Anathema

Tolkien has been one of my largest creative inspirations (surprise!) since I was a young kid. If you didn’t know, he wrote a lot of history surrounding his most famous stories The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the most prominent being The Silmarillion. The start to this book is his concept for the creation of his world. I have been absolutely fascinated by his story as everything is created through music. It also involves a lot of references to Biblical creation, particularly there are angels and the strongest of which falls and turns evil. This angel, Melkor, becomes the predominant enemy and evil in Middle-Earth. Anyway, back to this song! I originally wanted to write a piece that was this moment in The Silmarillion, but after realizing how grandiose that would almost have to be I decided to focus in on the concept of a Valar (the angels) falling and what that might have been like. The Valar were saw each other as brothers and sisters, and as much as it is usually easy for people to think of evil as evil and nothing else, I think it is very important to look at why evil is done, and look at the heart of the matter. I tried to capture a very small portion of the conflicting brother and sister Valars with this song: Anathema.

The Thief and The King

The Thief and The King is 5 Chapters/Movements. It was originally written for Violin, Viola, Cello, Harp, but due to some strenuous circumstances I turned this into an kinda of electronic arrangement that I’ve always wanted to try. When you listen through it you can hear each movement using sounds from different generations of video game systems evolving as the story unfolds. I hope to eventually record this in its original instrumental setting as the parts were written for those instruments and not some of the older sounds, but I enjoyed the process and it’s result!

Oh and, in case the title didn’t give it away, it’s all a story I wrote that is narrated by the great Carson Blair. Go to the playlist on SoundCloud to see the full description (and text) of each movement

GameSOUNDCon

This month I had the fantastic opportunity to go to GameSOUNDCon in LA. Not only was it enjoyable to get some time off from the stress and school and the growing cold in Colorado, but it was a vastly educational and extremely helpful experience. While I have gone through Major changes in school and changed my focus, I have consistently wanted the opportunity to work on video games. (more…)

Final Fantasy VI: Famous Last Words (FFVI-13d)

Movement IV

final form

Kefka’s final creation has been destroyed and we are now facing the antagonist himself. Just to cap off everything he has been telling the heroes, he gives them one more reminder that life is pointless and meant to be destroyed before the heroes have their chance to have at him. Finally, we get to put every inch of effort we put into this game into getting rid of Kefka, and even with how well crafted the story has been, everything has been leading up to the finale, and even the finale itself builds to this fourth and final movement. It does not disappoint. (more…)

Final Fantasy VI: The Comedy of the Divine (FFVI-13C)

Start the finale here!

Movement III

The third movement begins at about 8:12, as the party moves to the last stage of the tower comprised of two beings: Lady and Rest. The impact of this transition is what led me personally to think more deeply about what this game was trying to accomplish, and eventually led up to this blog post, and the series itself. Looking at the last two creatures on the tower, no one would think to call them Lady and Rest. And how suspicious it is that the movement features the organ, an instrument which (to our loss) is quite uncommon. The organ has played a relatively prominent role in the rest of the game, but now has an entire movement devoted to it. (more…)

Final Fantasy VI: Kefka’s Madness (FFVI-13B)

Start the finale here!

Movement II

The second movement begins at about 4:30, after the first beast is defeated and the party moves up on the monster tower. They now face a beast comprised of multiple faces and bodies merged together through some foul means. This enemy is split into four names: Power, Tiger, Magic, and Machine. All of these names—like Visage in the first stage—seem to have specific meanings, suggesting that Kefka has some darker purpose in this final confrontation. It is at this point that the game begins to exceed expectations one might put on even a very good game. The music, the visual art, and the storytelling all begin to converge on something very beautiful. I’ll avoid drawing any conclusions for now and let you do some brainstorming as we explore Movement III and beyond. (more…)

Final Fantasy VI: Catasrophe’s Recapitulation (FFVI-13A)

Start the finale here!

Movement I

The time has come to face the villain of the story. The party pulls themselves together in a last stand at the end of the world, fights to the top of Kefka’s tower, and listens through his evil monologue describing his reason for living–chaos, destruction, and nothingness. We know no reason as to why Kefka is the way his is, but his drive for chaos, the power he has amassed, and his edgy nature have made him into the archetypal terrifying villain. If nihilism can be personified, Kefka is it. Now is the group’s last chance for redeeming any little bit of good in the world that Kefka has not yet destroyed. (more…)

Final Fantasy VI: Finale Intro (FFVI-13)

I have been both excited and terrified to reach this point. This is possibly my favorite piece of music written for video games, and I am going to do my best to do it justice split into five posts. Without further ado: Dancing Mad, the four-movement epic musical conclusion to Final Fantasy VI.

Summary

Let me sum up what happens up to the point of the fight with the final boss. The heroes of the story go on a journey trying to defeat the evil Emperor Gestahl. In a huge plot twist which at first seemed like the end of the story, Kefka stabs Gestahl in the back and kicks him off the Floating Continent. Kefka then takes the power of The Warring Triad, giving him the power of a god, then destroys the world with it. Skip a year later, and Kefka has taken over the destroyed world and put everyone under his control. The party eventually all find each other, tie off their loose ends, and head to Kefka’s tower to “Finish Him!”. They eventually reach him and have a last “talk” with him, intending to kill him. This last talk is some really well written dialogue as you can see in the final discussion with Kefka. Note how Kefka said “For my next trick, I’ll make you all…disappear!” years before Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Kefka is ahead of his time. (more…)

Final Fantasy VI: The Penultimate Post (FFVI-12)

Up to this point I have covered (pretty in depth) all but five of the heroes of this story. These last five characters are met much closer to the game, and are given much less of a character development or none at all. With this in mind, instead of going on in the manner I have, I will instead bunch these five characters into one post under the topic of Nobuo Uematsu’s use of leitmotif and A B form in this game.

The Others

Mog Strago Relm Gogo Umaro

I feel kind of bad bunching up these characters into one title and especially one as demeaning as “The Others”. However, only two of these characters really have any form of interesting plot. Two of them are actually complete extras. (more…)

Final Fantasy VI: Setzer (FFVI-11)

Amano Artwork

Setzer

As you could probably already tell from his Amano artwork, Setzer Gabbiani is kind of just awesome and entertaining. Well he is actually quite an intriguing character looking past his reckless, gambling, thrill-seeking outward appearance. Setzer at a younger age was pilot with a slight gambling problem. A girl named Darill had an airship, the Falcon, that he wanted his hands on. Setzer and Darill would always compete with the Falcon on the betting table, but Setzer would always come back. One time Darill told Setzer that if her reckless nature ever made her unable to fly the ship was his. This basically put Setzer in shock making him realize that he cared a lot for her telling her that her crashing would never happen. Well it does. Setzer buries her and her ship underwater and gains his present reckless nature from this event. (more…)