Musical Inspirations Vol. 2: Nobuo Uematsu

I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is that?

Nobuo Uematsu is famous for his composition/arrangement works with the video-game company Square. He wrote most of the scores for over 30 of their games, including the core Final Fantasy franchise.

Also keyboard player for “The Black Mages” a group that took music from the franchise and turned it into a rock band.

Okay, but what does that have to do with you?

Glad you asked.
I try to find inspiration in every kind of music I listen to, and some of the best music I’ve ever heard has been written in video-games!

Don’t believe me? Can you recall the music from the classic NES game Super Mario Brothers? I bet you can. How about any music from The Legend of Zelda.. It’s iconic.

Personally, Nobuo is the reason I managed to figure out how to finger-pick on an acoustic guitar, and I’m honestly not too bad at at!
Specifically this piece of music:

It’s a beautiful piece of music and unless you know it’s from a video-game, you would never think otherwise.

His music is very technical and interesting. I think I hummed the boss theme from FF8 all the way through my 8th grade year of school, because it was such a memorable piece of music.

Then there’s the mighty symphonic “One Winged Angel” which sits near and dear to any RPG nerds heart.

I saw an interview once where Uematsu explained the writing process. It wasn’t meant to just be a symphonic piece. It was written in a way that it could also be a Rock piece. A perfect bridge between the big band style & the modern era heavy metal.

Isn’t that beautiful? I sure think so.

Being a long time band-geek has its advantages,

Through my early years of a musician, I learned how to listen to a massive group of people playing instruments, and being able to isolate each individual part, in my mind.

It’s one of the reasons I love modern progressive rock. There is SO much to listen to, I can sit and get lost in the music, without being bored with repetition.

People who arrange pieces of music like this, are the types you should be listening to. They are smart about writing. They know how to take an idea, and implement it through a whole arsenal of tones and sounds.

 

So, I challenge you:

Next time you’re listening to music. Actually listen to the music. Don’t idly drone words and zombie your way through albums. People put every single detail into a song, for a specific reason. It’s our duty, as fans, to find those details and appreciate the beauty of what’s been written for our entertainment. Really think about the way the music feels.

If we had more people like that in the world, music would be a hell of a lot more fun to write!

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re all enjoying this look into my musical inspirations, as much as I am!

It’s rainy out.. let’s talk about passion!

Good afternoon readers,

Today, let’s talk about the thing that makes you feel awkward, when you get too involved describing the things you love most: Passion.

I am a person of varying hobbies: from working on cars, to playing music, videogames, building things, small electronics, fixing things (mainly my guitar player’s equipment)… The list is endless… and every hobby that I have the ability to enjoy, I am extremely passionate about.

I never realized just HOW deeply I involve myself in things, until the one day I was having a conversation with my brother-in-law about music, at great depths, and he kind of chuckled. When I asked what was up, he simply said “Nothing, I just love the passion that you have for music. It’s very refreshing, that you don’t hold back.”

It was at that point that I realized, I do view my world a little differently, than most people.

I don’t just LISTEN to music. I can’t just hear a song and say “oh, that’s a good song.”  There has to be some nostalgic feeling, a specific chord progression that brings emotion, or just intense lyrical ideas to catch my attention.

I’m the type of person who will listen to a song, for that one moment, that brings the whole thing together. It could be a strong harmony, a well placed syncopated rhythm, remarkable drumming… anything… but when I know it’s coming, you’ll know, because I”ll tell you to shut up and listen.

For example:
In the band Royal Blood’s song “Out of the Black” The chorus has a line that about struck me speechless, the first time I heard it.

“I’ve got a gun for a mouth, and a bullet with your name on it.”

How powerful is that? It’s a lyric, mimicking the idea of your tongue being a powerful weapon, as if you should have a carrying permit to speak, for the amount of damage it can do to a person.
That stems back to Biblical times… take your attention to Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

What he’s done here, is taken an age-old concept, and brought it to modern ideology… Kind of… more of the piercing sword, less of the wise healing.

Most people would just listen to the song and be like “oh, that’s cool.”
The difference between them and me, is passion.

Another one:
I’ve been playing video games ever since I was old enough to hold a controller. In the 25+ years that I’ve been a gamer, I’ve come to enjoy the captivating stories that RPG style games offer.

And you can’t say RPG games, without mentioning the hardest hitting one of all: Final Fantasy VII.
This, is literally the game that made me realize video games have a higher purpose than just being the world’s best babysitter.

I can’t even tell you how many hours of my life have been spent on this gem, since it came out in 1997. I’ve explored every nook and cranny of the title, and never gotten bored with the story. The main character fights this overbearing concept of “Who am I?” throughout the entire story. It’s a very dark story, lots of death and corruption, but always this underlying concept the whole time, and I believe that game came out, in an era where ‘fighting the power’ was a big concept. Teens were viewed as rebellious and confused. We were in this constant struggle to find out our purpose, and to make sure it was fitting to our desires. It came out in a time, where the media was slowly taking over our lives, and feeding us the information they thought we should know, and the world was slowly falling into despair and corruption. It very well mimicked the times.

Aside from that, EVERY character in the game had a purpose, and if you paid attention, you got a plethora of backstory without having to dig too much. Then in the subsequent sequels, prequels, and side-stories; you were met with the REST of the story, that you may have missed, if you weren’t paying attention.

I’m doing me best to not spoil a game that came out 20 years ago, but with the remake on the way, anyone who’s interested is going to come across it.

Again, I barely have touched the surface of how deep and emotional this game is, and I’m already rambling on, like an idiot.

 

So, there it is… Passion, it’s what fuels our creative juices… I think, especially in a community like this, passion is an everyday thing.
What are some things you are passionate about? I’d really like to hear. When people share their passions, you are seeing a deep side of them. You’re seeing what they’re made of.

-Joe

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