Music to Write Realmgard to: Becoming the Dragon

“Swim through oceans of suffering (swim through oceans)
Climb to the falls of Dragon Gate
Transform from koi into a beast

In Chinese mythology, there is said to be a great waterfall at the head of the Yellow River called the Dragon Gate (龍門, “Longmen” in Chinese; kinda-sorta associated with a real place called Mount Longmen).

A koi in a pond.
How it started…
Photo by Min An on

Given the near-impossibility of the task, any carp able to reach the head of the river, then make the final tremendous leap over the Dragon Gate would be rewarded for their efforts by the Jade Emperor with being transformed into dragons.

An illuminated dragon statue.
…How it’s going.
Photo by Eva Elijas on

The notion of a lowly creature endeavouring to perform such a great feat and being rewarded with great prestige and privilege came to be used as a handy metaphor for the Chinese Imperial Examination system — one of the best ways to open up career prospects in Imperial China, involving about 2 million applicants, and having a success rate of about 1%.

Even post-Imperial period, it’s still used as a metaphor for success through hard work.

And, of course, if this all sounds familiar, that’s because the story of carp ascending the Dragon Gate is also the basis for why Magikarp involves in Gyaradros.

Which brings us to American Heavy Metal band Trivium, and probably the most badassful song about goldfish you will ever hear…

From Trivium’s 2006 album The Crusade (which the Internet seems to really, really hate for some reason), Becoming the Dragon is, well, basically exactly what it sounds like: the fish swim up the river, jump over the waterfall, become dragons.

“Swim through oceans of suffering (swim through oceans)
Climb to the falls of Dragon Gate
Transform from koi into a beast

The lyrics aren’t particularly deep, but they sound cool. I’m not nearly well-trained or studied enough to be able to really analyse the music (“Too many eighth notes!”, “That’s Phrygian Mode, not Dorian!”, etc, etc.) and, again, everybody seems to really hate The Crusade for some reason, but they’re at least better musicians than I’m ever gonna be.

I don’t know, seems like a perfectly cromulent piece of music to me:

Quick warning: maybe be careful about looking more into Trivium’s songs. They have plenty that deal with some pretty dark and very probably upsetting subject mater.

The official Music to Write Realmgard to playlist has been updated to include this latest entry:

Also, check out this week’s chapter here:

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