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OCRA-0006 - Chrono Trigger: Chrono Symphonic


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I haven't even heard any of the music yet, and I already feel like every project after this is going to suck in comparison...

Way to raise the bar, guys. Thanks a lot. :roll:

Having listened to the music now, I stand by the above statement.

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Here's a general review from yours truly. Very fluffy.

Sometimes when I'm listening to music, either at home on my computer or in my car driving from place to place, I'll put on thematic music, often from video games, and play out different movie scenes in my head to go along with it. Chrono Symphonic essentially took this concept from a different angle and expanded on it, tremendously. Needless to say, I've been very anxious to listen to the final product. After some delays, of which are completely acceptable and understandable (<3 Compy), I finally found it on the front page of OCR. Without delay, I got all the songs, burned two CD's, and went for a drive.

First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the fantastic direction of this project. Unlike previous OCR projects, Chrono Symphonic's concept is ambitious and clear. Creating a movie soundtrack, for a movie that does not even exist mind you, is no small task, and all those involved in the project deserve a well-earned pat on the back for their efforts.

The music is, in the simplest of forms, wonderfully theatrical. I'll admit I haven't yet read the script, but as I listened to the music, I was more than capable of developing the intended themes and images in my imagination (of course, being considerably familiar with the original game's story doesn't hurt either).

One of the most impressive features of Chrono Symphonic is the use of character theme song motifs, particularly those of Frog and Magus, which appear several times throughout the production. The recurring melodies, which manifest themselves in different tones and tempos, really exentuate the procession of events and mark times of strong character influence.

Other times, the twisting of thoughts and emotions through the music really creates a detailed image for the listener. Darkesword wrote this for track 20 - "Crono's Dream"

The script called for Crono to slowly realize that something very wrong was going on, so I tried to illustrate that by using some dissonance and diminished intervals. I think it was pretty effective; as the song progresses, it gets darker and more sinister.”

Damn straight it did. I'll tell you it downright sent shivers down my spine. Chrono Symphonic does this again and again, for several emtions. Courage, fear, sorrow, they're all here, they're all presented very clearly, and they're all within context.

This isn't to say, however, that Chrono Symphonic is without it's faults. Though most of these could be attributed to personal beefs with some artistic liberties, sometimes there were some musical paths walked down that one might raise an eyebrow towards.

From a personal standpoint, I was somewhat disappointed that some previous tracks slated for the project didn't make it. However, it's easily and clearly understandable that some tracks were more suited for the concept than others. Essentially, it's the price you pay for a highly conceptual and specific project such as this, and I have full confidence in those involved that they were the right decisions.

It's been a long wait, but it's been every bit worth waiting for. Use the torrents, get the songs, and listen to them all in succession in one sitting. All in all, Chrono Symphonic succeeds any film it could be intended to supplement.

Some comments on the tracks I felt really stuck out.

Track 07 - "Revelation of Fire":

Interesting use of the trial theme here. I like it, both musically and for it's intent. Really gives off the shock and horror of watching the world being systematically destroyed.

Track 12 - "Darkest Omen":

I remember downloading a previous version of this track quite some time ago. The final product is much more clear and listenable. It's a bit hard to picture this intially as a reminiscence due to this track's kinetic nature, but it does convey that "epic battle" element you mentioned in the comments.

Track 16 - "Schala and the Queen":

Goes without saying that this is one of the more ambitious tracks of the project, combining several elements and ideas all into one tightly-mixed six-and-a-half minute song. As ellywu2 put it, it came off in several stages, all of which help create a highly dramatic effect, a sort of climax of events. I liked how Magus' theme came on to the scene, giving a strong sense of conflict. The final use of the Lavos Battle Theme in the slower, more heroic tone really helps develop the entire idea of a turning point in the story.

By the way, pixietricks, I love your voice.

Track 20 - "Crono's Dream":

As I mentioned before, this track is very effective at conveying a sense of fear. The shivery sound of the strings initially reflect the sinister forces at work that become more and more present as the track develops. I couldn't fall asleep listening to this and not get nightmares.

That about does it for now, I'll put up some more comments as I listen to the project more.

Nice work everyone.

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Just fabulous. I'm so very pleased by how this turned out after following it periodically over the entire process. I can remember listening to early versions of several of the songs, and I am very satisfied with how everything turned out.

It works better than projects before it because it really feels cohesive as a whole while remaining at a very high level of quality. Reading the goals of each song while listening through it the first time enriches the experience so much, and the artists have succeeded in fulfilling Claado's vision through the music. I also really like how certain themes pop up several times throughout the album, whereas we are left with a disjoint feeling with with singular remixes of each theme for previous projects.

