VGM Wednesdays – “Times Scar” from Chrono Cross

“Time’s Scar” from Square’s “Chrono Cross,”  released in 2000.

This game has been on my mind for a while now.  Lately, it re-emerged with its release on the PSN Store about a month ago and I really considered buying it again.  Next, a blog called “Score” wrote a 3-PART analysis on the tune and did a fantastic job.

If you like music theory and VGM, you want to follow this blog 🙂

Anyway, back to the retelling! I picked this game when I was in second year university (3 years after its release, I always seem to play games way later) and, after a passionate affair with Chrono Trigger  for much of my youth, there was such relief in playing this.

It often gets criticized as being a game that doesn’t make sense or is far too convoluted (and I’m not entirely disagreeing), but the soundtrack in this game is pure Mitsuda.  “Time’s Scar” is the opening piece of the game, luring us in with its mysterious add9 chords and big leaps in the shakuhachi.* Big leaps give a lot of emotional power and I am all about that open fifth that starts the melody.

Even just the opening instrumentation of classical guitar, shakuhachi and the wash of synth behind it really demonstrates the cross-cultural score that permeates this game – not just instrumentally, but stylistically too.  The Celtic rollicking of “Another Termina,” the island feel of “Plains of Time – Home World” (also recounting the theme of Chrono Trigger), the sweeping European Classical string feel of “People Imprisoned by Destiny“… it’s as though the listener experiences both the world of the El Nido Archipelago AND the geography of our Earth too.

While I love the game, the soundtrack is really the gem of the experience.   I usually want to find pieces that are less well known, but some scores really have a lot of personal significance to me and are really part of my musical experience and development.  So, even though this is a very common score and really a big member in the canon of VGM, sometimes things are popular because they’re good – this is one of those examples 🙂

Thanks for reading,

* I wrote “Irish Whistle” first, but that wasn’t correct.

3 thoughts on “VGM Wednesdays – “Times Scar” from Chrono Cross

  1. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Kenley. I don’t think I need to say anything more here about how great the music in this game is, haha.
    I’m glad you pointed out that the instrument is an Irish whistle–on my analysis I wrote flute, but I knew that it wasn’t one. I was thinking it was maybe a certain type of flute or recorder, but couldn’t get much more specific than that (though, maybe I should have researched Celtic wind instruments, knowing the flavor of the other tunes and Mitsuda’s tendencies). In the future, I plan to go through the analysis again and tighten it up into one full work, and at that time I’ll certainly make the correction.

    1. A bit late, but I just wanted to point out that the woodwind instrument in this piece is not the Irish whistle, but instead the traditional Japanese Shakuhachi. Specifically, it was performed by Kinya Sogawa (he’s even credited on the OST!)

      1. Hi Tim,

        Thank you so much for writing this. I’m not being sarcastic or facetious, but I appreciate you taking the time to ensure that it’s right. It’s strange, in live performances, it’s been played by a flute, a fife and an Irish whistle. The only time I found a shakuhachi performance is when I went out to look for it, but when you hear it, it most definitely is a shakuhachi.

        Thanks again – it’s never too late to be right 🙂

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