Piano Collections Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII, Piano Collections. Передняя обложка. Click to zoom.
Final Fantasy VII, Piano Collections
Передняя обложка
Composed by Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi
Published by Square Enix
Catalog number SQEX-10020
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 1 CD - 13 Tracks
Release date May 10, 2004
Duration 00:47:30
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When Square skipped over a Piano Collections project for Final Fantasy VII, fans were confused and saddened. After all, the Piano Collections arrangements were always magnificent, and Final Fantasy VII is (arguably) the most beloved title in the series. However, after more than seven years since its original release, Final Fantasy VII was finally granted a Piano Collections. Not saying that this is a bad album, I felt that it could have been better. But, I can blame all that on anticipation.

1) Tifa's Theme

This track, which is less difficult to play than others, doesn't quite match up to other gems such as "Fighting" and "Gold Saucer" in terms of excitement and conspicuousness. But then again, "Tifa's Theme" isn't supposed to — this arranged version is a sweet, relaxing piano arrangement that fulfils its purpose excellently: to provide the listener with a soft, relaxing image. The more advanced pianist will find "Tifa's Theme" easy to master, as it is quite a simplistic arrangement.

2) Final Fantasy VII Main Theme

I was thrilled to discover this track on the tracklist for the Piano Collections. Certain that I would be blessed with an emotional arrangement, much like the original, I listened to its contents eagerly, and was left somewhat insatiable. While Final Fantasy VII Main Theme" on the Piano Collections is nearly note-by-note to its original, it lacks the emotional vibe that it featured in the game. "Final Fantasy VII Main Theme"'s primary fault is that it is a track that has been arranged one too many times. It would, of course, prove to be difficult to match up to such brilliant arrangements as the "Reunion Tracks." All in all, I am dismayed by this arrangement.

3) Cinco de Chocobo

Inwardly I groaned when I listened to this track. Another Chocobo arrangement? Sure, the bright yellow birds are as lovable as can be, but the overused theme really bores me. "Cinco de Chocobo" is just a simple, quick, upbeat piano arrangement, created most likely for the sense of nostalgia. Though it is arranged and performed nicely, you'll soon find yourself passing over this track, if not because there are better tracks on the CD, but rather due to the fact that we have heard it too many times before.

4) Ahead on Our Way

Like "Tifa's Theme," "Ahead on Our Way" is another relaxing, sweet tune. "Ahead on Our Way" stays true to the melody of the original, but it is pleasantly arranged with lovely harmonies. While "Ahead on Our Way" falls short to "Frontier Village Dali," it outstrips "Kids Run Through the City Corner," another enjoyable Piano Collections track. City themes' nostalgic feel never fail on the piano, so it's a good thing that this quiet little gem of an arrangement made it to the album.

5) Fighting

"Fighting" was my least favorite battle track in Final Fantasy VII, and one of my least favorites in the series, therefore I was skeptic about the arrangement of it for the album. Nonetheless, not only is "Fighting" full of emotion and excellent use of dynamics, but it really gives you an accurate sense of place, too. Needless to say, "Fighting" is brilliant. Advanced pianists will discover that this is one piece that'll take time to master.

6) Cosmo Canyon

The original "Cosmo Canyon" was slightly unpleasing, and not exactly first class stuff, yet I was pleasantly pleased with this arranged version. It is invigorating, heartfelt, and it captures the tribal essence of Cosmo Canyon perfectly. The harmony is excellent, deviating quite largely from the original's bass and drum harmonies. In retrospect, "Cosmo Canyon" is probably the best arranged track on the album, although I still can't bring myself to list the original amongst my favorites.

7) Gold Saucer

This is a delightful arrangement! Cute and bouncy, "Gold Saucer" is a nice change from the slower, more harmonic arrangements of the album. The excellent blend of staccato notes and pedal suspensions certainly convey the atmosphere of the Gold Saucer well. This is not one of the harder pieces to play, but "Gold Saucer" will delight any pianist who holds a love for simple tracks.

