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  1. #1
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    Soken on "The Far Edge of Fate" Soundtrack - Famitsu Interview

    Here's a translation for a recent interview Famitsu did with Soken, as part of the promotion for The Far Edge of Fate soundtrack that was released a couple weeks back. He talks a bit about the different directions he's trying to push the music composition, and some of the themes behind the primals and Alexander songs.

    Source: https://www.famitsu.com/news/201706/08134659.html

    -----


    FFXIV 5th Original Soundtrack Released! We ask Soken about behind-the-scenes production stories, the orchestra concert, and 4.0!

    The fifth Final Fantasy XIV soundtrack, which includes 50 songs and bonus tracks from patch 3.2 "The Gears of Change" through 3.5 "The Far Edge of Fate," was released on June 7. While the songs are worthy of attention, sound director and composer Masayoshi Soken is perhaps even more popular with his casual demeanor, and we were able to ask some questions to him directly.

    The range of sound has been expanded because of "Brute Justice"

    Including the arrangement albums, this is now the seventh Blu-Ray Disc album released. Have there been any new changes?

    Soken: The basic idea of providing a new form of music media hasn't changed, but there have been some minor differences. We've packed these full of content with video, sound, and other functions since the first release, so I think continuing that is important.

    It's a surprising number for just FFXIV.

    Soken: Honestly, it's hard to believe that it's already the seventh album (laughs). Today music has become something that we mostly enjoy by carrying around as data, but I feel that some of the things that are unique to disks are better, like having the high resolution source audio, video, and other benefits all together in one package.

    This time, the record includes 50 songs from patch 3.2 "The Gears of Change" through patch 3.5 "The Far Edge of Fate." It's about the same as usual (laughs).

    Soken: (Laughs) Yeah, but we're not increasing the number of songs for the disc releases. It's better for the sound team if we can get these made with as little production as possible.

    This time with songs like "Down the Up Staircase" (The Antitower) and "Starved" (The Feast), you've involved the guitarist GUNN from The Primals (FFXIV's official arrangement rock band) and Yukiko Takada from the sound team. Have you been making an effort to try to change up the musical production?

    Soken: It's important to include a variety with the music, so if I trust someone to do a good job, I'm thinking of including them more and more. Not to mention, GUNN, and of course Takada, are both FFXIV players. GUNN told me "I haven't played any games before, but I need to play it to understand how the players feel," so maybe they are learning from the players (laughs).

    (Laughs) Takada also handled "Hyper Rainbow Z" from Moonfire Faire 2016 as well as "Up at Dawn" from the same year's All Saints' Wake... she seems to be very versatile.

    Soken: She insists that she's just an ordinary person, but she's very unique. So... she writes interesting songs (laughs).

    You wrote the song "Metal - Brute Justice Mode" for Brute Justice from Alexander Midas, but it did have that heroic style like "Hyper Rainbow Z," so I was wondering if Takada was also in charge for that.

    Soken: (Laughs) Originally for Brute Justice, I was planning to implement a rock song like others in FFXIV, but at the last minute before the deadline, main scenario writer Natsuko Ishikawa and the battle group told me "the songs up until now have been very good, but we have a different idea for this."

    What did they ask for?

    Soken: At the time, the last boss from Alexander Midas was a significant difficulty jump from the previous raids. So rather than a song that puts more pressure on players, they wanted it to be more like music for a heroic squadron that makes you feel like "go, go!"

    I see, so it was planned that way.

    Soken: That's what led to it. It's like, "well, at least we can smile at the song while we wipe to the boss." Actually, I got feedback like that from the players (laughs).

    Yeah, it was pretty unexpected (laughs).

    Yoshida: We now have the opportunity to add other songs like that to FFXIV. I felt that the Moonfire Faire song would sound the same if I wrote it, so I left it to Takada. When I asked Takada to do "Up at Dawn" because she's good at songs like that, she said "I knew it" (laughs). If her work is well-received, I'd like her to do one of the primal battle songs also.


    Writing original songs tied closely with battle mechanics

    What sort of orders did you get for the songs for Sephirot, Sophia, and Zurvan?

    Soken: For The Warring Triad, we started with the idea that we would do an arrangement of Battle to the Death from FFVI. There was a bit of an argument about whether to use that song for the first half or second half of the battles. I thought it would be better to bring it in for the second half since they're the Warring Triad from FF series history, but producer and director Yoshida thought the reverse would be better. Ultimately he told me I could decide, but every time I proposed my idea, I got countered (laughs). Later on, when I actually saw Sephirot's battle, I got to see his huge fists and heard about the mechanic where you can get blown off. Well, that part is unique to FFXIV, isn't it? (laughs) So I thought, maybe to express the originality of the battle, we should use the original song there.

    So your idea changed (laughs).

    Soken: I had some songs planned for the first halves of the Warring Triad battles, but they lacked excitement. There's kind of a feeling of breaking through a shell when you get to the second half of the primal battles. So to express that with the soundtrack, we decided to start with the Battle to the Death arrangement, and then the original music.

