Yasunori Mitsuda (光田 康典, b. January 21, 1972) is a Japanese composer and musician best known for his soundtracks for various video games. Really, check the Wikipedia article.
Mitsuda was born in Tokuyama, Japan|Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, and raised in Kumage, Japan|Kumage. As a child, he took piano lessons, but he was more interested in sports and so never took music seriously. He also took to personal computer|computers at an early age, and he taught himself to computer programming|program simple songs and games. After a brief infatuation with golf, Mitsuda rediscovered music in high school, inspired by the scores of movies such as Blade Runner and by the works or composers such as Henry Mancini.
After high school, Mitsuda moved to Tokyo, Japan|Tokyo and enrolled in the Junior College of Music. Despite the school's low prestige, Mitsuda received solid instruction from his professors, most of them practicing musicians who would take Mitsuda to gigs with them to help carry and set up equipment. Despite being used for free physical labor, Mitsuda got a first-hand view of the Japanese music world and valuable training both in and out of the classroom.
One of his instructors had worked in video games, and he showed Mitsuda an advertisement for an opening in the music department at the software developer Squaresoft. Mitsuda sent a demo which won him an interview at the game studio. Despite the "disastrous" interview (as he describes it), Mitsuda was offered a position on the company's sound team in April, 1992.
Although his official job title was "composer", Mitsuda found himself working more as a sound engineer, a person who takes compositions by other people and adapts them to the technology used in making video games. In 1995, he finally gave Squaresoft's vice president, Hironobu Sakaguchi, an ultimatum: let him compose, or he would quit. Sakaguchi assigned the young musician to the team working on Chrono Trigger. Mitsuda was allowed to compose the majority of the tracks for the game under the watchful eye of veteran composer Nobuo Uematsu.
The Chrono Trigger soundtrack proved extremely popular with fans. Mitsuda worked on four more titles for Squaresoft, the last being Xenogears in 1998 (he also composed the soundtrack to Xenosaga : The Will To Power, which is believed to be set in the Xenogears universe, although released by Monolith rather than Squaresoft.) He then went freelance, though he continued to work closely with Squaresoft on projects such as the Chrono Trigger sequel, Chrono Cross. He has also released non-video-game music, such as his CD Sailing to the World. A new arrangement of the music from Chrono Cross has been quoted by Mitsuda as planned for release in July 2005, as well as an artistic collaboration with Masato Kato, creator of the Chrono series, called 'Kirite' and featuring music, art, and stories.
His music from Chrono Trigger was performed live by a symphony orchestra in 1996 at the Orchestral Game Concert in Tokyo, Japan. The first symphonic performance of his music outside of Japan took place in 2005 at the Symphonic Game Music Concert in Leipzig, Germany when music from Chrono Cross was presented. A suite of music from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross will be a part of the symphonic world-tour with video game music PLAY! A Video Game Symphony. Yasunori Mitsuda was in attendance for the world-premiere of PLAY! in Chicago on May 27, 2006, where his suite of Chrono music, comprising "Reminiscence," "Chrono Trigger," "Time's Scar," "Frog's Theme," and "To Far Away Times" was performed.
Musical Style and Influences
Yasunori Mitsuda's music often shows strong Celt|Celtic influences. This is particularly evident in his soundtrack for Chrono Cross in songs such as "Another Termina" and "The Dream Starts" as well as in his Xenogears arranged album, Creid. Mitsuda's style is difficult to pigeonhole, however, since he is able to compose music in several different styles depending on the demands of the project. For example, the Chrono Cross track "Chronomantic" sounds Caribbean, while the song "The Great Sneff's Troupe" from that same soundtrack is East Asia|East Asian in flavor.
Mitsuda has always acknowledged popular film|cinema as a strong influence on his work. This is particularly evident in various battle themes he has written, such as "The Brink of Death", which is used in both Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. The main theme from Chrono Trigger is another example of Mitsuda's cinematic side.
Mitsuda's music translates surprisingly well to jazz, as well. The album The Brink of Time consists of several arrangements of his Chrono Trigger soundtrack performed by a live jazz band called Guido (jazz band)|Guido.
Sound Designer Credits
- Mix Beat Attractions (1991)
- Wolf Team Co., Ltd (1991)
- Half Boiled Hero (1992)
- Final Fantasy V (1992)
- Secret of Mana (1993)
- Romancing SaGa 2 (1993)
Video Game Soundtracks
- Chrono Trigger (1995)
- Radical Dreamers (1995)
- Front Mission: Gun Hazard (1996) (with Nobuo Uematsu)
- Tobal No. 1 (1996) (with Masashi Hamauzu, Junya Nakano, Yasuhiro Kawami, Kenji Ito, Noriko Matsueda, Ryuji Sasai, and Yoko Shimomura)
- Xenogears (1998)
- Mario Party (1998)
- Bomberman 64 2 (1999)
- Chrono Cross (1999)
- Shadow Hearts (2001)
- Tsugunai (2001)
- Legaia 2: Duel Saga (2002)
- Xenosaga (2002)
- Shadow Hearts|Shadow Hearts: Covenant (2003)
- Xenogears: Creid (1998)
- Street Fighter Zero 3 Drama Album (1999)
- Biohazard 2 Drama Album: Sherry (1999)
- Biohazard 2 Drama Album: Ada (1999)
- 2197 (one song) (1999)
- Ten Plants (one song) (1999)
- Square Vocal Collection (three songs) (2001)
- Sailing to the World (2002)
- Hako no Niwa (2004)
- Yasunori Mitsuda's Homepage : http://www.procyon-studio.com/
- Fan Remixes of Yasunori Mitsuda's Work : http://remix.overclocked.org/detailcomposer.php?compid=4
- Official arrangements of Yasunori Mitsuda's Work : http://oneupstudios.com
This is the Chrono Compendium's extra information complementing the Wikipedia entry.
Liner Notes on Chrono Trigger OSV
These appear on the Chrono Trigger OSV. Rebecca Capowski has translated Yasunori Mitsuda's liner notes for this album, and has allowed them to be posted here.
"In my life
I don't know whether it's a good or bad omen, but I write these notes while celebrating my 23rd birthday. But when do you think I made up my mind to compose music? Even though I didn't have much contact with music (save for a few piano lessons when I was young), something got a hold of me, and I decided to go into the field. I guess I wanted a reason to leave home as soon as possible. But I wanted to study from the moment I left, and I always thought there was nothing sweeter than to be able to eat my meals with music, so I talked to my parents about entering a new school. I can see it clearly even to this day - me, fearful and timid, hearing my father's words - "Go to Tokyo! This is your chance!" I don't think I'll ever forget it in my entire life.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that my life was changed from that moment on. My mere two years at the music school were hectic. I never realized that if this didn't work out, I couldn't just go home, for there'd be no place at a corporation for someone stupid like me. I did not learn, however, how to compose at the school; instead, I was led to think of music as a living organism. At that time, such a thought always proved staggering to me.
Thus I obtained my current job "composing" for the company called "Square". Next time, however, I suppose I'll have to take the first step and initiative in following my dream.
There are two sides two everything
Do you know which is the front and which is the back of a 10-yen coin? Either choice is the right answer! Whichever side you chose as the front can also become the back. Similarly, the human race has both good guys and bad guys. But if you look a little more closely, you'll see good and bad in every individual. Whichever side constitutes one's "front" is up to personal circumstance...
Music too has "fronts" and "backs"; if the "Major" is made the front, the "minor" becomes the back, and a composition has a front beat and a back beat. In short, if you have an understanding of both sides, you strike a good balance between them. Conversely, if one side is lacking, the balance collapses. I suppose that this's most vital to me, for it's what weighs most in my mind. I think I like grappling with the various factors of fate and chance that determine success or failure; it proves useful to me afterward, and I think it's intertwined with music.
What is composition?
Whenever I hear the question "What is composition?", I am always stumped for an answer - I wonder if "the means for my own search" is the most appropriate response? It's strange that my music could end up reflecting the conditions I was working in at the time, isn't it? Of course, that could say something about my psychological state of mind, but...(ha). I wonder if this isn't one of the most overly harsh jobs in the music industry? There's an extraordinarily high number of compositions, yet since the fans are in a broad age bracket, you have to have a knowledge of so many different musical styles, and the considerations of the screens and scenarios override the music you'd like to use. It's easy to fall prey to anything from a problem to a slump. These particular circumstances brought on a slump for me. (I must've tried to start writing the music 4 times!) I was stumped for a month and a half. I would think, "I've got to do this", but when I would set about going to work, nothing would come to me, and I'd lose my will to work. Mired and immobilized in my unease and dismay, I was brought to a standstill and felt that I'd never be able to get things done. I am incapacle of "Self-Control". What opened my eyes at that time and became the most important key to escaping my slump were the many opportunities I had to draw "Power" from speaking with others who had different ideas than I did and to see things from new perspectives. (Of course, that's not the only way to pull yourself out of a slump.) I strongly felt that my other obligations factored very little into my problems with this job. The reason for my slump boiled down to one issue.
With each composition I write, I feel I can learn a little more about myself. It's interesting! And so, I don't think I'll ever be able to stop composing, and I think that it's a miraculous thing that I can live my life through doing so. The age in which I was born. The environment in which I grew up. The people with whom I've come in contact whom I wish to thank from the depths of my heart.
And, in closing, to all those who supported me in this CD set's release - Uematsu-san, Sakaguchi-san, all the numerous staff members who gave me strength, and all those who bought this album - I would like to say one word - "thanks".
1/21/95, from the Brink of Time, Yasunori Mitsuda"
Q&A On Procyon Studios
クロノ・トリガー未収録曲[歌う山]ですが、あの曲がゲームの中に入っていないのがとても残念です。多分あの曲はク○ノが死んだ後のイベント死の山でしたっけか？ ク○ノを復活させる為の山に挿入予定だったのでしょ？ なんで没になったのでしょうか？ とても良い曲なのに (生楽器生声で一度聞いてみたい)。それと[カエルのテーマ]もゲームでは前奏が入っていなくてＣＤでは入っている。どうしてゲームでは前奏を入れるのをやめてＣＤでは、入っているのでしょうか？
About the not-yet-recorded Chrono Trigger song "Singing Mountain", it's really too bad it didn't make it into the game. Was the song for an event at Death Mountain after Crono dies? Was it planned to insert the song when going to the mountain to revive Crono? Why was it rejected? It's a very good song (I'd really love to hear it with live instruments and vocals). Also, the prelude to Frog's Theme wasn't included, but it was on the CD. Why was it in the CD, but not in the game?
(From Mitsuda himself) There was a dungeon where that song was used, but because the dungeon didn't contain much and there were no problems or anything that advanced the game, it was cut. So inevitably the song was cut with it (*sniffle*). About Frog's Theme, because the prelude was meant to rise up during an event, the song starts out partway through, but since we took great pains with the CD it started from the prelude there.
Track Credits (Chrono Trigger)
1. A Premonition
2. Chrono Trigger
3. Morning Sunlight
4. Peaceful Days
5. Memories of Green
6. Guardia Millennial Fair
7. Gato's Song
8. A Strange Happening
9. Longing of the Wind
11. Secret of the Forest
13. Courage and Pride
15. Manoria Cathedral
16. A Prayer to the Travelers
19. Frog's Theme
20. Fanfare 1
21. The Kingdom Trial
22. The Hidden Truth
23. A Shot of Crisis
24. Ruined World
26. Dome-16's Ruin
28. Lavos's Theme
29. The Final Day of the World
30. Reckless Robo Gang Johnny
32. Robo's Theme
33. Remains of the Factory
34. Battle 2
35. Fanfare 2
36. The Brink of Time
37. Delightful Spekkio
38. Fanfare 3
40. Boss Battle 2
42. Ayla's Theme
43. Rhythm of Wind, Sky, and Earth
45. Magus's Castle
46. Confusing Melody
47. Battle with Magus
48. Singing Mountain
50. At the Bottom of Night
51. Corridors of Time
52. Zeal Palace
53. Schala's Theme
55. Undersea Palace
56. Crono & Marle ~ Far Off Promise
57. Wings that Cross Time
58. Black Dream
60. World Revolution
61. Last Battle
62. Festival of Stars
63. Epilogue ~ To Good Friends
64. To Far Away Times
65. Rat-A-Tat-Tat It's... Mitsuda 66. Unknown Fanfare