[ShockWave is a monthly feature which highlights video game music and our favorite soundtracks, for the music lover in every gamer]
Greetings gamers and music fans alike. Welcome to ShockWave where we’ll be giving you the rundown on our favorite video game music and recommending you some excellent contributions. This month, we’ll be focusing on an album that I’m sure RPG fans can appreciate. Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections is a small collection of redone songs from the legendary video game Final Fantasy VII.
- Album: Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections
- Genre: Classical / Orchaestral
- Credits: Nobuo Uematsu (composition), Shiro Hamaguchi (arrangement)
- Original Release: December 2003
- Price: $40
- Runtime: Nearly fifty minutes
The album showcases the talents of Nobuo Uematsu, a renowned composer you’ll probably see a lot of as this series progresses. The songs on the album are rustic and emotional – a single instrument’s enormous potential when headed by true talent. The track listing is a bit short when considering that it is pulled from the absolutely massive Final Fantasy VII Soundtrack. But it’s okay because most of them are fan favorites and it’s an effort that is to be appreciated considering it is in addition to the game’s actual soundtrack.
Its length also makes it perfect for a quick walk down memory lane. The songs are as dramatic as you remember them only more fluid due to the lack of multiple instruments or the orchestral composition. In my opinion, the songs actually have a bit of an added flare from the removal of so many instruments. The key melodies and layers contrast a bit more deeply, conveying the intended emotion more clearly than behind layers of arrangement. Acoustic, I might even say. Before I talk about a few of my favorites, here’s the track listing for the album:
- Tifa’s Theme
- FFVII Main Theme
- Cinco De Chocobo
- Ahead on Our Way
- Those Who Fight
- Valley of the Fallen Star
- The Golden Saucer
- Farm Boy
- Rufus’ Welcoming Ceremony
- Aerith’s Theme
- One-Winged Angel
- Descendent of Shinobi
The album is actually really good from start to finish, but these are the one’s you’ve got to hear. I’ve included some links to fairly accurate renditions of the pieces by various artists so that you can judge the album. I’ll also include the links to some short previews of the actual tracks. Note that previews for the entire track listing are available at Square’s site at the link above, in pricing.
[Midgar, the place the story of FFVII takes off. Square has stated that recreating this universe with current gen graphics would take a decade.]
Track 2: Main Theme:
The Main Theme is probably the most recognizable of the songs from the album and for good reason. The main themes are the frontrunners of pretty much every FF soundtrack, and this one delivers.
From the dramatic and deeply meaningful beginning to the urgency and intrigue a few minutes in, the Main Theme is really a nice piece. However, the main theme did not open this album, and while this is certainly a little strange, the first track earns its place and then some.
Track 1: Tifa’s Theme:
Tifa’s Theme is a strong contender for my favorite song on the disc. It possesses a particular importance in my memory of the game. The song starts of so slowly and gently, it almost manages to be sad, though I have to say if you’ve played FFVII then it doesn’t have quite the same effect, it’s actually a little uplifting.
The opening softness lasts only a quick minute before things pick up and weave an image of both sincere happiness and unchallengeable grief. Two minutes in things still manage to stay soft and beautiful, while incorporating undertones that bring to mind struggle and turmoil. It is an excellent track and one I think most people can enjoy.
[Aerith (pink) and Tifa (shorts). In the background are their portrayals in the 2005 CG movie FFVII: Advent Children and in the foreground is their original 1997 game art. Two of the nicest songs on the album are named after these ladies.]
Track 4: Ahead on Our Way:
This song manages to capture the same adventurous and free flowing spirit that the game embodied when you traversed that huge world map. Speaking on the music specifically, though, it’s a very uplifting and inspirational track, but it doesn’t sacrifice its composition in order to convey that.
What I mean is, it gets you excited, the way most game music is intended to, but it doesn’t come off as cheesy or forced. The piano is particularly soft for the duration of this song. It’s mostly a compliment, but it does lack the added drama found in the Main Theme or in later parts of Tifa’s Theme.
Track 11: Aerith’s Theme:
This song is potentially the most emotional on the entire album, especially if you’ve played the game. It is especially beautiful with its use of short key strokes and silence. The breaks taken between the strings of keys, most notably in the very beginning of the song, help to generate a tranquil effect. It does become a lot more sweeping a few minutes in though.
At one point, you may think that you’re listening to a different song, and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends entirely upon your opinion of the drama and sadness that takes place about three minutes in.
That recurring melody makes the song stick easily within your memory, and I found myself humming it incessantly. Not to mention that this song and its accompanying imagery literally brought me to tears when I first heard it (I was nine at the time, cut me some slack).
[This is Sephiroth, the villain for which the song One Winged Angel was composed. This man is so diabolical it’s scary. If you’ve never played the game, suffice it to say that this isn’t the kind of person you want to run into.]
So that about wraps up this month’s ShockWave. Final Fantasy VII is a game so critically acclaimed that many people identify it as one of the best games ever to have been created. Its music was so good that it received something of a remix album, which is essentially what this album is. It is particularly good because it does not lean on the game itself to be good, something that could be argued with the original soundtrack.
This is music that anyone who is a fan of classical or instrumental music would absolutely fall in love with. If you like any of the songs here, you should spring for the album because each track possesses a kind of magic, and you don’t need to have played FFVII to enjoy this. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this month’s ShockWave. I’ll see you right here next month with more exceptional game music.