhd7 (half diminished); a striking alternate way to going to the dominant. The usual method is F-Bb-Eb or Dm-Bb-Eb, but Beethoven plays odd F chords before going to Bb-Eb.

The subordinate subject and retransition are almost verbatim similar as before except now in Ab. The coda is a variation of the main subject, now in cantabile as we have a viola part in the middle made of syncopated notes. The coda has no dramatic peaks but simply slowly falls down the Ab scale: from Eb5 to Ab4, from Ab4 to Ab3.

Prestissimo

The finale is in sonata form but is very brief, much like rondos of classical sonatas, a breezy finish. Still, it has some weight. The main subject is based on a rising chord, this case Cm, but the melody dramatically peaks in dissonant F while the harmony is F#d7. The second time around Beethoven climbs up the G scale and peaks at F again while the harmony is in Fm. Then the rhythm intensifies to 16th notes so Beethoven can rush down to G (dominant) with flair. There is no transition. A jump from G to Eb happens instead. Notice how the melodic line of this main theme climaxes on a subdominant note, not too unlike the main theme from the last movement, while also highlighting G like in the first movement. The harmonies matter too; Beethoven sometimes mutates Cm to C, while he uses the F#d and Bd chords to lead to G and Cm.

The subordinate subject is based on a rising and falling 3rd with a distant last note; it reaches a sudden climax in Ab (subdominant). At first Beethoven falls to Bb into what seems a quiet finish but suddenly rises to Eb at the last moment; a creative way to avoid a typical resolution. The closing theme uses the turn motif of the main subject over different registers, and it peaks at Ab (again subdominant) before resolving to Eb. Beethoven then resorts to more distant harmonies; Ed and Bd, diminished versions of the tonic and dominant, and frequently uses Fm and Cm too. He does all this to make the ear less certain it is in Eb, making Cm stronger. He also drops a sudden Cb7; instead of going from Bb to Eb to goes from Bb to its Neapolitan (IIb7/V).

We only have a small development of the main subject motif; though in Eb it uses Bd, Dd, and Bb, all related by a 3rd. Beethoven also briefly uses C7 to again disrupt the expected Cm and he develops the melodic line by having it rise to a very high F (subdominant of Cm). The main subject makes little change while the subordinate subject is in C (mutation of Cm), except with a chord progression from Dm-D7-G. The closing theme is different, starting with the main subject motif rather than a tremolo. The next part has the same chord structure as before except tailored around Cm; this includes C#d leading G and the sudden drop now in Ab7. The closing theme halts, holds the tension on suspended Ab7, withholding the ending.

We enter a brief coda based on the subordinate subject in Db, the music suspended in a slow calando. It’s mostly V7-I except for a brief Ebm-Eb-Ab (chromatic base) and how the colando suspends in Ad7. Then, an abrupt eruption as the music resumes its normal tempo, but rather than race to the finish it fizzles out, slowly moving from Ab to C. Beethoven does this by pretending the C is just Cm and playing the usual nexus of neighboring chords. The melodic line, back in the main subject motif, starts at a high Eh note but falls down the C chord to lowest C on Beethoven’s pianoforte. The lowest range of the pianoforte back then was F1.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Eb (Op. 7)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As interesting as it is to analyze Beethoven’s sonatas this may be my last analysis. Even if I did analyze each sonata for my benefit as a composer I would still need to analyze symphonies, string quartets, and works from other composers. I would never get to write anything of my own ever again! The best path to take now is to work on my ear training, sight reading, and piano playing. Then I can easily analyze any music I listen to.

The Op. 7 Eb sonata is the young Beethoven’s most massive piano piece; only the Hammerklavier sonata will surpass it in size. Beethoven seems to have truly struggled to take his music to the next level by putting more stuff into the sonata; longer subjects, denser harmonies, more detours to prolong the music before resolving it. The sonata is truly a great work and while the score is cumbersome to look at the music itself is smooth, leniently winding down its way like a river into the sea.

Of his first sonatas, like mini-symphonies, this one is the most like a symphony of them all in scope, grandeur, and orchestral-like score for the piano. His later sonatas feel less like symphonies not because they are lesser works but because they don’t have the symphony’s four-movement structure or formal and harmonic progression you hear in symphonies. On the contrary, the later piano sonatas are greater works as Beethoven strives more for depth and less to impress as time goes on, likewise making the sonatas more connected as he outgrows the stilted formula of a four-movement sonata.

Form of Eb (Op. 7)

0:00 – The first movement, in sonata form, is famous for its horn calls and gently rising and falling triplets, but don’t think Beethoven uses 6/8 time only for triplets, he creates all sorts of different rhythms. Beethoven uses a false closing theme to mislead the audience into thinking the movement is over only to float around in many different chords, all this for a striking effect. Beethoven uses diminished chords and the chords they lead to in the transition more densely than he had ever before.

8:23 – The second movement is a complicated sonata-rondo form where the main subject refrains like the chorus part of a pop song yet the other rondo parts behave like sections of sonata form; transitions, subordinate subjects, development sections, and so on. Beethoven keeps putting turning the main subject this way and that as he gives it different embellishments, which he contrasts with a stark and gloomy subordinate subject in Gm.

15:24 – The third movement is a gentle minuet based on the Eb chord and a cadence based on chords as well. Beethoven develops the minuet subject in Ed7, the Neapolitan of Eb, assumes a false reprise, and trails away. The pause he takes before he resumes is a musical joke as if he forgot the script and doesn’t know how to get back. The trio is a small tempest in Ebm where triplets are once more used, this time with vigor and angst. Again, Beethoven avoids convention as he modulates from Ebm to Bbm instead of Bb and begins the development on that same key.

21:24 – The fourth movement is the greatest in emotion and harmonic density. The subject itself uses such blurred harmonies and changes them so often it was a nightmare for me to analyze; he pulls this off by using four voices while using the base to constantly hum away in 16th notes. Many parts of the rondo are like this, with gentle singing melodies underscored by blurred and complicated harmonies, they create a very gentle and surreal feeling. Then Beethoven jolts you with a terrible beast to contrast the beauty, a creature made of strong chords and clear minor harmonies. But Beethoven tames his beast, as he often does, and rewards beauty with the laurel; in the coda the terrible beast transforms into a sweet melody to bid you goodbye, the most beautiful passage Beethoven ever wrote up to this time

Beethoven’s Style

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At this moment I have a strong grasp of Beethoven’s personal style with harmonies and overall music structure, at least the style of early Beethoven. He tries very hard to avoid the cliché I-IV-V harmonies in classical music to the point where it almost feels forced at times. He is fond of taking you to remote keys using otherwise ordinary intervals and builds many a harmonic structure on the 3rd interval. The whole idea is to make the music dense and weighty while also expanding the overall structure of the peace by delaying IV-V-I cadences in creative ways.

Examples:
– The 5th interval normally takes you to V, the 4th to IV, but Beethoven may take you to v and iv instead, the minor versions of those keys. C to Gm is one example.

– The 3rd interval normally takes you to iii or vi, which usually comes before a IV or V and then I. Beethoven takes you to a major or a minor version of those keys that is very remote. He will go from Eb to G, or C to Ab. He may even do something crazier like take you from B to Abm.

– The whole step (M2nd interval) usually takes you to ii, which resolves into IV or V and then I. Beethoven instead takes you to II or VIIb such as C to D or C to Bb.

– The half step (m2nd interval) is often used to go to the Neopolitan (IIb) before going to IV or V then I. Beethoven does that but he also likes going down a half step to a remote harmony, such as Eb to D.

– Beethoven is fond of using diminished chords and the leading tone (especially a chromatic base) to lead to a chord in an interesting way, even if that chord is common in a certain key, like C to F#d to G. He will sometimes pull a twist where the diminished chord leads to the dominant of its intended target, like C to F#d to D. During these times he may leap by a tritone, the Devil’s interval.

– Beethoven sometimes likes to mutate a chord into many different forms; such as D to Da or D7a or Dd to Dm. In this sonata he sometimes goes from Dm to Eb instead of Dd to Eb. Sometimes he will simply he happy to turn a major to a minor chord and back again, something other composers like Schubert did well. Sometimes Beethoven will even play a minor version and major version of the harmony at the same time.

– Beethoven will blend two chords together or mismatch the melody and base. This often creates a chord, like one in Eb, which can be read as Ebs4, Eb9, or Eb11. (He is also fond of minor 7 chords.) Beethoven will sometimes delay a melody, usually to keep it in the dominant of a chord, while the base will play the intended chord itself on schedule. Baroque composers often used this technique but at the end of pieces, not in the middle.

– Another trick is to play an ordinary melody yet make the harmonies going with it to be anything but.

When it comes to creating music subjects, Beethoven builds them from small cells based on intervals; in fact he builds the entire piece from these cells. Some composers are painters as Debussy, others are poets as Chopin, others are miniaturists as Scarlatti. Beethoven is an architect and sculptor, and so he builds his music brick by brick, chiseling out the raw stone of his improvised ideas until they are concise, defined, and strong. Beethoven places intervals, counterpoint, and voice leading over typical harmonies more and more as he grows as an artist so by the time he composes the Great Fugue he writes “pure interval music” as Stravinsky described it.

As for melody, Beethoven is usually careful to balance close intervals such as the step with striking leaps up or down the keyboard. He will often create the most lyrical music out of simply going up or down a scale or chord. As for large intervals, he tends to save them to help craft a distinct form to the melody, highlight a key point in the melody, or simply to strike a strong emotion.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 3

Duel 3 – Emergence

People expect sudden breakthroughs, revolutions, and emergences of consciousness to be loud, violent, and obvious to see, but in truth they are born so quietly into this world at moments so mundane you would miss it if you blinked. The violence, fanfare, and flame are merely echoes after the fact the way your thoughts are born of your passions but only dimply echo them. Xiaoyi pondered these thoughts, amusing herself with philosophy, in the bathtub where Gernand her master would soon join her. While the old man readied himself to pluck his favorite peony flower, to crush his favorite butterfly, she turned her thoughts to many years ago when master and student met.

Xiaoyi was twelve and a half years old when she ran away from home, stranding herself on the great mid-West American desert, the highway her lifeline, sometimes hitching a ride on people ready to lend a helping hand to an urchin. Her pale skin was burned red into a blush as it was in Egypt, she remembered. And there she saw Gernand for the first time, in action; the large fat man dragged two boys with his monstrous strength from an old car out into the highway, gripping their heads with large vices for hands. The young men pleaded for their lives, tried appealing to the man’s heart as if he once loved them, but Gernand was cold as ever. They outlived their usefulness in pleasuring him or being worthy students to his cause, so he crushed their skulls as the giant he was. Xiaoyi saw Gernand kill with his monstrous strength, screamed, ran as far away as she could.

