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SCV eighth-grader scores big

Robby Good composes large orchestral piece inspired by "Zelda" video games

Posted: May 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Eighth-grader Robby Good conducts Placerita Junior High's orchestra as they play his "Legend of Zelda Medley" at Hart High School. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.

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Wearing a suit complete with coattails and a cummerbund, eighth-grader Robby Good took a breath before he lowered his baton, sweeping two hands through the quiet auditorium at the Placerita Junior High Spring Concert. The soft, curious tones of flutes and strings flitted across the orchestra — 65 young musicians uniformed in black formal wear.

Gradually waking their instruments, the advanced band and orchestra students plucked and bowed under the direction of Robby’s baton.

Robby listened as his music filled the Hart High School auditorium.

Inspired by the popular video game, Robby composed “The Legend of Zelda Medley,” a six-minute score containing 25 separate parts for 65 instruments.

“There are some songs that are so powerful it really gets to you. But there are some songs you just listen to for fun,” Robby said before the concert earlier this month. “I wanted to do a mixture of both.”

When Music Director Kathryn Spula decided she was unsatisfied with the music for the spring performance, Robby set about looking for a solution. 

Inspired by a performance of the Zelda score at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Robby began fiddling with computer software that allowed him to write music and hear the playback.

He already had the piano chords memorized for several Zelda songs, but he had to translate them to other instruments.

Robby wrote for a “good weekend,” he said.

“I learned the chord progression for each song and inserted something that would sound good for each instrument, to make it sound more interesting,” Robby said.

For another five days he tweaked, tinkered and perfected until each part was different than the original.
“After I got my homework done, I spent as much time as I could getting this song done before I had to go to bed,” Robby said.

Then he wove together the several songs he created into one adventurous video game score.

On stage, he made sure to thank his parents.

“Thanks, Mom and Dad, for letting me skip my math homework,” he said to a laughing crowd during the concert.
And for Robby and his family, it was worth it.

From the sprightly celebration of the woodwinds to the tearful sounds of the strings, Robby’s medley finished with a resurrection of percussion and power from the band.

Even as the cellists finger-picked the necks of their instruments, the score elicited images of convivial footsteps in a long trek toward the win.

It was the soundtrack to an adventure, and the only thing missing was a crew of animated characters.

“The music goes from one point to the other. It’ll start one way and end a completely different way,” Robby said.
Calling the piece complex, Spula said composition requires a very smart mind.

“I would say some freshmen in college would have a difficult time doing this unless they’ve had the proper knowledge of music theory behind them,” she said. “It’s pretty incredible what he’s done.”

A studied piano player, Robby has been playing since he was in first grade, he said. Along with weekend classes and school lessons, Robby has practiced music theory.

“He was always musical — always, always musical,” said his mother, Laura.

In the immediate future, Robby hopes to continue his music studies with the Hart High School marching band, but he harbors even larger dreams for his adulthood.

“I enjoy media-based music: video games, TV, music,” he said. “(Scoring a film) would be one of the best things I could imagine for myself.”

His mother envisions music in Robby’s future, as well.

“I hope he will embrace that talent and love he has,” she said. “Wherever it ends up taking him — as a profession or as a teacher or artist — wherever his love of music comes out, I hope he will continue it.”



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