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Old Jul 4, 2010, 08:49 AM
Jormungand's Avatar
Jormungand Jormungand is offline
 
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Default Breath of Fire composer credit discussion

Welcome to discussion on the composer breakdown for the original Breath of Fire soundtrack. Unlike many other scores I've attempted to do this with, BoF provides some unique challenges that lie mostly in the inability to find enough commercial work from the composers involved (particularly Yasuaki Fujita and Minae Fujii) in order to make solid connections based on compositional style.

My method here was to sort the tracks based on style and compositional tendencies, and attempt to match with a composer. Regrettably, this method worked to the point where I was completely confident in my conclusion with one only group (Group A).

And that's where the community comes in. I hope to get a lot of feedback and discussion here, particularly when it comes to assumptions about Fujita's and Fujii's involvment.

The evaluation below will be broken down into 2 parts: first, the grouping. The general implication is that a single composer was responsible for all the tracks in one group based entirely on style. However, I remain uncertain, especially in Group C. Group D does not make this assumption at all, since it is the "miscellaneous" category where I put tracks that I can't quite decide on. Furthermore, this doesn't necessarily mean that a composer did not compose more than one group of tracks.

Below each track I listed some key features of the music that I believe to be important when considering the composer.

The second and final part will speculate about style for each composer based on past and future works relative to Breath of Fire (1993) and attempt a specific breakdown.

The following tracklist is based on the Breath of Fire Soundtrack Special Box compilation album.
----------------------------------------

BREATH OF FIRE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

(Group A) / Orchestral; orchestration used is uniquely sophisticated for its time
(Group B) / Orchestral; orchestration used is simple relative to Group A
(Group C) / Jazz/pop; the music demonstrates a style that involves jazz/pop influenced harmonies and chord progressions
(Group D) / Unknown; does not possess features of previous groups, or features are difficult to distinguish based on musical content present

Definitions

orchestral: instrumentation is largely orchestral; piece is written as if for an orchestra
sophisticated orchestration: use of advanced orchestral techniques in instrumentation, coloring, voicing, harmony, tempo changes, etc.
virtuosic piano: piano is written as if performed live with tempo variations and deliberate technical display; virtuousic in the classical style
piano: piano is featured prominently, but not necessarily in a definable style
brass calls: use of brass instruments (esp. horn and trumpet) in a "hunting call", i.e. quarter note following by dotted eighth followed by quarter note relative to time signature or variation thereof; used primarily as countermelody
romanticism/chromaticism: harmonic movement that is chromatic; evocative of romantic era harmonic tastes
march rhythm: a section employs a "march" rhythm in the classical style; may incorporate synth bass beneath otherwise purely orchestral instrumentation
pizzicato figure: this appeared enough that I felt it deserved its own tag. String pizzicato is used in a very simplistic way, as straight ascending notes apart of a chord, as if emulating simple piano accompaniment. The use of pizzicato is markedly different than that used in the more sophisticated orchestral settings such as "Strong Fortress"
drums: drum set is used

-GROUP A-

Composed by
Mari Yamaguchi

101. Blood Relation
orchestral; sophisticated orchestraion; virtuostic piano; romanticism/chromaticism

102. The Dragon Warrior
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; virtuousic piano; brass calls

103. White Dragon
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; virtuousic piano; romanticism/chromaticism

106. Starting the Journey ~Breath of Fire~
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; march rhythm
NB: theme appears in mostly the same arrangement in Breath of Fire II as the second overworld theme; therefore, the composer of this track was left uncredited in the Breath of Fire II soundtrack

111. Victory Song
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; march rhythm

114. Strong Fortress
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; brass calls

116. Bonds [JINGLE]
orchestral; march rhythm

117. Culvert
orchestral; romanticism/chromaticism; piano

118. Skycsraper
orchestral; romanticism/chromaticism; piano

119. A Brave General
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration

121. Holy [JINGLE]
orchestral

122. Distant View
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; brass calls; march rhythm

201. A Road
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; piano

209. Dejection
orchestral; piano; chromaticism

210. Premature Death
orchestral; virtuousic piano

211. Expedition
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; brass calls

212. Music City
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration

217. The Empire
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; brass calls
NB: theme is used again in "A Powerful Emperor"; therefore, the composer of the two tracks is the same person.

218. A Powerful Emperor
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; brass calls
NB: see 217. The Empire

220. The Final Level
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration; piano; romanticism/chromaticism

221. Black Dragon
orchestral; virtuousic piano
NB: use of piano is short, but the octave figure is certainly a virtuousic use of the instrument. Also, the melody heard in the strings is referenced in "Grab the Tail" from Breath of Fire II.

222. Dawn
orchestral; virtuousic piano; brass calls; march rhythm

224. Great Achievement
orchestral; sophisticated orchestration

Group Summary:
Tracks 102, 122, 211, 217, 218, and 224 were 100%, beyond the shadow of doubt authored by the same composer. And based on the scores of Super Ghosts 'n' Ghouls and the Magical Quest triology, that composer is most assuredly Mari Yamaguchi.


