Creator: Nobuo Uematsu
Influences:The Carpenters, Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Elton John, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, YesNobuo Uematsu is one of the most important composers of Video Game music to date. Ever since starting his career at 1985, he has worked on the soundtracks of over forty games. His best known work is with the Final Fantasy series, whose main installments all had completely Uematsu-made songs up until the tenth part. However, he returned to the series to compose for Final Fantasy XIV.Since leaving Square Enix in 2004, Uematsu has worked as a freelancer, composing for such projects as Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He also had a rock band, called The Black Mages, which played heavy rock covers of his Final Fantasy songs, as well as another band called Earthbound Papas (no relation to the game). For the past decade, Uematsu has also been arranging his work for orchestras. He personally travels with the Distant Worlds concert tour, directed and conducted by fellow game-composer Arnie Roth.He reunited with Hironobu Sakaguchi for The Last Story.Has his own Crowning Music of Awesome page.Currently, he and his band have lent their music score to Compile Heart's game called Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. He is also the primary composer for Terra Battle.He considers the soundtrack of Final Fantasy IX to be his favorite.
Tropes present in his work include:
- Bilingual Bonus: When his work gets adapted for vocal arrangements, they are frequently in many different languages. Languages used have included Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, French, and Saami.
- Epic Rocking: With "Dancing Mad" (at around seventeen minutes on the OST) and the ending theme of Final Fantasy VI (at around twenty-one) standing out as the top examples. The opera from the same game could be considered even longer, but it's usually divided up into multiple tracks; however, one arrangement had the entire opera included as a single track that lasted for over twenty-three minutes.
- Genre Roulette: His soundtracks frequently flit from genre to genre at the drop of a hat. For example, "Otherworld" from Final Fantasy X is basically straight-up Death Metal (although the Black Mages' remake turns it into more or less Power Metal).
- Instrumentals: Most of his stuff. Starting from Final Fantasy VI, there is usually at least one song that contains lyrics (although the limitations of the technology at the time meant that the SNES couldn't actually produce vocal sounds, which made their first appearance in his soundtracks with Final Fantasy VII's "One-Winged Angel"), but the majority of his work is still instrumental. However, some of the songs also have vocals added in their arranged versions ("Dancing Mad" and "My Home Sweet Home" are two good recurring examples of this), and Earthbound Papas' albums actually contain more tracks with vocals than without.
- Loudness War: His game soundtracks don't get this for the most part, but most of the Black Mages' material was badly brickwalled. It got less severe on each of their releases, though, to the point where only a couple of songs on the third album were noticeably affected, and doesn't affect Earthbound Papas' material too badly (Dancing Dad even comes out to a highly respectable DR10).
- Ominous Latin Chanting: "One-Winged Angel" is probably the Trope Codifier for video game soundtracks, and it's far from the only time he used the trope.
- Rearrange the Song: His work has frequently been rearranged for various formats, usually orchestral or Progressive Metal adaptations. Uematsu himself plays keyboards in the Black Mages and Earthbound Papas, and is partially responsible for the arrangements. Nearly every one of his Final Fantasy soundtracks also was given an arrangement album, sometimes in wildly different genres like Celtic folk music.
- Recurring Riff: There are several throughout his work on the Final Fantasy series:
- For example, most of the battle themes contain the same bass line (Final Fantasy VIII leaves the bass line out... until the final battle theme, "The Extreme"), and almost all of them open with the same sequence of notes.
- The eponymous "Final Fantasy" theme appears in almost every game he composed as well (it's absent from Final Fantasy X, and also doesn't appear until the ending of a couple others).
- The "Prelude" also appears in every game he composed, although the Final Fantasy X arrangement is strikingly different from any of the earlier ones (still the same melody, though).
- The "Victory Fanfare" had identical melodies in all games until Final Fantasy VII, and even in that game it made a cameo as the chocobo racing victory theme (as well as a minor-key Dark Reprise for chocobo racing losses), and also reappeared with the same melody in Final Fantasy IX. Moreover, even Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII's fanfares open with the same notes as the others.
- The chocobo theme appears in countless variants throughout the games he's worked on (and some he hasn't).
- The moogles also have the same theme in most of the games they appear in.
- Sincerest Form of Flattery: He's admitted the intro of "One-Winged Angel" was stolen from Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze".
- Spiritual Successor: Earthbound Papas to the Black Mages. The reason the latter was disbanded is because Square Enix owned the trademark, which prevented the band from performing material Uematsu had written for games not related to the Final Fantasy series (as well as from performing much original material). Earthbound Papas' lineup also does not contain any current Square Enix employees for this reason.
- Uncommon Time: Most of his soundtracks will have several examples of this, and sometimes they get really complicated. Details can be found on the trope page.