preview: “To Good Friends” – Chrono Trigger

Hi again!  Here’s another Beta Tester providing a sneak peak into their arrangement.  Today, Mark will provide a small peak into his arrangement of Chrono Trigger’s “To Good Friends”.  Enjoy!

It all started with a trip to my local music store (Collingswood Music). I saw a little piano in the window and asked about it. It turned out to be a piano with chimes instead of strings (aka a ‘toy piano’). When I asked about some of the dead notes on it, the owner of the store turned the piano over to inspect it, promptly dumping the keys all over the floor. After spending a half-hour reconstructing the instrument, I took home a ‘Little Legend’ for half-price. Its timbre was used to great effect in a saxophone concerto arrangement (it replaced the harp and vibraphone). From there, I’ve acquired 5 more, ranging in size from 25 keys to 49 keys. I’ve had two pieces written for me so far (one by Beta Test’s own Douglas Laustsen), and I’m determined to use it in as many contexts as possible: David Bowie covers, orchestral scoring, piano with tape, etc.

Music boxes grew out of the toy piano craze. Performers such as Phyllis Chen create intricate soundscapes with toys and mechanical instruments, and I became intrigued by the possibility of mixing live instruments with mechanical ones. ‘DIY music boxes’ that are programmed with paper strips have been made in three sizes (15, 20, and 30 notes); of course, I have one of each size. With the proper resonating box (cigar boxes work nicely), they are quite loud. At our concert on February 2nd, a 30-note music box will accompany a horn and trombone duet. The music box part is online here.

While I started my musical life as a saxophonist, I am increasingly interested in placing vintage keyboards, found objects, and woodwinds into unique combinations. The orchestra’s available timbres are too familiar; our ears need new sounds. A recorder trio with an electric piano has a sweet, relaxed tone that is more melancholy and nostalgic than a string trio with piano could ever be.

Nostalgia is the primary tone of music boxes and toy pianos. They remind me of a childhood I never had (a childhood almost nobody had), but they also remind me of a perfect Sunday morning with light streaming in through a café window while I read Virginia Woolf or James Joyce. The piece I arranged for this concert comes from Chrono Trigger, which was one of my favorite games growing up. It is the epilogue (“To Good Friends”), which was originally for music box and orchestra. My arrangement strips it down to a harmonized melody with music box accompaniment.

Check back soon for more posts from the Beta Testers!  And don’t forget to come see us play the music from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Earthbound, and MUCH more on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. Tell your friends! Advanced tickets are cheaper than at the door!