14 May 2008

MAESTRO: Nobuo Uematsu

Nobuo Uematsu, one of the best known video games music composer to date. He's been composing soundtracks for video games since the late 80's, and still actively composing songs for future games. He best known works to date, is the Final Fantasy series. Nobuo is a highly versatile composer, his musical styles ranged from classical orchestral to metallic rock.

Nobuo Uematsu is not unfamiliar to gamers around, especially those who played Final Fantasy series before, one of the most successful role-playing-game series in the history of video game.

He has been composing the songs for Square Enix since the first Final Fantasy I and he's been credited for composing the latest Final Fantasy XIII theme song, which the game is yet to be released.

As of Nobuo's style, I shall start things off with this intro scene from Final Fantasy VIII, with the signature theme "Liberi Fatali". It is a strong orchestral piece, featuring some of the initial characters from the game. You'll get to know howy Squall and Seifer got the scar on their respective face here. And yea, eventually you'll get to see the male and female protagonists making up the logo for Final Fantasy VIII.  :)


Now here's another scene from Final Fantasy VIII which I really like, the scene where Squall first met Rinoa. Hahah, look at Squall's reaction, dancing noob lol. The song is "Waltz For The Moon", as the name suggest, a waltz, a dancing theme. Definitely one of the most memorable cutscene in the game.  :)


Sometimes I think the orchestral version of the songs is better than the original composition heard in the game itself. I take this song, "The Oath" as an example. In the game it's played on a synthesizer, which produces artificial sound effects. The version here, is one of the songs I first noticed how great an orchestra can perform.


"Fisherman's Horizon" is another great song from Final Fantasy VIII. like "The Oath" from above, this is the orchestral version. I like both the in-game version and this orchestral one. A song which I like to listen when I wanna relax abit, ease off my mind.  :)


"Eyes On Me", the main theme of Final Fantasy VIII. The song is sang by Faye Wong, and of course it's Nobuo's composition. Another great song, I leave it for you to judge it.  :)


"To Zanarkand" is one of the few pieces from Final Fantasy X which I really like. I do not play the game but I do feel a strong emotion poured in this song. It's a soft piano piece, and in this version it is accompanied by a full swing orchestra, which enhance the song greatly.


Before Final Fantasy VII, the game is played on older generation game console like the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), which is a 16-bit system (as oppose to the current 32-bit PC, and 64-bit PS3 & XBox 360). The SNES's hardware capability is limited, but that doesn't prevent Nobuo from composing great pieces as well.

Here's one of the example, the theme song for the Figaro brothers named "Edgar and Sabin" from Final Fantasy VI. No fancy scene here, just the song itself. One of my favourite theme from the game.


Few years ago, Square Enix released a computer-graphic movie based on Final Fantasy VII, named "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children". Nobuo Uematsu himself recompose some of his earlier songs from the original game to suit the movie scene. The result, overwhelming response from fans and the soundtrack receives positive feedbacks from reviews and sale performance.

This battle scene between Tifa and Loz, is one of the best fighting scene from the movie. It features a great piano solo, "Those Who Fight" as the fighting theme. Some people commented they thought this song is played by 2 pianos, but the fact is it's actually performed on a single piano. Noticed near the end part, Loz's mobile ringtone, that's winning theme for Final Fantasy games.  :)


Here goes the battle scene from "Advent Children", the grand finale for the movie featuring Cloud VS Sephiroth. The background music "One-Winged Angel", is one of the best track Nobuo Uematsu ever composed. It is a distinctive song as once you heard this song you'll immediately link it to Final Fantasy VII's final boss fight with Sephiroth. In this version, there's a heavy influence of metal rock and a blend of orchestral in it, which I think is a good combination, given that I'm not a fan of rock music. And not to mention, the graphic in the scene is superb!


Personally I played Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VIII and some other titles on GameBoy Advance. One thing Final Fantasy series is so popular is because the music used in the game. Nobuo Uematsu's role in the success of the series is undeniable. Nobuo is comparable the "John Williams" in the video game industry.

I dare to say that he's the greatest composer for video games to date. Until now there's no other composer could achieve his feat.

If you're interested, you can catch up his interview on these links: Part 1 & Part 2. It's English-dubbed.


Phew! I think I'm done with Japanese for now. The next Maestro I'll be talking is about is a German, Hans Zimmer.

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