She met that fearsome man again on the highway again later that same early June day, during sunset. The girl froze in terror but did not run away this time as he stood in front of her path, sitting still as a little bird in front of a cobra, hoping he would leave her be. He never did; instead he went out to talk to her, and the whole dialogue went as such:

GERNAND: “I know you saw me dispatch my last two students for they were too weak to fulfill the tasks I require them. I am as a farmer and I prefer large, strong trees with deep roots that yield the sweetest fruit, but enough of my obscure metaphors. I, like you, am a drifter of sorts, searching for something but a little lost. I have traveled the world for centuries, believe it or not, going on many libertine adventures to expand my tastes and learn all about mankind and the world. Yet I need a companion, someone to transmit by knowledge to so it may remain immortal should I perish, yet no apprentice is strong enough to keep faithful to my evil principles, and they waver. I tire of them anyway and dispatch them as I see fit.”

XIAOYI: “…”

GERNAND: “I must have frightened you, no doubt; a pity. I see from your shirt you come from Los Angeles, yet why would you leave? It is a fine city with warm sunny days, Hollywood nearby, easy drugs and porn as they are the true trades of the land, anything a spoiled child could want. You want to run away as fast as you can, which I easily understand, but mark my words only I have a gaze penetrating enough to know what you truly want and how you may get it. You want freedom, hence you ran away, but I wonder how that desire pressed itself upon your heart, my little creature.”

XIAOYI: “M-Mama was not well in the head. Shortly after she became pregnant with me she had vivid dreams of a great black demon, the Devil she thought. S-She kept having them after I was born, thought the Devil sired me, not dad, tried to drown me when I was a baby, so dad locked her up. Mama just died in hospital and dad killed himself.”

GERNAND: “I am very sorry to hear that.”

XIAOYI: “Please, Sir, let me go. I am frightened and I don’t understand your riddles. I will never tell anyone what I saw you do to your… b-back there.”

GERNAND: “That concerns me not in the slightest. You want freedom after such a woeful childhood, do you, but do you know what freedom is?”

XIAOYI: “I never want to be in such a bad home anymore, full of pain. I learned from school it means having your rights protected and doing what you want as long as you don’t infringe on their rights and –“

GERNAND: “Wrong! Fools and dupes everywhere prattle freedom but have no idea what it really means, what sacrifices you must make to be a free man! Look around, desert wildflower; you see this wide dessert and setting sun, home to lizards, snakes, and scorpions with no pity for you. Nature is the cruel mistress who rules over all, She alone grinds the cosmic mill, the creatures crushed underneath it doomed to live an endless cycle of raping and killing, these being the true and only principles of living beings.”

XIAOYI: “But what about God?”

GERNAND: “Don’t be an idiot. I know you are too smart to be believe in fairy tales, let alone big for your age, so let me outline the grade school truths for you. God, like all orthodox religions, is a lie created by earthly powers as propaganda to control the minds and hearts of its people, working in tandem with the State to do so. Excuses in believing in gods or afterlives beyond this world are specious at best; you have no way of perceiving either except through mental illness and they are redundant to Nature in the end, who is the only God there is. Of all gods, you can only touch this cruel mistress and thus only Her Divine Laws exist; Power and Pleasure at all costs!”

XIAOYI: “But what of other people and the animals? I wish I stayed home, maybe to become a vet one day to take care of animals?”

GERNAND: “It is only natural that one who loses God flees to his vestiges, humaneness. – How interesting out little chat is! We have moved past two and half centuries of thought already! – We are born in this world utterly alone and in misery; our flesh separates our minds so far apart true understanding of what it is like to be another person cannot be done, and your very life proves that evil rules the world. Every moral in this world, I repeat, every moral is a human invention, created by a ruling class to dominate their subjects, bolstered by their deluded pride, and upheld by centuries of convention, and every moral is man is a dupe taken by one of the three. Quickly looking at cultures around the world you will see that not one virtue or vice exists in the entire globe that is upheld by all peoples. It is natural for living creatures to will for power, to take what they can, to pursue what pleases them. Only then can they have a few trifling pleasures before Nature grinds them to dust under Her millstone.”

XIAOYI: “So freedom to you is only license. Sir, please let me leave. Your speeches are so tedious.”

GERNAND: “Girl, you know nothing of freedom.”

XIAOYI: “I don’t know how to feel. I want to leave you this instant but listening to you somehow makes me feel strong.”

GERNAND: “You want to become powerful, to compensate for a life of powerlessness and frustration, oh yes! I foresee your natural talents emerging already; you will have power greater than the earth’s, a cunning surpassing the worst tyrants, and an evil so great you will ruin man and his children, forever will you be known as his greatest Enemy. I will help you gain this power; become uncivilized, let no restriction bind you, answer to no man but me and you will be the cruel embodiment of Nature herself.”

XIAOYI: “What inspired your prophecy?”

GERNAND: “The Supreme Being that is Nature. I am no prophet but merely a philosopher able to predict the far future by observing natural laws. You may say the two are similar in essence. I say no, and here’s why!”

And Gernand expounded on his philosophy for another hour. Xiaoyi knew a classmate back in Los Angeles who just discovered Atlas Shrugged, and he would read the book aloud whenever not in glass. It’s author was the dullest, most conceited human to have ever lived, hence her prose, and Gernand was almost as bad as she was. Yet despite the decrepit man’s failings the young Xiaoyi was strangely compelled by his doctrines, drawn toward their owner in fascination and revulsion at the same time. She knew there were indeed a few kernels of truth in his creed, however dimply she could perceive them, and she resolved she would learn everything she could, and then, when the time was right, break away and find her freedom.
“I will show you everything.” Gernand beckoned her. “You will learn all the secrets of Nature.”

And that was how Xiaoyi submitted herself to the cruel Gernand, going down and under to find her knowledge, who in turn wasted no time giving his eager pupil her first lesson. He forcefully tore the sunflower from its roots, ripping it apart, and Xiaoyi knew someone by the flesh for the first time.

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Maya pulled an all-nighter rebuilding her deck from the ground up. She completely discarded her old deck, the one that swarmed the field with low ATK high Level Dinosaurs to Xyz Summon all sorts of powerful monsters. It was great, but not enough for the finals, especially not now, and she even suspected that Pegasus created Link Monsters just to make her deck useless. She wondered if every other finalist had the same suspicions.

She built a new deck but it too was a failure. She threw her cards at the wall of her lodging. It was frustrating! She knew what she saw, what she wanted, and was so close to grasping it yet unable to! Her thoughts turned to Sophia; she lusted after every other person, treating love with ridicule as she was too disgusting and evil a person to deserve it, but with Sophia things were different. She felt she could trust her heart for once, the only time in her life, she listened to it. What did she feel to that sweet sunflower? It must be infatuation; she never knew what love was like before and she wasn’t ready to make any wild guesses in that area.

Sometime when her team was in Luxor, Sophia mentioned being in love with a boy, to which Maya scoffed off at first. But Yukio coaxed Sophia on to get to understand her feelings, something Maya would never let him to do her, and Sophia did answer what she thought love was like. She had said, “Love is not a feeling but life itself. It is a doing, not a being. Only it lights the stars.” Maya pretended not to listen to her younger and better peer, but she did.

Maya could indeed relate that description of love; it was passion, specifically the desire to give, to give the creative life force, and being enlarged as that life force erupts out in the greatest show of power and strength. Maya loved when she wrote or played music, she loved when she worked on a story or some other writing while Jolene drew, she loved when she created anything for Sophia. It was limitless, a power that could break past every cruelty and limit of the earth, every weakness of being human, and reach even beyond the stars, greater than the universe itself. She picked up one card, Beatrice Lady of the Eternal, the card where she always thought of Sophia. Now she got ideas! And she started working. This new deck would have deeper strategies, every facet of the deck linking together into a far greater whole, a deck that could touch almost anything. A Beatrice Almighty deck.

Maya looked at you, the audience, directly. “Let this new way of dueling work. Let me evolve Yugioh and go to a higher game.”

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Gernand slid himself into the bathtub with great effort, his total mass nearly crushed Xiaoyi inside it, his body riddled by so many folds his shriveled small penis could never be seen. But there was no want of trying, the old man fancied himself a young and vigorous Don Juan and took his time toiling with Xiaoyi. The old man bit and carved into Xiaoyi’s flesh until blood came out, taking special delight in biting her tits and ass until blood came out, which caused him to eject a few drops of sperm with Xiaoyi’s assistance, then collected the blood into a basin. He darkly muttered an Egyptian chant from millennia ago, causing the blood to whirl upward on its own, assuming a snake-like shape then slithering into Gernand’s mouth. The effects came right after; his pure white hair revived some blond in it, his small watery blue eyes lost some cataract, and his flesh sagged slightly less.

Gernand told Xiaoyi a long time ago that his ritual prolonged his life for a while, provided he cruelly withdrew and drank the blood of one he lusted after while in the whitest heat. The spell itself. Gernand told her, came from the Book Isis, the only spell known after the one that used ninety-nine sacrifices to create the Millennium Items. Gernand, now done with his chores, could relax in his bath with his slave.

Now was the time. Xiaoyi quietly excused herself so Gernand would not notice, returned with a meteorite blade, and drove it straight through Gernand’s chest, bowls, and groin thirteen times each. The old dog woke in a fright, startled but not dead, his fat saved him. He was many times Xiaoyi’s size, able to crush her bones with no effort, but he fled in terror. He tripped out of the bathtub, over the wet floor, out of their private room deep in the Luxor country, his jowls, stomach, and ass cheeks desperately flabbing after him. Xiaoyi calmy walked after him, sure to take her time in witnessing the coward bleed to death with fleeing for his life.

The student soon cornered the master in a deserted alleyway with little effort. The frightened Gernand called forth his Ka to defend himself in a last resort for his safety, an ancient and great but flightless eagle, only for Xiaoyi to smash to bits with her dragon Ka, the damage rupturing Gernand’s internal organs. He lay dying, he glanced up at his student one last time, now towering over him, and cackled while chocking in his own blood. He created the person to embody Nature in all Her caprice, viciousness, and destructive power, but he did not have time to say his thoughts or even appreciate him.

Xiaoyi drove the dagger into him in a white hot fury hundreds of times, her face pale with rage, her lips peeled so far back every ferocious tooth in her wide mouth could be seen, shredding Gernand’s body so much she skinned him and bathed herself wet in his blood.

It was over as quickly as it began, an event surreal even to a seasoned killer as Xiaoyi. She dropped the meteorite dagger in fatigue, not caring about it anymore. She went back to the hotel room, slinking in the bathtub alone, the water inside mixed with her and her former master’s blood. Gernand was dead and she needed to make excuses for his superiors. But now was not the time.

