Key Changes in Touhou Music

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Key changes are often used in popular music and video game music when moving into new sections to contrast the material that came before, and to give a sense that the listener is being taken somewhere ‘new’. Touhou music takes this to the extreme, with plenty of tunes in the Touhou library changing to a brand new key for every section of a piece, sometimes 4 or 5 times in one single piece of music. In this video, I take a look at a couple of Touhou tunes where a series of key changes are used to strengthen the musical flow and structure of the piece. Enjoy!

Big thanks to my buddy Dac and Pearl for providing background footage:

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Source: https://cyrrion.com
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22 Comments
  1. Baldwin xu says

    Love it but it’s not necrophantagia it’s necrofantasia. (Neh crow fanta see ya)

  2. bonnie Pinheiro says

    The weirdest thing is that I know the music and I never heard about the game or from were the game was

  3. Dump Sockpuppet says

    Honestly Touhou music sheets are complicated enough to be their own spell card pattern, and that's witbout even turning them into black midis

  4. Gerard Fleta says

    HOLY SHIT 8 BIT MUSIC THEORY DID FREAKING TOUHOU

  5. Greenscarf says

    I'm a simple person. I see touhou. I subscribe.

  6. Zeke Kehrman says

    It also nice to mention that Hartmann’s yokai girl is actually a palindrome song where it is the (relativity) the same backwards as it is forward

  7. Nakano Hitori says

    I see that you have sheet music explaining what is happening. But I don't understand a single thing at all. It's just good music to me

  8. Shima Shima says

    I'm late to this video, but I just want to mention that Hartmann's Youkai Girl sound almost the same when played in reverse. No idea if ZUN made the song that way or it just turned out like it did. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpHGyRZkgRs

  9. Magic Buster says

    I like how he started with Hartmann's Youkai Girl which is the first theme that introduced me to the series so many years ago and still love it to this day!

  10. Metaknightmare says

    What's really incredible is also that basically all of ZUN's music knowledge is all self taught. So all of this wacky cool shit he does with his chord progressions and key changes is stuff he just figured out how to do himself.

  11. Sheev Palpatine says

    Immortral Smoke ~Reach for the moon~ is a great track too

  12. Fyo Fyoriosity says

    this was in my recommended after some silly cirno memesAnd I'm blown away xD I did not expect a full fledged analysisILoveOn a completely different note, I love how Zuns music has always kept this kind of messy clarity from the first few titles where it was all still Midi.Midi is limiting in what sounds you can use, so the melodies always have to be very clear. But he kind of hides that melody in what feels like a badgillion notes, take Mais theme treacherous maiden f.ex. or Yuugenmagans Angel's legend. I'm bad at explaining it, but I just wanna say the old OSTs are def. worth checking out!I think double dealing character and embodiment of scarlet devil have the most character fitting theme songs, while subterranean animism has a few really strong tracks, but also a few good but not too recognisable ones. Ooh and I love crazy backup dancers and poison doll and The Doll Maker of Bucuresti. I think these songs main theme thrive on that pitch shift you mentioned~

  13. 123457474869 says

    I know nothing about music theory so this was way over my head…but I DO know that Necrofantasia is the GOAT so thanks for choosing it specifically

  14. Marina Aguas says

    Touhou!I really wanna see an analysis on the PC-98 Touhou Era tracks, on any of these:-Strawberry Crisis-Faint dream ~ inanimate dream-Legendary illusion ~ infinite being-Treacherous maiden ~ judas kiss-Eternal Shrine Maiden-Cute devil ~ innocence-Now until the moment you die/Now pay, for the debt you have accumulated-A sacred lot

  15. CoderH says

    Lets remmember these musics made by a drunk man

  16. CHRISTI XX says

    ZUN – The musical, beer-wielding, game genius.

  17. Katachi P says

    I've literally never clicked faster in my life.

  18. Chris O says

    you gotta admit. ZUN is pretty smooooooth. it doesn't matter what emotion he's going for it always flows

  19. Xeroskia says

    Necrofantasia <3

  20. Ben Strick says

    9:05 isn't that move from F#7/A# to F basically equivalent to a tritone substitution (minus the chromatic bass movement) ? One of the ways I view a tritone sub is just being able to move from any dominant chord to either a minor or major chord down a half step, essentially treating that dominant chord as if it was the tritone sub of the V of my chord I am resolving to. My reason for asking is I find it much more confusing to think of the F#7 as resolving to the key of Am, and just happening to hit the VI of Am as its introductory chord. I feel like it makes more sense to view it as the F#7 is resolving down to a tonic (I) of F using a clever tritone sub, but then that F is suddenly being treated as the VI chord in Am by moving to G afterward. Like, if you were just riffing in C major, hitting the common pop chords, Am, F, G, Dm, etc, and all of the sudden you went C => D => Em, wouldn't that be kind of like 'suddenly treating my tonic as as a VI'? I guess these are equivalent ways of viewing it but I am curious if my interpretation makes sense to anyone, or is factually wrong in any way.

  21. Remilia Scuntlet says

    What Anime?

  22. FONG FANG YI - says

    idk why but i keep coming back to rewatch this :l i cant stop

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