Song of the Day: To Zanarkand (by Uematsu Nobuo)


ToZanarkand

After necromoonyeti helped rekindle memories of days, weeks and months playing Final Fantasy and listening to it’s soundtrack I thought it was only appropriate that the latest “Song of the Day” comes from that very series.

“To Zanarkand” is the theme to Final Fantasy X. An entry in the venerated rpg franchise that has been underrated since it came out in 2001. While the game never reached the sort of acclaim and fan devotion as earlier entries like Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI (I’m of the few that thought Final Fantasy VII was average, at best) this tenth entry still managed to include a soundtrack that was some of composer Uematsu Nobuo’s best work.

There’s been many version of “To Zanarkand” from the original version included in the game and the first soundtrack release to the HD remastered version and reimaginings like the one from the Distant Worlds II music collection. Yet, the version that speaks loudest to me is the new arrangement by Masashi Hamauzu (same composer whose music necromoonyeti posted about previously) for the Final Fantasy X Piano Collections.

This piano solo version takes the original song and brings it down to it’s emotional core. The other versions are just as powerful, especially the full orchestra version, but the simplicity of the piano solo conveying the themes of loss, sorrow and redemption that the game’s narrative was built on works best for me.

Arleigh’s Favorite Five (…Songs) of 2012


I must admit that in 2012 I didn’t get to listen in full many new albums outside of soundtracks. My Fave five of 2012 Songs will reflect this fact, but still with the lack of variety in my past year’s listening habit I thought the songs I came up with for the list I still would’ve put on a much bigger favorite 2012 list if I had need to come up with one. Without further ado he are the Fave Five (though it’s more Fave Six but I decided to combine the first entry’s two as a tie).

  • The Fave Five starts off with a tie that comes from the same film. Both songs come from the soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. While the film may not have been up to some audiences’ high expectations the soundtrack itself by Howard Shore (and for “Song of the Lonely Mountain” as sung by Neill Finn) continued the high-quality of the Tolkien soundtracks which began with the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. “Song of the Lonely Mountain” is a much more folk rock addition to the soundtrack while the “Misty Mountains” was actually part of the film itself when the character of Thorin Oakenshield sings it with his band of dwarfs while at Bilbo Baggin’s hobbit hole in the beginning. Both songs so a great job of telling the story of the quest that begins with this first film in the new trilogy.
  • The theme song 2012’s Skyfall was a throwback to the classic James Bond theme song’s of the Sean Connery and Roger Moore Bond eras. In fact, I thought it’s one of the best theme songs the long-running spy thriller franchise has had these past 25 years. It helps that you have Adele singing the theme who seems to be able to hit the right proper emotional notes during the song. It’s really hard to think of Skyfall the film being as good as it is without making sure one mentions Adele’s theme for it. I’d take the leap and say that the song itself may even be better than the film itself.
  • Mass Effect 3 was the epic conclusion to what was this gaming generation’s version of the original Star Wars space opera. It was a story that spanned the galaxy with memorable characters, thrilling action and some very good writing. There will always be the vocal minority who seem to think the ending to the trilogy was bungled by the writers over ta BioWare. That’s a whole different debate altogether. One thing that doesn’t seem to bring out the pitchforks was Clint Mansell’s score work for the game and it all culminates with the song simply titled “An End, Once and For All” which in it’s extended version more than makes up for whatever deficiencies the ending it orchestrally-scored may have had.
  • Another game’s music makes itself to my Fave Five list and this time it’s my second favorite song for the year of 2012. It’s from Halo 4 and it’s a song that brought new life to the venerable franchise. It didn’t just make the end credits more than just memorable, but also surprised many fans of the franchise’s music since the song wasn’t composed by the franchise’s original music composer, Martin O’Donnell, but by Kazuma Jinnouchi. It’s the one song in 2012 that I must’ve listened to on repeat for hours on end and probably in the high hundreds by now. It’s a song that brings back memories of the scifi soundtracks of the 80’s. It’s a work that I easily can compare to the best that’s ever been composed by luminaries in the genre like John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Michael Giacchino and others.
  • What can I say. The song speaks for itself. How can one not say this was the best song for 2012.

