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Final Fantasy XIII OST PLUS: Exclusive English Liner Notes and Commentary

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I had a hunch when I was reviewing the Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack -PLUS- album that just listening to the album wasn’t really giving me the full story. The tracks were oftentimes quite similar to their final version counterparts, and I figured the lengthy liner notes and track-by-track commentary written by Masashi Hamauzu in the album’s booklet probably provided the necessary insight to truly appreciate what this CD had to offer. Unfortunately the text was only available in Japanese. That is, until now.

We went about contacting Square Enix’s music department to see if they’d be willing to allow us to publish an English translation of the album’s liner notes and commentary, and they agreed that doing so would probably help fans in the West understand the album better. So here they are, courtesy of Square Enix Japan. We have Hamauzu’s commentary for each track on the album, and I think Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack -PLUS- will make much more sense after reading them.

Read the full commentary and liner notes after the jump.

Liner Notes

With the main focus of my efforts complete, I’ve finally had a bit of an opportunity to relax. I was so busy at the height of things last summer that I hardly remember there even having been one, but I’ve had enough spare time this winter and spring to take notice of the changing temperatures again. Still, projects of such a major magnitude always bring strong aftershocks in their wake, and the FINAL FANTASY XIII OST PLUS is one such seismic event.

FINAL FANTASY XIII’s worldwide production and release entailed the creation of assets extending far beyond the scope of the game itself, and music was no exception. Starting with the very first E3 announcement trailer theme back in 2006, there have been numerous promotional video tracks, overseas version game tracks, and alternate-take tracks that did not quite fit within the framework of the original soundtrack.

Toward the end of last year, I spoke of wanting to digitally distribute the English version of “Chocobos of Cocoon” at the very least. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I had enough songs and prototype audio tracks for a full-fledged CD. This new disc’s jacket design incorporates elements not often seen in Japan, lending a unique “collector’s edition” flair to an already fascinating compilation. Written commentary has been included for each and every track, so please listen with booklet in hand and come along for a backstage tour of FINAL FANTASY XIII’s music production process.

As for myself, I think I had best go off in search of more hidden gems for the next big aftershock. Be looking forward to it!

A beautiful day with cherry blossoms in full bloom, April 2010

Track Commentary


Created for Jump Festa 2007, this song features interwoven motifs of “Blinded By Light” (Lightning), “Prelude” (Vanille), and the sound of footsteps (crystal). It was an attempt at seeing how far I could take layering (placing raw instrumentals on top of synthetic audio) in the way I had envisioned, so I had to be very picky about everything from sound generation to the scoring and final mixing, being sure to pick up the lines I wanted, getting the kinds of performances I could not create synthetically, adjusting the pitch and balance of the raw and synthetic audio, and so on. On the upside, it succeeded in allowing me to create of a full orchestra from a group of only just over ten musicians, but on the downside, it was quite time-consuming. There was trial and error involved, and it ended up requiring a full month to complete. The pace picked up over time, though, and I was able to use a technique very close to this one for several songs in the actual game.


This was the theme used in the E3 2006 trailer. It was the very first song I composed for FINAL FANTASY XIII, followed by “Blinded By Light.” I had been toying around with the idea of rearranging the ending and recording a live orchestral version, but the opportunity never came along. I would have been content even if this version had only stuck around for that year or so after E3, but as it turned out, it ended up being used in several places even after the game’s release.

M1 No. 2 Title – Alpha Version

This was the demo version of “FINAL FANTASY XIII – The Promise.” It ended up being scrapped, with the synthesizer sounds you can hear from time to time all replaced by live recordings, but a lot of people seemed to think this version was fine as it was, and I remained on the fence about what to do right up until the recording.

M3 No. 4 Boss A – Alpha Version

This was the demo version of “Saber’s Edge.” The final version placed a live orchestral layer on top, and the piano was swapped out as well. Toward the end of development, there was actually a problem with some of these old versions of songs being played in the game for an unknown reason. I first noticed when someone said, “Hey, the boss battle music just got cooler all of a sudden. Did you change it again?” Well, hey. Those kinds of things happen every once in a while!

M306 OPN2 “Defiers of Fate” – Palamecia Assault Version

This is an extended version of “Defiers of Fate.” I had only planned on using the song in a few select places originally, but I miscalculated the number of tracks I would need to cover all of the scenes and ended up having to use it in quite a few different places.


The original version of “Hope’s Theme” was mocked up on piano. I wanted to go with an acoustic guitar for Hope in the actual game, so I ended up hiding this version away without letting anyone listen to it. Quite a few other issues developed along the way, and I ended up abandoning it altogether. It was something of a mixed bag, so the version included in this CD is only a portion of the full track. Sorry!

