Author Topic: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc  (Read 796 times)

chi_z

  • Squaretable Knight (+400)
  • *
  • Posts: 483
  • And you thought the dalton idea was ludicrous!
    • View Profile
Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« on: January 31, 2010, 08:10:17 pm »
Just my thoughts on the chrono series music. I own Chrono Cross and Trigger Platinum Edition (110 of 2500) and have an ultra rare uncompressed recording of Radical Dreamers' soundtrack, WITHOUT the emulated stuff (snesamp, emulator 'what u hear' recordings etc). It was made on an actual snes.

Ok so about CT: I can kinda see why mitsuda is embarrassed about it. I was playing along with the soundtrack on my guitar (I can play by ear easily because I was born with what's called perfect pitch. It can actually be more of a curse than blessing though), and noticed something. Now don't get me wrong, you want to have the audience walking away with your tune in their head. And to accomplish that, it needs to be catchy. But what can you do to make it all flow together, and give the soundtrack and thus the game an atmosphere? Well in mitsuda's case, he seems to repeat the same stuff over and over, with different instrumentation. It's a lot of the same 3 pentatonic scales over and over, the same arpeggios, and chord progressions. Now there is nothing wrong with 'keep it simple stupid' either, that's what makes something memorable after all. Make it too complex and ppl aren't going to remember a damn thing.

Chrono Cross isn't as bad though. He carried over the same basic 'theme' with the pentatonic scales, but he seems to be moving around the fretboard and keyboard etc a lot more. He's not just in the same 3 static box shape positions as with CT. However, in order to keep a basic Chrono-like theme to it, the song structures are pretty similar with CT, but more Celtic than Jazz instrumentation. And thus the chord progs that come with that world music genre.Chrono Cross' soundtrack is a lot like what I bet Mitsuda wanted CT to be like, he was just more grown with composing and playing. Poly-rhythms, poly-melodies, and twin melodies. He has a very wide timbre in CC, and manages to pull it off with seeming ease. So while CT can, for the most part, be considered on par or average, CC is what we call 'a masterpiece' or 'work of art'.

All that being said, I like the soundtrack to all 3 Chrono's just the same. But as a musician myself, CC stands out as being a lot LOT better in terms of writing, structure etc. It's like listening to Yngwie Malmsteen: 'holy shit this is great. I mean he is doing some pretty basic stuff over and over, but something about how he is doing it makes it very catchy and impressive, no easy feat. He's a very accomplished musician for sure!" And then listening to Rusty Cooley: "Holy fuck, this  is like the epitome of musicianship!"

ZeaLitY

  • Entity
  • End of Timer (+10000)
  • *
  • Posts: 10593
  • Spring Breeze Dancin'
    • View Profile
    • My Compendium Staff Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2010, 09:20:52 pm »
Was your Radical Dreamers thing recorded through an SNES APU? I have a recording of Aquatic Ambiance from Donkey Kong Country that way, but I was unaware that someone had done the same for Radical Dreamers.

chi_z

  • Squaretable Knight (+400)
  • *
  • Posts: 483
  • And you thought the dalton idea was ludicrous!
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2010, 12:53:09 am »
I converted spc set using 'spctorom' and put that on a super wildcard dx2, and loaded it onto snes memory. I just have a parallel port going from my pc, since I have a tv close by. I can give you a link to my torrent if you have no reservation against that type of transfer.

ZeaLitY

  • Entity
  • End of Timer (+10000)
  • *
  • Posts: 10593
  • Spring Breeze Dancin'
    • View Profile
    • My Compendium Staff Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 01:32:10 am »
Yeah, no problem with linking that. Sounds interesting.

