In terms of the evolution of music in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, when I started work on the project, I put together a video showing the whole progression of events in the game, from the opening through to the end, including all the battle scenes. When I did that, new music for REMAKE had not been written yet, so I took tracks from the original game’s soundtrack and put them over the scenes in the video. Putting this track on this scene, this one in that battle etc. I made this video showing the overall image I had for the game. It also outlined my ideas for the direction of the music as well. And I worked with that for a while, but our Co-Director Mr. Toriyama, who is overseeing the staging and dramatic direction re-thought our overall approach to the music We decided that using a traditional approach to the music would feel dated for modern players. So, it is based on my original video as a starting point, but the decision to change to a style where the music dynamically shifts to seamlessly fit with the action and direction of the story was made by our Co-Director, Mr. Toriyama. We received instructions about the kind of music they wanted and what kind of arrangement to have. And this allowed us to talk about what kind of music we wanted to pair with the visuals in advance. So even if they were using the same battle music, there would be fight scenes which needed a stronger feeling of tension and those where it would be slightly less tense. Rather than just do them all with the same exact track, we have expressed those changing levels of anxiety and tension through the music as well, by switching between multiple different arrangements. In recent years it seems that interactive music is becoming more popular, wherever around the world you look. Where the music dynamically changes to match the action. FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has incorporated this style of music too. You might have a certain scene that needs three different versions of the track. The tempo and the composition would be the same for all of them, as would the melody, when it comes in. But they would all have different arrangements. All three are playing in parallel and cross fading between the different versions, switching freely between them. It’s like.. hmm.. … like a really top class DJ performance! Getting it to all flow smoothly. By having the music shift seamlessly, to reflect the developments in the current scene, the emotional high points can have suitable music for them, and when it calls for the mood to suddenly get quieter, then you can make that a natural and non-jarring shift, to match the player’s actions and the visuals. I did many different arrangements of the same music pieces. For example, we have Aerith’s Theme In the original there was only one version of this track. But there are lots of different scenes where this theme is used in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Some of them are fun scenes, some are sad scenes and others are more every-day And the musical arrangement changes with the scene at the time. It is one of the interesting things for the creative side, to see how players react to our music. But it is only when everything feels totally natural, and players don’t notice anything off that we have succeeded. If they do feel that something is not right then that probably means it did not go very well. So that would probably be like a bad DJ’s set!! Sorry for the metaphor! In the original, the music that went with the graphics used an internally generated sound source. Ultimately, we had a limit to what we could get across with the music, due to the restrictions of the hardware. For REMAKE there is a massive advancement in the hardware capability, the expressiveness of the graphics and the Cut Scenes is greatly improved and we raised the level of the music to fit with that. We have used new arrangements and completely new themes for the new scenes in the game but the music from the original was brilliant, so there was quite a bit of pressure when adding any new music. Especially with the fact we now had dialogue in these scenes. What we took most care on when re-arranging the music from the original FINAL FANTASY VII was the melody. These were melodies that players would have heard tens or hundreds of times when playing the original. So we respected those original melodies while also enhancing them with a more modern sound, arrangement and the modern technology. But the enhanced visual storytelling power made it important to do everything right. Although the biggest thing was perhaps that we now had dialogue in these scenes. These let us show so much more that we were unable to do fully in the original version So I set out to make new music that matched the scenes better, while always trying to respect the originals. We had Mr. Uematsu write a single track for us, to use as the theme song. I think that Mr. Uematsu cannot be separated from the music of FINAL FANTASY VII. We were overjoyed that he wrote that main theme for us. The visuals for the scene where his theme is used matches the music really well. You can expect great things and I think people will enjoy seeing it a lot. I made multiple arrangements of many of the iconic FINAL FANTASY VII music tracks. Some of them are very faithful to the originals, and there are other arrangements that only sound reminiscent in passing. But if you pay too much attention to the originals then it is quite difficult to try and make something even better. For that reason, I try to be as natural as possible, and approach them as if I were writing a completely new piece. I had played FINAL FANTASY VII in the past, so I knew the feel of the universe. Mr. Uematsu also recommended me for this project. I felt that the best way to honor that recommendation, was to make music as it comes to me, rather than trying to copy what Mr. Uematsu did, or worrying too much about being like the original FINAL FANTASY VII music. So, I was pretty free in how I approached making the music for this game. Our sound team has created an original sound management system called MASTS This system was enhanced from the ground up for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. It was drastically improved and enhanced for the project. In challenging ourselves to do that, we created a system where we could use AI to automatically generate all the sounds for the character movement. This is based on things like the angle of their bone structure and the speed they are moving etc. and through that generate natural sounds from a bank of pre-set sound data. This system is used for all characters in the game, as well as many of the enemies and bosses, It links all the in-game and Cut Scenes to automatically play the sound effects throughout. That has been a lot of hard work for us. There is also the simple fact that the overall number of sounds we need to make is so large. And unlike the original game, there are lots of things that move using physics simulations. The characters can also move closer and further away from the camera, so we have to make the sounds able to change dynamically in real-time to reflect that. And then, on top of that, we had the sounds of peoples movements in the cut scenes. We recorded every one of those. There are also movement sounds needed in the in-game scenes, where a lot of objects move under physics simulation. So we recorded the sounds for those too. And for various other places as well, such as the sounds for the NPCs etc. I played the original FINAL FANTASY VII, and I was actually involved with the development of it too. I sang in the Sephiroth chorus. I think that was my first job, helping out Mr. Uematsu. Another thing is that while there are many people who played and liked the original there will probably also be many new players who first encounter FINAL FANTASY VII with the remake. And I want those who hear the music for the first time to think
“Wow, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has some great tunes.” It would also be great if that could then inspire them to go back to the original FINAL FANTASY VII, and appreciate the music from them both. This time round, I think I made the most tracks that I have ever done for a single video game. As I said before, the music changes to match the scene at the time, There are many versions for each song, such as “Let the Battles Begin! – A Merc’s Job” for example. So I think that one way to get enjoyment from the game Is to see how your actions affect the changes in the music as you play. I think that people who played the original will be able to enjoy discovering a depth that they didn’t know existed behind the story. For people who are playing the game for the first time, it has been made as if it were a completely new game. I approached it that way myself. So, I think it’s a game that can be enjoyed by all groups.