Explanations of Subtitles in Castlevania Games

With the birth of the Dracula X subseries, the producers wanted to give the series a bit of extra pizazz - so, they gave cool sounding, musically influenced subtitle. This has since become a tradition in the series. However, unless you've studied music theory, these names might mean very little to you. Furthermore, some of these names contain duel meanings. Provided below are some definitions of the musical terms in Castlevania. Thanks to the Naxos Classicals Music Glossary for much of this information. Please note that many of the terms were clipped for simplicity - please check the above site if you wish to learn more. Also thanks to Wallace Esch for his feedback on this section, and the true meaning of "Harmony of Dissonance".

Dracula X: Rondo of Blood:

This is a very interesting title - the kanji has been translated as "reincarnation" on the official strategy guide - however, the furigana (pronunciation guide) says to pronounce it "rondo". "Rondo" can mean "circle", another reason why the title is sometimes called "Circle of Blood". Indeed, a reincarnation is part of cycle (birth, death, rebirth, etc). However, merely translating it as "Circle" loses the musical connotation.

The rondo form involves the use of a recurrent theme between a series of varied episodes, often used for the rapid final movement of a classical concerto or symphony.

Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight:

The double meaning is easy to find in this one: a nocturne refers to any animal of the night - which in this case is the vampire, obviously. However, in musical terms, a nocturne is a "night-piece", music that evokes a nocturnal mood. It was developed as a form of solo piano music leading to its notable use by Chopin. The title has been used more recently by other composers for both instrumental and vocal compositions.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night:

A symphony may loosely be defined as an orchestral composition generally in several movements. You could translate the whole title as simply meaning a "nocturne", actually. While still musically inclined, it loses the double meaning of the original title.

Castlevania: Dark Night Prelude:

Since the game was titled "Castlevania Legends" overseas, all of the musical connotations are lost. Note that the kanji can be translated either as "prelude" or "overture" - "prelude" was chosen because it more quickly identifies the storyline of the game - the beginning of the Castlevania saga (at least on the timeline.)

Musically, a prelude is a movement or section of a work that comes before another movement or section of a work, although the word also has been used for short independent pieces that may stand alone. Similarly, an overture is an introductory piece, often designed to initiate an opera or other dramatic work.

Castlevania: White Night Concerto/Concerto of the Midnight Sun:

There's some debate over part of this title. "White Night Concerto" is a very literate translation: the world "hakuya" is made of two kanji, the first meaning "white", the second meaning "night" or "evening". However, in all of the official translations given by Konami (including the game's prologue), they called it "Concerto of the Midnight Sun". Perhaps "hakuya" has an additional connotation that isn't apparent through literal translation. This is the same with Nocturne in the Moonlight (Gekka no Yasoukyoku), actually. "Gekka" literally means "below the moon" but is translated as "moonlight". Still, the "concerto" part remains the same.

In any case, a concerto is a piece of instrumental music that contrasts a solo instrument or a small group of solo instruments with the main body of the orchestra.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

The overseas title of White Night Concerto ditches the names of musical movements from its title, instead opting for a different route.

The dictionary defines "harmony" and "dissonance" as antonyms, and would suggest the title as an oxymoron. Harmony is the reaction between the sounding of two or more different tones. Dissonance is a harmony opposite of "Consonance", or if you will, a consonant harmony. Consonance, is a stable harmony, where as Dissonance is an unstable harmony with a strong desire to resolve to a consenant harmony. Without dissonance and consenance, music would be void of movement.

So really, "Harmony of Dissonance" is not a contradiction at all. Dissonance is indeed a harmony, and a very important one.

Still, there's something poetic about the contrast - a good analogy would be "Light of Darkness" or something like that.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

An aria is a type of song used in operas (think Aria de Mezzo Carattere from Final Fantasy 6.)

Castlevania: Minuet of Daybreak

This is the Japanese name of Aria of Sorrow. The literal title is actually "Akatsuki no Enbukyoku", which translates to "Waltz of Daybreak". What's more interesting is how "akatsuki" is spelled. It usually is one kanji (read "akatsuki"), but here is composed of two - the second one meaning "moon". A proper translation of this word would be "Dawning of the Moon", but that really sounds awkward, and I don't think there's an English word to properly describe it (Nightbreak?) Additionally, the katakana for "minuet" appears above "enbukyoku". A minuet is a popular French dance step from the 17th century.

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