Well, Xiaoyi thought, this is a pretty nice blood bath. Get it? She helped herself with some red wine and turned on the bathroom television to the Yugioh channel. It was time to see which basement-dwelling loser played a children’s card game better than anyone else. She crossed her fingers, hoping Maya would win, as she was the key to all her planning up to this point. Maya had retrieved the Book of Isis. That was certain. Now she needed to keep winning, keep that book in store until the right moment came. Xiaoyi had no idea gambling could be so fun – no wonder it was so addicting! – and though Maya was the dark horse at the races she hoped the dark horse would win for a change.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 2

Duel 2 – Infinite Mirrors

Each finalist saw a white jet with blue stripes cut across to clear blue sky, seemingly coming out of the sun, as if from Heaven itself, and gracefully land on the runway. The jet was so pale and gleaned so brightly under the sun that no finalist could look at it directly before adjusting their eyes. Only one man stepped out of that bird of paradise, Isono; a tall severe man with short, neatly trimmed graying hair and whiskers who somehow managed to wear a suit under such blazing heat, everyone knew him to be Kaiba’s right-hand man. Things were getting serious.

Isono seemed to have access to the airports controls for the finalists heard his grave voice, “Attention please. The Battle City Tournament No. 13 finals have begun. Gate K-13 will currently be boarding with the finalists each team selected. Mathias Blackheart, finalist No. 1, begin boarding! Maximus Clay, finals tournament commentator, also begin boarding!”

Mathias and his comrades grimly heard those words, knowing that the test of the Headmaster’s weighty prophecy was soon to be tested, but nonetheless Mathias stood as tall as he could, as if he wanted his shadow to obscure Maximus and Ivy with his towering shadow, ready to face the challenges ahead. However, Maximus and Ivy rose from their seats to face Mathias from the front, Maximus offered his hand to his brother in arms, “Godspeed. May our choice be wisely made and you be up to the momentous task.” To which Mathias hugged his friends, hiding his umbrage towards his brother, and the two men walked out into the concrete plane beyond leaving Ivy behind.

“Hannibal Davidson, finalist No. 2, begin boarding!”

The famous archeologist and bearer of bad news accepted his destiny with courage, duty-bound to the Stoic tradition he willingly embraced many years ago. He gave his wife, Indira, the Minerva and Venus of his life, a final call on his phone, telling her loved her, worshipped her, bidding her farewell as a Spartan off to war. This grim and self-important man left the common world to the fight ahead, determined to stop the rogue Matthew and Maya, whoever be the Red Dragon, at all costs.

“Svanhildur ‘Stella Nova’ Minvervadottir, finalist No. 3, begin boarding!”

Stella embraced her friends, took a last selfie with them all, and left for the finals, a little nervous but happy to duel such challenging foes, and the fame and outreach! If every girl in the world saw her become world champion, the bright light of inspiration she would infuse in their souls would make the world a better place.

“Maria Wight, finalist No. 4, begin boarding!”

Maria, who carefully eyed each finalist with scrutiny, cast her sharp scrutiny at the dismal and gross fiend Maya for a second, which Maya returned with her own piercing tigerish glance, before heading on out. She wished Kaiba to see her ascend to becoming champion every step of the way, so she may prove to be worthy of him and win his love.

“Marina ‘Maya Brook’ Bozuslowsky, finalist No. 5, begin boarding!”

Maya only felt her broken ribs at that point, each breath she took splintered her chest, but she would never tell Yukio and Sophia that because they should surely never let her go off to fight in that condition. Believe it or not, Maya always felt like this since childhood, a constant dull pain or weight on her shoulders but one inside the mind, but whenever saddled too much she would stoke the flame inside her extra bright to burn it away for a while.

Now was such a moment, with no room for fear of failure or death but only glory for the spirit, and she would shine bright and strong. She gave Yukio and Sophia every card she owned except for a black binder of the most essential ones she would need. Before Yukio could object, saying he would never take such a gift, Maya shut him up by grabbing him and kissing him ardently, lewdly, then gently hugged Sophia with a sweetness and candor mirroring the girl’s heart. She bid them farewell and stepped into the concrete plain full of glaring sunlight beyond.

She say Mathias and Maximus standing close together, their shoulders turned away, Hannibal trying to marvel what little nature was around him, Stella waving at her, Maria gazing at her with contempt. She joined with Stella to discuss the finals, wondering where Kaiba and Pegasus would take them; if Egypt was not exotic and epic enough than what was? Something from the future, beyond the dusky history of Egypt perhaps?

“Tamas Vargas, finalist No. 6, begin boarding!”

They saw a man with a crew cut on top of a head with a nondescript face, wearing a black leather jacket despite the head and worn out jeans, his eyes shielded by sunglasses, and couldn’t help poking fun at him. He looked like every other local tournament jerk out there, the kind of guy who would beat eleven-year-old kids with the current meta deck then strut around like he was the toughest shit since Kaiba came out of his ludicrous Blue-Eyes White Dragon Jet with a jetpack. But this Mr. Vargas did make it to the finals, somehow, but the two women could not overcome their prejudice and kept taking potshots at him.

“Weevil Underwood, finalist No. 7, begin boarding!”

No one could suppress their laughter; even the stiff Isono twitched his manicured thin mustache and smirked a little, but arrive Weevil did, short, squat, and bug-eyed, barking up at everyone like a small dog, demanding respect. Stella, noticing something strange with her sharp eyes, gave Maya notice of it; as the workers crammed a few bags in the jet, did one seem to move like someone was inside it?

“Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!”

Silence. Maya felt very cold, waiting to see the man who wanted her dead was far worse than being with him in person. Everyone else waited as if frozen. Isono checked his watch after fifteen minutes. He repeated, “Matthew Carter, finalist No. 8, begin boarding!” Nothing. He decided it was time. “We shall all board.” In everyone went. Maya was last.

She was just about to get in when she saw HIM stalk towards her, Matthew himself, a short but sturdy light brown-skinned man, his brown eyes piercing, smoldering with volcanic hate underneath the earthen surface. Maya and the man she destroyed looked at each other for a brief moment, not saying a word, matching his steel resolve for her own. She didn’t care how he felt, he nearly killed her, Sophia, Yukio, and actually killed many others. Maya began to wonder, once again, how a tournament where so many people died and a government shattered in could high rating and scores of cheering fans, but she dropped it. It was all too late.

All the finalists huddled inside the jet, all seats facing each other, making any privacy impossible and forcing all duelists to face each other for hours on end. Isono retreated behind the crew as a flight attendant of sorts and the jet took off. Maya knew the jet was flying west of Egypt into the Atlantic with Earth’s orbit as the noon sun stayed behind them rather than setting in the evening.

Regardless, Matthew stared at her throughout the entire journey with a fixed intense gaze Maya did not believe was possible. To say she felt deeply uncomfortable was an understatement, but she could not reveal any weakness to such a dangerous man, a monster she created by daring to fight for her right to live and duel the way she wanted all those years ago. The other finalists were nearly as daunting a challenge; there was no weak link among them, even Weevil could defeat her if she was not careful. Mathias kept his eyes closed the entire time as if meditating. Hannibal kept his head down to read a book. Stella studied her rivals closely with a caution that mirrored Maya’s. Maria stared at a small picture of Kaiba she kept with her with a restless look on her face. Tamas slept the whole time with his leg awkwardly stuck on Maya’s lap. Weevil fidgeted the entire time, sometimes happy, sometimes anxious. Thus did six numbingly intense hours pass in this way until they landed on the unknown island.

Isono opened the door, the first to leave, directing the finalists to their final destination. The island was as Shangri-La except it did not float; most of the ground was fine white sand or short grass and trees, heated bright by the sun but cut by start black shadows, the weather warm and mild but with a sometimes chilly wind, nothing but the wide blue ocean and the wide blue sky surrounded it for miles around. The finalists walked to the mainland, and gasped at the sight of the massive pyramid at the center, almost as large as Khufu’s at Giza, with two other giants, Seto Kaiba and Pegasus Crawford, waiting for them at the pyramid’s base.

The austere yet august Kaiba greeted them in his frosty manner, “Congratulations at making it to the finals. As host of this tournament I applaud your achievement but as you are all too aware the real struggle has just begun. Every duel you fought through before is nothing but child’s play compared to what you will face tomorrow. At eight o’clock sharp everyone will arrive to the base of the pyramid and climb to the top where every duel will be held. Each duel will last for exactly twenty minutes at most, with each duelist given thirty seconds at most to make any move, and if the duel doesn’t end on time the duelist with more Life Points will be declared the winner.”

“Hey! Wait up, guys! Aah!” Everyone turned to see Rex gasp for air as he ran after them. Weevil was as shocked as everyone else to see his friend, asking how he god here, with Rex explaining, “I snuck in the luggage, you know, like we did in the Doma Arc, the one nobody liked.” The two bros laughed together at their silly adventure thirteen yeats ago, with Kaiba seething in annoyance and everyone else rolling their eyes.

Pegasus, smarmy as ever, gestured to the finalists, “This way to your lodgings, fellow duelists. Even the greatest men need to sleep.” He said, twirling his cane around in a gentlemanly way as he guided them to what looked like a large building. He showed them inside, directing them to the dining hall n the center surrounded by mirrors and the surrounding rooms, each designed to match the character of each finalist, then notified them of dinner being served within a few hours, so it is good to be prepared.

Everyone did so. Maya crashed unto the bed of Room V, nearly shouting in pain from her broken ribs, clutching her chest and writhing in bed. She could never relax, could she? Joking aside, she unpacked her bags, hiding all her cards in her binder and the Book of Isis, stashing both away in a trap door underneath a drawer – almost as if Pegasus knew she would hide the Book the first thing she did – The room itself was simple with great color contrasts, a sun of deep red, bronze, and burning gold painted above where the ceiling light hung at the room’s corner and dark greens, blues, and blacks below on the floor level. A wide desk was placed below the ceiling light and golden sun so she could work on any dramatic art form she wanted while right next to a single large window to the sea and sky outside. Truly, it was an inner sanctum; Pegasus only needed his mortal eye to see into her heart and she fully understood that Pegasus was a profound man beneath his foppish demeanor. How did Pegasus design everyone else’s room?

Maya took a long warm shower, shaved her body hair, tamed her mane of black hair with conditioner, afterwards donning black sneakers, black jeans, and a black sleeveless shirt. Everyone sad down to eat a simple yet filling dinner of soup and meets, each finalist had many chances to look into all the mirrors surrounding them, to see themselves infinitely reflected and refracted among the reflections of the other finalists. It was all too surreal, easily dislodging any comfortable sense of self. Maya knew Pegasus was an artist as she was, though a painter to her the musician, and she pondered exactly what message did Pegasus want to tell them or the world for that matter.