Lord J Esq

  • Moon Stone J
  • Hero of Time (+5000)
  • *
  • Posts: 5460
  • ^_^ "Ayla teach at college level!!"
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 01:21:28 pm »
That is an interesting post, chi_z. Would you give some song-vs-song comparisons between the two soundtracks to illustrate what you're talking about in a more specific fashion?

chi_z

  • Squaretable Knight (+400)
  • *
  • Posts: 483
  • And you thought the dalton idea was ludicrous!
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 07:24:36 pm »
http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/5324963/Radical_Dreamers_Exact_Audio_Copy
there's the torrent

Anyway, for some examples. The 1000 AD piano/flute theme.....well the flute is playing the same scales as on the Guardia Forest Song. The flute on millennial festival plays that same scale, but without the octaves (10 notes instead of 12. Guardia Forest's beginning with the 1-2-3-4 melody on a music box or similar instrument (I think it's a midi glock) is playing the same thing as the piano on 'a strange happening' (which is the song that plays when they can't figure out why marle disappeared into a  portal at the telepod). Manoria Cathedral has a choir playing a pentatonic scale with the usual music box thingy playing a 1234 arp (actually in this song the music box/piano thingy is playing 2 arps instead of just playing the same on statically). The bass on dome-16's ruin is playing the pentatonic scale, and the choir in it is playing the scale really really slowly (both using the 6th note, the octave). So dome 16 is like a redux to 1000 AD oddly enough. A duet of pentatonics, in this case a bass and choir synth instead of piano and flute. The title screen piano plays the recurring pentatonic scale with the octave. And  the choir in it plays the 1234 arpeggio. People without hope has a music box thingy with reverb (and not too mention it's using both left and right hands, there may not be reverb or delay or anything like that at all, but Yasunori is simply 'trailing' the left hand about a quarter second behind the right). That song features the 1234 arp. It's a minor chord for sure. That upbeat jazzy bike race has a rhodes/choir piano playing 2 pents (10 notes no octave). And a charang guitar playing riff/powerchords. So bike race and the millennial festival are both based off the same premise, and upbeat song with a basic chord prog featuring some sort of lead instrument (flute and choir piano) playing an unresolved double pent.

Unresolved just means you aren't landing on the octave, you stop at the last note of the scale. so cdga# for example, instead of cdga#c. This leaves the song with a void, a feeling that you need to complete it, and so the whole song keeps you anticipated for that resolve, where it finally delivers at the end. So that's a bit of musical genius there, that's the perfect thing to do for this kind of song (jazzy upbeat piano/guitar jam). It gets resolved whenever the song goes into the breakdown where the bass plays a diatonic scale (unresolved just 7 notes), the piano finishes with a resolve note. So the bass doesn't resolve during the breakdown, but the piano does. This leaves you with wanting more yet again, there's so much going on here that it's like Yasu is playing with the subconscious. Who the hell else do you know can make a GOOD jazz song with power chords? I could write for days on all the different chords that jazz musician's are expected to bring into the mix (sus2 sus4, maj7 maj9, dm, dm5, aug7 the list is lengthy). However in jazz circles this would be considered quite amateur, maybe that's the real reason behind his embarrassment, he was breaking the rules so to speak. Then again, Beethoven had the arrogance to break the rules, and is considered to be the greatest musician ever (at least technical virtuoso skill wise, whether you like the music or not is a matter of opinion).

I'm trying not to make this too long winded (tldr), but the science of music theory is extremely fascinating to my usually bored and unchallenged brain.

The ct theme at the start, the choir plays 3 unresolved pents. The sax plays unresolved pents on most of it's parts as well. And of course that music box/harp thingy plays 1234 arps,that sweeps from the left speaker to the right(like a xylophone going really fast from one end to the other) just like 4 of them in a row ascending across the keyboard.  Towards the middle, at like 1 15, there is a breakdown that is continued til the end. Well when that's going down you can hear this music box thingy playing the 1234 arp in one position at 1/4 the speed as that sweep part.

Since the arps are always 1234 Yasunori is just using basic major or minor chords then, triads basically. I'm willing to bet he uses power chords for the charang guitars heard in the tyrano theme, since his chords are mostly simple.
Now what makes it so simple is the fact that he seems to stick to triad chords and powerchords, and his arps are just 1234s, which can't be entirely called simple because only in the past 10 years or so have arps really been taken to a whole new level. Nowadays ppl will play some weird ass arps, I mentioned earlier sus chords and aug and dim, etc, well people are starting to use those in arps now instead of just playing the same basic pattern of minor/major 1234 over and over. So not only has yasu grown as a musician, but he did it along with everyone else. The arps evolution thing is mostly to do with guitar shredders though, because in classical music all sorts of arps were played. I dunno why complex arps died out in the 20th century, I'm guessing it's because guitar took over and people were still learning how to play the things. Yasu is an avid guitarist, as you can probably tell from listening to his albums (kirite, magical dreamers, unstealable jewel, tyrano lair etc). He seems to be a mostly self taught musician as well, so the simple arps thing are what he knew, but at least he did it well.




