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Phils Game/Pop Music Similarities #107 - The Retrial


Featuring Chrono Trigger and several.

Greetings fellow game music lovers,

now that the Robo theme has been dealt with, let's have a look at the other classic comparison that has been made for the Chrono Trigger (1995) soundtrack: The Kingdom Trial:

Now since Chrono Trigger came out, there were a lot of people wondering if the melody might have been inspired by Pink Floyds song "The Trial" from their 1979 "The Wall" album:

Of course there are some obvious characteristics that might lead people to believe that there is a connection between the two songs:

  • Both songs use the word "Trial" in their title and accompany a trial scene.
  • Both songs have a circus-like feeling that emphasize the show trial nature of both proceedings.

Nevertheless, there are also notable differences between the songs. For example the Pink Floyd song sounds more like a march while the Chrono Trigger song has rather the structure of a dance. The Pink Floyd song is dominated by brass instruments (like in a circus band) while the CT song uses electronic equivalents of string instruments.

Next, let's have a look at the melodies. I will try to transcribe them, as usual, in Parsons code to make them more comparable:

Pink Floyd:

"Good morning, worm your honor."


"the crown will plainly show the"


The Chrono Trigger sound on the other hand starts as follows:


It is observable, that for the first 6 notes of the Chrono sample and the "the crown will plainly show the" portion of Pink Floyd, the curvature of the songs is the same. This, along with the characteristics from above, is likely enough for many people to connect the songs in their mind.

Now, 6 notes isn't very much and there are probably other songs out there that have a similar sequence. And still the song itself has a pretty distinctive structure that makes you wonder: Is there other stuff like this out there?

I would like to introduce a different theory for the inspiration of the Kingdom Trial sample. As usual, it builds on several samples from different artists which I go through one by one:

1) The first sample is from the song "I'll Meet You At Midnight" by the english rock band Smokie from their 1976 album "Midnight Café" which features a sample that can be interpreted as an 8/9 note match with the one from Trial:

2) A pretty similar sample to the Smokie one can be found from japanese J-Pop singer Akina Nakamori, more specifically in the song リ・フ・レ・イ・ン 〔Refrain〕 from her album "Possibility" (1984) at 3:22:

It reappears in the next song "地平线" (Horizon) at 0:35:

3) Another sample from the japanese Folk band Kaguya Hime and their song 妹 (Imouto, little sister) from 1974:

It gets repeated several times during the rest of the song.

Fun fact: At 4:41 they use something which could be described as another instance of the Mario Galaxy Gusty Garden - Evergreen sample:

4) Another one from Peggy Hayama and her song 学生時代 (School Days) from 1964 (although slightly unclean):

Now, how could one proceed from here? If you take song No1, 2 and 4, it seems that they have certain attributes in common:

- They have a somewhat latin feeling.

- They have a serious tone.

- They have a strong dance-like rhythm.

Now, there is another historical music genre that combines these three features: Tango.

So I searched for famous Tango songs and found some samples that have surprisingly a lot in common with the Kingdom Trial sample:

Igor Stravinsky - Tango (1940):


Maybe that one too ( a little bit unclean ): Adios Nonino - Astor Piazzolla (1959):

This isn't a surprise. If you hear the folksy pop songs that dominated Europe in the 1960s you will hear tons of latin influences, especially bossa.

As a honorable mention, I would like to end this with a sample from Goof Troop (SNES, 1993) that has a slightly similar feeling to the Trial sample in its "Illusion" song (which might not be a concidence as the game has an expressly caribbean feeling):


Phil out.

Update 05/05/2020:

As another honorable mention, I would like to list a well known japanese/italian Tango: Kuroneko no Tango (Black Cat Tango) from 1969 which has some structures that vaguely resemble the Kingdom Trial passage. 

Update 06/05/2020:

Another update: The Spotnicks - Nadja's Theme (1979). From a curvature standpoint, this might be a 10-note match:

Update 11/07/2020:

Another interesting piece has popped up with Jan Koetsier's "Kinderzirkus" (child circus) from 1986. It includes this sample:

Update 12/07/2020:

Another interesting sample form another circus song: "Pink Lemonade" by A. J. Weidt from 1921. The curvature is remarkably similar to the Trial sample and it rhymes with the mock trial character of the trial scene:

Of course, this offers a far simpler explanation for the alleged similarity between Pink Floyd's and Kingdom Trial: They have both been inspired by circus music, although maybe different songs.

Update 29/07/2020:

Another challenger, an excerpt from the song "Maybe a day, Maybe a year", the version by Henry Burr from 1915, composed seemingle by Gilbert L. Wolfe:

Some sources list this as foxtrot which is often used in circus music which would explain the previous observations.

I wonder if Mitsuda has a knack for old time pop from the turn of the last century?

Update 31/07/2020:

I think this might be the ur-example: The song "The Old Refrain" by Fritz Kreisler, a popular Viennese song from 1915. According to Wikipedia one of the most covered songs of all time:

Update 09/01/2021: Eduard Strauss - Fatinitza Waltz, Op.147:

- https://www.destructoid.com/blogs/PhilsPhindings/ https://www.reddit.com/user/PhilsPhindings

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About PhilsPhindingsone of us since 5:50 PM on 01.21.2019