After dinner, the host Pegasus appeared before his guests, with the press of a button he caused a small hologram projector to appear at the center of the table, the lights dimming. He threw his finalists the final curve ball the tournament had to offer, “Ladies and gentlemen, you have all evolved prodigiously as duelists in my marvelous tournament, now you must evolve further, for in the finals I will have you premier a new game mechanic into Yugioh, none other than Link Summoning!”

“What?”

The projector revealed all with Pegasus making the right comments to their questions. A duelist could no longer Summon monsters from the Extra Deck: Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, or Pendulum for that matter, with impunity like they did throughout the entire tournament. They could only Summon one monster from the Extra Deck in a new Monster Card Zone for each player made for that purpose. But they could Summon more monsters by using Link Monsters, new Extra Deck monsters, that each had one to eight Link Markers on the card pointing to another Monster Card Zone based on the card’s Link Number, which now became “Linked Zones”, allowing the player to summon more Extra Deck Monsters. Imagine the Extra Deck Zone as one electric socket; most an Extra Deck monster was one plug but Link Monsters were plugs with extension sockets, allowing you more plugs.

But how did a duelist Summon Link Monsters? A Link Monster needed the number of monsters equal to its Link Number, thankfully no Level requirements needed. Examples: Decoe Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Effect monsters”, needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Effect monsters. Encode Talker; a Link 3 Monster needing “2+ Cyberse monsters” needed 3 monsters to be sent to the Graveyard, at least 2 of them would have to be Cyberse monsters. Link Monsters could be used as Material for the Summoning of other Link Monsters, but only as 1 Material or the number of Materials equaling it’s Link Number. Example: Firewall Dragon, a Link 4 monster needing “2+ monsters”, could be made using Decode Talker (3 Materials) and 1 other monster (1 Material) but not by using Decode Talker and 2 other monsters. Also: Link Monsters had no DEF, so cards like Book of Moon, Burden of the Mighty, and Return to the Frontline had no effect on them since they could never go into Defense Position.

All the finalists were dumbfounded at first but soon reacted violently to this astonishing twist in different ways. Tamas, a typical reactionary gamer, stormed out the dining room, shouting how Yugioh was dead and the game was broken now and he would never play Yugioh again. Maria held a frozen look of mild distaste but sighed and resolved to learn the new rules before retiring to her room. Mathias shrugged, then proclaimed to Pegasus, “You got yourself a game, old man.” Pegasus was pleasantly surprised, it was the reaction he liked but was too smart to expect it from anyone.

Maya cocked her head and laughed out loud, rueful and glad at the same time. “So Konami, I mean Pegasus, finally figured out Dracoslayer Pendulums were cancer killing the game. You have no idea how many Ghouls used that against us! But I must ask: how long will it take for these novel Link Monsters to become old and replaced by something even more outlandish? Three years? Two this time?” She didn’t even mention how Pegasus thought Internet references were still novel: Decode Talker, Firewall Dragon? What was this, the late nineties? Did Pegasus still use AOL dial up or something? Did Space Jam just come out?

Maya could see Pegasus deflate a little and it was a good sign, for it was always important to curb the pride of nobles: aristocrat, bourgeois, or otherwise. This got Pegasus to hand over binders to the remaining finalists, holding none other than a set of staple Link Monsters of all kinds for all different archetypes, yet to be released to the public and slowly over many years. “And I still have yet to tell you about the New Duel Disks you will use for the finals.” Pegasus cheerfully chipped in.

The finalists groaned, which Pegasus swatted aside, “Oh hush, you babies.” Before he called the hologram projector back into the table and opened a large silver briefcase, revealing what looked like a novel, high-tech gadget but had no board to place any cards and only one slot for the Main Deck. “My dear friend Kaiba-boy wanted to show you his new toys tomorrow but I couldn’t help it but show this wonder of technology to you, I hope you keep it our little secret. From now on, even the cards you will play with will be holographic but that won’t mean you can use any card you want. You have to scan your cards in the Main Deck to build a card database, then use it to build your Deck. I’ll leave it up to you bright souls to figure out how to do all of that.” Pegasus finally bit his guests farewell and bed time, it was long in the night, so the finalists made their way to their rooms.

Except Maya. Pegasus abruptly grabbed her shoulder, and Maya, on edge this whole time for so many different reasons, nearly attacked the man out of shock but stopped herself at the last moment. Pegasus said to her, deathly serious, “Thank you for looking after and protecting Sophia, my adopted daughter and prodigy, your responsibility was not at all expected but you fulfilled it. Please protect her life and ensure her well-being in the future.”

Maya replied simply, “You have my word.”

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in C (Op. 2)

I still feel sketchy when analyzing the melody or thematic material. Otherwise, my formal and harmonic analysis is fine. I may not analyze any more sonatas or only sonatas I really like since it may take a year to analyze them all and I would really like to compose my own music thank you very much. Improving my own skills is the reason I do such tedious work in the first place. Beethoven’s 3rd sonata is a brilliant finish to a unique triplet of works, each showing very different moods. The Fm sonata was tragic and brooding, the D sonata was lyrical, the C sonata is vivid and dazzling; it’s virtuoso score hints at piano concerto material.

As usual, a complete formal and harmonic analysis of the piano sonata is in the video above, an overview of the sonata’s overall form below.

Form of C (Op. 2)

0:00 The 1st movement, in sonata form, has the most distinct piano concerto feel to it, since the transitioning passages do look very much like a piano accompaniment to an orchestra. The main subject on the other hand is not that energetic by itself but does have enormous potential energy, which Beethoven exploits by setting it off like dynamite. Unlike with the earlier sonatas, Beethoven’s doesn’t focus so much on the main subject; most of the music in this movement sounds like stock set of riffs Beethoven used to improvise, which he did a lot early in his career.

9:30 The 2nd movement is far off in the mediant key of E, a relation we see for the first time. The movement itself is made of two very different characters; the first one is a rather complex lyrical melody Beethoven goes out of his way to leave unresolved, the second character devotes the left hand for a singing baseline with dotted rhythms lifted from the first character while the right hand plays arpeggios similar to those of a Baroque prelude.

16:40 The 3rd movement has cheeky scherzo that uses F# and starts the downbeat at A, which confuses the key of C major. The scherzo consists of a descending subject that changes registers (and hands) as it keeps going down the keyboard. Meanwhile, other voices join it in counterpoint, often based on the playful turn at the very beginning. The minor trio is more conventional; the right hand plays triplet arpeggios while the left hand plays a simple base. The coda is built on the Bdim-C cadence (vii/I) as opposed to the more usual G7-C cadence (V7/I). All this is subtle humor on Beethoven’s part but sadly most of the jokes are lost to us as we don’t understand the language of sonata form like Beethoven and friends did. It’s hard to get parodies and jokes when you don’t speak the language fluently.

19:57 The 4th movement is an extensive rondo as Beethoven returns to the main subject over and over again, changing it in many different ways, while departing from it afterward in a new direction almost each time. What you get is a pretty complicated rondo, so complicated you could even see sonata form elements in it, complete with two expositions, a long development section, two recapitulations, and a coda. Beethoven, as I said before, wanted to give the finale of a piece the most weight, and tried different ideas throughout his career. He often settled this problem in his early days by expanding the rondo by making it more like a sonata.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in A (Op. 2)

This sonata gave me a real headache. Anyway, this is the second of three Beethoven piano sonatas in Op. 2. This work is light, lyrical, and witty, as opposed to the dark and tragic Fm sonata. But don’t be fooled! The A sonata is more complex and difficult as Beethoven plays with mediant (III) and submediant (VI) keys a lot, frequently leaping to them. He also likes to leap to the supertonic (ii) and flattened subtonic (VIIb), which are both a M2nd away.

A complete formal and harmonic analysis of the piano sonata is in the video above, an outline of the overall form below.

Form of A (Op. 2)

00:00 – The first movement plays a lot with downward triads and running up and down the scale, usually with a lot of counterpoint. Beethoven is fond of leaping by the III or VI in the subordinate subject, as well delaying the harmony from changing alongside the melody, which makes the keys more ambiguous. Beethoven leaps down the VI especially in the development and the subordinate subject in the recapitulation.

11:11 – The second movement suggests definite instruments; muted trombones and string bases in the main subject. Beethoven bases the whole melody of the main subject on peaking it at B4 and F#5, then taking it down. This is the basic structure to many classical melodies but Beethoven takes it to an extreme. The developments in Bm and D are in typical keys. The first development is based on the descending scale, a contrast to the main theme.

17:32 – The scherzo of the third movement is based on a rising arpeggio while the trio is based on a descending scale, like so much other material in this sonata in all the Op. 2 sonatas. Beethoven takes the development of the scherzo all the way to G#m (vii), an extreme place to go relative to A. The development of the trio is in C, a far less distant key relative to A.

22:18 – The last movement is very long and substantial for a rondo, showing that Beethoven is unhappy with the overall structure of sonatas. The minuet and rondo are usually short and light in content, which is lopsided considering how large and important the sonata form in the first movement is. The early Beethoven’s attempts to solve this problem involve making the last movement either sonata form or lengthy rondos, such as this movement. Save the best for last as the saying goes.

The main subject is an operatic dip from E6 all the way down to G4 or F#4, and is the most striking subject of the entire sonata. This movement may be the most gentle and lyrical of the entire sonata but it is the most complex and difficult as Beethoven leaps to the III and VI keys more than in any other movement. The “development” sections explore the dotted motif of the main subject while the “transition” turns the 16th note ascension of the main subject in all sorts of directions; descending down the scale, arpeggios, turns etc.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Fm (Op. 2)

Beethoven’s first published piano sonata is far longer and more complex than his Kurfursten sonatas, and we see the mature Beethoven for the first time. His basic musical tastes, harmonies, and means of developing material stay firmly in place despite him transforming through three different styles. We also see Haydn’s influence in using a few notes (like the Mannheim rocket) as a base to build the entire movement. Beethoven composed this sonata when he was only 25.

A complete formal and harmonic analysis of the piano sonata is in the video above, a general outline of the form is below.

Form of Fm (Op. 2)

00:00 – The 1st movement uses the Mannheim rocket for its main subject and its inversion for the first subordinate subject. He uses the melody to create a hard dissonance (m2nd) against the harmony of the base. He blurs harmonies a lot with his “triplets” in the second subordinate subject.

5:38 – The 2nd movement is made from recycled material from an unpublished piano trio, but now the material is more complex and is developed more. It features complex melodies with a strong emphasis on rising and falling and a sighing motif. Beethoven is also fond of mixing a chord in the base with a note in the treble that implies the chords’ subdominant. Like in the 1st movement, he cadences with an 11 chord.

