|Daryl's Library - Final Fantasy CDs||
I realized that the FF series has already gone into its 10th installment! If I think back 14 years from now, way back in 1987, that was the day FF1 was first announced. I started producing for the game when I was about 27 years old, now I'm almost 42. Life is long, and I'm not young anymore.
I remember back during my junior high school days, embracing my favorite pop star idols such as Elton John, Paul McCartney, etc., it was a time of being carefree. As I grew out of that stage of my life, I sort of lost touch with their music. Recently, as planned, I started to listen to the music of these great artists again, calmly all alone by myself. I went to compare my own works with the music of my idols as a measure of the level of "accomplishment" my works have reached. For my case, there are some that are great and some that are not so, but ALL my idols' works are just brilliant and not a single one that sounds blemished.
I feel that the best music comes from the hippy era of the 70s where people expressed themselves fully through the sound of music. But on a previous occasion while I was driving in my car, I was tuning the bass level of a particular song, and realized the other fine nuances of other instruments that made up that song. "This song is sheer genius!!" I said to myself, shocked at the accidental discovery. I went on to experiment the same procedure with CDs of other artists, muting off the piano rhythm, it's easy to mistake the music progression. I tried this again CD after CD, weeding out those great works from the bad ones. It really has become my latest obsession, really. You can pick up traces where the artists were not prepared enough and were not in the right mind to perform or sing. This "evidence" is recorded down forever.
Of course, pop stars are human too. But I do feel a little sad that these so-called idols of my past, whom I thought were perfect, actually faltered. As if I were God high up in the sky, calmly and rationally judging these artists' failures. Of course, these people left behind a legacy and inspired better artists following along their paths. But whoever emerges with true worth, it is like a race where everyone starts off together at the starting line and struggles towards the goal. I felt myself standing among those at that starting line. The possibility of me writing songs in the style of Beatles remains open.
As I worked on the music for FFX, maybe I can find out for myself the direction where my music is heading for in the future. A pity isn't it, me not knowing where my music stands until now...
This year is my 10th year in the music business. In the beginning, I was in a particular game company in Kobe producing music for arcade games. Because arcade games are played on arcade machines situated inside amusement centers, there are certain criteria to meet for such soundtracks. First, sound projection. Second, easy to remember. Then I listen to the music directly and think to myself, was it presented nicely? There are other factors involved, such as the surrounding environment such games are gonna be played in. Once the song was screened in this manner and I feel good about it, then I'll proceed to work on the next song. Such a method I found to be highly effective, and hoping for a more dynamic sound sampling, I gradually experimented with various DJ-ing techniques to incorporate into my work.
Such music does indeed sound good on first listen. But on subsequent listens, one tends to feel that the style of the music doesn't seem original, like it had been used before, and the meaning and expressions of the music differs with different opinions. There's bound to have someone out there who thinks they have a better idea and wants to "challenge" the composer. With that in mind, I try to put myself into the shoes of these people and try to add a more original upbeat rhythm and consider more factors that could contribute to the success of a song. (But in reality, when I'm busy, it's hard to find time to consider so many factors...)
The use of more dynamic sounds has no boundaries and I do borrow materials and try to adopt them inside my music, then calling it my own. This was how I did things back 10 years ago. I enjoyed my work, but as it continued, more and more added to my "recipe book" of music. But ever since I joined Square five years ago in the realm of console games, my way of thinking changed...
As opposed to an arcade machine, you don't need to consider the audibility of the music for console games, since such games are enjoyed in the comforts of home. From the point of view of a game
music composer, the way the music presents itself in the game and the melody of it holds the utmost priority during the planning and composing period. I have to listen to the track repeatedly to ensure it still sounds OK after repeated loopings. Some of my ideas have changed through the years, but as far as my involvement in Square works is concerned, I still stick to my original principle: to create a vibrant and dynamic feel in the music from my heart.
This time, for the music in FFX, I have gathered all my years of experience I'd nurtured, and it was a big challenge for me to compose for something as big as the FF series. I feel I have given out my all for this; therefore, not only should you try playing the game, but I hope you'll get the sense of contentment while listening to this CD.