-GROUP B-

107. Day and Night
orchestral; pizzicato figure

112. Gentle Breeze
orchestral; pizzicato figure

125. Small Hermitage
orchestral; piano; pizzicato figure (except played on piano)

Group Summary:
I am certain that "Day and Night", "Gentle Breeze", and "Small Hermitage" all have the same author. Originally this group was larger, but after further examination I had to make some changes. I left the original group here regardless.


-GROUP C-

108. Profit
piano
NB: piano, bell instrument, acoustic bass, flute. Nothing much to say about it except it's clearly in a very different style from much of the rest of the score.

110. Beginnig of Battle
drums
NB: the use of piano is similar to the aforementioned "virtuosic piano", wherein the piano is written as if performed live

113. Sleep [JINGLE]
piano
Two simple arpeggiated piano chords.

120. Deep Forest
piano; drums
NB: I've been having an awful time with this one. At first listen it seems like it unquestionably belongs in Group C, especially considering the very "Mega Man" feel of the piece. I think I've just been analyzing too much, so I just left it where it seems to fit best.

123. Fishing [JINGLE]
piano
NB: whoever wrote this also must have written "Release". Since it's piano+bass blues, I'd say whoever wrote these two also composed "A Drunk's Life".

124. Release [JINGLE]
piano
NB: see 123. Fishing

202. A Drunk's Life
piano
NB: see 123. Fishing

207. Swimming
piano
NB: the composer of this is also most certainly the composer of "Flying"

208. Battling
drums
NB: it would stand to reason that the composer of this also wrote "Beginning of Battle"

216. Flying
piano
NB: see 207. Swimming

214. Ancient City
drums

219. God's Footprints
piano
NB: when examining the use of the piano here, the composer of this is also likely to be the composer of "A Deep Forest".


-GROUP D-

104. Quickening
piano
This piece is made up of two repeating bars of music. The main instrument is piano with an unidentified bell instrument (could be glockenspiel, celesta, or even music box) providing coloring in the upper register. This bell instrument is used elsewhere in the score.

105. Fate
orchestral; piano
Originally in Group B, I had lingering doubts that, especially when its sister track "Sorrow" is taken into consideration, "Fate" didn't belong with Group A. It's very tricky, but the slight hints of romanticism make me think Yamaguchi was responsible for this important theme.
NB: theme is also used in "Sorrow", and the arrangement style of both tracks is similar, therefore, the composer of "Fate" and "Sorrow" must be the same person.

109. Sorrow
orchestral; pizzicato figure; romanticism/chromaticism
NB: see 105. Fate

115. Solution [JINGLE]
There's so little to this piece that it's hard to judge, though it does remind me of Yamaguchi.

203. Secret City
orchestral
NB: this was a difficult placement, but ultimately it reminds me more of the more "advanced" orchestral material. I believe the composer is Yamaguchi.

204. Sand Palace
NB: see 203. Secret City

205. Memories
This is one oddball of a track, and the only one which I feel compelled to attribute to Minae Fujii. This is mostly because it really has no precedent on the rest of the score in terms of style and harmony, and Fujii is the composer who I know the least about. Anyone have anything to add?

206. Trade City
orchestral; piano
NB: This straddles the line between orchestration styles, and I can't decide if it fits better into Group A or B. Feedback would be much appreciated.

213. Song and Dance
piano; drums
Carnival-esque samba. We know from an interview that Yoko Shimomura only composed 1 track for this score. I'm confident that this is the one.

215. Emergency
orchestral; drums
NB: another vague one. I think based on the harmonic style and moments of orchestration it's likely to be Yamaguchi's work.

223. Return
orchestral
NB: see 206. Trade City
------------

General Summary

Composition works referenced:

Mari Yamaguchi: Area 88, Super Ghosts 'n' Ghouls, Magical Quest trilogy
Yasuaki Fujita: Mega Man 3
Minae Fujii: Mega Man 4

Based on what I've heard, I am attributing the more sophisticated orchestral works and those that feature moments of romanticism and chromaticism to Mari Yamaguchi. However, she also has proven her ability to work in non-orchestral styles as evidenced by Area 88, so it may not be fair to exclude her from nonorchestral works. Yasuaki Fujita strikes me as more jazz/pop-oriented--at least at this point in time--while I can only attribute the non-sequiter "Memories" to Minae Fujii. "Song and Dance" remains my pick for Shimomura's sole contribution to the score. Here is a breakdown of my evaluation:

Mari Yamaguchi: Disc 1.01-06, 09, 11, 14, 16-19, 21, 22; Disc 2.01, 03, 04, 09-12, 15, 17, 18, 20-22, 24
Yasuaki Fujita: Disc 1.08, 10, 13, 20, 23, 24; Disc 2.02, 07, 08, 14, 16, 19
Minae Fujii: 1-07, 12, 25; Disc 2.05, 23
Yoko Shimomura: 2.13

?:
1.15
2.06

------------
Without further ado, this thread is open for discussion! Please post your comments and ideas.

Last edited by Jormungand; Jul 4, 2010 at 10:35 AM.
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