10:28 – The 3rd movement has has a murky feeling. The minuet is in Fm, yes, but it doesn’t sound like such a clear, tragic minor piece, because Beethoven uses Bbm (ii) a lot along with Fm. His orchestration as it were is frequently is in 4 parts, suggesting a string quartet. The trio is more straightforward, using a chromatic C-Bh-Bb descent in its latter parts.

13:13 – The 4th movement is volcanic, with less restraint than the other movements, as if Beethoven saving the pent up energy for the last movement. It’s main subject makes great use of 1st-7th-1st notes, a simple cadence, with V9 and viihalfdim chords. The transition is very dense, with many different harmonies squeezed into one measure, like Beethoven is trying his hardest not to play I-V. The subordinate subject is in a minor key (Cm, Fm) but frequently stays in the mediant (III) (Eb, Ab). The long downward scales give a dramatic, tragic feeling to the music, a falling down to ruin.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Duel 1

Duel 1 – Gathering the Metals

Matthew lunged at Xiaoyi, who held his dear Alexis hostage, only to have the awful woman bat him away by smacking him in the face, as if he was but a large beetle; the astonishing force from the small woman landed him facedown in the sand, scorching his face. Matthew Howard Carter, one of the wealthiest men in New York City, virtual center of the world, heir to his grandfather’s fortune as former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, former American National Champion, lost everything, as small and lost as an insect in the barren land far from home. His brown hair and tanned skin did little to protect him from the harsh sun and sand.

Xiaoyi, small and pale with a large head, features as fine as those of a porcelain doll, gave little regard to the red sunburn mounting on her cheeks like a blush, even seeming to enjoy the fiery sun above her. Matthew could not look at her without shielding his face with his hands for the sun made her long black hair burn with a bright light. Xiaoyi gripped Alexis, Matthew’s lover of many years by the hair, as black as hers, almost to the point of ripping it off her pale head, but Xiaoyi was deaf to her captive’s tears, giving Matthew a steady gaze with her dark brown eyes.

Her temperament phlegmatic, she spoke to him as if she read his thoughts, “No, Gregory, you couldn’t escape your plight even if you transformed into a bug and burrowed in the sand. Your failure to defeat the Saints, to even defeat your high school friend, doesn’t sit well with me. Frankly, I think you’re problem lies with motivation. While I’m no life coach I would like you to be more proactive in your career. You’re the boss of the Ghouls, aren’t you? I know Seeker, Umbra, Lumis, and Keith are all dead – God bless their souls their job was a huge commitment – but they would feel entitled to a promotion over you. They worked at their job for over a decade but the kid with the trust fund gets to be boss instead. I’d say it’s a little unfair too.”

Matthew threw a fistful of sand at Xiaoyi in a fit of rage, only for the woman to laugh at him, as aloof and cruel as the sun itself. But he, above it all, knew who to truly hate. Maya ruined his life. If the insolent fiend only accepted her loss at New York’s Duel Academy with dignity, she would never have formed an antimeta team with her degenerate high school friends, then she would never have dethroned him in the Nationals, then he would never have fallen into a pit of morose self-pity, then Xiaoyi and Gernand would never have come to his doorstop, then he wouldn’t fight Maya and her comrades again, then he would never be groveling in the sand as a scarab beetle. His downward spiral was an arrow, pointing straight to Maya. Everything stemmed from her.

Xiaoyi again seemed to have read his mind for she asked quizzically, “What if you let her win and enter the Academy?” then enjoyed herself watching Matthew violently reject even considering the idea of a different future. “Cheer up, kid. The scarab beetle is a symbol of eternal life but whether you become Gregory or are reborn again as a god is you’re choice. Pretentious Kafka references aside, not like you ever cared, remember that I gave you all your dark powers.” Matthew opened his shirt, revealing the palm-shaped black mark reminding him of his dark pact with her, the pact that gave him the power to use Horus the Black Flame Dragon as his Ka, his monster spirit as direct manifestation of his creative life force. Xiaoyi concluded, “You are linked to me by a red thread. Your thoughts are my thoughts and if I die so do you, so think twice before attacking me.”

She threw an dagger sheath coated with gold between his knees. “King Tut’s own dagger, forged from the iron of outer space, not like the incest-ridden gimp will need it anymore. Pretty cool, isn’t it?” She violently pointed at Alexis’ chest. “Use it to kill this whore. Severe the very last tie you have to another human being and you will truly be a man with nothing to lose, only then will you have the strength to destroy Maya and reclaim your life.” When Matthew hesitated, Xiaoyi barked so severely it shocked him. “DO IT! Kill her quickly or I will kill her slowly.”

Matthew stood up, picked up the dagger, trembling, his hand wavering, unable to step forward. Xiaoyi rolled her eyes, annoyed she had to further motivate the spoiled brat. She tore out Alexis’ left eye, Matthew heard a clear pop and Alexis shrieking in pain and terror, watched frozen in terror as Xiaoyi popped it into her mouth, chewed it carefully, swallowed it. When Matthew still refused to act, Xiaoyi tore out and gobbled Alexis’ other eye, frozen once more by his lovers’ screams. Xiaoyi pulled the unhappy woman up, licking the blood and tears off her face with enthusiasm. “The hero needs an inciting incident before undergoing his quest!”

Now blinded, Alexis could take it no longer. “Kill me, Matthew!” She implored to him. “Take your revenge on Maya to reclaim your life! I will do anything, even lose my life, to see you happy again!” Matthew slowly paced to her, his blood so frozen he felt cold in the middle of the desert. Alexis could no longer see him but she gripped Matthew’s hand tight with one hand, caressed his tearful face with another, and told him goodbye. Matthew stabbed her in the heart with the dagger of kings, relieved to see her die so quickly, then attacked Xiaoyi in rage only for her to smack the dagger out of his hands and point it at his throat.

“Destroy Maya and everyone else who challenges you in a shadow game, your dark powers will increase enough so you may challenge me. Follow this path if you want to kill me.” Matthew collapsed to the ground in sobs, knowing there was nothing else he could do, but learned to embrace his fate. In his despair he found a small hope, that perhaps he could shed his old skin as the beetle does and emerge into a better person with a better life. That hope was all he had left.

—————————————————————————–

Meanwhile, off in the distance, hiding behind a ruined temple wall, a man named Hannibal Davis saw the whole terrible ordeal. He checked to see was in the clear, he dashed into his van and drove at a furious pace to Cairo airport, wiping the sweat off the stubble on his round tan face, the grease off his curly dark hair, airing his round overweight body with his shirt, all caused by nervousness less than the heat itself. He stumbled to the airport gate, himself a tournament finalist, telling the news to none other than the Saints themselves.

Mathias, the Saint’s leader, a gentle giant, dropped his slice of Buffalo Chicken Pizza, the gaiety of the Saints evaporated. A resilient, gregarious man, almost nothing could fade Mathias Blackheart, except something like this. His comrades; the small, thin, red-headed Maximus, and the fit, equally fiery-headed Ivy, knew everything Mathias did. Long before the tournament began, the Headmaster of their Irish monastery foretold to them the prophecies of Revelations; he predicted a Red Dragon, sired by Zorc Necrophades the Satan and demiurge of this world, rising from a fiery pit to destroy humankind, a woman clothed in sun giving birth to the Savior who will defeat the Red Dragon after a long war over the fate of the human race.

The Red Dragon is none other than Matthew Carter, Mathias thought to himself, since he wielded Horus the Black Flame Dragon as his Ka. The woman clothed in sun is Maria Wight, fair as the daystar, holding the power of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon within her, and the Savior the son she would one day have with Seto Kaiba. But these answers did not satisfy him. His own Ka was none other than Horus the Black Flame Dragon as well. Was he the Red Dragon? Impossible! A righteous man like him could never be a minion of the Devil! He eyed Maximus with glaring suspicion, his brother in arms wielded Shining Swordswoman, did that entitle him to the role as the Archangel Michael and the privilege of smiting the Devil? Maximus always wanted to surpass him as a duelist but in now way would Mathias give him this right even if he did become the better duelist!

Mathias told his comrades he needed a break, that too much pizza made you shit worse than eating too many chilidogs. He patted Maximus in the shoulder, whispered in his ear, “Don’t get too proud or your hubris will be your downfall.” leaving Maximus bewildered. He was almost out of earshot when Maximus reminded him behind is back, “Same applies to you.”

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Stella Nova joined Maya by the airport window. The two women, of similar height and temperaments, seemed a bit like long lost sororal twins on virtue of looking as different as the sun and the moon. Stella was a woman of handsome features with a prominent nose, both hair and eyes falsely colored pink by dyes and contacts, wearing a tie-dye shirt and jeans that closely hugged her body. “Are you ready for the finals?” She tentatively asked Maya, who said she didn’t know, and Stella replied, “Not so sure either.”

Maya turned to her counterpart to talk about politics, one of their favorite subjects, to get her apprehensions out of her mind. Most people saw politics as rather serious and grown-up but Maya saw how experience trumped popular belief; she found politics to be the most childish and frivolous thing in the world, and far easier to handle than her hidden thoughts. The obvious proof was in watching politicians and celebrities do their work. You may say the errors of leaders lead to war and suffering of all kinds, but the grave cost of buffoons’ mistakes only adds to the farce. But then politics reminded Maya of how she murdered Heishin in cold blood and would rather not think of that either. She was trapped.

Stella noticed one man and several women in black burqa’s pass by them, seeming to view the two duelists with caution and mistrust, a rightful attitude since Pegasus and Kaiba exploited Egypt for its history and current turmoil for publicity while Heishin himself wanted more tourist revenue, and Maya said as much. Stella told Maya her outrage, “It’s horrible how people in America, Britain, and even Germany are talking about banning burqas. People of nonwhite ethnicities have the right to cultural expression and should not be culturally oppressed by laws coming from such problematic normative perspectives.”

Maya turned around, not to see if the one man and several women were still around but to see if any of Stella’s fanbase was present, unlikely as it was. She gave Stella a funny look, when Stella asked what was the problem she obliged, “Stop talking like a columnist from Jezebel. I sometimes wonder if you’re making a PR move when you say such canned phrases. No feminist fan is here to judge you for using the wrong pronouns or judge me for appropriating my mother’s own culture when in high school. I want to know what you really think.”

Stella hugged Maya instead until they were uncomfortably close. “We slept together more than once before you got a boyfriend but no matter how close we got we always felt far apart; I always feel a certain small desperate loneliness that can never be bridged. I sometimes think it has something to do with being a progressive celebrity for so many naïve kids.”