There was once a time when anime composers said, "It pays to listen carefully to what kind of music kids listen to, and get good inspiration and ideas they provide." Pre-war nursery rhymes made in the past have been passed down through generations unchanged, even though they had been adapted to different forms of media, and that is how I would like to achieve for game music too.
But you cannot escape from the vicious cycle of "If only....maybe....could be better..." comments. Never will there be a situation where the listeners are so moved with gratitude. It's always an uphill task to keep the quality of music at the top. It was a synch going through the era of using MIDI in the past but that kind of mainstream is hard to make a mark in history.
Stepping on what was in the past, whenever I receive a request to work on music, I always think of the listeners first, then I feel responsible in making sure they will be satisfied with what they would hear. But of course in reality, such a thing is not easy to implement. The knowledge to create music like a pro never really came. As much as I want to oppose MIDI, I would think to myself, what would be that one thing that could replace it to create something that makes people exclaim, "It must be the work of a professional!"
People also tend to stray from the ideas and expressions in the music that a composer is trying to convey. Of course, taking ideas
from other people would not create anything new or interesting at all. Once people interpret the piece in a different way, unless one knows the origins of the song, there's no way he can tell the meaning from it. If they start asking who the composer was composing for and what he was trying to convey, then it's a sign that a composer is failing.
It's very stressful to work knowing such a scenario can happen to me any time. Many times I told myself to let out any ideas from my head, however trivial they might be. For the moment, I try to make an ear-stopping track, glaring hard at the piano, thinking of ways to spice up the composition, making it sound more "alive." It has to be so great that when one gets older and plays those works on the piano again, the image of me would appear. But the potential of game music is still very much untapped. It's like being plonked in the middle of the huge Sphere Board, with a wide area of growth available. Think of it as either someone who's trying to provide music for many "children" out there, or someone who's taking music to greater heights. Either way, what I'm doing is to enjoy the music myself. As someone who is always enjoying himself, it was also great fun to work in FFX too.
What's there to hide? I was also a gaming youth in the past, and I had enjoyed games from FF1 of 1987 up to the real-time games of today. In sync with the start of the 10th installment of the FF series, I too turned on my "boosters" to full strength. If there ever is a chance like this again, I'll take up the challenge and promise you all some fine results (although I'll be putting more pressure on myself too...).
Email Exchange between Nobuo & Nojima
(Found in the liner notes of the Squaresoft/Digicube limited-edition first pressing)
This is an email exchange between Nobuo & Nojima, the scenario planner and lyricist for the main theme "Suteki da ne." Nojima had just been assigned to America on a business trip and they are discussing the development of the main theme. Here, "Nojiman" refers to Nojima and "Nobiyo" refers to Nobuo. ^_^ They are nicknames given to each other.
You must be tired!....how tired you are, I'm not too sure though...
So...could we have a talk about something outside of the FFX soundtrack before you head for the U.S.? I know you're gonna beg me to talk about something more interesting if I venture into work-related matters, but actually I do want to get something off my chest. So, are you game?
Well then, what shall we talk about then?
How about "Suteki da ne"?
Hi! How are you doin'?
I'd just returned to my hotel and it's cloudy over here. The clouds have been covering the blue skies of California for the past few days. Hmmm...about "Suteki da ne"...I remember that song. While deciding on the appropriate singer, it's a little sudden that I added a touch of "Okinawa" into it, ain't I? Frankly that's still a mystery to me. I've talked to the section designers, who told me they were going for the Asian feel for the game and somehow I wonder why Square Sounds came out with the idea of an Okinawan influence. I guess it could be the names of the main characters. Well, in the end I chose Ms. Rikki, a folk singer from Amami, though not exactly from Okinawa but it'll suffice. Her voice is truly sweet!!
So.....you've started composing for the game?? I didn't expect you to start this early. It's tough, ain't it? I had a tough time writing the lyrics, too. In the beginning I don't have any inspiration for the words of the song, and I had to think slowly while watching the scene where the music is gonna be played in the game. Once I'd gotten the idea, the image of Rikki's live performance immediately came to my mind. "I GOT IT!" I exclaimed, and it was then that I suggested Rikki to the sound department.
