Littleroot Town (Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald) ~ Arrangement by Adam Haynes
In light of the recent Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire announcement, I thought it was the perfect time to continue with my Pokémon music arrangements - this time, arranging the music from the Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald games. I have begun this series with Littleroot Town!
Like my previous music arrangements, I didn’t want to simply orchestrate the original MIDI file. There are some fantastic orchestral arrangements like this on Youtube, but I didn’t want to just create another - instead, I wanted to build the song from the ground up, reinterpreting the piece in my own way.
I began by thinking about the theme and atmosphere of the game. Hoenn is a warm tropical place, filled with trees and wildlife, surrounded by a vast ocean. When I think of the games in this series I always think of the humidty and the rain, and how warm the rains of Hoenn must feel, especially upon the Pokémon trainer who has just arrived there. I think of the Lotad and Surskit relaxing amongst the warm ponds, the Seedot and Roselia playing amongst Hoenn’s lush green foliage. I knew immediately that I wanted to express this imagery via my arrangement.
A recent inspiration for me has been Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta. I’m currently reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and this piece plays a prominent part in the novel, which encouraged me to check it out. Sinfonietta really reminds me of the rain, probably because I first heard it through my headphones, whilst sitting along Brighton seafront on a rainy and stormy late afternoon. This piece makes me feel the rain falling intensely to the ground, the waves of the ocean crashing against the shore, the scent of the pavement as the rain beats down on it. So I took great inspiration from its first movement’s instrumentation for my arrangement; timpani, trumpets, trombones, tubas, horns. Brass was also at the forefront of my mind for this piece, due to the infamous trumpets of the R/S/E games. Bring on the trumpets!
Having built up most of my instrumentation from Sinfonietta, I also added xylophone, vibes, and celeste for that “tropical” feel. I open the piece with piano and subtle violin; I decided not to have the main melody playing, just the chords, as I really wanted to portray those first few drops of rain that fall when a rainstorm is starting; very light and delicate, and sparse. I thought about the Pokémon trainer arriving in Hoenn for the first time, on-board that moving truck. Stepping out of the truck, the trainer would be greeted with the humid air, the wet grass, the distant roar of Hoenn’s ocean; surrounding trees of a rich green towering over the little town that our adventure starts in. It was important for me to capture this feeling in the opening bars of my arrangement.
Opening with the light piano, we don’t hear the actual melody until the horns come in a bit later, at which point the song will feel familiar to the listener. This is where I also introduce the timpani, which beats very lightly, just to perhaps warn the listener of an oncoming rainfall, or to mimic the steady ocean waves nearby. I wanted to make the listener feel as if the ocean was a living, breathing thing surrounding the little island that they are on, with its majestic warmth always present and its ambience always audible.
As the first verse plays for a second time, the intensity rises as we hear the trumpets play the melody, and the rest of the brass becomes thicker. The rain is falling a little heavier, but the trees and wild Pokémon are remaining calm; afterall, they are in their element with the rainfall.
After the first verse plays twice, I decided to add in a little section of my own. Again, I really wanted to push the feeling of warm, softly falling rain, so I created this section just to emphasise this, using staccato piano, xylophone, and syncopated pizzicato strings. Puddles are forming around the Pokémon trainer, the trees are swaying gently from the rain’s impact, and a feeling of curiousness fills the trainer. This is what I wanted to emphasise with this section.
It took me a long time to complete the second half of this piece; I scrapped many different iterations of it, and hopefully I settled with the right one :) The piano, xylophone, and celeste are playing more varied intervals with its notes to emphase the increased rainfall, and the trumpet takes the lead. I really wanted the trumpets to carry some of the lead melody because of how infamous the trumpet sound was in this series of Pokémon games, but I didn’t want it to sound synth-y or pop-y. I actually found it really difficult to voice the dissonant chord in this section, the Bm7b5, as the instrumentation just sounded really muddy when playing this chord together, especially the pizz. cello. It took me a long time to get this sounding clean and natural!
On the second play-through of the second verse, I give a very short hint at a stereotypical “mexican” sound. I think this small fanfare works really well within the piece, as it makes me feel as if the rain is being welcomed/celebrated by the inhabitants of Hoenn. It also serves as a nod towards Ludicolo ;-)
I end the piece with a very light vibraphone and celeste touching upon familiar chords, and a light beat by the log drums. I wanted the listener to feel as if the elements of Hoenn are saying to the player: “welcome to Hoenn, where you’ll soon grow accustomed to the climate”.
So there we have it. I hope you enjoy my re-imagining of the Littleroot Theme. Thank you so much for listening :-)
~ Adam Haynes