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Float Islands (theme)

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Float Islands
Various arrangements of "Float Islands".
Details
Debut appearance Kirby's Dream Land (1992)
Last appearance Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe (2023)
Other appearance(s) Kirby's Dream Course
Kirby's Dream Land 2
Kirby Super Star
Kirby Air Ride
Kirby: Canvas Curse
Kirby: Squeak Squad
Kirby Super Star Ultra
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
Kirby: Planet Robobot
Kirby's Blowout Blast
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Composer(s) Jun Ishikawa
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"Float Islands"[1] is the name of a musical track composed by Jun Ishikawa which first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land, accompanying the stage it is named after. The track is iconic to the Kirby series, and has appeared in several subsequent games in various forms.

Composition[edit]

Taking a stroll in Float Islands.

The original "Float Islands" theme is in the key of F major and has a modestly energetic tempo of around 130 beats per minute. The theme starts with the intro, which is a few seconds long and establishes the main chord progression: I–ii–iii–ii. The chord consistently changes after every two beats, giving a consistent harmonic rhythm. By starting with the root (I) chord, the theme firmly establishes itself with a chipper major key, but because the dominant (V) chord is not present, it does not clearly resolve and thus still has a sense of motion and energy. Avoiding clear resolution is a common technique in jazz, and the composition as a whole is reminiscent of Latin jazz genres such as calypso or samba with its syncopated rhythms (particularly in the bass and drums).

Another jazzy element to the song is its use of seventh chords, both major and minor. Seventh chords are very common in Kirby music, due to the lack of available sound channels on the Game Boy meaning that harmony had to implied through arpeggios rather than full chords. Nearly every chord in the song is a seventh; the main melody, for example, plays on top of the F major seventh, G minor seventh, and A minor seventh chords.

The first part of melody is defined by sustained notes, which resemble that of a flute or other woodwind instrument. The lead melody feels as though it is "out of time", playing at its own free pace, which contrasts with the steady accompanying rhythm and fits the tropical feeling of the song. It begins with the dominant note, C, and then descends to the tonic, F, before rising back to the dominant. It goes up to the tonic in a higher octave before returning to the dominant.

The second part of the song borrows chords from the relative minor, D minor, which gives the melody a slightly more bittersweet tone. The rhythm of this section changes, with a call and response between the lead and the harmony, and the chords change every four beats rather than every two. The melody uses chords and arpeggios which imply more harmonic instruments, such as horns or strings. It begins with a repeating IV–iii progression while the melody outlines the mediant (A) and the subtonic (G). After repeating this, the chords rise to the VI and the v while the melody outlines the dominant (C) and the subdominant (B flat). The woodwind-like instrument returns to rise to the dominant C, then the tonic F, before returning to the dominant; the chords go from the minor VI to the major V, setting up the resolution to the I through the loop back to the first section.[2]

Several later sea stage themes in the Kirby series use the same chord progressions and other musical ideas as "Float Islands". In particular, "Sea Stage", "Bountiful Star", and "Abandoned Beach" all use variants of the I–ii–iii–ii and the IV–iii–VI–v–VI–V progressions; "Ripple Field: Ocean Waves" bases its main melody on the IV–iii progression; "Aqua Star" features the IV–iii–VI–v–VI–V progression; and "Reef Resort" features the I-ii-iii-ii progression. The latter half of this theme is also often remixed as the "Rest Area" theme, which likewise follows a IV–iii–VI–v chord progression.

Game appearances[edit]

Kirby's Dream Land[edit]

"Float Islands" makes its first appearance in Kirby's Dream Land. It plays in the Float Islands stage as well as the "Float Islands" portion of Mt. Dedede. It can also be heard as Music 06 (Music 14 is an intro-less version) in the game's Sound Test.

Kirby's Dream Course[edit]

In Kirby's Dream Course, an arrangement of "Float Islands" plays in Holes 5-7 on Course 1, and in Holes 1-4 on the Whispy Woods Course. It was arranged by Hirokazu Ando, and is listed as BGM 007 in the game's Sound Room. It has the internal debug name of "ISHIKAWA", referencing the track's original composer.

Kirby's Dream Land 2[edit]

"Float Islands" appears again in a largely unaltered state as the main theme of Ripple Field in Kirby's Dream Land 2. It plays in its stages whenever Kirby is by himself, and is also listed in the game's Sound Test as BGM 30 (BGM 31 is an intro-less version).

Kirby Super Star / Kirby Super Star Ultra[edit]

A different arrangement of "Float Islands" plays in Kirby Super Star and its remake; it has a faster tempo and plays three tones lower, being in C major rather than F major. In addition, the end of the first segment is altered a bit; when entering the second section, the chord progression is I-ii-iii-VI (with the last VI being an A dominant seventh flat ninth, or A7-9). The theme plays in the Float Islands portion of Spring Breeze and also plays in Illusion Islands in Revenge of the King. There are very minor differences in instrumentation in the music between Kirby Super Star and its remake.