8) Farm Boy

"Farm Boy," a sleepy track both originally and arranged, falls short on the CD for several reasons. Firstly, it follows up after quite an onslaught of slower, more relaxing and enjoyable smooth tracks such as "Tifa's Theme," "Final Fantasy VII Main Theme," and "Ahead on Our Way." Secondly, it is the track that stays closest to its original in terms of harmony. "Farm Boy" wasn't one of the more popular tracks in the game, and could have easily been replaced by several other great tracks. It lacks in flamboyance and flair and spends much of its time reveling in its sleepy melody. But if you're looking for an easy-to-master, lazy piece, then this one is the one for you. (6/10)

9) Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony

I, for one, loved Rufus and the Turks, so I was pleased to see an arrangement of this track on the album. An excellently arranged march, "Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony," like the "Gold Saucer," is easy on the ears because it deviates away from the popular soft arrangements that have graced this track. The harmony is played in the lower octaves, and the melody is quite loud, thus making this arrangement a powerful, loud, and impressive one.

10) J-E-N-O-V-A

This is an excellent fight theme from the game, and this arrangement upholds the elements which made the fights against Jenova so fitting. The mysteriousness, uncertainty of the Jenova entity, the alien attacks, and the ethereal power, are all kept. This track upholds all of the aforementioned emotions in its ability to convey a desperate, alien, and enigmatic feel. The track is short, but it fulfils much with its arpeggios and runs and powerful chords.

11) Aerith's Theme

Although "Aerith's Theme" is nearly unmatched in popularity, I found that I was never in love with the track. Though the piece can be performed in a very emotional and heartfelt way, the arrangement of the track fails to uphold the melancholy and heart-wrenching emotion that the original gave us. Much like "Final Fantasy VII Main Theme," the disappointment might come from the fact that "Aerith's Theme" has been arranged so many times that the track begins to lose its majesty. Perhaps Hamaguchi's goal in the two tracks was simply to reinforce, by means of piano, the beauty of the original track without adding the great arranged harmonies that exist within other Piano Collections tracks.

12) One Winged Angel

Don't let the overly slow and boring beginning disappoint you, as while the andante tempo of this version takes away the oppressiveness and omnipotence from the original, it still manages to convey the utter perfection of the score in itself. Though the arrangement never becomes faster, the excellent use of dynamics and accents, and the brilliant runs at the end will certainly add to the godlike element which Sephiroth brings. While the blood-pumping ability of battle arrangements such as "Fighting" is lacking in "One Winged Angel," this is a good enough attempt, which really suits the album well.

13) Descendent of Shinobi

Yuffie's theme was largely ignored in the game because of the success of Tifa's and primarily "Aerith's Theme," but if you listen to anything on this album, make it this track. This quiet, inconspicuous gem of a piano score is brilliant in its lighthearted melody and cute harmony. Yuffie really comes to life in this golden little treasure of a track, a track that manages to convey her quirky personality with her kind-of cute disposition.


Unlike the Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collections or the Final Fantasy IX Piano Collections, the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections album doesn't feature many tracks that are better than on the Original Soundtrack. It's perhaps Hamaguchi's inability to experiment further that brings the album down somewhat. After six years of waiting for this CD, disappointment will unfortunately be unavoidable when listening to the album. However, it's funny to note that the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections album tracks which were less popular in the game, are actually better in the Piano Collections album than the tracks which were supposedly more popular in the game. The album has some rather disappointing arrangements, but then there are those brilliant arrangements that seem to make it all okay.


Music in game




Probably the most anticipated of all arranged albums has finally hit our CD players in the form of the Piano Collections to accompany the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack. By now, we have become accustomed to the Piano Collections, with there being one for every game since Final Fantasy IV. However, one was never released for Final Fantasy VII until now. Six years on though, Square have finally produced the arranged album that we all wanted to see, and this review should cover the ins and outs of the album that is the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections.


The first thing you hear when you play the CD is a nice arpeggiated chord scheme, which turns out to be the introduction to "Tifa's Theme." The piano really brings out the strength of the melody and expresses Tifa's character much better than the original version of the theme. This is a perfect example of how a piano arrangement should sound, with it taking the original piece and making it better for our listening pleasure. On the whole, this is done very well throughout the CD. The "F.F.VII Main Theme" turns out to be everything you expect it to be. Simple, smooth, and with more mystery than ever surrounding it. When the third track appears though, things start to take a turn for the worse. "Cinco de Chocobo" seems to lose its original rhythm for this arrangement and adopts a more rigid one, which seems to ruin the theme. This is one aspect of the original that shouldn't have been changed and it was. Apart from that though, the piece is a good arrangement.