Maybe before I touch on what Nojiman had said, I had a recent interest in lapis lazuli and Ireland. Somehow I find the Irish make music very professionally with the seamless infusion of their own unique folk culture. People would go to bars after their daily work, they'd drink, dance and play instruments. Anyway, the other day, I told myself that I'd be better if I can finish the tune of the song in one day, and the next thing I knew, it was finished within the hour! But the lyrics...hmmm...I had to change the melody twice to fit in with the lyrics.
Hey! Maybe we should go celebrate at The English pub after the song's done?? Actually I was pretty surprised at the title "Suteki da ne." I was thinking of other titles and that one just struck me, and I was like...'"HUH?!" In my mind I was thinking: "Suteki da ne...futari te o tori aruketa nara."* The impression was quite unique, I must say. I was speechless.
* Isn't it wonderful, if we hold our hands and walk together.
Firstly, STOP CALLING ME NOJIMAN! How many times must I tell you that?
I've heard about the lapis and Ireland thingy from you before. I like the nuance of Irish music. It's kinda alive. Makes you in a state of deep thought. I'll embrace any artist out there who can achieve that can of mastery and beauty similar to Irish music.
Hmm...The English pub, eh? Never heard of that place. Well, it's fine by me. We could not only celebrate our completion of the main theme, but to your continued good health as well!
"Suteki da ne"...what a wonderful phrase. I like it when I hear someone say it in real life, especially women. Unlike the usual "Ii"* or "KAWAII!"** people say "Suteki da ne" nowadays.
I remember when I was on a field trip to Kyoto during my high school time, I was at this temple, whose name eludes me. There was this small garden inside. And there she was, sitting in the midst of the garden and.......nah, it's best I stop here. Just some personal memories. Wooo, it's all coming back.
* Ii: good
** Kawaii: cute
If I can differentiate clearly between live music and sophisticated music, that'll be best case.
But in the eyes of those people, my music is probably like junk food. I'm searching for interest in weaving knowledge and intelligence into musical works. But then in Japan, it's hard to judge the true worth of music if it doesn't sound sophisticated enough. People here seem to reject what is from our own culture. Let's talk the 3-chord pipa (a lute), for example. That has been with us for generations, but we don't know a single folk song that uses it at all. Instead, we have loads of Japanese who appreciate the foreign piano. And we seem to have a lot of copy bands popping up all over the country! I'm not a cynic, nor am I someone who rails at foreign imports, but I am in the music industry and such things flow in me. When I don't see certain things, I will be caught in a dilemma. Ah...it's difficult to convey through words. I wish we could meet up one day.
Yeah, you're bad at complex ideas.
I do think of my own hobbies and interests as well, and a lot of times I don't have any commitment to each for a long time. Well, as Jecht would say, "Things that can done tomorrow are best left til tomorrow." It's like telling oneself that there would always be a better tomorrow.
Well, back to the topic of FFX music.
I have done the piano piece for the intro scene. And....if there's anyone who's writing the scenario, I hope he understands the situation. In terms of scenario, I don't think it's very established yet. When it comes to planning scenarios, it's difficult to materialize the final version. You have to get the opinions of many development staff, and inevitably there will be a clash of ideas. For example, some woman doesn't like me but I do like her, on the other hand. It's like professing your love for her and waiting in vain for a reply. So, in view of that, I think I feel very fortunate that we all agree on common grounds whenever I see the intro scene.
That piano theme wasn't planned to be used in FFX, was it?
Last year I got the idea of the tune from a flutist whom I consulted for help, which I quickly requested for use in FFX. I coaxed the team to use it for certain event scenes, but they always replied, "Hmm...perhaps..." In the end, they decided to try using it on the opening screen. And I was surprised that it was just perfect for the scene! I hurriedly sent an email to Toriyama, telling him, "Toriyama! That song is perfect for that scene! It's GOOD!" When the staff reviewed the opening scene, there was a sense of common agreement on it. In the end, that theme, together with "Suteki da ne," became the main theme for FFX. Hard to believe, isn't it?
