Minna de “Critique” – Music

Today’s edition will be written with glasses.

It feels good.

That and I’m tired of Sakuraba’s “music”. Very, very tired. I’m currently “playing” (mostly auto) Tales of The Rays.

If you want a summary of that, this is the story. You create duplicates and take the heroic spirits of characters from that copy. Yes, it’s basically Fate, or even Kingdom Hearts.

If KH > You take the Nobody of the hero (the heart), and their world is a memory made from the hero (the heart).
If Fate > You go into different worlds to find a servant for your war effort (“to save the world”). The servant has the memories of the “REAL” character, and the world you “exoflect” is essentially a massive noble phantasm.

Yeah, the story is BAD. It’s just not good. All this talk of “mirrages’ and “exoflect” and whatever else they may throw around..

MOVING ON.

For music, I can’t actually write much. It’s difficult. It’s complex. I love it.
So, here’s actual knowledge instead of an actual satirical rant-guide.

If you’re helping someone with a song, you should at least know some basics of music. (COUGH, COUGH COUGH COUGH.)
You don’t need to actually know too much, you can even simply say “something’s off”.
I don’t even know all that I -should- know, like music theory. I should actually get to learning about that one day. Maybe tomorrow. Soon, anyways.

Instruments – This is more difficult, since instruments are generally by region. Sure, we have the common Strings, like a Violin, or a Cello, but you then get into more Celtic territory if you use, let’s say, a Harp. Accordion for that nice midnight French theme.

Sometimes, when you mix and match instruments, let’s say, standard metal rock guitar with a.. Shakuhachi, you get some problems. You get Rokuro’s Theme(s) from Tales of Berseria. Which I find as some hilarious weeb-styled mess. It just isn’t right.

There are cases where it can be done, in more or less a mean way, right. I can’t really think of an example, I guess Senran Kagura works as an example.

Melody – If the song ultimately sounds like gibberish to you, then it needs work. What would it actually need? There’s a good chance, a melody. Randomly adding notes is one thing, but having a track have something you can follow, maybe even sing along to, or with, that’s important.
If you consider the above, this is how you can turn your main theme into a jingle. Like Final Fantasy’s Victory theme being both a simple SFX clip, but also doubles into a full song depending on which game it is.

Bass – Shared with drums, these are important back-up instruments, like guitar riffs in Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s hard to say much more, because.. it’s well, bass. (Pronounced as base, and ironically works well as a base.)
Drums are also important. They span numerous types, and, the actual description is percussion. Percussion instruments can be abused to fill out silence, make things pointlessly dramatic, or be a beat you can tap your foot to. There’s really nothing anything percussive can’t do. Bongos are one of my favorite instruments.


Now, there’s actually something that is to be noted with critique.

Pitfalls. The Repetitive Pitfall.
If a composer falls into a pit-fall where almost everything they produce sounds the same/can cross-games/cross-entertainment with songs they’ve produced elsewhere, then you’ve got trouble.

Motoi Sakuraba is very notable… for his increasingly drab BGM for games. If you’ve heard anything from Vesperia, you’ll hear the same in Xillia, which is the same in Zestiria, which is the same in Berseria (if not, worse).

What made Go(u) Shiina popular with Legendia was really, fresh air for a long running series. He’s also done God Eater, which, while does have said pitfall, it’s one that I’d rather have than Sakuraba, it is a PSP game, after all, and he also works on Idolm@ster.

We can apply this to someone else like.. let’s say… Yoko Shimomura. Sometimes, it feels drab because you can do the same with her music, but more often than not, she aims to match the game, and doesn’t disappoint even with said pitfall. In fact, she even stated that for Radiant Historia, she didn’t want the battle theme to sound repetitive/she wanted to try making something, more or less, good. The game was a DS game with limited space, so it had limited music. They aimed for high quality music, I guess.

This also applies to something like Street Fighter x Tekken, the massive amount of dubstepping introduced, and the fact it’s wormed it’s way into Tekken.

Dubstep sounds like grating static. I have good hearing, I listen to soft things with my headphones. I don’t want to hear every damn static-y grain of dubstep in my head. If anything, it’s really lazy…. it’s just not music. I can achieve better if I slapped a bunch of effects onto a random track to elongate it a la dubstep.


Of course, there’s yet another important key factor in not only one’s judgment, but also one’s composition. 

Genre.

The same song done in different genres can produce different feelings, effects, and influences on a person. That is, if we consider the listener, from the composer’s viewpoint. It’s also really easy/lazy to make an 8-bit version or chip-tunes of an existing song if it’s done in a DAW/Digital Audio Workstation. Once you get a midi, you can do anything lazy.

Some people have types they don’t like, I despise dubstep and have to classify it because it’s that bad. Same with rap. I just can’t stereotypical music that I find in this area. It’s always associated with their races, as well, which sicken me.

I generally can say I don’t mind/like all genres/types of music, but god damn, dubstep.


I mean, a kid on YouTube even said the Fire Emblem theme done in JPOP for #Mirage Sessions, tried to argue it wasn’t the same song.
No.
That’s the same song, alright. It’s simply done in a different GENRE.

Much like how the theme originated from SQUARE WAVES, evolving into the SNES’ instruments, shared with the GBA’s sound chips’ instrumental capability, to actual music. Ironically, the GameCube had quite the good synthetic music.
Eventually, we got the point of the version from… I guess, SM4SH? There’s plenty, but they all include vocals. This is the same thing, done as if it were either theatrical or in an opera.
You can’t argue that the same song (if it uses the same melody, you can make a note-for-note composition of each note up until the basic melody melts away into the “remix” or even “remaster”, whatever it may be) is different if it has points of the same.

If one doesn’t know, sound chips process sound.
The SNES has more “real” instruments, while the GENS has FM Synth.
They have no place in the modern world, unfortunately.
Technology is both amazing, yet sad.


For example…
In Sonic and The Black Knight, you get Sonic’s “It Doesn’t Matter” theme.
How is that a different song? It’s bluntly “It Doesn’t Matter”, but in an acoustic style. It’s made of simple instruments. Notably, a String (Violin? Viola? I know not the difference!), and another String (Acoustic Guitar). It’s a version made for fans, bluntly, and fits the bill for “Medieval Arthurian Legend Folk” music. It has, much like any other remix, remake, or even remaster, it’s unique set of notes while keeping the core that makes it “It Doesn’t Matter”.

So, if I aimed for solemn old king’s ancient ruins, why would I use an upbeat melody? What I want is something full of strings, perhaps a slow song, that makes the person feel sad, and feel the emotions that the song should represent. An ancient ruin where life once was, the people that lived, the lore that the song should represent. Even if it’s in a game, an imaginative mind can create, feel, understand, and process emotions even if it’s on something that’s fantasy. Regardless of what type of reality it is, there’s still much to feel, to have, to know. That’s what I love about writing, music, art, and more. 

 

Closing comments – If someone ever asked for feedback and you were one with the potential to answer, those are things to have in mind. 
If you don’t like it, do NOT speak of it to them, as you will not help them improve. A lot of people hate Country for some reason, they also dislike Jazz for some reason.
With that bias, you won’t help anyone improve, unless you can push your bias aside and hear/see what they’re aiming for, and the fact that it’s for a wider audience, or even for their own sake/hobby.

I don’t even need to say “to be nice” at this point, it should be common sense.

I just really love music, I dunno why. It’s hard to explain.
I don’t even have proper inspirations, I mean, each composer I know of, I can’t quite claim an inspiration, but they’re usually an inspiration for a moment or a period. I guess it’s unfair to say that, because it’s really that they’re an influence and inspiration on a midi-by-midi basis. On my own original attempts, too.


 

 

 

Rant on Sakuraba and Tales  Xillia – Berseria ending spoilers below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


We also have cinematic/theatrical. This is generally made to fit the game/entertainment. Since I prefer game music, since that’s what has.. well, over 30, what, 50 years, of music now? Very expansive library.
Generally, it’s made to fit the theme, and doesn’t work well outside of the intended medium. However…

In the curious case of Sakuraba, everything feels so drab, so bland. I’ve been through every game from Phantasia up to Xillia 2, never reaching into Z/B territory because of the game’s plot and lack of interesting characters.

I’m not sorry, I’m not going to waste my time to see Sorey fall asleep for years, only to end up with Mikleo (which is the only part that’s worth it), or to see Alisha shout into a chasm and have a villain walk away because they hoped to make him return at some point.

Xillia 1 gave us a generic empty ending that shows they cut it short for either a sequel or rushed it so badly they couldn’t give it a proper ending. Nothing’s really addressed with that ending. The problems are still there, which is exactly why you shouldn’t make endings that deal with “buying time”.

I already had to put up with Xillia 2 where Ludger dies for a fake, rather than being a father to an actual Elle, he ends up dying. An entire bloodline just died during the game. A father which ran a company, two brothers, which fought each other due to plot, and the survivor is an alternate dimension version of one of the brothers’ daughter. Oh, and said alternate dimension version also had to be killed. So, Ludger kills his alternate self. Yup.

Berseria ends up with a girl in rags sleeping and becoming the “first lord of calamity”. A shota spirit becomes a dragon, Eizen, as we all know, ends up turning into a dragon and is killed in Zestiria, making him a pointless character. His crew also stops being able to see him, you think they’d use the power of bonds to allow him to be seen…
Seriously, what is that crap?

To follow up with that rant, the music in pretty much all games were the same. Xillia 2 definitely did have good battle music, but that’s IT. It had better battle music than Xillia, at least. Plus the School Costume DLC where, ironically, Sakuraba collaborates with someone, is one of the best songs the game has to offer.

Yeah, I’m pretty tired.
Nobuo Uematsu apparently never had a chance to be his “real” self, and Granblue Fantasy is one of his most favorite things he’s worked on, because he goes back to his roots of music with it, and then some. Many songs have his generic Final Fantasy flare at first, but then that pitfall closes and it becomes something else. Honestly, that generic FF flare made me avoid a lot of his works because.. well, it’s the same.

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