TOTW: Nobuo Uematsu_ Fisherman’s Horizon

The music of Nobuo Uematsu is loved by many the world over. Yet, I still believe he is massively underrated because the majority of his work is for video games; a medium that is still sidelined in many ways by the mainstream.

The quality of his work easily matches that of composers like John Williams and Ennio Morricone, and yet he gets comparatively little acknowledgement outside of the gaming world. I think this will change with time. As people who have grown up with video games become the people who control and dictate the direction of what “mainstream culture” is, the history of video games and their creators will become more respected and recognised for their artistic merits.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite track from his work. This is, in part, due to the sheer scale of his achievement. The length and complexity of the RPG games requires the same of it’s soundtrack. Nobuo Uematsu did this to such a high standard that it is hard to highlight individual tracks. For me, his best work comes from the games Final Fantasy 7 through to 10 as the shift of the games from cartridge to CD and then DVD allowed for more complex compositions.

Due to budget and design constraints, most of the Final Fantasy soundtrack was made on synthesisers, which often emulate classical instruments. Still, Nobuo Uematsu was able to demonstrate his incredible ability to pull from the history of music, creating memorable and emotional melodies that have stuck with fans.

It is this fandom that has allowed many of the tracks from his more well known games to be scaled to full orchestral and piano arrangements, which add accessibility to people who haven’t heard the music before.

For my Track Of The Week I decided to go back to an original piece, straight from a game soundtrack. “Fisherman’s Horizon” from Final Fantasy 8 still resonates strongly with me. The track accompanies exploration of an area that closely resembles a coastal town. It manages to capture the gentle breeze and expansive ocean that surrounds the area perfectly. It demonstrates what makes the work of Nobuo Uematsu so great. A composition that works perfectly, both as a soundtrack for this section of game, and in its own right as a memorable and beautiful piece of music.


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: Nobuo Uematsu_ The Oath

This week I’m going back to the world of video games but with an alternative look at their Music.

Nobuo Uematsu is one of the legends of video game music and anyone slightly interested in the medium will know his work on the Final Fantasy series. Since the early days on consoles, with simple 8-bit sound chips that could only handle 5 sound channels right through to the CD era with its unlimited possibilities. He has managed to create music of a grand scale, almost orchestral in nature. He gave some of the biggest games of their time an authenticity of grandeur. Creating the equivalent of a hollywood blockbuster soundtrack with little more than his own creativity and a limited palate of equipment.

What amazes me about his work, especially as the games progressed, is just how much quality content he could create in a limited time frame. As the final fantasy series got larger and more ambitious so did his scores and during the Playstation one era the release of Final Fantasy 7,8 and 9 became epic in scale including sound. He concluded his exclusive scoring of the series with Final Fantasy 9 which consists of over 140 pieces of music all written by him in a year time period. A truly momentus achievement.

The Quality of the melody’s construction in his work, have allowed it to be arranged into music for both piano and the full orchestra. The music many people as children imagined as grand orchestral compositions, can now be heard in that way thanks to several CD’s and live performances.

The Oath is a track From Final Fantasy 8 and a personal favourite. A perfect example of his work arranged for orchestra: