Daryl's Library - Final Fantasy CDs

Final Fantasy XIII
Original Sound Selection
Liner notes

Masashi Hamauzu, composer

These liner notes were included in the promotional FF13 Original Sound Selection CD. The comments by Hamauzu were originally posted in Japanese on Square Enix's official site for the soundtrack. All text has been taken directly, word for word, from the liner notes without any editing for typos, grammar or punctuation, except for adding periods to the word "Mr." and putting commas inside quotation marks. This has been checked several times for accuracy, so any typos you see were in the actual text. Because this CD was given out in European versions of the game, many of the words are the UK spellings.

For this piece, I had a marching tempo demo version, but it sounded too cheerful and it was rejected (the only piece rejected for this project), as the team wanted to renew the image of FF and I was yet to grasp the game's outlook. 10 months passed and we were at almost the end of development...it was then that I remembered another slow tempo version that I had previously written and I thought it would be the perfect match. So, I made a quick adjustment without touching the chord and sub-melodies, and it was perfect! I suppose my initial inspiration wasn't too off (laugh). Afterward, I hurried and arranged another piece which is now played in key scenes.

Just like "Prelude," I was feeling my way around as I wrote this piece since the world of FF was yet to be revealed. I had about four demos and by incorporating ideas from Mr. Toriyama (the Director), I made one arrangement to another to form the piece. So I feel that Mr. Toriyama and I wrote this together. At the end, we asked Mr. Toshiyuki Omori to turn it into orchestrated piece by adding harp to the intro piano part and also changing the outro sound from synthesizer to strings. He actually said that the synthesizer wasn't bad at all, but it was the first one to be played in the demo version and I insisted on the live instruments.

3. Defiers of Fate
This is derived from the earlier version of "Blinded By Light," which was the first FF13 piece I wrote for E3 back in 2006. The original plan was to create a B-melody by evolving the E3 "Blinded By Light," but I ended up not adding anything, because I didn't think it was ideal for battle music to take a long time to get to the climax. But I had this B-melody stuck in my head and wanted to use it somewhere...so part of it is incorporated in this piece.

4. Saber's Edge
I laid a live orchestra over a programmed orchestral piece that was almost completed. I've used quite a bit of this "lay-over" technique for this project, but because this style is rarely done, it wasn't easy for us to reach the recording stage. Some of the percussion was programmed, but for majority of the instruments I had an arranger who would orchestrate them or adjust the scoring. By mixing the expressive live sound and the large scale programmed orchestral sound, I could match the grand world of FF. When I was making demos, people often said that the programmed elements were good enough because I made them in great detail. In hindsight, I think the combination of live and programmed sounds worked quite well.

5. The Hanging Edge
It's the piece we played live at a game event in 2008. As I was given the direction to use "hybrid music" for FF13, "Blinded By Light" was a consolidated piece of violin solo, guitar and orchestra (and more), while this one is based on strings, piano and synthesiser. For a hybrid piece, it seems like the live feel of it is too overwhelming given the arrangement and number of the tracks. However, by adding a minimal mood, it comes closer to the synthesiser side, which I think creates a good balance For these minimal 8 minute string and 16 minute piano pieces, I kept the rough sound of the initial random play and developed from there. The delayed "whang!" of the piano sound just before the loop is used from time to time, which could almost give the impression of it "almost not being able to catch up with the tempo," but it's all intentional. This is my favourite part (laugh).

6. The Vestige
The backing chorus is actually a recording of my daughter Aya's voice. I had her sing for a demo, but I ended up using it. Since I was told that FF13 has various dark scenes especially in the beginning of the game, I wanted to create a mood of light tension here. By writing using conventional minor sounds, it would sound tacky and too heavy, so I deliberately tried to use chords which could sound neither major nor minor.

7. Promised Eternity
I recorded the MIDI sounds whilst I watched the relevant scene in the game being played out, so it was a real-time process. There were moments, as the piece was coming together and the movie was reaching its climax, that I was so moved I was almost trembling...(laugh). At 0:57, I intentionally set the chord like that. That's the kind of thing I like...

8. Lake Bresha
This track is using all programmed sounds except the violin solo. By adding just one acoustic violin, it reduces the "wow factor" significantly. I really enjoy work like this. It was originally a 90 second piece, but just before the recording, I thought the loop was too fast for a field track, so I quickly wrote the development part.

9. Eidolons
All summoned creatures in FF13 are cool which made me really excited creating a tune for them! I originally thought to mix orchestra, guitar and drums in one piece and then cut out any unnecessary parts, however it turned out to be quite interesting and well-balanced, so I decided to use it as is. I especially like the "pounded out string" sound which looks like it's ignoring the basic tune when it comes back to the introduction. Mr. Saito finally added some acoustic guitar, then it was completed. We have many ace guitarists in the SQUARE ENIX Sound Division!

10. Blinded By Light
This tune is the first piece, created for E3 in 2006 when we revealed FF13. I remember that I worked hard on this piece in order not to let people down. I tried to create something which can deliver the sense of the game and have a catchy melody without being too straightforward...then finally, ensure to repeat the highlight part of the music.

The main melody and chords came to mind almost instantly, but I rearranged it many times. Originally the main melody phrase was 4x 4 bars, but it seemed too repetitive even for chords and backing, so I decided to have 3x 4 bars in order to add some things. On top of this, I asked Mr. Yamazaki to add a taste of rock music to it, and I don't think we could add such a sense of speed without him...I am so proud of my best buddy! I rearranged it so many times after that, but I could still not create something definite. When I brought a tune burnt on CD back home, my little daughter came to me saying "you should add a flute sound to it," thinking there were high tones missing in the tune that I created. Since then, I added a soft violin tone with an octave high to it and then it sounded like it worked perfectly. Also, I was originally considering adding a B-melody for further development to it, but thinking that gamers play hundreds and thousands of battles, I came to the decision it would be simpler to go straight into the climatic part. After all these twists and turns "Blinded By Light" was born.

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Last revised July 05, 2010