M42E “The Sunleth Waterscape” – English Version

We tweaked the lyrics for the overseas versions of the game, so we re-recorded this song after we had finished up the domestic version. I think if we ever had the chance to do a live concert version, this would be the one.

M36A “The Gapra Whitewood” – Instrumental

“The Gapra Whitewood” had actually been an instrumental song called “Gapra Forest” until midway through development. We then made a second version with lyrics, and decided to use both. There were some twists and turns along the way, though, and this instrumental version never ended up being used.

M74_2 PRO “Fighting Fate” – Without Chorus

This is a version of “Fighting Fate” with the chorus removed, rearranged to fit with the lines of a movie and made slightly shorter than the original version as a result. The scene in question was one with intense fighting and a lot of speech, and I think this arrangement did a good job at remaining subtle in the background so as not to interfere with the spoken lines.

M64E “Chocobos of Cocoon” – English Version

A number of songs, including the main theme, were altered or replaced in the English version of FINAL FANTASY XIII. “Chocobos of Cocoon” was one of them, featuring all-English lyrics. The vocalist was Frances Maya, just as in the domestic version. The Square Enix localization team, Frances, and I put a lot of careful thought and consideration into the choice of lyrics, and I think the final song has a very cohesive feel as a result.

M33 Lightning NW Version

This was the early take on “Lightning’s Theme.” In this version, piano was central in the refrain. It was a small enough undertaking that I ended up having it rearranged with a live recording for the final version, but the synthesized version was also rather popular, and we considered using it alongside the recorded one. I remixed this version for inclusion on the CD.

M181 Assault 2 Prototype

This was a demo track I created at the beginning of development, before I had a grasp on the game’s mood and setting. It was modeled on the structure of FFX’s “Assault” and titled “Assault 2.” I had still needed a drum part and some other things to bring it closer to the original song, but it ended up needing to be rearranged for the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra anyway (later turning into “Fang’s Theme”), and it never quite got there. It might be fun to try to create a dryer version like that sometime, though.

M44B Sazh B+ Prototype

This was an early demo version of “Can’t Catch a Break.” I had a guitarist friend from my college days, Toru Tabei, come into the composition booth and play for me. It was only intended to be demo track, so you can hear us shouting out and horsing around a bit.

M106 Final Battle Prototype+

It has been quite a while now since synthesized audio began to have an influence on the world of orchestral music. I think it will be hard to ever create something synthetic that’s more convincing than a live performance, but at the same time, there are a lot of people with whom it really strikes a chord; gamers and game music fans in particular. The advances in game music in recent years have been remarkable, and the amount of data you can fit into a game has increased to such a degree that it can’t even be compared to what we had in the past. Still, we older gamers grew up accustomed to the shackles of onboard sound generators, and I think that familiarity with clear, distinct sounds and very regular rhythms is very big for us. If you ask people who don’t really play games, on the other hand, they will agree overwhelmingly that a genuine performance is better for music. How to take into account those two differing views is always a major issue of concern, especially in the FINAL FANTASY series, which, traditionally, has made use of hardware-generated music. There are also factors to consider beyond music. Other things have changed over time as well, like the greater movie file sizes resulting from advances in graphical quality, and the balances there have to constantly be taken into account as well. We game music composers are still very much in a transitional period. I often hear things like, “Isn’t synthetic music good enough?” but that means sampling, and that there won’t be a musician playing the piece who actually understands it. I think we tend to dance around the issue of what that really means. Then again, even if it is recorded live, the recording process involves cutting and pasting pieces of the performance together. Some people may say that at that point there really isn’t any difference. Synthetic audio is based on the laws of physics, employed to work with the atoms that make up our human ears and brains. At the end of the day it may well be that it plays to our sensitivities and moves us in a strange but definable way. This “M106 Final Battle Prototype+” formed the foundation for “Nascent Requiem,” but I also reedited it for this CD as an opportunity to demonstrate the issues with authentic and synthetic audio.

M5_2 “Blinded By Light” – Extended Version

I tweaked the verse for this version, greatly extending the overall length. The editing was done to allow the song to be aligned with the scene in such a way that the chorus would fall in just the right place.

M42 “The Sunleth Waterscape” – Instrumental

A lot of people had expressed a burning desire to sing Sunleth. By all means, sing along to this karaoke version at home or at a friend’s house.

