"In Our Eyes" (RWBY fansong)

Last year I was really into RWBY, an animated web series I’ve described as “a show about a magical girl combat college (there are boys there too)”. Part of my draw was a strong idea for a fanfiction story about the main characters’ parents, of which we’ve only gotten intriguing hints in canon. (I did end up writing this story; it’s called “Don’t Be Expecting Some Kind Of Happy Ending”.)

Like I said, we know very little about the parents’ team, “STRQ” (pronounced “stark”). Some parts of the fandom are hoping that we’ll get an entire season of the show, and that was the seed for this song, a hypothetical opening theme for such a season.

(audio only)

Okay, so acoustic guitar isn’t much like Jeff and Casey Lee Williams’ rock band, but fans of the show may have gotten a hint of the season 4 opening, “Let’s Just Live”, especially in the chorus. (“We’re borne on by the strength that’s in our eyes” is almost exactly the same melody as “Move onward, not there yet so let’s just live”.) I didn’t entirely set out to do this, but it did mean I was on the right track for an opening theme. However, there are several other clever things I did do intentionally:

  • The first four lines of the chorus, of course, refer to the four members of Team STRQ.

  • Of the four members of Team STRQ, only Qrow has his own official theme, “Bad Luck Charm”. I stuck a slightly less chromatic version of his leitmotif in at the end of the second verse here, “Though we’re far from family”.

  • The next most established is Raven. Her leitmotif’s a set of strange, low chords, which get worked in with another character’s theme in “All Things Must Die”. I did the best I could with this in “And we may yet fall / But in that final call”.

  • Next (well, prior) is Taiyang. The show hasn’t given him a leitmotif at all yet, but…Raven’s theme is actually a twisted version of her daughter’s, so I decided to make Taiyang’s an altered but more hopeful version of Yang’s theme, “I Burn”, as well. This one’s probably the most obvious since I stole some words in addition to altering the melody: “So come at me, and you’ll see / I’ve got three friends behind.” (He also gets a reprise with “We’ll stand here, make it clear / That we’ll fight to the end”.)

  • Last we have Summer. Summer also has no established leitmotif, but unlike Taiyang she’s actually appeared in a song:Red Like Roses, Pt. II”. This is an extended remix of her daughter’s theme, but the song actually has a guest singer: the usual vocalist’s mother. So it really is intended to be Summer in the song, and I pulled a melody line that wasn’t already in use by her daughter to use as her leitmotif. In that song it’s “Every nightmare just discloses / It’s your blood that’s red like roses”; in “In Our Eyes” it’s the first two lines of both the verse and the chorus, “When I step out in the morning / I sometimes wonder how I’ll”. Summer’s the leader of Team STRQ, she’s the character we know least about in the show, and this is the musical trick I’m most proud of in this song, so she gets top billing.

There are lots of things I like about RWBY (and lots of things I hate about RWBY), and one of them is the music and use of leitmotifs throughout the series. So it’s only appropriate that almost this entire song is melodically referencing other ones.

Oh, and yeah, the people of Remnant probably don’t use “earth” to mean dirt. Too bad.

[Verse]
When I step out in the morning on the earth
I sometimes wonder how I’ll ever prove my worth
When we’re swept up without warning
You can hear the pages turning
But it’s the team that we are forming that will make it through

[Pre-chorus]
So come at me, and you’ll see
I’ve got three friends behind!

[Chorus]
With a white surpassing any frozen sky
And a sun that burns as bright as the one on high
In a field dyed so red
That you might call it black instead
We’re borne on by the strength that’s in our eyes

[Verse]
Well it’s crystal clear we’ve had to grow up fast
Can’t help wondering how long this peace will last
Cause the world is not a fairy tale
The world is not a story but
Although we must be wary we can make it through

[Pre-chorus]
Though we’re far from family
We’ll have no regrets

[chorus]

[Bridge]
And we may yet fall
But at that final call
We’ll stand here, make it clear
That we’ll fight to the end!

[guitar solo would go here in the “real” version]

[chorus]