Song of the Day: 117 from Halo 4 (by Kazuma Jinnouchi)


It’s now been three or more weeks since I began playing halo 4 and to say that it has surpassed my very high expectations for this title would be an understatement. Even the soundtrack has been such a wonderful surprise that I’ve been listening to it almost nonstop. I already profiled one of my favorite tracks from Neil Davidge’s work on the score with the song Green and Blue and now I pick another track from the soundtrack for the next “Song of the Day”.

This one wasn’t composed by Neil Davidge but from another composer brought in to create the final end credits song. The game could easily have settled for using music that played during the game to score the lengthy end credits, but everyone involved went for broke and decided really remind gamers that what they’ve just gone through was epic both in gaming terms but also in cinematic. It’s hard not to listen to Kazuma Jinnouchi’s contribution to this title’s score, simply titled “117”, and not imagine some sci-fi blockbuster film rolling up it’s credits with this type of song being played alongside.

From just listening to “117” one could hear some early James Horner influences in Jinnouchi’s composition in the track’s beginning and middle before it transitions in it’s last third to something that resembles one of Basil Poledouris’ epic martial scores. For fans of Martin O’Donnell’s own work in the previous Halo titles this song reaches a crescendo around 6:05 mark with a very familar musical cue. For those who complained that the Halo 4 soundtrack abandoned the iconic sound of the Bungie Studio produced Halo soundtracks should listen to this song around that mark much more closely.

While Neil Davidge deserves all the praise he has been getting for his work on the soundtrack for Halo some of it should also be heaped Jinnouchi-san’s way for the very epic (yes it bears repeating that word) musical composition he created to end the Halo 4 title and leave fans wanting the sequels to arrive now rather than later.

Song of the Day: Green and Blue from Halo 4 (by Neil Davidge)


The latest “Song of the Day” comes from the Halo 4 soundtrack. I have just finished playing the campaign and for a first-person shooter the story is what makes the game great. The song from the soundtrack I’ve ended up loving through my first listen through the album is track 15 with the simple title of “Green and Blue”.

The past Halo titles while it was under the development of it’s originators over at Bungie Studios had Martin O’Donnell composing all the music. His Halo theme as become one of the most iconic and recognizable piece of video game music. One doesn’t even have to be a fan of the series to recognize O’Donnell’s theme. When Bungie finally ended their work on the series and Microsoft’s in-house game studio created to take over with 343 Industries fans of the series were concerned that any future Halo titles wouldn’t be able to stand up to O’Donnell’s work under the original regime.

For Halo 4 a new composer was hired to create the appropriate score for the title. In comes Massive Attack’s Neil Davidge to follow in the huge foot steps of O’Donnell. The track I chose is just one piece of a huge orchestral score that Davidge (with assistance from Kazuma Jinnouichi) ended up creating for the title. It’s not just my favorite but also the one piece of music in the entire score that best describes the themes and emotional content of the narrative created for the campaign of Halo 4.

The song begins with a subtle opening that speaks of the revival of the game’s two leads in Master Chief and his A.I. companion, Cortana. They are the Green and Blue of the title. From their revival, to a ethereal lament that then moves moves into a growing, rousing section that best describes the two characters’ relationship and feelings for each other. These are two individuals who have been through hell and back and going into the breach once again and there’s a chance that one or both won’t be back.

As a fan of O’Donnell’s work on the series I was one of those who had concerns about whether Davidge could handle being the new musical caretaker for the Halo franchise. With this example from the game’s orchestral score my concerns have been alleviated and now have another Halo score to enjoy.

Song of the Day: An End, Once and For All from Mass Effect 3 (by Clint Mansell & Sam Hulick)


Earlier this year we saw the release of the final entry in BioWare’s epic space opera video game series with Mass Effect 3. The initial response to this game was a near-unanimous critical praise and acclaim. Yet, as people finished the game a very vocal group of gamers and fans of the series were more than just a tad disappointed with how their favorite series came to an end. The venom and hate that poured from an ending that didn’t seem to cater to how these gamers thought the series would end became so loud that BioWare did something unexpected. The company, especially it’s founders and head honchos, decided to amend the ending to the game with a downloadable content that just came out in the last week or so. It was content that expanded on the ending to the game. It wasn’t enough to placate and satisfy those who felt betrayed by BioWare, but for some who did complain the ending was a good enough expansion to the game’s original ending that, while not all was forgiven, BioWare helped themselves in repairing the rift which grew between company and fan-base.

