Author: Masha Lepire
The mystical Vale of Eternal Blossoms is a vast area located in the central part of the Pandaria continent. It is a zone filled with beautiful golden trees and flowers and strange mantid creatures that are remnants of the ancient Titan’s past experimentation.
When you first enter this lush vale, you hear the harsh clash of loud percussion and dissonant brass. A Chinese erhu quickly blows four staccato notes until a guzheng plucks another three repeated notes. The stark brass and the percussion return with the addition of a tremoloing guzheng. After the brass and percussion fade away, a full orchestra enters with the strings playing the beautiful ascending melodic theme of the vale. An erhu also echoes the theme being played by the string section. The tremeloing guzheng returns, seguing into an ominous melodic interplay between the clarinet and the erhu.
The full orchestra soon returns with the tremeloing guzheng, small choir, and the erhu playing the melody featured in the Mists of Pandaria login screen. A majestic brass section is introduced and soars gracefully over the Asian instrumentation, successfully merging the familiar sonic palette of Azeroth with the exotic sounds of this newly-discovered paradise.
2:03 introduces a beautiful cello solo, accompanied by brass and harp, which plays a hopeful motif, reminding us the vale's beauty and prosperity. Beautiful harp glissandos and plucked guzheng fill the background as the cello continues to play this slow and ethereal lyrical melody. The strings and erhu harmonise this melody until the arrangement romantically fades into silence.
From 4:00, one experiences imposing double bass and shrill strings that begin to quickly tremolo until a guzheng begins to play a darker version of its first melody. Later, the crash of cymbals signal the entrance of a solo flute echoing the previous melody of the guzheng. Intermittent military drum rolls and thunderous metallic percussion reflect all the past and future conflicts that are in store for the Pandarens. A glissandoing harp enters adding a sharp contrast with the dark and ominous low tremolo of the strings. The earlier percussive motifs continue to make unexpected sporadic appearances, disregarding the temporal structure the rest of the ensemble follows.
The more dangerous side of the vale is reflected from 7:00 onwards, where the erhu and guzheng perform unsettling repetitive notes decorated by nervous woodwind trills. These later evolve into wandering yet threatening melodies, while the shimmering guzheng continues to build suspense underneath.
7:51 introduces a variation on the earlier lyrical 'cello melody performed by a solo oboe orchestrated with a string and harp accompaniment. The oboe graciously hands this melody to the solo flute, which soars gracefully over the accompaniment until the cue ends. This mellow theme provides a beautiful break from the dissonance of earlier cues and reminds us that there is still hope for Pandaria.
A more Asian influenced variation of the melody is introduced next, utilising pentatonic scales and the Chinese instrumentation we have become accustomed to so far. This time, a solo bassoon handles the melodic duties, accompanied by the clattering of metallic goings and rapid guzheng glissandoes which have an almost improvisational feel. While the piercing metallic percussion may try to disrupt the beauty of the score, the mystical atmosphere created by the rest of the ensemble helps the region retain a sense of tranquillity.
A beautiful erhu melody follows from 11:34, which continues the musical portrayal of serenity within the vale, while the harp accompaniment creates a delicate ethereal atmosphere. This duty is later passed to a solo nylon saturated with a reverberation effect. The guzheng background tremolo help remind you of the exotic beauty of this amazing place. The guitar fades away and gracefully passes the melody to the guzheng.
Our musical journey through the Vale of Eternal Blossoms concludes with a final variation of the beautiful orchestral melody which embodies Mists of Pandaria. Its delicate balance between the serene and the threatening reflects the ideology of the Pandaren; the necessity to embrace violence to protect the delicate harmony of your homeland.