This struck a chord within Maya who had a similar feeling deep inside; she could never let down her guard to reveal what was really inside her because if she became weak someone would hurt her, like father did, sometimes even mother, and like many clever animals built a wall to protect herself. But she wanted to reach out across the infinite void that is between two minds to make contact but she could never do it, she never even dared. Instead she pressured Stella to tell her true opinion about burqas only to have Stella push her away. Another conversation on politics became fruitless, no surprise there at all.

Maya by returned to her dear friends Yukio and Sophia to play dominoes Yukio brought along with them. Maya may have been their best duelist but she was terrible at dominoes, loosing every game. She scratched her head in bewildered amusement, wondering what was going on, “I’m getting a brick hand so bad like I did in Duelists Orochi 2.” Making Yukio and Sophia laughed at her in good cheer, Yukio saying, “You’re overthinking it. It’s just dominoes.”

Maya scanned the faces of her friends. Yukio, tall and stringy, with short spiky black hair, some black stubble, and an idealists’ light in his eyes, glinted with mischief. Sophia, of pale but average body, dark red hair tied in a single compact braid, impressionable dark brown eyes, and introspective look, had the same mischievous shade on her face. “You two must be working together to beat me.” She leapt behind them to see their hidden dominoes for herself. The plot revealed, she shouted, “The conspiracy is real!”

“You mean like that one made by that fartknocker Alex Jones where the Illuminati are making kids gay by putting estrogen in their juice cartons?”

“Yes, Beavis.”

“No, I’m the Butthead of the group. I’m more cool and rational. You’re the impulsive lunatic, Beavis.”

“Butthead is rational?”

“Relatively speaking, yes.”

Sophia had to roll her eyes at them for their mock argument. “Speaking of which,” she commented. “You dorks are more like Rex and Weevil than you know.” inciting Maya and Yukio to protest such an absurd and slanderous idea before debating between each other whether the flat earth theory or the hollow earth theory was the dumbest conspiracy in existence. Sophia vouched for one conspiracy an ignorant woman posted on YouTube claiming rainbows in the mist made by backyard sprinklers was from the government putting something in the water supply. Maya and Yukio gave her a gold medal for effort but dismissed her in the end.

The trio heard Maria gliding away at the piano near a café, something Maya could tell by the choice of music and playing style – Her eyes may sometimes fail her but her ears never did – and saw the Saints and a few other people crowd around her. Maria, Maya judged, was very much a musician of the later Romantic style; playing slowly, using the pedal as if the piano was a car, long arching lyrics, her face contorting into all manner of expressions. She played some fine Tchaikovsky and Chopin indeed, with all the Victorian malaise of a House of Mourning. Maya could almost hear the coughing of the sensitive artist with consumption, too good for this cruel world.

Maria finished, the Saints cheered, Maya as well, she asked Maria for her turn to play. Maria, tall and fair as a statue, an albino with pensive blue eyes, brushed by Maya with typical aloof contempt, like Maya was someone horribly offensive by her very existence. Maya returned the gesture with typical defiance and wit. Maya thundered on the piano with her own repertoire of Cherubini and Beethoven, her face showing concentration but otherwise betraying no emotion. Maria judged Maya to be using Classical and early Romantic styles; with a fast and vivid tempo, crisp, dynamic volumes and colors with lightning fast transitions, forceful and deliberate use of rhythm. Oh yes, the vain noise and pride of Lucifer before the fall, much like so many radicals in that period, cruel and ugly, making light of things that should be beyond humor, disrespectful to the natural laws of art. The Saints cheered for Maya when she finished her program like they did for Maria.

The contest continued, the two duelists rotating from one new piece after all, determined to wear the other down. Yukio and Hannibal were impressed with witnessed the two lionesses bite and scrape the other. “By Jove himself, it’s as if Minverva and Ishtar fought for the title of wisest and most powerful goddess!” Hannibal couldn’t help himself from stammering. Yukio put his hand on Hannibal’s arm, “Calm down, dude. No woman is worth worshipping.” And before Hannibal could object to such a sexist claim Yukio quickly added, “Men even less so.”

Three hours passed, the combatants not quite exhausted but starting to get there. Maya had no choice but to play the wild card she kept in store until this very moment. Maya decided to play her second favorite piece of music, Handel’s Suite in Bb, Beethoven’s Große Fugue being her first, Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag being her third. She danced with Handel, enthusiastic but graceful and light on her feet, going through the prelude, sonata, and variations. Now she arrived at the minor minuet she decided now to take a completely different direction, the improvisations she made up in her mind during the whole contest would now be unleashed. She played a minor variation of Handel’s theme, similar to the minuet itself in form but different in substance, then a minor singing variation, then bursting the tension with a violent tarantella. She returned to Bb to play more variations, each one faster and more volcanic than the last one – she would not let Maria win! – until she came to playing small dotted rhythms and 64th notes triplets – “Ack!” Maya clutched her cramped wrist but quickly went back, playing the last bars of her last variation, before clasping her wrist again.

Everyone applauded, except Maria who turned away from the crowd, thinking Maya vastly overstepped her bounds. It was mortal sin for a performer to play outside the composer’s intentions, as if someone today could dare suggest to a genius of the past. No Handel or Beethoven existed today because people like that are no longer born in our decadent age. Mathias threw Maya’s afflicted hand into the air to announce her victor only to cramp Maya’s arm by accident, Maya taking the pain in stride. All this only revealed the philistine, vulgar, and shallow attitudes of modern times, the crowd whooping as if at the circus.

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Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor, Weevil being our remaining finalist, were doing less dignified things. “Goddamn it Rex I need to use the bathroom! I gotta’ PEE!” Weevil jumped up and down like a grasshopper; his teal blue hair, molded in a Beatles haircut, and his huge round green glasses bouncing with him.

“We’re getting there, butt-muncher.” Rex said as he evened out his dirty aged red beanie and scratched his long greasy brown hair.

“Up yours, asswipe!” Weevil met Rex, his narrow squinting blue eyes meeting Rex’s sharp brown ones. The two got lost in their quest for the public bathroom, Weevil now almost ready to burst.

“Remember that time at Charles de Gaul Airport when we got lost so long you did pee yourself and everybody laughed.” Rex himself chuckled a bit at the fun memory. “Man, that airport looks like a schizophrenic made it.”

“Not helping!” Weevil desperately shouted. They saw a man named Tamas, the last finalist and a nondescript man after his short blond hair and black leather coat, and his teammates play testing each other for the finals. Weevil asked him for directions to the bathroom, Tamas answered, Weevil relieved himself, the two asked Tamas again for directions back to the right gate, Tamas again pointed, the two went their way.

Weevil witnessed the crowd surrounding Maya and Maria and got a wonderful idea, he whispered it to Rex, who grinned at the thought. Weevil promised Rex twenty dollars if he did what he wanted, to which Rex accepted, and he dashed around the airport, pinching every female finalist’s butt. They all yelped, much to Rex and Weevil’s delight. Stella claimed sexual harassment, Maria condemned the horrible disrespect to women, Maya chased after them to beat them up.

“WEEVIL! BUDDY!” Mathias caught Weevil, giving him the biggest bear hug in his live, enjoying watching Weevil squirm in his embrace. The insect shouted, “I have a restraining order and I will sue you as soon as I get home! Rex did it! It was his idea but I told him not to do it because it was sexual harassment punishable by castration and sensitivity training but did he listen? No!”

“You have a home?” Maya said in mock surprise. “You look like a chain-smoking stoner, so I guess you do live under a bridge or in your mother’s basement.”

“Ha ha! Very original!” Weevil tried his best to point at Rex. “There’s the culprit, get him!” Yukio caught Rex by the scruff of his neck, who squirmed under his grasp, babbling everything he could to save himself but nothing helped him. Mathias threw Weevil at Maya, telling her to hold him. “Sometimes you need 1950s parenting.” He remarked. With Weevil and Rex pinned to the wall, he let loose his belt on their asses, cracking it on their butts tender as a baby’s. The two stooges pleaded for mercy but none was given. Weevil threatened to call his lawyer but no one cared. Rex said he would sleep with any woman nice enough to free him, thinking his little trick would work. It didn’t.

Yugioh the Dark Dimension – Prologue

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Welcome to Season 3 of my series (Season 8 of Yugioh), where I will write things differently than before and in a better style. A typical chapter from now on will be five pages at most to have more content in each chapter and spent less time writing, since I dislike the style authors use to write most novels and I simply don’t have the free time now as I did before. I like how less verbal artforms like film, paintings, and games work since they use symbols and actions to give you substance rather than telling everything up front or through tedious dialogue between characters. I hope to translate my ideas in a similar war albeit through writing. I’m trying to explore different ways of writing and conveying more serious ideas so forgive me for being pretentious.

Prologue

She woke in a sudden moment, in her sleeping bag on the airport floor, not from any nightmare that frightened her out of her sleep but from something she did not understand yet. Her sleep, deep and dreamless, was the coma of a person who, after a day of immense suffering and fatigue, falls into for what seems like countless hours, as the infinite sleep a person falls into as she dies or the infinite sleep before birth. A second ago she was not and now at this moment she was. She sat up, hot and sweating from the heat of the sleeping bag and in constant pain from her bruises, burns, and broken ribs; she forgot at all who she was or what happened, and looked around the airport for answers, to piece her shattered self back together, as Atem the lost pharaoh did when recovering his long buried memories.

Nature gave her body of strong build of average height, her powerful hands wide, her fingers long, her nails large. Her face reflected the person behind it: a broad forehead, full cheeks and lips, dark brown eyes as vessels for a burning, fiery light, her skin brown and red, and her hair a lion’s mane of black curly hair. She was Marina Bozuslowsky, daughter of Aleksandar Bozuslowsky and Arifa Masri, but she long shortened her name to Maya Brook. She started dueling as a professional at the age of seventeen, joined her friends JC, Yukio, and Jolene to become national champions and defeat the snobbish rich demagogue Matthew, remained a pro for four more years, entered this world championship tournament to somehow stop the now late Egyptian dictator Heishin and claim the forbidden ancient Book of Isis, and now waited for the tournament finals having succeeded doing both. And she liked playing the piano, writing satires, communism, alternative subcultures, and black cats. “I think I got it about right.” She said to her heart.

Maya hobbled her way to a large pane of class, her breathing aggravated by the broken ribs, to see the outside world. Never before had she seen a sunnier, prettier June morning, nor did she feel a sun comfort her through her black sleeveless shirt and jeans quite like this either. But she did feel a deepening darkness despite it all, a gathering pressure, an electric static before the storm. Too many people died in this tournament from the resurging Ghouls, too many secrets revealed from Mathias and his warrior Saints, and she underwent too much struggle and loss already.