[Special thanks to Square Enix Japan’s music department for coordinating the translation of the album booklet and for allowing us to publish it on OSV]

大きな仕事が終わって、ゆっくりする時間ができました。昨夏の佳境のときはあまりに忙しく「夏なんかあったのか」と思うくらいでしたが、冬から春にかけては毎日の寒暖の差を感じる余裕はありました。しかしこれだけ大きなプロジェクトになると、まだまだ強い余波が襲ってきます。そのうちの一つがこの「FINAL FANTASY XIII OST PLUS」です。

全世界で発売された「FINAL FANTASY XIII」は、ゲーム本体以外の産物もたくさん存在していますが、音楽も例外ではありませんでした。「プロモーション映像専用曲」、「海外専用バージョン」、「別編集テイク」など、2006年のE3でPV曲を発表してから現在までの間に、サントラの枠に当てはまらなかったトラックも多数存在しています。

昨年末頃に「コクーンdeチョコボ English Version」なんかは配信くらいはしたいですね…、なんて話していたのですが、それならあれもこれもと候補曲が増えてきて、気づくとプロトタイプ音源まで加えたCD化にまで膨れ上がっていました。ジャケットの絵も国内ではこれまであまり目にしない、レアアイテム的な要素が強く、大変面白い一枚になったと思います。一曲ずつ解説をしていますので、ブックレットを手に、「FINAL FANTASY XIII」音楽制作のバックステージツアーのような感覚で楽しんでいただけたらと思います。








M1 No.2 title αVersion

「FINAL FANTASY XIII ~誓い~」のデモバージョンです。ところどころに鳴っているシンセの音は本編の「誓い」では全て生に変えようという意図で使用しませんでしたが、こちらも多いにアリという意見も多く、収録前までちょっと悩んでいました。

M3 No.4 BossA αVersion


M306 OPN2「運命への反逆」パラメキア突入 Version




M42E 「サンレス水郷」海外 Version


M36A 「ガプラ樹林」 Instrumental


M74_2 PRO「宿命への抗い」 コーラス無し Version


M64E 「コクーンdeチョコボ」English Version

海外版FFXIIIでは主題歌の他に一部の曲のバージョンが違います。そのうちのひとつがこの「コクーン de チョコボ」で、全て英語の歌詞になっています。歌っているのは国内版と同じ、フランシス・マヤです。スクウェア・エニックスのローカライズチームとフランシスと私で、より精度の高い歌詞にしようとじっくり取り組んだことで、とてもまとまりのあるテイクができたと思います。

M33 Lightning NW Version


M181 Shugeki2 Prototype


M44B サッズB+ Prototype


M106 Last Battle Prototype +

打込みがオケの世界にも及ぶようになってからもう長い時間が経ちます。やはり生演奏の説得力を超えるものはなかなか出来ないとは思いますが、打込みの方がしっくりくる人も多数存在して、ゲーム音楽ファンやゲームに携わっている人には特に多いという実感があります。近年のゲーム音楽の進化は目覚ましく、盛り込める情報量も比較にならないほど多くなっていますが、我々のような古いゲーマーは内蔵音源の制約の中を通ってきていることもあり、明瞭な音の輪郭や規則正しいリズムの配列といった、理解しやすいものに慣れているというのも大きいように思います。一方でゲームをほとんどしたことのない人からは「生の曲のほうがいい」と言われることが圧倒的で、このあたりにどう対応するかはいつも大きなテーマとなっており、FFシリーズの多くは基本的に内臓音源だったということもあり特に気をつかいました。また音楽以外の映像やシステムといった要素の情報量も、時代とともに大きく変化しており、それらとのバランスの取り方にも気を抜くことはできません。我々ゲーム音楽作曲家はまだまだ過渡期の中にいると考えていいのかもしれません。打ち込みというもののあり方についても、「打込みで十分じゃないですか」という言葉を何度もいただいてきたのですが、あくまでサンプリングであり、実際の演奏者がその曲を理解して奏でているわけではないというところをどう解釈したものか、という部分などはまだ先送りにしていると言えます。生で録ったとしても、レコーディングのシステム自体、切り貼りが発生している時点で同じではないかという見方もあるかもしれませんし、人間の耳や脳という原子の組み合わせにマッチした「打込み」という物理学を、結局は感性で操り感動を生んでいるということにも神秘性や整合性もあるかもしれません。この「M106 Last Battle Prototype +」は「生誕のレクイエム」の原曲に当たりますが、生と打ち込みの問題を今一度検証する意味もあって、今回の本CD用に再編集してみました。

M5_2 「閃光」Long Version


M42 「サンレス水郷」 Instrumental


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