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Game Music

yuzo-koshiro-and-norihiko-hibino-spinning-a-tale-with-the-music-of-etrian-odyssey

Yuzo Koshiro and Norihiko Hibino: Spinning A Tale With The Music of Etrian Odyssey

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We’re celebrating a day of Etrian Odyssey with the release of the new Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version today in Japan.  Hopefully you’ve read our full review of the album, but we have even more in store for you on this joyous ocassion.

We’ve been able to get some words with Yuzo Koshiro and Norihiko Hibino about their respective roles as composer and arranger/producer of the music in the Etrian Odyssey series. We focus on the latest album, of course, but we also revisit some of the past arrangement albums and discuss the possbility of more collaborations in the future. We then talk about their upcoming performance at EXTRA – HYPER GAME MUSIC EVENT 2008, and talk about what’s next for each of them. Finally, as a treat for the fans, we have more photos and even some sheet music scans from the Piano and Strings recording sessions.

Will you be importing the Piano and Strings Super Arrange Version? Would you buy a music book full of sheet music for the album if it was released?

Read the full interview and enjoy the photos and sheet music scans after the jump.

OSV: Koshiro-san and Hibino-san, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about the Etrian Odyssey series and the upcoming Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version. We’re curious to know how the two of you came to work together. Hibino-san has arranged music for all of the Etrian Odyssey albums, so how did the two of you meet, and why was Hibino-san chosen as an arranger?

Koshiro: We actually met at EXTRA last year, as Hibino-san was organizing it and we met there. After that, we worked together on several projects at my own company and I found out that Hibino-san is not only a great arranger, but he is an expert sound producer who is able to coordinate musicians and get the best recordings under any circumstances, and I’ve come to really trust him.

Hibino: Yes, I was so honored to work with such a genius composer. Even in his DS games, his melodic and harmonic sense and classical influences are featured. So it was easy for me to be inspired by his work.

OSV: Koshiro-san, as the composer of the Etrian Odyssey series, what is it that you like about the world? What has inspired you to include both a DS version and PC-88 version as well as produce arrangement albums for each title? I take it you’re a big fan of this gaming universe.

Koshiro: For the original Sekaiju, the game producer wanted an “old-fashioned game sound such like Sorcerian,” and I thought it would make the producer happy if I used the FM sound module. For Sekaiju II, due to the good sales for the first soundtrack and the arranged version, I thought I should create music that was more memorable with the idea that it could be arranged later. The second game also takes place in the forest, so I wrote songs with that image in mind.

OSV: Hibino-san, as an arranger and producer for all the arrangement albums, what have you come to like about the series? Do you have any thoughts about the kind of music in the games, and do you feel you’ve come to know the music like it was your own?

Hibino: At first I listened to the original soundtrack and noticed that the music was so well constructed, and had such good melodies. I could easily imagine how Koshiro-san wanted the music to sound with a rich sound environment. I thought rather than arrange everything myself, I should also bring in guest arrangers from the game industry to enhance and raise the cultural standards of video game sound.

OSV: Tell us about what went into the making of the Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version. Why did you decide to create this album?

Koshiro: When I listened to the Sekaiju II Super Arrange Version, I especially liked Hibino-san’s acoustic arrangement. It was exactly how I originally imagined it should sound. I was already thinking about creating an acoustic album, and when [Masatoshi Nakamura] brought up this idea, I was very happy.

Hibino: At Vanilla Mood Nakamura-san and I had talked about my assistant Ayumi, who kept listening to track 3 on the Sekaiju II Super Arrange Version in the office… repeatedly. I told him there was a need not only for game music lovers, but also young females who like relaxing music, and it would be a good opportunity for people to get in touch with Koshiro-san’s music with such an arrange album. He liked the idea, and we decided to go ahead with it. We also decided to include charts so that some serious fans can practice and play! If fans want beautifully notated music charts, we’ll gladly publish a complete music book.

