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Review of the Kalafina Intermediate/Hard Piano Book

Kalfina piano book cover

BECAUSE NISE IS NOT AT ME YET AND I’M BORED. (Also, Shini has no idea I’m writing this.)

I received this piano book in the mail two weeks ago, and I’ve spent upwards of an hour a day playing through the songs. They vary from amazingly done (Haru wa Ougon no Yume no Naka) to wtf were they thinking (ARIA).

I wanted to find some Youtube videos to link so you could hear or watch someone play the songs, but no one seems to have made any. I’ll have to do so when I’ve had more than two weeks of practise.

Song by song review after the cut.

1. Oblivious
One of the easier songs in the book. The bassline might be a bit confusing once it gets to the verses, but it’s extremely repetitive. It’s also exactly the same as the arrangement in the Intermediate/Hard Kajiura book. Anyway, it’s a pretty simple arrangement. The only part that really varies is the first part of the bridge, where Wakana and Keiko are switching off with the “Itsuka kimi to futari yoru wo…” before it goes back into more of the same again. Not too fond of this arrangement.

2. Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku
This arrangement starts out pretty easy, but once it gets to the second verse, the arpeggios become extremely difficult. Even so, this is an extremely beautiful arrangement that highlights the true beauty of this song and has a lot of variation.

3. Kizuato
While the other songs make sure to use octaves very infrequently or make the lower note of the octave a grace note, this song deals mostly in octaves and block chords, making it potentially very messy. Because of that, I’m quite disappointed in this arrangement. While the softer parts of the song are dealt with more delicately, it gives the impression that this song has only two levels of strength, which is simply not true.

Wh… What the hell happened here? First of all, the bridge is completely gone. Second of all, the arrangement is done to be very short and lazy, as once the first chorus ends, instead of realising the song gets to be more powerful and rhythmic, it just repeats through until the end. As this is my favourite Kalafina song, I’m extremely upset with the poor quality of this arrangement. Also, this arrangement is the most liberal out of the arrangements. I’m all for switching things up to make things sound more classical or to flow better, but this went too far in that direction, to the extent of making it almost a completely different song. What makes it even worse is that the song is also very difficult, so it’s hard to judge whether you like the changes or not at first.

5. Sprinter
This song was just not meant for the piano. I don’t really know what to say about it. The bassline gets to be extremely messy on the first page, and the repetitiveness of the second verse (Bokura ni dekiru koto wa…) really gives a heavy and pounding feel to the song, which doesn’t quite work for such a delicate instrument like the piano. I feel like this arrangement could have benefited from taking influnces more from the orchestra background instead of the guitar work.

6. Fairytale
This is one of my favourite arrangements of the book. It often has the left hand crossing over the right in order to keep the tones mostly in the treble clef for the softer parts of the songs. The chord variations are quite nice, and any liberties taken in the song are perfectly balanced. It’s also not a very difficult song to play.

7. Seventh Heaven
I absolutely love the chords used in this song. There’s some beautiful juxtaposition between the melody and the main chords. The song itself doesn’t even sound too terribly repetitive, which is really nice seeing how repetitive the melody is. The only complaint would have to be the last two pages, which I think more could have been done to highlight the echoey feel of the last few minutes. On the other hand, the bit that was done (about two measures on the last page) seem extremely out of place and overdone. But ignoring the bit of the outro, this is a fantastic and subtle arrangement that’s quick to pick up.

8. Ashita no Keshiki
I feel like the arranger was given a list of songs to arrange and then said, “And pick one from each album to do as a bonus song.” This is the one bonus song from Seventh Heaven. For all the liberties took in other songs, like the crazy version of ARIA, I feel like this is a bit too close to the original, especially in the beginning. I wasn’t impressed by the original song, and the piano arrangement doesn’t really change my opinion of that.

9. Red Moon
To be honest, I thought this song would work a bit better than it ended up. The beginning is missing the beautiful vocal work, the verses feel as if they’re lacking a bit in the bassline, the bridge is a bit odd with the runs in the right hand, and the ending is missing Keiko’s heavy part entirely. The bits that do work, such as the chorus, work really well, but it’s hard to rate this as a good or bad arrangement because of the balance of elements that do or don’t work. The difficulty is also all over the place, with many parts being extremely easy and a few parts being quite difficult.

10. Storia
This arrangement seems to be the same as the one in the Intermediate/Hard Kajiura piano book, which was a beautiful arrangement of a song that didn’t strike me as being “beautiful”. Fun, yes, but I’m actually really surprised at how the arrangement takes all of the beautiful parts of the song.

11. Hikari no Senritsu
I liked this arrangement in the Intermediate/Hard Kajiura piano book, and I still like it here. However, there is a change to this arrangement that I’ve spotted. On page 68, second measure of the second ending, the final note is G eigth note. However, in the other book, it’s two sixteenth notes, an Ab to a G. The arrangement is delicate on the verses and a bit more harsh on the chorus. The instrumental part of the bridge is really unique, and I love it!

12. Haru wa Ougon no Yume no Naka
This song never jumped out at me on the album, mostly because Wakana’s vocals have a few flaws that really annoyed the vocalist in me. However, this is my favourite arrangement in the entire book. It’s delicate and beautiful, and the key changes are executed wonderfully. Even though few liberties are taken, it’s very classical sounding and almost poetic.

13. Progressive
This arrangement is repetitive like Oblivious, and also has quite a few flaws. First of all, the chorus part that Wakana sings in the bridge is missing, replaced by the orchestra part. Also, most of the arrangement is done without any harmony in the bassline and rather infrequent harmony in the melody line, making the arrangement feel a bit lacking and empty.

14. Lacrimosa
The odd part of this song is that the rhythm of the bassline randomly changes unnecessarily. The arrangement does highlight the repetitiveness of the song’s feel, but also includes most of the harmony, which is very nice. I’m not entirely impressed by the arrangement, but it sounds quite nice.

15. I Have a Dream
This is a really nice arrangement of a song I’m not entirely impressed with. A bunch of really nice liberties are taken to make the song flow quite a bit better, and it really saves the song. The baseline isn’t very complicated, but does include some nice chord bases, which is always nice to hear in a slower song.

16. Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa
This song was expected to be very delicate and beautiful, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m surprised in the creativity in the bridge, with the chords in the left hand to compliment the melody in the right. I absolutely love how the harmony is incorporated throughout the entire song, and even some orchestra parts flow between the left and right hand. Stunning arrangement! My only complaint is that I wish the first few measures were a bit more complicated.

Overall, this is a really great and fun piano book, with a wide variety of musical themes and styles. Some songs work really well and some really don’t, but they’re all pretty fun to play.

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