Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack Liner Notes
Masashi Hamauzu - Composer
Of course, I returned to "dreaming big".
People first became aware of the concept of a game music creator in the middle of the 80s. I am likely a part of the very first generation to have aspired to becoming that kind of composer. As a fan who was absorbed by the popular Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series from their inceptions, I dreamed that "I'll join the companies that make such great games, and become a music director." When I was young, I bought the games' soundtracks, and spent my days analyzing them and replicating them on piano. Even after I entered college to study voice, I spent much more of my time pouring my heart into making digital music. Although I sometimes lost my confidence, whenever I began to write a piece, I would forget all of that. I began every piece by thinking of what I would like to hear. This kind of music for that kind of scene, using this or that kind of new approach... these kind of thoughts came to mind. But no one can write music just like that. Only at those times was I able to relax my rigid methods and improve my still immature craft... I think I kept returning to that.
My ideas kept on getting larger. For example, "For a great RPG, I want to use a large orchestra. And I want players to think that despite how long it takes to play, they wouldn't tire of it, and it wouldn't stop being consistent." That's all I thought about. And after all of the times I had set my goals too high and got burned for it, Final Fantasy XIII came into existence.
This time I feel that the entire game was handled very well. Various kinds and genres of music were recorded so that the player wouldn't tire of it, motives were used throughout the music so that it would remain consistent, things were planned and arranged to match the scenario's depth... So even developing the ideal project I had always thought about, I was able to able to pay attention to the details and employ various strategies. For example, I created "Vanille's Theme" to match a sad scene, but when the character and her scenes were revealed, I found that the sad piece didn't complement her any more, and an earnest and bright piece to fit the character's mindset popped into my mind. I worked by that kind of method. For the battle theme "Glint of Light", I thought long and hard about what I wanted to hear in a great RPG battle theme. I want a memorable melody, but one that wasn't too straightforward. Got it! I'll repeat the melody, and keeping the melodic pattern simple, I'll change the accents and the supporting chords. If I do that, then even the violent development will have to catch the ear, and then... (And it keeps going) And the result of that is as you can hear. As I was again able to write all of the music by myself, the project's overall direction was made more stable, I think.
But in order to form anything using such a method, it is necessary for the director who knows the game so well to also have a deep understanding of music. Although he had already surprised me back during the production of FFX, Toriyama-san's ability to direct and select music again surprised... or rather, shocked me, even. He would stop at a brief gap in a piece, taking the half-finished version as complete, and the tension in the scene would be heightened. Or in one-way field screens where battles are unavoidable, he would suggest not using the battle theme, but just allowing the field music to continue, so that the player's mental state will be continuous, and so on and so forth. So I now know that even a game has a single center. The music in a game plays an extremely important role, so with that in mind I worked with Toriyama-san to contribute whatever I could to FFXIII.
So, although I created FFXIII by pursuing my ideal, in the end one cannot "shape" such things alone. That I am blessed with such a staff goes without saying. But I was surprised by how strongly I was inspired by the scenario, images, and gameplay elements that everyone created. Everyone on the staff, with their own big dreams, contributed to FFXIII, in turn stimulating each other, and extremely quickly raised the game's quality. I was again convinced that of course, one's ideals and dreams have to be big. It could be that this is all laughably unrealistic, and that I might fall over the edge, but it was in just that way that I was able to realize so much of the music on this soundtrack. I am grateful that I was able to have such wonderful experiences. I will continue to hold my large ideals. I believe that sincerely. Thank you very much.
Motomu Toriyama - Director
Melodies of Gentle Time and Fine Atmosphere
The overarching concept of Final Fantasy XIII was "a future world fantasy" and "people fighting against fate". In development, our guiding themes were to create a future fantasy world that fully expresses our intentions down to the smallest details using the power of a vibrant high definition game console, and to create moving characters from their broad physical motions to the fine movements of their hearts. Over the course of three years, with an abnormally large staff, we were able to create the world of Final Fantasy XIII.
The one who breathed the final life into this new world was Hamauzu-san with his music. From the drama scenes enacted by the characters, to the streets of futuristic cities and the magnificent natural scenery, to the battles in which stunning effects fly left and right, he created piles of music to match each scene. And connecting all of these things, the time and space that tied them together, were his resounding melodies.
"Glint of Light," Lightning's theme music, was completed for the initial Final Fantasy XIII promotional video shown at 2006's E3. By that time, Hamauzu's specialty of combining elegant orchestral performance with digital rock was already decided upon. It provided a stronger foundation for the cool and strong woman Lightning and this world fusing futuristic and fantasy elements.
And then there was the title music, "Serah's Theme". This quiet melody that serves as the prologue to the grand story conveys Final Fantasy XIII's shade — the transparent, holy light of the crystal — in a fresh way.
For this project, I selected all of the music used in the game, and arranged timings and such down to the smallest details. Although my memories of all of the pieces are deep, in particular, the combination of music and story development in the scene in Palum Porum where the drama between Snow and Hope reaches its climax matched the characters' emotions deeply and perfectly, creating the finest in human drama. I like all of the main characters' themes, but Vanille's gently weeping theme is particularly dear to me, and so that I would be able to say "That's it!", I was overprotective of its development.
And then, there was the piece that played over the story's sad ending, "World Without Color". And there was the piece that played with the climactic final battle. Although it's the longest final scene of any game in the Final Fantasy series, we decided on its length because the music that we had was truly called "miraculous". I wish that in the form of this soundtrack, Final Fantasy XIII and its many pieces will resonate within everyone's hearts and create "miracles" there.
Yoshinori Kitase - Producer
Six years ago, I began from the feeling that "If we're going to be using orchestral music, maybe we should ask Hamauzu."
Actually, I've been in contact with Hamauzu since the time of FFX, but at that time, he was only one member of a multi-member composition team. The first time I worked with him as a solo composer was with Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, and at that time we were about to begin production on Final Fantasy XIII. We hadn't decided on a composer for the game yet, and I suddenly thought that a grand orchestra would be the best way to match the Final Fantasy series's scale. And thus, six years ago, I said that opening line.
These thoughts and feelings came suddenly, and Hamauzu first had to complete his work on Dirge of Cerberus. But I believe that it was around that time that I decided on the composer for Final Fantasy XIII.
After Dirge of Cerberus, I got the chance to work with him again on Sigma Harmonics, and even though it's very difficult to fit an "orchestra" into the hardware of a portable game system, I let him run wild as much as he liked within that hardware's constraints. The scale felt so large that during the final boss fight, I forgot that it was on a portable game system. I was reassured once again that my initial feelings were correct.
And then came Final Fantasy XIII. By the time you're reading these worthless paragraphs, you've all probably listened to this soundtrack several times and cleared the game, so there's no need for any trite explanations, is there? How was it? Even though I've fought the final boss (several times), the overwhelming scale of the orchestra makes me tremble, and I know, without any doubt, that my feeling six years ago was absolutely correct.
Liner Notes Translated by Ben Schweitzer. Do not republish without written permission.