By Taylor Roar
Gamer Symphony Orchestra members announced a final farewell to senior percussionist Matthew Chin as they played his last arrangement for the orchestra in their fall show Saturday, Dec. 2.
Matthew Chin is a senior electrical engineering major and a percussionist for GSO. Though he spends his time in the rhythmic section of the orchestra, he has been arranging music for all of the instruments in the orchestra for about two years now.
During the show, Chin debuted what he called his best arrangement yet – a piece he titled Mario’s Musical Mayhem. The three-part song is meant to cover a range of scenes and emotions as depicted in the Super Mario video game franchise. It will be his last arrangement as a group member of GSO.
Senior computer science major and vice president of GSO Arden Qiu described Chin’s involvement in GSO. His membership has been “extremely pivotal. He’s always been super dedicated,” said Qiu.
After years of being in the orchestra together, Qiu has heard many of Chin’s arrangements, but this one is special, said Qiu. “It’s phenomenal. I know he poured his heart and soul into that,” said Qiu.
Choosing a video game for his last piece was a no-brainer for Chin. “I knew I wanted to do something big for my personal favorite video game franchise of all time,” said Chin.
From there, his usual arranging process began. Chin said he always starts with the most important part of music – the melody. Then, he adds on the bass part and some backing chords to add harmonies. After the basic parts are finished, it’s all up to creative vision, said Chin. He added and subtracted things constantly until he found the perfect mix of parts to include.
To capture the essence of several sections of the game, Chin broke the piece into three parts he called movements.
The first movement follows the general peppy theme of Mario. It represents the “jolly stroll,” Chin called it, that Mario has as he navigates through the levels. Then, in the second movement, the game’s main antagonist shows up. The song turns ominous as Bowser and Mario have an epic battle across planets. In the third and final movement, the music represents a happy ending. Mario and Princess Peach celebrate a safe return home after a long journey.
Chun Mun Loke, a senior biochemistry major and music director for the orchestra said after a long arranging process he was happy to see Chin’s piece finally come together. “I saw his piece from the very beginning when it was still in drafts. Even at that early stage, it was one of the most impressive arrangements submitted to the orchestra,” said Loke.
Chin didn’t become a master arranger overnight, however. “It took a lot of trial and error,” said Chin. He took what he could from his experience with singing and piano, but he also asked a lot of questions, said Chin.
“I just started talking to people in and outside of the orchestra, saying ‘hey, whats possible on your instrument? What’s too difficult? What do you not like to do on your instrument?” said Chin. Then, he could decide what the full capabilities of every instrument were, he said.
When he first started arranging for GSO two years ago, Chin said he had some doubts. “I wasn’t sure if I would be any good at it or if anyone was gonna like it, but I decided to give it a shot,” he said. “It turns out I was good at it,” Chin laughed.
After the performance, Chin said he will continue to arrange for the group out of his love for the group. “This group has a near and dear place to my heart. These people are ever-growing more and more inspiring for just this art form,” said Chin.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Gamer Symphony Orchestra at UMD’s Facebook page.
Taylor Roar is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.