    What were the themes for each of them?

    Soken: For Sephirot, it was like "earthquake," "high tempo," "rock feeling." To match with the idea of his beating fists, I included the strong four-beat bass drum. For Sophia, it was a "unique Oriental feeling." I collected some music reminiscent of Egypt as a reference, and I was thinking "how can I make a battle song out of this?" (laughs). She's a goddess, so should it sound beautiful... or more of a carefree feeling... how am I going to do this? (laughs)

    The answer you came up with was good.

    Soken: Well, it happened by chance (laughs). For Zurvan, the order came through as "fantasy rock," but I had no idea what they meant so I just went to ask (laughs). They said they wanted it to sound like a contemporary version of music from old games, so that's how I ended up with it.

    Old game music was a theme for the syncopated phrase?

    Soken: No. There's three stages for that battle, right? Originally I was planning to have one song for phases 2 and 3, but until he uses his ultimate, your power is still being tested, and it felt strange to have that song meant for the more serious mode play before that. So I used a PSG sound source from the NES-era to create something that sounded even more like game music.

    So that's what happened.

    Soken: A genuine PSG sound source creates a rectangular wave, so with a high res sound source, it shows up as a very clear waveform. Engineer Maeda (responsible for mastering the soundtrack) excitedly told me "I've never seen such a beautiful waveform! Maybe this will have a positive effect on children!?".... I don't know if that's true (laughs).


    Sudo's begging led to the "Stasis Loop" in "Rise"

    I heard that the music for Alexander: The Creator also had a pretty tight production schedule.

    Soken: It was short. Originally, I wasn't planning to have music for the third battle. However, the song "Exponential Entropy" was born in the middle of making "Rise" for the fourth battle. "Rise" was meant to be digital rock, and we wanted to finish off Alexander with a cool feeling. It was a kind of track that we could only have made for Alexander, and it was fun to make, so it made me happy also.

    What were the concepts for "Rise" and "Exponential Entropy"?

    Soken: Well, "steampunk" was a fundamental theme for Alexander, so I aimed to make songs that would bring machines to mind. So whether it was rock or techno, the sounds were always reminiscent of machines. For Rise, the sound of the guitar was made electronic to sound like an alarm. You can hear in particular the ringing guitar in the beginning, but sounds like that were included throughout.

    Where did the idea for the "Stasis Loop" come from?

    Soken: Actually, that wasn't part of the original direction. But one day, battle planner Kenji Sudo told me "we've just put in the time stop effect and I really want you to check it out," so he showed me it over at his booth. It was cool to see, it looked really good, but a light bulb went off and I told him "I'm going to make it feel even more like time's stopping" (laughs).

    And he begged for it with his eyes?

    Soken: Well, he definitely pushed to do it (laughs). We were thinking we should do something special based on time, like maybe have the song reversed.

    The fans at the Fan Festival in Germany were really excited when the band played "Rise." I don't think there has ever been anyone around the world so excited to hear clock sounds as those FFXIV fans (laughs).

    Soken: The band members also had a great time there. Aside from me, everyone else is a professional band member, so I thought we could pull off the stop for Stasis Loop (laughs).

    I can tell you also had a good time making the songs for Alexander.

    Soken: Yeah. It's been fun all the way since Locus for Alexander Gordias. With Alexander being so fun to make, it helped me enjoy making the other songs even more.


    Heavensward Recap and Moving on to Stormblood

    Can you summarize your experience with development for Heavensward?

    Soken: It's continued to change since A Realm Reborn. In A Realm Reborn, in order to have the content stand out, we wanted the songs to just be part of the background. Specifically, we focused on environmental sounds and making sure music only played when necessary.

    Makes me think of sounds like in The Black Shroud.

    Soken: Yeah, I like that style as well. But with Heavensward, I wanted to strongly reflect Yoshida's viewpoint that, as an RPG, you shouldn't be progressing through the quests in silence. Because of that, we had more songs made specifically for nighttime, and as a whole, it become a more melodic work.

    There were a lot of different themes, as well as the different perspectives of dragons and humans.

    Soken: The major theme songs were "Dragonsong" and "Heavensward" which served as pillars from which we were able to derive a variety of songs. We were also able to provide variety with distinct original songs for other content. In that sense, there was a lot of variety, and I felt that it was a more complete package than "A Realm Reborn."

    And Stormblood is almost here.

    Soken: Yeah. I don't want to give away anything from the story, so I won't talk about those related concepts yet, but from the completed songs, there's definitely a more Oriental, exotic vibe. It will feel different from what you've heard so far. Eastern Europe, Mongolia, China, Japan... there are a variety of influences, and it will be quite unique. Heavensward had a number of heavier musical instruments and quite a lot of tracks layered on top of one another, but this time, there are some songs that go in the complete opposite direction, where there are only two instruments used. Once the story calms down, as you explore the field areas on your own, it will give you a great feeling of traveling around, it came out really well. If you get sick of it, I guess you can go back to the city (laughs).

    It sounds good, doesn't it?