Overall, the CD is a very emotional experience, but the slower pieces generally sound better when converted over to the piano. This isn't to say that the battle music conversions are bad; they just aren't really that good in some places. This is probably because the piano is a very emotional solo instrument and when you're trying to arrange a piece that has no flowing melody onto it, the essence of the original version isn't quite captured as well. This is most evident in "One Winged Angel," where the piece just seems too simple. There are too many instruments for the piano to cover and this ends up with accompanying parts of the song being missed out. This is largely the same for the other battle music featured on the CD "Fighting" and "J-E-N-O-V-A," but "Fighting" seems to come out better than the others, since it seems to have a more stable harmonic structure in the piece overall.

Some hidden gems are "Farm Boy," "Ahead on our Way," and "Descendant of Shinobi." The arrangements of these were better than expected and I urge you to listen to them if you get the chance. They are slow tempo pieces, which keep the melody as the main focus. This makes them clear cut winners when converted over to piano and I thoroughly enjoy listening to them. I would also like to mention "Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony" and "Gold Saucer." They are both arranged in different styles, with "Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony" being a straight conversion and "Gold Saucer" being a more deceptive arrangement.

"Aerith's Theme" is probably one of the most talked about themes from any of the Final Fantasy games. It has a certain innocence to it that just draws people in and this is amplified greatly for this piano arrangement. The simplicity of the piece is where its beauty lies and if you see it for that, then it is nothing short of a masterpiece. The Original Soundtrack made it a hit and the piano only makes it better, which in my view makes it the best theme on the CD. The "F.F.VII Main Theme" does come in a close second though for the same reasons that I have just stated.


In conclusion, the arranged album is very good. Some of it may well be questionable and the exclusion of some of the more "obvious" choices for piano arrangement will be debated for a long time, but I think the CD is well worth the money. This CD should certainly adorn any fans collection. On a closing note, I would like to congratulate Shiro Hamaguchi and Seiji Honda for their excellent work in producing this CD and of course the great Nobuo Uematsu for composing the original work which this CD was produced from.


Music in game


Jared Smith


The Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections was released long after the game to follow the trend set by piano albums before it. Shiro Hamaguchi was assigned to create piano versions of some of Final Fantasy VII's best themes, including "Tifa's Theme", "F.F.VII Main Theme", "J-E-N-O-V-A", "One Winged Angel", and more. Is the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections a masterpiece, or has Hamaguchi created a horrible flop? You might be surprised at the turnout.


The first track is the very popular "Tifa's Theme" and Hamaguchi creates a good rendition of it. It fits well with the original version, despite being a solo piano theme. Moving on, we go to another popular song, the "F.F.VII Main Theme." However not sounding like a normal world map theme that would be in Square-Enix's older games. it is still a good theme otherwise.

One of the most popular songs in the whole Final Fantasy series is the Chocobo theme. One of a few themes from the Original Soundtrack was "Cinco De Chocobo," noted by fans as the best from the game. This was hardly a favorite of mine, but it still get the job done. This version is has almost the exact sound from the game. However, I thought that this piano version was just a tad bit slower than the OST version, making it sound weird. The next track is "Ahead on Our Way," a theme that I never really liked much. The first part sounds boring — some notes sound a tad discordant. It's still a good theme, otherwise.

This next theme is probably my favorite of this CD, and is in my opinion, the best arranged. It's "Fighting," sometimes known as "Those Who Fight." This arrangement is very nicely done, and provides more than what the original gave. Definitely worth a listen. The next theme is "Cosmo Canyon." This version sounds different from the original, which is always a good thing. I think of this as another one of the highlights on this CD. Coming up next is "Gold Saucer." A very catchy and playful tune, this piano version is even longer than the OST version by about almost 40 seconds. You must also consider that the soundtrack version was looped. A like this area theme, although there is better out there.

"Farm Boy," to me was a boring piece, not worth a piano arrangement. It did, however, make it to this CD. This arrangement is slower than the original, making it more bland. This arrangement doesn't change my mind at all about the song. "Rufus' Welcome Ceremony," is a very good song, and being a trumpeteer myself, I was happy for it to carry the main theme. Hamaguchi does well with this and this should make trumpet players all around the world happy.