It's like a girl who suddenly professes her love to you. Not too hard to imagine for your case, huh?
Ahhh....I just can't take that tune out of my mind! I already did that for "Nobiyo" and now this!
Anyway, speaking of which, I have to confess that I love the idea of using the Prelude in this installment. I think this is the second time I'm confessing something to Nobiyo. That piano theme is gonna play a big role in this FF. But for the Prelude, it's a reassurance for fans of the FF series. I think the inclusion of an arranged version has many deep implications.
Oh, the Prelude.
I remember during the final stages of development of FF1, there was a sudden last-minute request by Sakaguchi.
"Hey, I want some music to go in HERE. It's of utmost URGENCY!" which, upon given that order, I hurriedly conjured something in 10 minutes.
Actually it's quite embarrassing as I NEVER expected that tune to span over 10 sequels!
Oh yeah, the director of the recording studio is Jack. Here, "Take five!" means taking a short break. And I think I know the origins of the title of that Deeb Blueback song, how moving!!
In Beverly Hills, 1 bottle of beer and 1 bottle of wine is all it takes to get drunk.
Now at Okinawa. Enjoying my vacation. Haha, I'm kidding.
But the Okinawa part is true. I'm here to assist in filming the MTV of Rikki.
It's my first time in Okinawa, and as much as I had hoped to enjoy this place, we are thoroughly exhausted filming from day to night. The weather hasn't been too good, though. But it's interesting to know that whether it's a business trip to L.A. or Okinawa, we can still communicate with each other about work so conveniently via mail.
Anyway, it takes time to develop a game, doesn't it?
During that period, our state of health is not always good, and we don't have a chance to get a proper rest. My condition deteriorates by the year. Since this is going to last for a long duration, I'm not too sure how I'm gonna cope.
Darn! Can we have something lighter to talk about?? Topic change please!!
By the way, I'll be staying in Okinawa until this Friday.
OH YES! I was featured in the 5/21 issue of TIME magazine! (But I haven't seen it yet.)
Oh, why can't we just have ordinary mails?
Are you OK, filming the video in such bad weather? I'm sure the heavens will be on your side.
Over here, Hollywood is continuing to be cloudy.
How do we pass the time during the development period? Anything.
Will has nothing to do with your state of body or your mind. There isn't any connection at all.
I got that idea from a magazine. Don't understand? Like instead of "NN," why not try saying "YA!" Then again, I don't think we're used to using English replies. Then again, I don't really know what I'm talking about.....ooohhh...I'm beginning to feel uneasy...ooohhh...
Oh, I was watching the WWF at Anaheim (?), and boy, was that entertaining!!
It was crowded and it was thoroughly entertaining to watch. I LIKE it!
Just like games, you create things that many people would appreciate, otherwise you'll lose the driving force. If only I could understand English, I might have enjoyed this much more. Oh, sorry for my ramblings, it's now 1:30 in the morning. Good night.
Heaven is really on my side as the location of our filming was not too bad at all.
Since Rikki is familiar with that location, it was a breeze! It's really quiet here in Okinawa. You can't hear anything other than the sound of insects, birds, the wind, the waves. And yes, the soft scent of the grass...
I'd forgotten all about work and indulged myself in an imaginary world of the lapis, even though it's a bit of a waste of time. During the development period, I was depressed but I had to bear with it. Come to think of it, that's not a good thing to do. I thought of some good ways to change my mood, but for the moment I chose to end it. I had to sacrifice everything to attain that, much like in the military. If only I knew how to be just a little more idle...
Thanks for the trouble!
How was Rikki?? Is it similar to the spirit of Gajumal and Yuunagi? They are the spirits of the forest as characterized in the manga titled "The Spirit of the Grapes" (ah...how nostalgic!), which I think the title was superb. I recommend that manga to you. Even though I've read only the first book, the content remains etched inside me. Who or where FFX stands, that's an interesting thought. Have you ever thought of this?
