Xenogears celebrated its 19th anniversary earlier this year on the 11th of February. I joined in on the commemoration by posting my entire collection on Twitter and going through each item(s) one-by-one. I figured I’d transfer that thread into a blog post and provide additional detail that Twitter’s character limit hinders.
*1. I claim no expertise on Yasunori Mitsuda’s life story or anything of the sort. I am simply just a fan of his music.
*2. I have some knowledge of music theory and have been trained in instrumental conducting, and I was once proficient in musical performance–but that is all a story from long ago and I have since forgotten much. While I do have some musical background, my intention is not to make this an article strictly analyzing Mitsuda’s music from that perspective.
It’s no secret that Yasunori Mitsuda is my favorite Japanese composer and has been for a very long time. Like many, I was introduced to his music through Chrono Trigger and since then his soundtracks have continued to resonate with me on a personal level. What I like about Mitsuda:
- he’s known for being inspired by Celtic, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and sub-continental music and sounds, and as a result his music is often very diverse in its choice of instrumentation. A Mitsuda soundtrack doesn’t get old or repetitive or stale to me–they age well.
- he has the amazing ability to create music that’s very representative of the precise feelings the game’s world and characters are trying to convey. I feel this skill comes from his study of and exposure to world cultures and religions. He also happens to be good friends with some of the directors he’s worked with (like Takahashi or Kato, for example), and that closeness undoubtedly helps him create an extra layer of emotional attachment.
- he has a strong grasp of musical theory and structure; tempo changes, tonality (major v minor stimulation), chord structure, rhythm manipulation, melody & harmony v countermelody, motif building, etc. His compositions can also range from being multi-layered and complex to being simple and bare bone.
- he’s a master of melody. I can name composers I feel are musically “stronger” than he is (Koichi Sugiyama comes to mind), but Mitsuda has a knack for creating unforgettable melodies along with being an impressive musical force.