    Soken: Like last time, we have a melody specific to each area. So the sound atmosphere and flavor changes as you move around the areas. Shisui came out really well (laughs). For the field areas, I really like Yanxia. Well, it does feel a bit lonely....

    Ugh, I want to go soon! (laughs)

    Soken: I think we may have exceeded 50 songs. I'm about half done with Omega. There are so many things to talk about with the Stormblood music, so we'll have to speak again.


    The long-awaited orchestra concert has been set! What's the schedule for other upcoming events...?

    When did you plan the orchestra concert being held in September of this year?

    Soken: The idea came about over two years ago. We've been thinking about it for a long time, but there was so much work and we had to choose the right venue. We decided to move ahead because we got a lot of feedback from players saying "please do it as soon as possible!" We've also got a lot of feedback recently asking about a live concert of The Primals, so I hope those folks aren't disappointed with this being an orchestra concert as we are paying attention to that feedback as well.

    There seems to be a lot of feedback asking for the concert to travel to more remote areas [[of Japan]].

    Soken: I'd like to think about that after the Tokyo performances. The local performances are a bit more difficult, so I hope as many people can come out as possible.

    Will you be participating in the performance?

    Soken: No. I will just be listening to the orchestra as this is a classical concert, so I'll just stay behind the scenes. However, since this is a FFXIV concert, I may plan something to make it more entertaining... but don't expect too much (laughs).

    Although it's primarily a soundtrack, there are a lot of other things to enjoy as well. Can you talk a bit about that for the fans?

    Soken: There are plenty of benefits included this time as well, and with some Warriors of Light working on the production team this time, the function screens have become quite interesting. Anyway, it's a must-buy since "Rise" is included (laughs). I'll be traveling around to events promoting the soundtrack at five CD shops around the country. I'll be in Osaka on Friday, June 9, Fukuoka and Nagoya on Saturday the 10th, and Sapporo on Sunday the 11th (Editor's note: Tokyo's event was held on June 7th).

    As usual, you're defying the laws of nature (laughs).

    Soken: Yeah, I can't really figure out how I'm getting from Hakata to Nagoya. Then the next day I'll leave Nagoya in the morning for Sapporo. After that, I'll have to get back to Haneda airport to get to Yokohama to attend the projection mapping event for the Bahamut invasion (planned for June 10th/11th). By then, I'll probably forget that I was even in Nagoya that morning (laughs).

    Well, if you use the Tokaido Shinkansen you can get from Nagoya to Yokohama in about 1 hr 20 minutes....

    Soken: Yeah... but I'm going through Sapporo first. Confusing, isn't it? Anyway, if there are any Warriors of Light traveling at the same time as me, feel free to hit me up (laughs).

  2. #2
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    Given that the release date for this soundtrack was "June 7," I figured this would be the first time ever that I received an FFXIV OST that wasn't already obsoleted the moment I unwrapped it.
    It arrived on June 17. Streak intact!

    ---

    Getting a chance to look at the official lyrics, Fiend really impresses me more than it did before. Soken did an amazing job on that song. And as far as Rise goes, yeah, no one ever had any chance of getting those lyrics right. I mean, look at this nonsense:

    Thirty thousand goblins gonna solve the goblins' problems
    'cause the Problems of the goblins goin' rotten till they solve 'em
    yeah the Thirty thousand goblins gonna solve the goblins' problems
    with a 'Splodin smashin' bashin' whackin' crackin' smackin' kind of chaos


    That's the section right before the "A to the L to the E X ander" verse, and it sounds like total gibberish in game. It doesn't even sound like language, much less English. The official lyrics have a section that literally contains "????"!


  3. #3
    The Defense is ready, Your Honor
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    I am loving Soken right now. I can't get the stormblood dungeon boss theme out of my head. Its got about everything I want in an epic boss theme wrapped up in it, and it even got a little old school Breath of Fire 1 in it with the piano parts.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider-Dan View Post
    Given that the release date for this soundtrack was "June 7," I figured this would be the first time ever that I received an FFXIV OST that wasn't already obsoleted the moment I unwrapped it.
    It arrived on June 17.
    Where do you order from? I've given up on the Square Enix store, Amazon.co.jp sells them for below list price, the shipping is surprisingly reasonable (total cost with shipping is always less than the US SE store cost), and it usually gets to me in 2 days from when they ship.

  5. #5
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    I ordered from SE store, so...

    I'll keep Amazon JP in mind for the future.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucavi View Post
    I am loving Soken right now. I can't get the stormblood dungeon boss theme out of my head. Its got about everything I want in an epic boss theme wrapped up in it, and it even got a little old school Breath of Fire 1 in it with the piano parts.
    The first fourteen seconds of Doma Castle is quite the pleasant surprise.

  7. #7
    YOU BLACK, MIDNIGHT, EVIL MOTHERFUCKERS!!! BLACK MAGIC, DARKNESS!!! YOU RAW, DARKNESS!!! YOU, FUCKING, DELIRIOUS MOTHERFUCKER!
    You were cold as ice.

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    Soken is a master of his craft for sure.

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