Editorials/Opinion Pieces · Uncategorized · Video Games

A Musical Moment: The Extreme from Final Fantasy VIII

With the hype for Final Fantasy Dissidia NT growing the past few months, and this being Final Fantasy’s 30th anniversary, I’ve been in a major Final Fantasy nostalgia mood this year.  My favorite game is VI, but there are a few games I just never quite got into, or always thought were lacking and forgot about them over the years.  After watching some Dissidia and Dissida 2 footage, it’s changed my opinion of some characters, and therefore, made me look more into the games they originated from.

 

One of these characters was Squall.  Never liked him as a character, because he was “emo” and just so uncaring to me, with a one-dimensional character.  Seeing him voiced, and actually quite entertaining even though he is a loner and prefers to be alone, honestly reminded me of myself in ways I didn’t identify with younger.  To me, Squall is a character who doesn’t mind being alone, but at the same time always wants a connection with people that he longs for, and because of his reclusive nature can never 100 percent reach.  It’s really fascinating to watch, and his voice actor isn’t bad either!

 

I love all Final Fantasy music, and love a lot of tracks from FFVIII.  Man with the Machine Gun, Fisherman’s Horizon, the world map theme.  All really iconic tracks, along with the battle and boss themes.  I remembered the final boss theme being really good, but totally forgot how awesome it was until I heard it in game footage of Squall vs. Ultemesia gameplay, and dang!

 

 

I can’t get over how amazing this piece of music is.  Nabuo Uematsu never disappoints, and with this track, there is no acception.  I can’t get over how much different this is from other final battle entries in the series:  the two games before this, Final Fantasy VI and VII definitely are more character showcase pieces than something like this.  Dancing Mad (Final Fantasy VI_ is setup more like an overture/opera, and the music is so synonymous with that fight, and Kefka, that it’s hard to think of anything more than climbing up the distorted  statues, and destroying the man who believed himself to be a god.  One Winged Angel is iconic for being the first battle music with a choir, but once again, it’s 100 percent connected to Sephiroth (they say his name repeatedly in the chorus, after all) and there’s no possible way I could ever hear One-Winged Angel without thinking of Sephiroth, and FF7.
The Extreme however, is a completely different experience.  It starts out  haunting, eerie, desolate. It feels like there’s no hope left, and that there are such higher stakes at hand if you lose this battle.  After that section ends, the battle music starts, and gets your heart pumping.  It truly feels like you’re fighting for your life, that if you fail here you’re failing the world, and overall the entire listening experience is both a combination of “We have to do this/can we do this?” determined courage, fear, tension, all culminate in this track to make it a truly emotional experience, and I’m sad I totally forgot about this track until recently! I absolutely love the use of minor chords in the main melody to sound like the section should be resolving, but at the same time leaves that air of tension and dread abound.  This is some of Uematsu’s best meldoy work hands down, and the way this track just crawls further and further up until it crescendos back to the beginning of the battle section is so perfect to me.

 

Final Fantasy VIII is one of those games that is overlooked hardcore.  It was between VI, VII, and IX, and all of those are such beloved games that VIII just falls through the cracks because it tried something new with it’s characters, gameplay, and storytelling.  I used to be that way, but revisitng the game has really made me appreciate Final Fantasy VIII for what it is:  A tale about inner discovery, with a scifi plot that may not seem like it makes sense on the surface, but is a really interesting and dynamic take on a time travel themed story.  Plus, the villan  is truly terrifying, and I think the first time we get a full on demonically supernatural creature to face.
That’s why The Extreme is such a fitting final battle piece.  It feels like we’re facing insurmountable odds, because we are:  We’re facing a witch who wants to completely reshape time for her own whims and domination, and facing her needed to have a track that really sounded like we were fighting for our lives.  The Extreme does that excellently, and is by far one of my new favorite final battle songs from the Final Fantasy series.

I hope you enjoyed this musical moment, that also turned into a mini discussion about Final Fantasy VIII!  I’d love to know: What’s you’re favorite game in the series, and favorite final battle song?

Editorials/Opinion Pieces · Video Games

A Musical Moment: Build a Little World With me – Rakuen

I recently watched a Let’s Play of Rakuen – the new game released by my favorite indi composer, Laura Shigihara, andI can’t explain with words hwo beautiful this game is.  It has an amazing story, beautiful writing, lovely music, and it was all done by Laura over the timespan of four years, and it seriously is inspiring me to try and tell stories through video games because this title just touched me in a way that not many other titles have done in recent years, aside from probably Nier Automata.  So if you haven’t experienced this game, via watching it or playing it, I suggest you do!  Just get your box of tissues ready, you’re gonna need them.

 

Laura Shigihara is my favorite indi composer for a few reasons, one of them being how simplistic yet dynamic her works are.  She crafts such simple melodies’, using simple chords throughout that all merge and form such interesting, moving, and memorable pieces.  Her composing style is one I’m working towards every day, because it’s the one I find my style most compadable with and listening to her music is just so inspring – and, she does this in multiple music styles as well!  She’s amazing~

 

Now that my fangirling is out of the way, todays musical moment is from Rakuen.  It’s called Build a Little World with Me, and you can listen below!

 

 

I listened to this song before and after watching the game, and I have to say it has a lot more of an impact when you know it’s context.  I enjoyed it both times, but listening to it after knowing the subject matter nearly brings me to tears every time.  The simple melodic structure, combined with how the piano chords mesh with Shigihara’s vocals is so breath taking.  When she does those “Ooo” and “Ah” harmonies, it just adds sucha  gorgeous textural layer to the piece and I can’t stop listening to it on repeat.  Those lyrics too, just so sweet!  My favorites have to be these:

 

If you stay right by my side,

And make it through the night,

Then we’ll never have to feel alone again.

So before it’s time to leave, would you build a little world with me?

 

Those lines in particular are the ones that choke me up without fail XD
The entire soundtrack of Rakuen is lovely, but if I had to pick a favorite track from the game, it would definitely be this one.

 

 

Have you played Rakuen yet? Heard the music?  Would love to hear your thoughts below!  Thank you for joining me in another musical moment~

Cartoons

A Musical Moment: Here Comes a Thought – Steven Universe

There’s so much good music in Steven Universe, that it was hard to pick a track from it.  I’ll probably spotlight some more tracks from here, but I really wanted to avoid any spoilertastic songs in case you are reading, and haven’t seen the episode.  So no spotlight of Stronger Than You even though it’s an awesome song, sorry~

 

 

 

Here Comes a Thought is very self-contained, and it’s message is so beautiful.  It’s the perfect anthem for anyone who suffers from anxiety and depression, and I constantly sing it whenever I’m feeling overly stressed and apathetic.  The word play in it is so clever also! Just this section alone portrays the struggle anyone with anxiety has.  Just this simple phrase means so much:
“It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok” the amount that that’s said has so many meanings.  The first “It’s OK” – calming yourself down, telling your mind to shut off.  The next two, calming you down further.  The final section you slowly believing the words you’re saying, and that whatever internal crisis you’re going through actually will be ok.  The melodic structure of that section too, how it starts higher then descends down the scale – as if it’s you coming down from yore anxiety attack, it just speaks volumes.
Another section I love that I’d like to highlight is this one:

 

“You’ve got nothing, got nothing, got nothing, got nothing to fear.

I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.”

 

Those three “I’m here’s” all have different meanings as well.  But before that, you have to tell yourself not to be afraid of what’s happening to you, that what you’re going through is normal and ok.  That not only are your friends and family here to support and protect you, but “I’m here” literally – I’m here, I’m not lost in my head worrying.  I’m here, and I’m grounded, and I’m going to get through this because I’m also here to live my life and these thoughts aren’t going to stop me from doing that.  Or, as the final section of the song says:

 

“And it was just a thought, just a thought just a thought, just a thought, just a thought.

It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.

We can watch, we can watch, we can watch, we can watch them go by.

From here, from here, from here.”

 

I love this song.  In my eyes, it’s perfection.

 

Editorials/Opinion Pieces

A Musical Moment: Searching for Friends from Final Fantasy VI

Welcome to the first post of my new blog feature, A Musical Moment!  I’ll be talking about tracks or albums of music that I love from video games, anime, and other nerdy media I watch and going in depth about why I love them so much.  For my first feature, I wanted to do a track from my favorite RPG of all time:  Final Fantasy VI!
This particular track is from the 3rd disc of the soundtrack, which I find to be the most neglected disc from the OST.  I find all of the World of Ruin music to be amazing, but this piece in particular from that section of the game is one I adore.

 

Picture this:  You’re in a baron wasteland of a world, and barely realized that at least a few of your friends are alive.  But you still have to stop the mad man who sent the world into chaos.  To do so, you need an airship to get to the big bad’s airborn tower, which, the only airship was destroyed when the world was.  But, hurray!  You find out your airship pilot was hiding a second pair of wings (attached to a tragic backstory, because of course) and had to go to an underground crypt to get the new airship.

 

Cut to outside.  The baron wasteland is still prominent, but amongst the murky waters of the ocean, you see a cresting wave.  It’s your airship bursting out of the water, taking its first flight, and the first few chords of this play:

 

 

 

I LOVE THIS THEME!  It captures all the hope your party is feeling in that moment.  There are still some unsure, melancholy chords in it, but the main melody soars it the absolute joy that is realizing it’s alright to hope again. And, as a bonus, this is your new world map theme!  What impresses me about this song is it’s chord structure, as well.  I’ve been transcribing different Nobuo Uematsu tracks on piano, partially to learn piano and particularly because I was curious.  Most, if not all of his melodies, are all done entirely in one scale!  Searching for Friends has 2 sharp notes in its melody structure, but the rest are white keys.  It never strays out of the scale it starts in, and that always amazes me.  It’s fantastic how many melodies you can make with only one octave  at your disposal, and even when Uematsu-sensei goes outside of the octave in other tracks, it’s still just transposed notes.  It’s something I’ve been mirroring in my compositions, because if you’re going to learn how to make music, why not learn from one of the greats?

 

When I think of all that Final Fantasy VI captures for me, I think of this song.  Simply a gorgeous piece of music, wonderfully written.

 

And that was my first musical moment!  Hope you enjoyed it.  What’s your favorite track from Final Fantasy VI?  Let me know in the comments below!