I think of it as something made up of a few music, novels, manga. A battle between Antonio Butaki vs. T.J. Sin. On the streets of Sapporo. It's not especially dynamic but somehow it's always inside me. Thinking about all this just makes me homesick, even at my age...
I declare that Rikki should be the last person alive on Earth. I should request her to direct more videos, just like how Miyazaka Mayumi or Utada Hikaru direct their own. It's a pity I have not heard of the manga' could I borrow it from you? The only manga I'd bought recently was "Manga of Japanese History," and it was a complete set of 50 issues! As for music, I only have one album of Kitsushima......just one...how bad am I? But I do have 100 mp3s of his songs, and there's no limit to what you can find. I thought of Elton John's album, too, but a pity I didn't get any. I also have a debut album of Yumi-chan, but I didn't have any recollection of her songs. Until recently I replayed all these old albums, and it all comes back to me again. Sometimes it's good to analyze the song and decide for yourself how good the song is, rather than just follow your beliefs blindly. It's good to do some searching inside your own heart.
It must be enjoyable looking at Rikki. I'm amused at your purchase of the 50-issue manga. Impulsive buyer? Reminds me of the time I was test-listening to a speaker system at Akihabara and I went home and ordered it online. I do agree with your views on song judgment though.
Anyway, I am now terribly home-sick. It's lonely not being able to understand English AT ALL, but I have no choice. I miss hearing Japanese so much, hoping someone would call me on the phone, but then again that voice would sound...distant......Oh well...
I'm thinking of the stuff that I can do in this 5-day trip. I've started planning ever since morning (and it's now 3 p.m. in the afternoon). From 4 p.m. onwards, I have to go for rehearsal for the vocalization of Aeris Theme at Mad Studios. Oh! This reminds me, I have completely forgotten to write out the draft of appreciation for the polling site! Ah heck, I'll leave that to tomorrow (<-tsk tsk)
Is that so? Whenever one has to live in the hotel for work reasons, your living patterns have been set out for you. Despite the fact that I seldom watch TV when I'm abroad, I still don't find any meaning in watching it overseas. That is why when I was in Hawaii, my TV was always tuned in to MTV. At the same time, I wonder to myself who in the world would ever make a long-distance call from home...
Hi, you must have had a long day. It's Monday, 12 a.m. here. Due to the schedule, I have extended my stay here for a couple more days. Today I was passing through the streets near Beverly Hills Hotel. This hotel is famous for staff sporting Hotel California jackets. After my visit there, I was humming the tune of "Hotel California" inside my mind. I can remember the tune even under such circumstances, not bad...the more I think of it, the more my tears...
I never thought I would cry on a foreign land in such a manner.
Oh yeah, MTV! I'll try that. Whenever you hear the voice of someone very dear, it's so near yet so far! That special background noise of a long-distance call is quite stimulating within my heart.
I have a little free time on my hands after fixing all the data errors. We are discussing the debugged recordings over a couple of drinks. The vocalization of the Aeris Theme was overseen by my personal fiddler specialist, James Ediger. When I first heard his demo tape, I got a shock. He wasn't just playing the guitar and the fiddle in one take and adding in the vocal. I expect jumbled noise when infused with those phrases, but it turns out it was the sound of tuning instruments. It's my first time seeing someone using live performance as a demo tape. Tomorrow will be the actual recording of the Aeris Theme. I can't wait to do it; that song has such a deep hidden meaning to it.
About your extension stay, deepest sympathies from me.
Hey, Nobiyo, you're gradually trying to mail me almost daily. I've said what I wanted to say, and there isn't any need for you to reply that often.
Looks like you are having fun with work on the Aeris Theme. Great move for the new arrangement! And Rikki is gonna sing it! (simulating it now in my mind)...Ooooo...applause!!)
Well, I've decided to do SOMETHING during my extension. I was at the bookstore today and bought a English Language Guide for Foreigners. I took a quick glance through it and realized that the instructions and explanation were written in English! I found it hard to read further...that's OK, I have lotsa time....
P.S.: Regarding your photograph featured in TIME magazine....well...your face looked weird...
Translation by Etoh
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