Let’s just say that I wasn’t one of those who complained about the ending. I thought it was sublime and the ending I chose fit in well with how I saw the game ultimately should’ve ended with how I had chosen my character to act, talk and behave throughout the three games in the series.

It’s from the recent Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC that I pick the latest “Song of the Day”. It’s the song the piece of orchestral score which plays through all the three original endings but extended beyond the original version of the score that ended abruptly. “An End, Once and For All” extends in this new version for a much more dramatic and satisfying end to a series that I consider one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had in over three decades.

I give much thanks to the game’s two orchestral composer in Clint Mansell whose contribution could be heard in the beginning of this chosen score. Sam Hulick adds his own voice to the score as the music moves toward an epic crescendo which finishes the song.

SPOILER

SPOILER

SPOILER

If you want to witness why I thought the Synthesis Choice was the ending that made sense then watch the video below.

Morrowind/Skyrim Theme Piano and Violin Cover


To cap off the night as I recover from that arrow I took to the knee I would like to share one of the many reasons why YouTube continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Two very talented ladies decided to take it upon themselves to cover both the main themes to Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as a medley. To say that they knocked it out of the park would be an understatement. To think they accomplished this by listening to the two themes and creating the musical arrangements themselves without any sheet music just speaks to their talent as musicians.

Source: YouTube

Song of the Day: Song of the Dragonborn from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (by Jeremy Soule)


The latest “Song of the Day” comes from my latest obsession that should take up much free time I have when not blogging or working. It’s the main theme from the latest entry in the Elder Scrolls rpg franchise from Bethesda, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The theme has been unofficially called “Song of the Dragonborn” and I’m more than fine with that unofficial title.

“Song of the Dragonborn” was written and composed by this franchise’s longtime music composer in Jeremy Soule. He has done the orchestral score in this series’ previous two titles and this latest one looks to continue the quality work he’s done in the past. The song is a combination of Wagnerian-style orchestral music with the martial chanting by the male chorus. The chorus itself is from the fictional language of the Nord (the Viking like race in the game) created just for this game.

All I can say is that this song has been on constant repeat since I started playing this game and it’s such a great backdrop to slaying people and things in the game with my Nord Warrior, Berek Thunderfist.

Song of the Dragonborn

(Chorus)

Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin,

Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!

Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan,

Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draal!

Huzrah nu, kul do od, wah aan bok lingrah vod,

Ahrk fin tey, boziik fun, do fin gein!

Wo lost fron wah ney dov, ahrk fin reyliik do jul,

Voth aan suleyk wah ronit faal krein!

Ahrk fin zul, rok drey kod, nau tol morokei frod,

Rul lot Taazokaan motaad voth kein!

Sahrot Thu’um, med aan tuz, vey zeim hokoron pah,

Ol fin Dovahkiin komeyt ok rein!

(Chorus)

Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin,

Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!

Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan,

Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draal!

Ahrk fin Kel lost prodah, do ved viing ko fin krah,

Tol fod zeymah win kein meyz fundein!

Alduin, feyn do jun, kruziik vokun staadnau,

Voth aan bahlok wah diivon fin lein!

Nuz aan sul, fent alok, fod fin vul dovah nok,

Fen kos nahlot mahfaeraak ahrk ruz!

Paaz Keizaal fen kos stin nol bein Alduin jot,

Dovahkiin kos fin saviik do muz!

(Chorus)

Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin,

Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!

Ahrk fin norok paal graan fodnust vok zin dro zaan,

Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draal!

*     *     *     *     *

(Chorus)

Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,

To keep evil forever at bay!

And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s shout,

Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!

Hearken now, sons of snow, to an age, long ago,

And the tale, boldly told, of the one!

Who was kin to both wyrm, and the races of man,

With a power to rival the sun!

And the voice, he did wield, on that glorious field,

When great Tamriel shuddered with war!

Mighty Thu’um, like a blade, cut through enemies all,

As the Dragonborn issued his roar!

(Chorus)

Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,

To keep evil forever at bay!

And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s shout,

Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!

And the Scrolls have foretold, of black wings in the cold,

That when brothers wage war come unfurled!

Alduin, Bane of Kings, ancient shadow unbound,

With a hunger to swallow the world!

But a day, shall arise, when the dark dragon’s lies,

Will be silenced forever and then!

Fair Skyrim will be free from foul Alduin’s maw,

Dragonborn be the savior of men!

(Chorus)

Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,

To keep evil forever at bay!

And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph’s shout,

Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!