Yet all this struggle, sacrifice, revelation, was merely the tip of the iceberg, the darkness that was to come. Ra-Amun, the sun, shattered the world through his divine powers into stark bright lights and black shadows, a contrast where all stood revealed. It would be high noon; each finalist would smash against the other with everything they had, everything they were in these last duels, and only one person would stand on top. Maya’s whole life was at stake for if she won she would pay off her many dueling and college debts but if she lost she would be in ruin. More importantly, she knew her innovative dueling would not keep her ahead of her competition forever, and she needed to push herself further not just to stay in the game but reach a new creative level. All life was art and war, darkness and heroism. If music taught her anything it was these principles from Beethoven, and the Eroica the finest lesson. Let this heroic journey reach fulfillment at last.

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Pegasus J. Crawford, the man who created Yugioh itself, put himself deep in thought as he quietly sipped his wine in the small dining room of the complex that would be the lodgings for all eight finalists. He went so far as to design each room to reflect the true nature of each respective finalist, putting his great skills as a painter to use, whereby the carpenters, electricians, and plumbers followed his exacting instructions. The dining room, the hub each apartment revolved around, held eight large mirrors that reflected off each other face, creating a prism of infinite refractions within each mirror. Pegasus saw his own self in one mirror; his dandy red business suit, his tall stature, broad shoulders, long fair hair, one brown eye, shattered into shapes he could barely recognize.

Such was the true nature of humankind, where there was no one person in each body but only a labyrinth no Theseus could ever escape. What of the Minotaur at the center? Pegasus amused himself with the idea of seeing it revealed by the finalists playing his very game. The high priests of Egypt extracted Ka monsters from people’s souls and used them in battle for this very purpose; it was one reason Pegasus created this game in the first place. The Millennium Items, magic artifacts smelted from gold and the bodies of ninety-nine sacrifices, used by the high priests for such purposes, were lost, but the Book of Isis, holding one spell used to create the Millennium Items – merely one spell of the many mysteries – was still at large. The evil person who used the Book would cause untold catastrophes, which Pegasus wanted to avoid at every cost. He instinctively reached for his left eye socket but did not find the Millennium Eye he used to have within. He could no longer use its divine powers to see further than mortal eyes could. Now he was just a man and could only use his human powers.

Pegasus left the complex behind with such melancholy thoughts in mind, trotting on the soft sandy ground of the small Pacific Island where the finalists would be held. The warm light, blue sky, and fresh sea did not comfort him but only worsened his mood, the setting sun cut through everything with its harsh light. He thought of Sophia, one of his favorite adopted children and protégés, locked in the dangerous tournament, and hoped she would come out in one piece. Using a refined wooden cane, the debonair Pegasus showed his grit as he slowly climbed his way up a rocky hill and the massive pyramid at the center of the island he built alongside his colleague Kaiba, the battleground every duel would take place, laboring his way to the very top.

Seto Kaiba, the mighty technocrat who singlehandedly drove Yugioh in its modern form with his massive wealth and brilliant inventions, stood tall with his shoulders crossed as a bronze memorial statue, glaring down the pyramid to the white sand, green trees, and blue waves beneath him. Let this tower engrave in history the supreme achievement of the tournament’s winner and prophesize the great events of the future, the imperious Kaiba thought. Here, in this very tower he built, let history be made! He thought back to the first Battle City tournament he hosted thirteen odd years ago, how he also hosted the finals on top of a mighty tower, and watched history form as Atem became the first official world champion. Now he would witness something just as grand in the thirteenth Battle City as the Yugioh game would evolve to an ever higher level.

Pegasus, who finally reached the top, cut Kaiba’s lofty thoughts, “Whew! We should have made a smaller pyramid, Kaiba-boy. I think we made our point.” He patted his damp face with a silk handkerchief before stowing it away in his suit. Kaiba turned his piercing blue eyes to glare at contempt at the annoying man who cut his thoughts with such a frivolous remark. The two men could not have been more different. The gay, effete Pegasus contrasted the severe Kaiba, who had tall and with broad shoulders as Pegasus, yet wirier, donning his battle armor; a black leather body glove with a long white trench coat. He wore this same uniform at the first Battle City and wore it now even though he would not duel. He had a far greater plan, to defeat the very champion of this tournament to take the title of King of Games for himself. Why waste his time in an entire tournament when he would make it to the finals anyway? “Speak! Why are you here?” He demanded at Pegasus.

The debonair man sighed in a knowing way, “Very well, my Wagnerian Ubermensch. I would like to just share the beautiful view with you but, as such simple joys are far beneath the higher man such as yourself, I will get to the point. Beware of the Book of Isis and the people who seek it. It is owned by a finalist, it calls out to me, knowing I once held a Millennium Item. The Ghouls have been thwarted but one dangerous man remains, Matthew Carter. He will enter the finals to claim the Book for himself and avenge his grandfather’s demise, but even if he fails Gernand remains as well as a dark shadow, an evil intelligence I know little about. They are not threats right now but they will be.”

“First of all,” Kaiba scoffed at Pegasus, “The Ubermensch derives from Nietzsche you illiterate old fool. Second, I couldn’t care less about any occult threats lurking under whatever rock they choose to hide in. My tournament is about the future, not the dusty ancient past. You would do well to remember that.”

Pegasus rebounded, “You call me an old fool but look at yourself! You sound exactly like you did thirteen years ago, right down to the ‘I focus on the future’ spiel. You carry the obsessions and grudges you held for literally over a decade. Imagine how bad they would smell if they were food. You are, dare I say, an Ubermensch parody, more like Siegfried than Dionysus. It was this thing called satire. You know, a joke?”

“Jokes are for happy-go-lucky, shallow types who cannot stand the darker sides of life.” Kaiba growled. “Do you want me to destroy you before the finals even take place?”

“I must disagree, Kaiba-boy. Humor let’s us see the extra dimension in our lives as tragic creatures we would otherwise never see and transcend them, and this includes the so-called darker sides of life as well. Only man lives in such horror he needed to invent laughter. You are a tyrant but will never be an artist while I will always be both, and only this type of person can win this tournament.” Pegasus did not budge and inch throughout their entire discussion and, seeing Kaiba’s mild surprise, said, “Yes, who would have thought little old me who created Yugioh in the first place would know so much. You’re constipated character is why you always failed to beat Yugi and why generic antihero rival characters always fail.”

Kaiba became so frigid the very warm air around them dampened. “You’re meaningless foppish words did not move me an inch.” But Pegasus knew it wasn’t true. He had a special talent in annoying Kaiba and nothing amused him more than seeing Kaiba overreact, like watching Donald Duck get mad in a Disney cartoon. Kaiba punched a code on his duel disk, a newer sleeker model that outdated even the new models the finalists had used up to this point, the machine projected a holograph roster of all eight finalists, which Kaiba read out loud.

Matthew Carter
Heir to the Carter Foundation. Twenty-two years old. Has not dueled in a tournament since he lost the nationals in 2005. Dominates the opponent with powerhouse monsters overriding effects, favors Lightsworn and Horus.

Mathias Blackheart
Leader of the Saints, a team of professional duelists based in Ireland. Age unknown. Uses psychological warfare. Favors Nordic Gods and Horus. Teammates are Maximus and Ivy.

Maria Wight
Best duelist of Team A Cappella. Based in the UK. Twenty-three years old. Wins through card control by controlling resources. Uses Normal Pendulum monsters.

Svanhildur “Stella Nova” Minervadottir
Leader of Team Stratosphere. Based in Iceland. Twenty-three years old. Specializes in controlling the field with floater monsters. Favors Yang Zing. Notable teammate is Willow.

Marina “Maya Brook” Bozuslowsky
Best duelist of Team Baby Blast Furnace. Based in Iceland. Twenty-two years old. Used a variety of strategies in her career, now swarms the field to create many high level Extra Deck monsters. Favors banishing cards. Teammates are Yukio and Sophia.

Hannibal Davidson
World-renowned archaeologist and classical scholar. Based in Athens. Thirty-one years old. Uses strategies that spring during the opponent’s turn. Favors Artifacts.

Tamas Varga
Leader of Team Impossible. Based in Hungary. Twenty-eight years old. Uses beatdown. Favors all Dragon-Types. Teammates are Bence and Beze.

Weevil Underwood
Leader of Team Loser Dog. Based in Japan. Twenty-six years old. Uses strategies that slowly weaken the opponent’s monsters and bind the duelist in a lock. Favors all Insect-Types (obviously). Teammates with Rex Raptor.

“Kaiba! Weevil may be a loser but you must at least pretend he is noteworthy. He did survive the tournament after all. He has just as much right to the finals as everyone else.” Pegasus admonished his colleague.

Kaiba scoffed at the mere idea then left in a huff, leaving Pegasus alone to appreciate the view on top of the pyramid. The Egyptians thought the pyramid likened to the rays of the sun and thus paved a stairway to the Underworld. Well, Overworld if you think about it, Pegasus joked to himself. So, which finalist would make it to the top and reach the Heaven of being forever remembered in history? Did it even matter? Well, it certainly did, at least for Pegasus’ entertainment and Kaiba’s vainglory.

Beethoven Analysis – Piano Sonata in Eb (WOo47)

800px-Thirteen-year-old_Beethoven

INTRODUCTION TO THE KURFURSTEN SONATAS

We first see Beethoven writing piano sonatas in 1783, not the wild man we turned into a titan genius through myth but a mere boy of twelve. By this time Beethoven’s father Johan could no longer teach his son through his brutal methods so he turned his son over to more able tutors such as Christian Neefe, who introduced the young Beethoven to Johan Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. The boy learned quickly, practicing on the piano long past midnight for many nights to refine his skills, soon mastering J.S. Bach’s works.

Beethoven occupied himself with other tasks and hobbies. He played the organ in his church and the viola in the court orchestras of the prince electors ruling Bonn at the time. – The nation of Germany did not yet exist; the land was part of the Holy Roman Empire, broken into many small territories each ruled by a different prince. – In his spare time, Beethoven frequented the local university lectures, salons, and other forums, and quickly became enchanted by the principles of the Enlightenment, ideals he held until his final days.

The young Beethoven composed his first three piano sonatas in this climate, dedicating them to his Prince Elector Maximillian Frederick as per custom. The pianist Ronald Brautigam describes, in his booklet that comes with his recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, that Beethoven drew heavily on Carl Phillip Bach’s “sensitive style” keyboard works and Haydn’s “storm and stress” piano sonatas. He then mentions how Beethoven was lucky his father was too drunk to discipline his son to compose in a so-called proper style; had Mozart tried to write such music his father would have stopped him.

I am listening to C.P.E Bach’s keyboard works as I write this very essay and I do hear some of the same muses who stirred Beethoven when he was only a teenager and would inspire him for the rest of his life. The music is indeed in a “sensitive style”, with touching melodies one moment and stormy, abrupt chords in another, elements Beethoven puts in his own sonatas. I hear adolescent melancholy, youthful play, ventures in playing dark and difficult music, and some sight into the abstract realms music takes you when you really listen to it.