OSV: On this topic, the Sekaiju no MeiQ² *shoou no seihai* Super Arrange Version featured an impressive array of talent from the game music industry. Was it under consideration to have some of these big names contribute to this album in any way? Could we see something like that album again in the future?

Hibino: I made the decision to bring in the other arrangers on that album. As I mentioned above, I wanted to raise the cultural standards of video game music while giving the composers a challenge. For the first two Sekaiju Super Arrange Versions, I asked the arrangers to “go extreme,” and I helped each artist based on their strengths to push them into the right direction to get an extreme sound. But for the Piano and Strings Super Arrange Version, this is entirely my vision of being extremely relaxing!

OSV: Although the album features piano and strings, there are some other influences here as well, including a sort of bossa nova-like sound in the battle track arrangement, and even some other jazzy tracks. Tell us about the discussions you had regarding the direction for this album. What was the overall feeling you were aiming for?

Koshiro: We had talks during the beginning stages of the album, and my only directions for Hibino-san were to “please do as you like.” I also knew the battle songs were quite popular among fans, so I recommended that there should be some arrangements of these songs, and even these were changed a lot. Hibino-san treated them in some very nice ways.

Hibino: I thought the aim of this album was “relaxing music,” and to serve that purpose, anything could be used. I think this exposed Koshiro-san’s musical talents even more.

OSV: One of my favorite tracks from the series is “Blue and White.” It was featured in both Etrian Odyssey titles as well as on the first Super Arrange Version and on the upcoming Piano and Strings album as well. Koshiro-san, as the composer, what can you tell us about the creation of this piece? Is it an important theme in your mind? Hibino-san, what has it been like to arrange this beautiful theme?

Koshiro: This theme has been used since the original Sekaiju for “truth” scenes, when some truth is told. I imagined the music specifically for these scenes.

Hibino: Well, there’s really nothing special going on with this song. However, there is a special atmosphere in it. Simple, but quite inspirational!

OSV: Are we likely going to have to wait until the next Etrian Odyssey title until we see any more arrangement albums? There are so many albums dedicated to this series, including the Super Arrange Versions and the piano album that was included with pre-orders in Japan. What has encouraged each of you to press on with so many reinterpretations of this music? Would you like to do a similar series of arrangement albums for any of your respective projects that you’ve worked on outside of Etrian Odyssey?

Koshiro: This is entirely Nakamura-san’s decision. If he wants to make more arrange albums, then it will happen.

OSV: It’s been announced that the two of you are performing together at the EXTRA – HYPER GAME MUSIC EVENT 2008 event next month. Will the performance have anything to do with the Etrian Odyssey series given your collaboration on these arrangement albums? What can we expect?

Hibino: Yes, Koshiro-san and I will go up to the stage and play a relaxing arrangement of the Sekaiju I and II battle themes, as well as the first Sekaiju II dungeon track that is included on the Sekaiju II Super Arrange Version. We’ll have some close friends performing with us at EXTRA like we did when we recorded the Piano and Strings album.

OSV: Can we expect to see the two of you collaborating with one another in other ways in the future? Perhaps on another game series, or even co-composing music together for a project in the future?

Koshiro: Yes, we are planning on it. I recently did SEGA’s DS title, 7th Dragon, and we may work on some arrangement albums too.

Hibino: Yes, I hope to work with Koshiro-san more in the future.

OSV: Koshiro-san and Hibino-san, please tell us what you will each be working on next. We look forward to hearing your music in the future!

Koshiro: I’m working on a lot right now, but the only title I’m allowed to mention is 7th Dragon.

Hibino: We’re currently working on Ninja Blade at GEM Impact, and hopefully you’ll heard more about the game at TGS. We’re also working on some other titles that I cannot mention.

OSV: Thank you both once again for your time.

[Special thanks to Norihiko Hibino for conducting this interview and translating, and to 5pb for the photographs]

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