Ahh, "J-E-N-O-V-A," the theme that only has two good versions, the first being the Original Soundtrack version, and the second as this one. Shiro did the boss theme well on piano, and it, in my opinion, is even better than the original! What a surprise! Onward, we come to "Aerith's Theme." I only like the OST theme and the Reunion Tracks orchestrated one. This version, although good, isn't quite the best I think Hamagichi could do. After throwing out songs like "Fighting" and "Cosmo Canyon," you'd think he would do good on the popular themes on this CD.

So, we come to the final two themes. The ever-popular, "One Winged Angel," and Yuffie's theme, "Descendent of the Shinobi." Beginning with "One Winged Angel," the track starts off with it's normal part, but slower, and if my ears decieve me, which I don't think they do, Mr. Hamaguchi left out a little bit at the start. He even added notes before the choral part. After the vocals, it plays as it normally would, with a few added notes. It ends just like it normally would. Not as good as you may expect. Now, onto the final song, "Descendent of the Shinobi." Like some of the other songs on this CD, I wasn't a fan of this one. However, fans of character themes will really like this. 'Shinobi' has a good melody and Shiro does this really well.


Overall, I thought Shiro Hamaguchi did really well with this Piano Collections. I think, though, he could've done more to them and there could have been a better selection of tracks. Some themes were surprises to me as piano arrangements, such "Fighting" and "Cosmo Canyon," whereas others were let downs, like "One Winged Angel" and "Aerith's Theme." I liked this album, even though it had some problems with it.


Music in game


Chris McGuffin


The absence of the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections from the Final Fantasy series was a prominent one, since Piano Collections albums had been released for all the other games between Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy X. It left many fans, myself included, rather undernourished and eager to see Square Enix's forgotten vision eventually become reality like it deserved. Little could one imagine that nearly six years after the release of the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack this dream would come true. In December 2003, thanks to the upcoming release of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and Square Enix's failed attempts to save its record label DigiCube from bankruptcy, it did. It featured Shiro Hamaguchi's arrangements of 13 of the best tracks from the game performed by Seiji Honda. Fans all over the world triumphantly rejoiced at the news, but was the phenomenally long wait worth it?


Most arrangements on the album are straightforward piano renditions with no frills and little creativity. The main theme is a prime example; the melody is emphasised and barely changed, accompanied by very basic arpeggio-based harmonies that are occasionally engaging thanks to good choices in chord sequences, though mostly add to the impressive fludity of the piece. The result is very conservative arrangement that will enlighten some due to its melodic beauty and nostalgic qualities, yet bore others wanting more than a piano reduction. Similar treatment is given to the town theme, "Ahead on Our Way," an arrangement that may disappoint many. There is an attempt to intensify the piece in its latter half, but the transition lacks gradation and the secondary section feels forced; with Hamaguchian blue notes, various scales and arpeggios, and a greater emphasis on chordal textures, it's a generic and transparent attempt to create variation that also simply doesn't sound right. Also simple is "Tifa's Theme," a warm arpeggio-dominated introduction to the album, and the coda "Descendent of Shinobi," a very charming with its carefree jazz rhythms and whimsical melody, though feels very much like a bonus track. None of these arrangements have a single bit of substance to them, but are thankfully tolerable to most due to the strength of the melodies they explore and the way they feel fitting and relaxing on solo piano.

The biggest problem with the album is that it seems to have split personality disorder. The principle source of variety between the seven calm arrangements that dominate are battle theme arrangements; three in total, these are heavy texturally, structurally abrupt, and appear to be full-blown efforts to bomb the listener's ears with bombastic and dissonant piano music. Arguably the least pianistic additions to the album, they are dominated by parallelisms, amateur harmonies, frenetic transitions, and brutal dynamic levels. However, they're also surprising appealing: "Fighting" transitions surprisingly well to the piano and features pleasant lyrical interludes to contrast with the muddy but attention-grabbing sections; "J-E-N-O-V-A" is undeniably beautiful in places, but ultimately too underdeveloped and rushed; and the relatively "One Winged Angel" progressively gets better after its truly dismal introduction. Representations of both of the score's diametric personas have merits and failings, but collectively are all dubious due to the fact they never reunite. Gradation is completely missing throughout the album in both the arrangements and the emotionally stale performances. Furthermore, the extremities of the approaches taken soon makes the score, somewhat paradoxically, one-dimensional, limited, and predictable. The thematic focus on the album is at the sacrifice of musical integrity, diversity, and the establishment of a character to define it.