Between CC and CT, their themes. The flute on time's scar still plays those lovely pentatonics, but he mixes them in with diatonic scales as well (7 notes, the 8th note an octave). so like this:
diatonic
pent
diatonic
pent
song kicks in with the drums and violins etc. Those violins play 1234 arps, but it's not a simple triadic chord I'm not sure what it is. The arps used in this song are much more complex, granted still 1234 notes instead of doing something like 12345 or even up to 7 (he does have a 1-6 thrown in but I think its a stretched out pentatonic scale that goes across the board instead of being in static position box shape). The horns on gale/edge of death play a pentatonic scale with resolve (I'm guessing he resolves it and plays that over and over to give the sense of power and general epicness). The horns actually play a long drawn out part for the breakdown(at like 1 15). This is a repeat of the CT battle theme choirs doing the same. (the basic fight music for random encounters in CT that is, that goes from very low male choir and gradually ascends to females. like this: uh is male ah is femmie:
uhhhhhhhhhhhh (2 seconds)
UHHHHHHHHHHH (2 seconds)
ahhhhhhhhhhhhh (2 seconds)
AHHHHHHHHHHH (2 seconds)
UAHUAHUAHUAHUAH (4 seconds)
So it's kind of cool to see that phrase recurring in the fight music. And to think that song is originally in Radical Dreamers! Perhaps it was to slightly hint that Rad was a chrono series game (since they didn't just come out and say, "radical dreamers is a spin off to ct" ppl had to figure that out by playing thru the game and picking out context clues).

The unstealable jewel. He's playing a chord progression of 4 chords (only 3 are unique it sounds like, so say A minor, A minor 7th, B minor, C minor progression) so, you guessed it that could probably be used for 1234 arps. I can post more on the subject if ppl wanna read it, I feel this is very long as is though.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2010, 09:13:39 pm by chi_z »

Lord J Esq

  • Moon Stone J
  • Hero of Time (+5000)
  • *
  • Posts: 5460
  • ^_^ "Ayla teach at college level!!"
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 08:34:47 pm »
I think I need to kidnap you and force you to become my teacher on this subject. For what it's worth, if you'd like to begin a thread on this board for an ongoing series where you discuss the music theory behind all three Chrono games in greater detail, you can count on me being extremely interested...and, I suspect, many more besides me would agree. This way, you could go into much lengthier explanation and more capricious topics without having to write it all out at once. No joke: This is the most exciting Chrono-related thread I've seen on the Compendium in quite a while. Pour out your brains! Don't make me use the Funnel of Woe.

chi_z

  • Squaretable Knight (+400)
  • *
  • Posts: 483
  • And you thought the dalton idea was ludicrous!
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2010, 09:12:42 pm »
haha sounds great to me. actually I need to edit the post, when I said johnny theme I actually meant the bike race :/

Jormungand

  • Porrean (+50)
  • *
  • Posts: 94
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2010, 09:36:00 pm »
I didn't read your second "long" post yet as it seems to describe in detail your initial assertion; and all that music theory is redundant for me to read. Regardless, I agree. CC is leagues beyond Trigger. Actually, most of Mitsuda's post-Trigger work is beyond Trigger, as that's just how it works with composers (unless your name is Nobuo Uematsu and you suffer from a rare condition where your style actually regresses over time...). Mitsuda stated in an interview somewhere that his approach to Cross' soundtrack (focusing on folk-based music) was his own idea, and Kato enthusiastically agreed. Like you said, there really is no other proper word for the Cross score aside from "masterpiece".

But, people have their favorites. Most people who enjoy the CT soundtrack don't even realize Mitsuda is still an active composer. Hell, most people don't even know he wasn't the only one who composed for CT.

Since we're on the subject, and since you brought it up, Mitsuda should really be quite proud of his debut work. It's pretty damn good for a debut, not necessarily because it's good (which, sure, it is), but because it was so fresh for it's time. The future world map theme, Zeal kingdom, the forest theme, the ending theme "To Far Away Places"... all remarkably progressive works for their time.