Let us now study the first of these earliest sonatas. I created a road map, posted just below this paragraph, and a YouTube video with the entire sonata in annotations, link at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tWsQlPM1rg.

Scan Forms i

MOVEMENT ONE – ALLEGRO CANTABILE

The first movement, unlike Beethoven’s later sonatas, does not have any clear first subject, second subject, and so forth. It is like Mozart’s earlier sonatas and Classical ideals in general; you hear one gracious melodic line, then another, a new idea develops, all in balance and harmony. You can really think of movement one’s sonata form as a few melodies in Eb, then a few melodies in Bb, and so on.

Beethoven thinks along these lines of balance and harmony, his ideas mostly abstract, not trying to state any definite idea. He does explore a simple contrast between a high delicate woodwind range, a warm middle string range, and low stormy range. He does put more thought in his later “Kurfursten” sonatas on what he wants to say and how to say it; in the Fm sonata he explores loftier thoughts, but he is not used to writing in sonata form at the moment. Give the kid a break. He should do better things anyway, like try to get rid of his pimples, go to Hot Topic, and flirt with girls.

Beethoven’s “main subject” is made of a few melodies with little relation, but they do connect in the same way a few sentences create a paragraph; the paragraph being the “first subject”. The boy does put some color and contrast between sentences; sentence one has a rising then falling arc and implies a string ensemble (bars 1-4), another sentence leaps then falls in a woodwind’s register (bars 11-14).

When he modulates he plays many sixteenth notes to amp up the tension. Beethoven is technically in Bb already but he wants to establish a Bb harmony by modulating, so he does so as if he was in Eb in two sentences. In his first sentence he starts his first phrase in Bb, the second phrase in C (bars 15-18). He changes the harmony by moving it up a whole step, a technique Beethoven is fond of. The whole point of his exercise is to move to F, the V chord (or dominant) of Bb. By using the F harmony, Beethoven “overshoots” so he can play a V-I cadence of F-Bb.

The “subordinate subject” (bars 25-30) is very short and also counts as a closing statement, but what a striking and playful tune it is! Beethoven plays it twice, once as a flute, another as a violin. He brings back a similar contrast as before in his “first subject” but the order is reversed (woodwinds first, strings second). Beethoven does develop a few simple ideas; a contrast between high and low keys, and he develops it further.

We can break down the development into two “cores” where Beethoven explores an idea in the exposition. The first “core” . (bars 30-40). imitates the second idea but in Cm, among the highest keys. Nothing too new here. The second “core“ (bars 48-55)  is made of arpeggios in minor chords, mostly Cm, the register low, dark, stormy. He retransitions to the “main subject” easily by playing Bb then Eb.

I can only comment little on the recapitulation since everything is the same as before, just a 5th lower, in Eb. The only difference is the “main theme” is truncated, so we only hear one sentence. For a while I wondered by Beethoven played a sentence in Bb so soon (bars 11-14) but I may have a clue now. Beethoven may have seen how the line in the recap is in Eb exactly repeats the line in the expo, so he may have changed the latter to Bb to avoid repeating himself and create a bigger feeling of returning home as the movement closes.

MOVEMENT TWO – ANDANTE CANTABILE

Beethoven shows his true talent and craft in this movement. Like in many sonatas, including the Fm sonata, the middle movement is the heart of the sonata, the highest seat of thought and feeling and a fulcrum between the two fast movements. Beethoven uses this form in many later sonatas throughout his career but he takes it to a much higher level. A good slow movement can change the nature of the entire sonata, such a crucible seems to transform the music as you go from the first movement to the last movement. As a composer myself, I find slow movements hardest to write but when I do it somehow helps me write later fast movements far better.

In the second movement we can really see Beethoven express the sensitive style he picked up from C.P.E. Bach as he sings his lonesome and tender song. The constant mood is of adolescent melancholy; you truly understand how sad and lonely this boy was, with no intimate friends, with only a few sensitive adult women to comfort and protect him. Already we see the young Beethoven improving as a composer in learning what emotions to express and what techniques he needs to do so.

Beethoven sets this mood by cleverly using chromatic notes in the treble and base and in the way he uses his sentences; he makes them “two-bodied” where the first phrase or clause, if you can call it that, is simpler and the second one is more complicated and intense. You tend to hear this in the second part (of B part) of the exposition and recapitulation. However, his base is somewhat staid, as he plays Alberti base for almost the entire movement. He lets the melody do most of the work and, like in a lot of early classical music, the base is used for harmonic filler.

In the main subject and very short transition (bars 1-13), Beethoven makes both Bb and Eb natural. This adds color, yes, but also suggests the key of C, which is the V chord of F, the dominant. He plays a chromatic rising base as he transitions, up from Bb, to B, to C. This way he plays an inverted F chord, making the cadence imperfect, keeping suspense kind of like how a novelist refuses to resolve the plot of a story just yet. The harmonies he implies throughout are Bb, F, C, F (IV-V-V/V-V), again he “overshoots” by playing a C-F cadence, which is V-I relative to the key of F.

Beethoven writes two subordinates subjects in F. The first subject (bars 14-19), is in the tenor and base registers. Beethoven suggests a viola and cello, the warm tones contrast high notes in the rest of the piece. It is a shame Beethoven doesn’t use more contrast. He again plays a chromatic rising base, this time suggesting Bb-F (IV-I) harmonies, and again keeps us in suspense with an imperfect cadence.

The second subject (bars 19-25) is more straightforward. The harmony is “offbeat here”, starting as V-I not I-V, and Beethoven plays a string of 32nd notes in fortissimo afterward to intensify the emotion. He also plays an F# note, implying Gm to make the harmony more ambiguous. Beethoven is very fond of the F# and Bh chromatic notes in the second and third movement of this sonata. And finally, he plays a perfect cadence at the end, resolving the tension he set up earlier and leading us to a poignant closing statement (bars 26-31).

The development section (bars 31-37) is very short but Beethoven makes good use of it by playing many chromatic notes; these include F#, G#, Eb, and C#. While Beethoven technically plays F-C7 (I-V) the whole time the chromatic notes imply other harmonies like Am, Cm, and Dm. In the very brief retransition he plays the Bb note at the end to imply a subdominant harmony (relative to the key of F) to return to the home key of Bb.

The recapitulation, like in the last movement, repeats the exposition almost verbatim, most of the material is transposed a 4th higher. The main subject (bars 38-42) is shortened so much it merges with the transition to make one sentence. The second subordinate subject (bars 49-56) has an extra bar but it is important. Beethoven uses it to play an Ab note; at the moment it suggests a Bb7 chord but in the entire subject it creates a strong subdominant feel. Most composers at the time dwelled in the IV chord in their recapitulations to anchor your sense of hearing back to the home key and usually to play a IV-V-I harmony. Beethoven does something similar here.

MOVEMENT THREE – RONDO, VIVACE

Beethoven changes form in this movement; now he opts for a rondo form not the usual sonata form, but it does sound a lot like a sonata. Its three main stanzas of A,B,C each resemble an exposition, development, and recapitulation, and each stanza is made of four lines of a,b,c,d. Like the first movement, this last movement is made of a string of different melodies that have little relation to each other but the emotions expressed are more intense. The major lines are more zesty and playful, the minor ones more brooding, the cadenzas otherworldly.

In stanza A, line a (bars 1-8) is a theme in Eb in the standard I-V-I harmony. Line b (bars 9-16) acts like a transition of sorts; Beethoven plays a arpeggios throughout to fill out harmonies, he toys with a chromatic rising base a bit to create Ebaug harmony, and later modulates by playing Bb-Cm7-F-Bb. Line c, the “subordinate subject” (bars 17-23), Beethoven plays arpeggios again, just with the hands reversed, plays Bb and Eb to create a I-IV-I feeling, as if he didn’t modulate to Bb at all. Beethoven ends the line by playing Edim7 then holding out on F a bit. This is a diminished cadence where the composer plays viidim7-I rather than the usual V-I (relative to F in this case). It adds some spice to the music and lets the composer travel to a distant key easily without having to worry about a V-I cadence. It becomes clear to us at this point this piece focuses more on harmonies than having distinct melodies, a contrast to the first two movements, especially the second movement.

His closing statement is in two sentences (bars 18-36). Beethoven must get back all the way from F (which is a whole step above Eb, notice how this parallels the first movement) to Eb. He does this by going down the harmonies by 4ths, from F to Bb to Eb. Once there, he goes briefly to Cm before going to Bb (playing I-V-I) where he suspends us in a Bb chord. We are now in the end of stanza A, the suspending chord acts as a cadenza, which many pianists fail to improvise as they lack invention.

Stanza B begins. Line a (bars 37-44) is our familiar first tune. Now in line b (bars 38-55), we enter the first “core” of a “development” section. Here Beethoven explores the arpeggios from before but this time he cycles through a bunch of flat harmonies close to Eb; these are Ab, Fm, Bb, Gm, Cm, Bb7, and F7. The second “core” in line c (bars 56-62), he plays a Ebdim7-F cadence so he can hold on to F a bit. Then in line c, the “retransition”, (bars 63-71) he hangs around Ebmin (the minor version of the home key) before arriving to a second cadenza in Bb.

Stanza C mimics a recapitulation but Beethoven is more inventive here than in the last two movements. Before he played the exact same material just a 4th below in harmony. Now he does a few new things. We hear the first tune again (bars 72-79) as a “main subject”, barely any different than before. In line b, the “transition” (bars 80-87), he moves to Cm. He returns to using diminished cadences, this time twice; first with Bdim7-Cm, then with F#dim7-G. In line c, the “subordinate subject” (bars 88-99), is in Eb with the standard V-I, spiced up a bit with Ab (the subdominant) and another diminished cadence from F#dim7-Gm. Next Beethoven hangs around Cm, playing V-I with some Fm in it. This Cm sentence thus mirrors the Eb sentence before.

We enter the final cadenza, the notes held out in a single voice on the C note. Then we enter line d, the “closing section” (lines 100-109), where the main tune repeats again with a small extra flourish at the end to finish the movement. The main Eb theme changes very little throughout the entire movement, which shows how the young Beethoven is still pretty new to sonata form. The mature Beethoven would never repeat himself like that, a good counterexample being his “Rage Over a Lost Penny” rondo. He transforms the theme in so many ways; he changes its register, plays it in a remote key, diminishes it, embellishes it, shortens it, develops bits of it elsewhere in the piece, makes at least two variations out of it, uses it build a coda, and so on, all in five and a half minutes. However, the young Beethoven’s genius is emerging, even now he is getting the knack of writing complex and passionate music.