Of the new previously unreleased tracks, I'm most impressed with Morning Sunlight, Darkness Dueling, Revelation of Fire, Hymn of Valor, Crono's Dream, and The New Beginning. The album is so consistently good and there was not a single track that was a letdown.

There is a certain sense of magic from this project that I never felt when listening to the other ones. Thanks to everyone involved for bringing this to us, you've made this community proud.

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Come on folks. Nothing to say about the crappy bass mix and the humongus reverb on most of the tracks? That somebody didn't notice that one yet, hm... And how does it sound on a surround setup (ProLogic)?

I did notice, but you have already stated that you recieved private PMs about it, so...

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Chrono Symphonic has been a long time coming. It's really a shame that Square never gave Chrono Trigger the kind of orchestral love that it shows for Final Fantasy (concerts! I would kill for a CT concert. You hear me, Square?). But never fear; Claado Shou, OCR and the Chrono Symphonic team have saved the day.

Now, on to the music. As above posters have said, the success of CS relies on its use and reuse of certain character motifs (in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways) and an awesome sense of cohesion. The goal was one orchestra, one sound; the result is one orchestra.

What sticks out for me is when an artist uses a theme in a fashion different from its original intention. A good example of this is "Crono's Dream," where "Peaceful Days" warps and becomes disorienting. It's unnatural yet familiar, and it works.

By far my favorite track is "To Far Away Times" by Reuben Kee and pixietricks. I'd been following the project a long time, and by that I mean I downloaded every demo, wip, every file that was available to the public before the project went top secret. When I first heard Reuben's WIP of the song, I nearly fell apart. It was so perfect. I'll admit I was hesitant to hear that a vocalist had been added, but after listening and understanding the lyrics, she did nothing but add the undeniable warmth of a soft, human voice. Favorite lyric:

"As the shadow dawns upon us, all I seem to think about is where our hope has faded away into"

Good stuff.

About the mixing (this is for Compyfox): I consider myself an average musician (piano and organ) and have no real hope to learn all the technicalities of audio mixing and engineering, but I hope you can take what I'm going to say to heart:

Ignorance is bliss.

I have no idea about reverb or -5 dB vs -10 dB, whatever. But I do know what's pleasing to my ears. This stuff, Chrono Symphonic, is pleasing to the ears.

These fans have been waiting a long time for this. They're in love with the source material and the Remixers' work. I don't think the Average Joe Gamer is going to beat you up over it. It's kinda disconcerting to hear you knock your own work. It sounds great. So relax and take some pride in what you've done.

All in all, great job. In the time that I've taken to listen to CS and type up this post, my mind has changed. Square, I don't need to wish for a CT orchestral concert that will never happen. I have Chrono Symphonic.

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And after one day... the hype is already gone.

Come on folks. Nothing to say about the crappy bass mix and the humongus reverb on most of the tracks? That somebody didn't notice that one yet, hm... And how does it sound on a surround setup (ProLogic)?

Actually we were discussing this project in the panel last night. Liontamer and I felt the reverb was actually too small and dry for a film score type soundtrack or this particular context.

[21:33] <Liontamer> He tried to do a small hall sound, but I think it doesn't sound full at all.... It's too dry.
(Larry was fine with this direct quote)

There are many ways to approach an orchestral mix, but in this context, more reverb and lushness is usually better.

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Heh...seems the pixie tracks are getting a lot of attention. :) I personally think they're great too, but there were some issues with pronunciation that were distracting to me. Particularly the pronunciation of combination vowels as a single syllable. When singing in Japanese, each vowel is pronounced individually over separate syllables. The same goes for ending n's. So "chiheisen" would be sung "chi-he-e-se-n," in five beats, not three. In addition, in the case of doubled consonants, the preceding vowel is extended by a beat. So "ikkai" would be sung "i-i-ka-i," over four beats instead of two.

Check out this helpful page if you want more info (or if you just want to make sure I'm not pulling your leg ;) ).

Great job with the project in general though. Thanks and congratulations to everyone who participated!

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I see what you're saying Dhsu, and I appreciate the effort. But the reason there were a few spots like that are because the lyrics were written first in English by Claado Shou, and *then* translated. I had to sing the text that was given to me according to the music that was provided, so the two didn't always match up. I tried to make the best of the situation.

Honestly, I've been studying and singing in the language for almost two years now, so I know the loops. I think you're being just a tad picky.

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I registered for the forums months ago, and I've heard a lot of remixes that I thought about reviewing for my first post. However, nothing ever quite pushed me hard enough to review until Chrono Symphonic, so it earns that dubious honor.