However, if Mitsuda has to be embarrassed about anything, it's that battle theme. :p Good thing they had Noriko Matsueda do the initial version of the boss theme. As it turns out, battle music is often cited as Mitsuda's weakness by supposed fans. Well, most of those same "fans" obviously haven't heard anything past Trigger. His battle music wasn't terribly strong in Trigger, but he had a good command of it by Cross; and his battle music in Tsugunai and Seventh Seal were exceptional.

I think I'm done with my tangents for now. Till next time...

ShoeMagus

  • Guardian (+100)
  • *
  • Posts: 142
  • "We are...the dreamers of Dreams."
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 01:48:26 am »


However, if Mitsuda has to be embarrassed about anything, it's that battle theme. :p Good thing they had Noriko Matsueda do the initial version of the boss theme. As it turns out, battle music is often cited as Mitsuda's weakness by supposed fans. Well, most of those same "fans" obviously haven't heard anything past Trigger. His battle music wasn't terribly strong in Trigger, but he had a good command of it by Cross; and his battle music in Tsugunai and Seventh Seal were exceptional.

I think the Magus Theme still trumps just about any other boss theme I've ever heard.

Barash

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2010, 04:38:34 am »
Just my thoughts on the chrono series music. I own Chrono Cross and Trigger Platinum Edition (110 of 2500) and have an ultra rare uncompressed recording of Radical Dreamers' soundtrack, WITHOUT the emulated stuff (snesamp, emulator 'what u hear' recordings etc). It was made on an actual snes.

Ok so about CT: I can kinda see why mitsuda is embarrassed about it. I was playing along with the soundtrack on my guitar (I can play by ear easily because I was born with what's called perfect pitch. It can actually be more of a curse than blessing though), and noticed something. Now don't get me wrong, you want to have the audience walking away with your tune in their head. And to accomplish that, it needs to be catchy. But what can you do to make it all flow together, and give the soundtrack and thus the game an atmosphere? Well in mitsuda's case, he seems to repeat the same stuff over and over, with different instrumentation. It's a lot of the same 3 pentatonic scales over and over, the same arpeggios, and chord progressions. Now there is nothing wrong with 'keep it simple stupid' either, that's what makes something memorable after all. Make it too complex and ppl aren't going to remember a damn thing.



i played on CT and as a musician i know about what you talking (like the thing you can play corridors of time background melody with schala theme and via versa). although, not long ago i composed the music for a game like chrono trigger and i found that this repeating (or better called: Motive) is what makes the game so exciting, it gives you the feelings of empathy to the characters. i think that both chrono trigger and final fantasy x  characterized with this motives in the music and that's what made them the best games i have ever played.

Mr Bekkler

  • Bounty Hunter
  • Zurvan Surfer (+2500)
  • *
  • Posts: 2699
  • So it goes.
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2010, 06:40:35 pm »
Redundancy and consistency seem similar but are quite different, which is important to remember. It's not about the notes on the page, but more about the feel of the piece as a whole.

Consistency is what makes Trigger's soundtrack so memorable.


That, and the fact that most of the music is very simple. Simple often equals catchy.

That does not take away from the fact that several songs are rather touching and can induce strong emotional ties with the moments at which it's played, or the characters with whom it's associated.

-my two cents as a musician. :-D

Barash

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2010, 06:39:53 am »
Redundancy and consistency seem similar but are quite different, which is important to remember. It's not about the notes on the page, but more about the feel of the piece as a whole.

Consistency is what makes Trigger's soundtrack so memorable.


That, and the fact that most of the music is very simple. Simple often equals catchy.

That does not take away from the fact that several songs are rather touching and can induce strong emotional ties with the moments at which it's played, or the characters with whom it's associated.

-my two cents as a musician. :-D

u just said what i wanted to say if i had better English :)

chi_z

  • Squaretable Knight (+400)
  • *
  • Posts: 483
  • And you thought the dalton idea was ludicrous!
    • View Profile
Re: Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, Mistuda the Great, etc
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2010, 11:13:02 pm »
Looking into it a bit more I agree with the motive aspect of things, it's an especially logical move for a video game score. Another game comes to mind, Ape Escape. Perhaps the most memorable sound track ever (not necessarily the BEST but it is the catchiest).