All this said, there are a few fully-fledged highlights on the album. "Cosmo Canyon" transfers the original's tribal drum beats for an oriental descant that lusciously and cross-rhythmically interacts with the pentatonic triplet-dominated melodies. The theme is further strengthened by the way the descant re-emerges as a basso ostinato in the latter half of the piece, allowing melodic colour to protrude from above. There are some excellent secondary sections and dynamic gradation, with typical Hamaguchian features fusing gorgeously with African rhythms and Eastern flavours, resulting in the best version of Uematsu's favourite Final Fantasy VII theme available and the only representation of a risk on the album. "Gold Saucer" is one of a handful of rare upbeat gems that contrast with the score's contrasting personas in a welcome but hardly conciliatory way. Its bouncy harmonies provide solid foundations for the jovial melodies to glide from and its defined performance, emphasised especially by some staccato sections, come across excellently against the muffled original. It's brief, amounting to 2:28 altogether, but is a satisfactory interlude on a sadly brief album. "Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony" is similar in character despite being a precise and militaristic march. Though a few sections feel a little empty, it's another fun arrangement that employs lyrical contrasts between each phrase and dynamic contrasts between each section. It's a favourite for pianists to play and one of the centrepieces of the album.

These are a few big flops on the disc. "Cinco de Chocobo" and "Farm Boy" were both odd choices to place on the disc, given neither were especially popular on the soundtrack. Their arrangements do nothing to make them appealing. "Cinco..." nicely emphasises the original piece's unique 5/4 metre, but is an amateurish attempt at jazz arrangement with jarring transitions, uninspired harmonies, and a deeply unpleasant performance of the initial section. It's another pseudo-interlude in the album, amounting to little over two minutes in length, but that doesn't make its presence redeemable. As for "Farm Boy", it's slowed down to a very dreary pace, features the main melody playing over and over again, and is arranged minimally, highlighting the musical shallowness that underlies many of Shiro Hamaguchi's adaptations.Probably the most shocking failure of all, however, is "Aerith's Theme," a fan's favourite that receives terrible treatment here. The arrangement is straightforward, akin to the Main Theme, though made worse by lumpy chords, ugly decoration, and yet more shoddy arpeggiations. It does not preserve the subtlety of the original theme, yet fails to enhance in other ways either. While Hamaguchi usually complements Uematsu's music, one cannot help but speculate what Hamauzian arrangements of such themes and discluded classics like "Anxious Heart", "Judgement Day", or "You Can Hear the Cry of the Planet" would have brought.


The Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections is a thoughtless arranged album that shines solely for the strength of the melodic material it utilises and a handful of good arrangements. The format of melody with arpeggiated accompaniment and a few dramatic or jazzy chord progressions grows old quickly and there is a significant regression in character and quality from the Final Fantasy IX Piano Collections. Only a few arrangements are especially bad, but there is little that defines the arranged album as a musical, emotional, or creative experience and the punishing lack of gradation ensures there is no coherency or overriding drama either. However, as the only true Final Fantasy VII arranged album available, it is probably still worth consideration from hardcore fans of the game's music. Indeed, its conservative approach was a safe one and might satisfy, though nothing remarkable should be expected beyond "Fighting", "Cosmo Canyon", and "Gold Saucer". It's a poor arranged album, certainly not the masterpiece it had the potential to be, but nonetheless a decent fan service.


Music in game


Chris Greening

Reprint of SSCX-10111
Album was composed by Nobuo Uematsu and was released on May 10, 2004. Soundtrack consists of tracks with duration over about 50 minutes. Album was released by Square Enix.

CD 1

Tifa's Theme
Final Fantasy VII Main Theme
Cinco de Chocobo
Ahead On Our Way
Those Who Fight
Valley of the Fallen Star
Gold Saucer
Farm Boy
Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony
Aerith's Theme
One-Winged Angel
Descendent of Shinobi
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