First of all, to all the remixers, you guys did an amazing job. I've listened through 3 times and am on my 4th time through now, and all of this music is simply wonderful. Also, major props go to Claado Shou, Compyfox, StarZander, eon_blue, and any others I missed who worked on the project aspect. Thanks to all of you who worked so hard on this. I'll go into a bit of detail on my favorite pieces so far:

"Blue Skies Over Guardia" - Darkesword. I got this track from OCR months ago and loved it from first hearing it. It's already an old favorite, so I guess it's got an unfair advantage on the others. Parts of it have a very un-orchestral sound (particularly the clapping-like sound, which sounds more like Darkesword's more conventional mixes), but actually I think this gives the track a lot of its energy. The bell is a nice way to introduce the track, and the strings develop it well. The brass carries the melody nicely, and the string and piano doing harmony fit very well. I especially like the solo piano (well, solo piano + bell and later solo piano + strings) parts.

"Manifest Destiny" - SirRus. I love the pizzicato strings (though I'm not such a big fan of the xylophone [i guess that's what that sound is?] that accompanies the pizzicato strings). They make a good substitution for the original instrumentation, something I was a little worried about before hearing the mix; it's a little unusual music to put into orchestral format. Also, there's great variation from the simple background line every now and then; some of the variations on the original arpeggio that the pizz strings play just sound really good. Also, the solo string instrument (sounds more like a viola than a violin, but doesn't really matter) is well-used and has a great tone quality to it. Great arrangement.

"Darkest Omen" - mv. The Black Omen music was my favorite part of the CT Soundtrack, and this arrangement definitely does it justice. I especially like the low brass throughout, and the strings during the bridge. The percussion is also very nicely done throughout. The brief choir hits are a cool touch.

"The New Beginning" - Sleepy Emp. Doesn't really catch my attention at the beginning, but about a minute in, it really picks up. The variations on the melody are extremely well done, and the instrumentation is great. Who doesn't love a little wind chimes every now and then?

"To Far Away Times" - Reuben Kee and pixietricks. Beautiful piano, beautiful voice, pretty arrangement. What more is there to say?

I'm going to be listening to this music for a long, long time. Thanks to everybody who worked on this for giving us a lasting gift.

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I have been lurking here a few months trying to learn a little about the remixes. I personally prefer the orchestral or piano mixes to the electronic mixes. I've been following this particular project since page 85 or 90 and have been patiently waiting. Now that it's released, I can't help but be amazed at the final product! I agree with Dan Kiden that while I don't know the different aspects of mixing, I do know that I love the final results! While I haven't listened to all the tracks yet, I will say that I'm impressed so much that I had to register and post a big thank you to Claado, Compy, and everyone else who has played a part in this project. You all deserve so much more than you get, and I HOPE you didn't take the pitiful complaints that you got on the development thread seriously. The project was WELL worth the wait! Again, thanks for an awesome and nostalgic auditory experience.

Farok

PS - The only thing I've noticed that seemed a little odd is that some of the tracks seem to end relatively suddenly...

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That's because they are crossfaded into the next track. You should play them all back to back to get the full effect. :)

I see what you're saying Dhsu, and I appreciate the effort. But the reason there were a few spots like that are because the lyrics were written first in English by Claado Shou, and *then* translated. I had to sing the text that was given to me according to the music that was provided, so the two didn't always match up. I tried to make the best of the situation.

Honestly, I've been studying and singing in the language for almost two years now, so I know the loops. I think you're being just a tad picky.

Hey, people are paid to be "picky"! :D Besides, that's about as picky as saying you should avoid parallel 5ths in your partwriting assignments, or that you shouldn't drink soup with a fork. It's not just a matter of "to-may-to" vs. "to-mah-to." :P

Of course, I did realize the circumstances you had to work with, but before I posted, I went back to listen to your Zelda64 arrangement and noticed the same issues, and in that case you were at a greater liberty to change the notes or words. So yeah, my comments weren't meant as an attack, I just wanted to make sure it wasn't an honest mistake. I hope you understand how it could've come across that way.

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Hey, people are paid to be "picky"! Besides, that's about as picky as saying you should avoid parallel 5ths in your partwriting assignments, or that you shouldn't drink soup with a fork. It's not just a matter of "to-may-to" vs. "to-mah-to."

Of course, I did realize the circumstances you had to work with, but before I posted, I went back to listen to your Zelda64 arrangement and noticed the same issues, and in that case you were at a greater liberty to change the notes or words. So yeah, my comments weren't meant as an attack, I just wanted to make sure it wasn't an honest mistake. I hope you understand how it could've come across that way.

Yeah, my Zelda mix was recorded over a year ago; I've learned a lot since then. But honestly, that website you linked to is mainly for pop singing, and even then they aren't set rules. There is a lot more liberty than you would think, and in classical singing it's a whole different story. I probabaly know a lot *more* about this stuff than you, no offense. I have two Japanese teachers at Johns Hopkins, plus a Japanese vocal coach at Peabody Conservatory of Music... :roll:

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