In any game, the creation of its music is one of the most interesting aspects, and the Final Fantasy soundtrack is one of the best examples. Final Fantasy music has made its way into various playlists and offers something more than just sound. That’s why I’m excited to talk with composer Masayoshi Soken about his composition for Final Fantasy XVI, who is also the composer of Final Fantasy XIV. I spent more than three hours playing the game in Square Enix’s Tokyo office, and I’m confident about getting a banger of a score.
Breakdown of Major Themes and Melodies
I talked with Soken about some of the major themes and melodies, such as the Prelude, the main theme, and the Victory Fanfare, and he had a lot to say on the topic. In this series, I will be breaking down different aspects of the music that excite me, and hopefully, you too.
Check the first three parts of this series by following the link given below:
Be sure to catch up on the first three parts here:
The Music of Final Fantasy XVI Part 4 – The Sound
To create a Final Fantasy score, like the Prelude and Victory Fanfare, significant thought goes into its key parts, but just as much goes into the instrumentation of each of the 200-plus tracks in the soundtrack. I was curious about Soken’s curation for the sound of FFXVI and how game themes play into his choices.
According to Soken, “I think for a lot of the themes for the Eikons, you’re going to get a lot of male chorus[…] because we talked about how it brings that dark feel to it. But I think there’s also a lot of brass instruments[…] and strings[…] as well, because you’re trying to get that dark, classical feel.”
FFXVI producer Naoki Yoshida tasked Soken from the beginning to create a score that felt very classical, which Soken remained true to throughout composition, except for one song.
Soken says, “He didn’t want us to go off into too many tangents and go too crazy with it. There was one battle with a certain Eikon after playing it, I thought, ‘There’s no way I can do this in classical. I want to do something different. I want to step away from classical and do something entirely different.’ So I composed a piece that was totally not classical. And without telling anyone, I put it in the game and let the development team play it, and the feedback that I got was that they really, really liked it even though it wasn’t classical. They felt that it really, really fit the battle.”
Soken wouldn’t mention which Eikon fight he referenced. However, he did tease Final Fantasy XIV community members with an interesting tidbit. Not only did localization director Michael-Christopher Koji Fox write the lyrics for the track, but he also sang for it.
There are many familiar melodies within FFXVI, including Final Fantasy XIV music and music from past Final Fantasies. Soken says, “There are a lot of tracks in the game that we drew inspiration from the music from past Final Fantasies, including Final Fantasy XIV.” He wouldn’t share more, though, because if he did, it’d be a spoiler.
Soken and his team didn’t choose a single instrument or a style of music to define the score. Instead, it looked at the geography of Valisthea and the nations that call it home to select relevant music and instruments. He added that because FFXIV has such a large world, you can jump from many different types of themes and music depending on where you’re going. In contrast, FFXVI features a focused story, and the team wanted to maintain the core themes while adjusting a bit and having some fun with the music in certain areas.
“We have this main pillar[…] of music, that classical pillar, and then from there, we’re going to be adjusting a little bit, we’re going to be having a little bit of fun with it in certain areas. But that main sound is going to fit and [it’s] going to go through the whole game; you’re not going to get these big jumps in styles of music.”
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