Season 17, Pokemon: XY, was my first time working on the Pokemon series. So instantly there were a lot of themes to come up with and a world to familiarize myself with.
I wrote upwards of 150 themes for this season, an average of one for each episode. Fortunately (or unfortunately), there’s always music going on in my head. When I see pictures, the music I’m hearing usually reflects the visuals.
With Pokemon, sometimes it’s as simple as just writing down that music before it goes away. Other times, I’m delving deeper into the show using knowledge about what’s going to happen or what’s come before it to construct a musical theme.
Ash’s theme stands out for me because it’s what I wrote when I auditioned for the show. It’s a simple trumpet motif that you can use in many different ways and it’s instantly recognizable, even in various contexts.
Serena + Ash—the crush becomes a theme
Serena is charmingly obsessed with Ash so I knew that was going to be fodder for some fun themes. I went to the wellspring that is Wagner and did what he does with his leit motifs—recognize the present and write the subtext of a scene.
I used this technique a lot when Serena was talking about Ash or doing something because of her obsession with Ash. I played his theme on her instrument, the accordion, or put it in the background, influencing her with the essence of Ash in the way he influences her in the story.
The Kalos theme’s heroic music trope
The Kalos theme is in 5/4 time, using a melody that constantly rises along a minor scale to give it some gravitas, but with a bouncy feel. It’s the kind of music that would be cloying if it were major and in 4/4 but it works here because of the slightly odd time signature and change in scale.
Musical themes for Pikachu
I didn’t really write a theme for Pikachu until the second movie, Pokemon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages. There’s a scene called “Too Many Pikachu,” because that’s exactly what there are, a whole bunch of Pikachu. (It turns out, Pikachu is singular and plural, like “sheep.” Of course, the cue I wrote circumvented that whole question because it’s called “Too Many Pikas.”)
So there were hundreds of Pikachu on screen and it was a unique moment, for sure. And then I went ba-ba-bo with high flutes and xylophone in 3rds and the minor key, and that was that.