One of the things that anybody who knows me well is that I am into a very special type of music.
No, it isn’t anything mainstream. In fact, I can think of only 3 other people who enjoy this type of music as much as I do.
Quite simply, it is soundtracks from video games. Especially Role Playing Games.
I have what I feel is a very impressive collection of OST (Original Soundtrack) from a variety of games. One reason I think I enjoy the music so much is because I did grow up listening to the music from these games almost entirely. When it comes to my favorite activity both now and then, it certainly is video games.
More so than any of my other hobbies. It even surpasses the playing and writing of music.
So I have an ingrained affinity to the music. I always had a great auditory memory as well. I can still hum music from old Nintendo games I haven’t played in over 15 years. If you say “Flash Man from Mega Man 2”, I will hum it in tune and on key. You may even get some of that terrible synth drum channel that NES was notorious for.
But the ones I latched onto immediately are the Final Fantasy series’ OSTs. I have them all. And not just some remixed versions or user-generated remixes. Just like I was playing the original version of the game.
Why do I enjoy listening to the music so much? Plain and simple – it is something for me to listen too, and I can do almost any regular task while I listen. Simply put, many papers got written while I listened to “Dancing Mad”, the final boss music from Final Fantasy 6, and other songs from those series.
As I discovered the fact that some more uncommon OSTs existed, I found as many of them as I could and got them. I have the OSTs for such obscure games as Emperor: Battle for Dune (a favorite actually), Dune 2000, StarFox, Perfect Dark, Super Mario RPG, Secret of Mana (and all of it’s prequels and sequels), Ogre Battle (and it’s derivatives), and the F-Zero series. Simply put, there’s a soundtrack for all kinds of moods.
Actually, now that I mention the “Emperor” soundtrack, it reminds me of a story.
About a year ago, I did something that I was always a bit afraid of, but knew I had to do – I donated blood. I’ve always been a bit squeamish about things like this, but I knew it was the right thing to do. To get me through it, however, I popped up the Emperor Soundtrack because the music had such a driving beat to it, and the tunes are so engrossing overall (I even asked the Phlebotomist to cover the donation bags so I couldn’t watch my blood being drawn). I looked up at the ceiling of Sacred Heart’s Field House for a while and enjoyed it. Hey, it got me through it. I may even do it again in the future.
Well anyway, point is I have always enjoyed VG music. I downloaded MIDI tracks as well. But then I found a game that had a great soundtrack, but very few MIDI files for its music.
And so, I began the Final Fantasy Tactics Battle Music Project, which at the time was a regularly updated website with the files that I created using various implements, most notably a program called Noteworthy Composer. My methods were this easy. I used an audio recorder to tape the particular song of interest off of the TV while the game was playing. Then I systematically tried to pick out the different instruments and parts, then try to transcribe them on the keyboard. Once I had figured out one or two instruments, usually the rest were easy to pick out as well. This method certainly wasn’t the best, but at the time I was very mad that these files didn’t exist, and I wanted to change that.
I ended up transcribing quite a few of the songs from the game, and within the next two years, I noticed lots of fan sites posting my MIDI files. I also got lots of great comments, emails, and requests. I did the majority of the work for files in this game within those two years, but I would go back periodically until I was done in college to update some of the songs that I knew better.
I also at one point in college (~2000 I think) did a similar site for Final Fantasy 9 called (how original) the FF9 MIDI Project. Similar to FFT, I transcribed select songs due to not many being transcribed at the time. I still find both of the MIDI files from these games around the internet.
It wasn’t long after this that I began composing music similar in style. There will be more on that in the next edition of this series. Stay tuned for that next month!