Takahashi-san, could you tell us about your original concept of how the soundtrack should be for Xenoblade Chronicles?
I didn’t want to restrict it to any particular genre or instrument. There are of course various potential routes you can take: limiting it to only acoustic instruments, for instance. But I think this makes a certain monotonous feel unavoidable. That’s why I wanted to use a wide range of instruments for this title, thinking that mixing classical stringed instruments with more electric sounds would be all right, too. Tomori-san is originally a guitarist, after all.
That’s right! (laughs)
As it’s an RPG, there are always going to be typical RPG-esque battle scenes. But I actually wanted to use music and instruments in a way that worked against that type of atmosphere to some extent.
So you wanted to use instruments that each had their own individual flavour, thereby creating a more varied soundtrack?
At the start, Takahashi-san told us that he didn’t want us to make it sound like a so-called typical RPG.
I see. But that does present a real challenge, doesn’t it?
But then at other times, he would say: ‘Do it the normal way...’
...Huh? When you heard that, didn’t you feel it was rather ambiguous?
As you can imagine, I did indeed go: ‘...Huh?!’ (laughs)
Well, it’s because I wanted to break away from the sound you’d expect every time from an RPG. But – and I know this sounds like bragging – in the end I think the final results I got were good. Each of the tracks which the different team members worked on has its own individuality, but yet if you listen to them all together, I don’t think you can tell which one was made by which person.
Ah, so they all fit together seamlessly.
Yes, I think they blend into the game world seamlessly. And what’s more, the music is really multi-faceted.
I also listened to all of the pieces that Kiyota-san and Ace+ had composed, and I really thought they were fabulous. I’d seen all the email exchanges where they’d tweaked and revised things down to the smallest detail, and I know they’d had a really tough time implementing the additional requests that were made of them. I was incredibly impressed by what they achieved.
So you could see that they’d overcome a lot of difficulties to create this or that track.
That’s right. Six individuals have taken their own passion and been able to rise above these differences and collectively create the music for a single game. This makes the soundtrack as a whole very enjoyable to listen to.
Do you have anything to add, Mitsuda-san?
The track I was responsible for is the one that plays over the epilogue. The music which the others created draws this epic tale to its conclusion, so I really struggled when I wrote this piece, as I knew I had to bring everything together and keep that connection to the other music.
Yes, you knew that everyone had put a huge amount of energy into it.
I was very aware of how hard everyone had worked, and I could sense that vast power. I knew I couldn’t let all that effort go to waste, and worked on the music for the epilogue with that in mind.
And Takahashi-san had said that Mi-chan was the only person he could possibly call on to write the final song! (laughs)
That’s what made it such a high-pressure job! (laughs) I was caught between Taka-san on one side, and the music that the rest of the team here had created on the other. That made it quite a painful position, but in the end I really enjoyed creating that piece. I think that the end result succeeds in its role of neatly completing the epic tale, and I really hope that people take the time to really listen to it.
Kiyota-san, given your involvement in the musical side of things, is there anything in particular you’d like to recommend?
What I feel is that this may well be the first time that anyone has gathered such a wide variety of different music, each coming from its own worldview, and brought them all together into one. That’s why I think that even if you just listened to the music, you’ll be able to enjoy experiencing all manner of different worlds.
I think you’re absolutely right. This many people have joined forces to produce something that’s so full of variety, yet still manages to all fit neatly together. I think that we owe this to the editing and adjustment done by Takahashi-san. The game starts with a gentle piece composed by Shimomura-san , the piano giving it a really beautiful feel. Other tracks feature Kiyota-san’s vocals. These are really beautiful, with heavenly harmonies. I’m also a singer, and I was able to sing in the chorus. Hiramatsu-kun plays keyboard, while Tomori plays guitar, meaning there are also tracks with a live sound, which I think people will enjoy. Finally, Mitsuda-san draws proceedings to a close with a stunning track, and I think that maybe... When I buy the game, I’m going to cry.
So it comes with the CHiCO Crying Guarantee! (laughs)
And how about you, Tomori-san?
I would just reiterate what the others have said. We were set the task of making music that went beyond the typical RPG soundtrack, and at first it was really a process of trial and error.
It must be very hard to work without having a model to follow.
That’s exactly it. But I think that in the end, we’ve come up with something that hangs together incredibly well and I’d be thrilled if people thought that while it might not sound like other RPGs, it does sound great.
You’d like players to enjoy the way it differs from other RPGs. Okay, finally let’s turn to you, Hiramatsu-san.
When I started working on the music, I wanted to get some idea of the image we were after, so I played the game during development. At that time, there was only provisional audio content, but the depth of the visuals really struck me. When I was told that you could walk right up to those cliffs in the distance, I really felt the scale and sense of space in the game world. It excited me a lot.
No matter which way you look at it, that really doesn’t sound like the kind of comment a composer would normally make! (laughs)
I’m sorry! (laughs) Now I’m just really looking forward to the moment the game is completed and I can grab the controller, and explore that world with my heart racing...
That’s a comment worthy of a true gamer! Thank you very much! (laughs)
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