Main article: Rest Area (theme)

The Rest Area from The Great Cave Offensive features an acoustic arrangement of slower pace, simply named "Rest Area" ("Rest Spot" in the British English version of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse). This version also plays in the secret ??? planet in Milky Way Wishes, and in Kirby Super Star Ultra exclusively, this track also serves as the music for The Arena's rest area and the checkpoints in-between Meta Knightmare Ultra levels. This arrangement has since appeared in many other games.

"Float Islands" can be heard in Kirby Super Star's Sound Test as Music 06 (Music 007 in the game's remake), and "Rest Area" can be heard as Music 35 (Music 001 in the remake).

Kirby Air Ride[edit]

In Kirby Air Ride, a rearrangement of "Float Islands" appears as the alternative music for the Water course in Top Ride, unlocked by finishing a race on the course at least 5 seconds ahead of 2nd place. This remix has a much faster pace and uses an electric guitar. It was arranged by Hirokazu Ando,[3] and can be listened to in the game's Sound Test as track 38.

Kirby: Canvas Curse[edit]

Kirby: Canvas Curse features a unique rearrangement of "Float Islands" in a minor key using electronic instrumentation, titled "Collapse Castle". It plays in the aforementioned stage, and is listed in the game's Sound Test as Music 18.

Kirby: Squeak Squad[edit]

A fast-paced, rock-styled arrangement of the theme appears as the music for the Smash Ride sub-game in Kirby: Squeak Squad. It was arranged by Jun Ishikawa,[4] and can be listened to in the game's Sound Room as Music 02.

Super Smash Bros. series[edit]

The original track from Kirby's Dream Land appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, where it is available on the Dream Land stage. It returns in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as part of the "Kirby Retro Medley", alongside "Green Greens", Castle Lololo", "Bubbly Clouds" and "Mt. Dedede".

Kirby: Planet Robobot[edit]

In Kirby: Planet Robobot, a remix of "Float Islands" plays in Overload Ocean - Stage 3 and on the Best Times screen for Meta Knightmare Returns, featuring an extended melody. It can be found as Track 023 in the Jukebox, and was arranged by Hirokazu Ando. This version is named "Industrial Laboratory" in the game's Original Soundtrack.

The Kirby Air Ride rearrangement is also reused, playing in certain sections of Overload Ocean - Stage 7 EX. It can be found as Track 117 in the Jukebox.

An arrangement of the theme titled "StreetPass wins (Normal)" plays when viewing the player's best scores from The Arena. It can be found as Track 140 in the Jukebox, and was arranged by Jun Ishikawa.

Kirby's Blowout Blast[edit]

An acoustic re-orchestration of the Float Islands theme plays in the main stages of Level 2 (EX) in Kirby's Blowout Blast. This re-orchestration is very similar to the "StreetPass wins (Normal)" arrangement from Kirby: Planet Robobot.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe[edit]

A remix of "Smash Ride" from Kirby: Squeak Squad is included in the remake for the sub-game in Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe. After beating the initial missions for it, the original version of the track is unlocked. In addition, a new version of "Kirby on the Draw - Title" features a whistle over the usual instrumentation of the theme that is based on "Float Islands".

"Smash Ride" is listed as Track 79 in the Jukebox of Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, while "Kirby on the Draw - Title" is listed as Track 80. It's not known who the arranger of either track is, likely being Kiyoshi Hazemoto or Yuki Kato. "Smash Ride (Secret Song)" is listed as Track 147.

Other appearances[edit]

The original track was featured as track 07 in the CD soundtrack album The Very Best of Kirby: 52 Hit Tracks, along with "Green Greens" and "Welcome to Dream Land".

Track 43 from the Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition Compilation Soundtrack, titled "Electro Kirby", features a bagpipes-sounding remix of the tune in background from 1:13 to 1:31.

On the Kirby Memorial Arrangements album, the first track "Big Band Kirby" includes a slow-paced jazz arrangement of "Float Islands". The arrangement is very similar to that of "La Mer", a famous jazz standard. This version was arranged by Megumi Ohara.

A short remix of this theme was featured in Kirby Pupupu Train, and it is included on the Kirby Pupupu Train Eki-melo Collection under the title フロートアイランズ駅 (Float Islands Station).

"Smash Ride" from Kirby: Squeak Squad was performed live at the Kirby 30th Anniversary Music Festival as part of the "Get Pumped Up! Sub-Game Medley", along with "Samurai Kirby", "Mid-Boss Battle" from Kirby's Adventure, "Checkerboard Chase", "Tilt-and-Roll Kirby", and "Congratulations!".

Trivia[edit]

Music from Adventures of Lolo 3 (reused from a Japan-exclusive game under the Japanese release title of Adventures of Lolo II), with a striking resemblance to the Float Islands theme.
  • The original theme is partly based off Jun Ishikawa's previous arrangement for Adventures of Lolo 3, playing during Underworld Levels stage maps. The "Smash Ride" variation in particular sounds nearly identical to this theme.

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese FLOAT ISLANDS[5]
フロートアイランズ
Furōto Airanzu
Float Islands


References