Drag-On Dragoon (known globally as Drakengard) is a Square Enix role-playing game for Playstation 2, created by video game icon Yoko Taro, best known today for the NIER video game franchise. In house sound director at Cavia Nobuyoshi Sano and video game composer Takayuki Aihara joined forces to compose the soundtrack, a unique project to say the least. More focus on expressionism and less on the commercial, as this was the initial intention.

Since Drag-On Dragoon ticks all the boxes of imaginative and dark themes, the composers mainly focused on emulating a Northern European atmosphere.

The making of the score was initiated by using and manipulating orchestral samples compiled by Aihara-san himself. The samples originated from well-known pieces such as the 9th symphony of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Mahler’s 5th symphony, but also the works of Bartók, Debussy, Mozart, Respighi, Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Holst were slice ’n’ diced. An intense choice in terms of musical tools, yet they managed to translate this project into something that feels very homogeneous.

Because of the techno oriented background of both composers, these samples formed the basis for creating loops and sequences, going again in different directions through chaotic remixes and the piling up of orchestral layers. 2-3 sec samples are deployed slice ‘n’ dice wise to accentuate intensity in a nervous but highly intelligent way. Each sample cut is set up to make room for the following urgent note.

Specific choices in instrumentation and articulation come strongly into play. Staccato brass, col legno strings and grotesque percussion harmonize perfectly with the epic on-screen land and air battles. The constant clattering of swords is supported by this manufactured ‘cut-up orchestra’, which only adds to the sense of chaos and madness on the battlefield.

After finalizing their mock-up, they moved on to the acclaimed Tokyo New City Orchestra to regenerate the performance aspect of their sampled resources. Everything you hear is replayed and rerecorded.

A dominant source of inspiration for this project was the soundtrack to the horror film The Exorcist, whereby I am immediately reminded of the intensity of Penderecki’s 7th symphony and the ‘Allegro Con Brio’ movement from his 3rd symphony.

The video game itself doesn’t shy away from darker or more adult-oriented themes: Incest, aggressively consuming children, pedophilia,… are quite present in the original Japanese version, but were nicely tucked away for the North American videogame market. With this in mind, you can better understand why this soundtrack is what it is: a mad surrender to madness.

Since the official soundtrack from 2003 was divided into 2 separate volumes and both are overflowing with inventiveness, this is a selection of both albums. In 2011 a new release was sent into the world, bringing both volumes together in a 2CD package.

Nobuyoshi Sano: https://vgmdb.net/artist/405

Takayuki Aihara: https://vgmdb.net/artist/299


SCHERM is a new monthly liveshow about soundtracks / OST’s, featuring track & theme selections, narratives or interviews. 

Focusing on soundtracks means sticking to the relation between sound and screen. But in SCHERM this will happen in an unlimited way, including soundtracks of videogames, movies, documentaries, advertisements, installations & more. 

Bent Von Bent is a composer from Antwerp.


Drag-On Dragoon Volume 1 & 2

Nobuyoshi Sano & Takayuki Aihara

  1. Mission Selection
  2. Weapon Selection
  3. First Chapter – Sky
  4. Third Chapter – Ground
  5. Sixth Chapter – Sky
  6. Sixth Chapter – Ground
  7. Seventh Chapter – Sky
  8. Road B Staff Roll “Exhaustion”
  9. Tenth Chapter – Sky
  10. Leonard’s Hunger – Sky
  11. Ninth Chapter Sky – One
  12. Ninth Chapter Sky – Two
  13. Twelfth Chapter Sky
  14. Thirteenth Chapter – Closing
  15. Road A Staff Roll
  16. Twelfth Chapter – Closing