QUESTIONS from April, 2002
Do you have any plans of releasing an orchestra arrange version of "Chrono Cross"?
Wow, now THAT was a really unexpected question (laughs).
If there's a publisher somewhere that's willing to publish such an album, I'd say that there's still a chance, but honestly I'd say that the possibilities are very slim. If I were to arrange the songs to "Chrono Cross", I would make it into something more smooth and relaxing (like something that would be played in coffee shops) and have the songs played by one of my favorite classical guitarists, Ms. Kaori Muraji... Well, at least that's the kind of image that I had in mind.
I heard that you are thinking about taking on music for stages and plays in the near future, but if you were to actually take on something like that, will there be like a notice or announcement made on this homepage? Also, in that case, will you think about making a CD from the music? Finally, you've said that you wanted to give movie soundtracks a try, but does this include fields such as anime soundtracks?
Yes, if I were to take on such a project I will be sure to inform you on this page. Regarding the CD, we'll try our best to publish them through our new independent label (SLEIGH BELLS). Anime soundtracks and movie soundtracks are definitely within my scope.
Is it illegal to make copies of your music on MIDI and distribute them on the Internet? Or is it OK as long as it's non-profit and just for fun?
Well the rules for distributing MIDI music on homepages have definitely tightened up in the past few months, and it IS illegal to upload and distribute MIDI without the permission of the copyright holder. If you contact JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) and go through the proper paperwork, you can get permission from them... but truthfully, if it's non-profit and just "for personal enjoyment", I don't think there's too much of a problem. Feel free to slice, dice and mix my music into anything you like! (from staff : please refer to the second question of March 2002's Q and A for more information on this topic)
I was just curious. What kind of chair do you sit in when you work on your songs (since you must sit on it for hours and hours...)? Also, I just won an Auratone speaker in an auction the other day, and wanted to know what kind of amp do you have your Auratone speakers hooked up to?
First of all, THIS is a picture of my chair. It definitely plays a very vital part in my work, since I do sit on it for such a long time. As for the amplifier, I'm using this amp I bought ten years ago called, "Amplifier 1" by NAKAMICHI. It has a really soft, natural sound to it.
When writing a song, what's the most important thing that you keep in mind?
This may sound a bit vain, but I guess it's "how much love and affection I can devote to the song".
Hello. I'm a high school senior just on the verge of college entrance exams, but I have this problem of not knowing what I really want to do with my life. I've read that you decided to become a composer when you were a senior in high school, but I just wanted to know, did you have any specific skills at the time, say such as a really deep knowledge in computers or something?
Unfortunately, I don't have any... Well, I did take piano when I was in elementary school, but I never improved much. I can barely play the entry-level piano scores to Final Fantasy, and that's about it... If you don't mind me asking, do you think that a person with almost no musical skills (such as me) has any chance of getting into the music business?
Well I can't say for certain, but I'd say that you still have a chance. I think that some people are just born with natural born talent and unfortunately some aren't, but even if you aren't one of those skilled or talented, as long as you keep trying and don't give up hope, you can turn your dreams into reality someday.
But of course this doesn't change the fact that you are far behind your other fellow competitors - who are just as eager as you to get into the music business. This means that you have to work twice as hard, and have the endurance and mental strength to bridge that gap between you and them. But as long as you have your goals set straight, and you have "your own music" that you want to create, I think that you'll make it someday. If you are confident that no matter what - you won't give up, I'd say that you should definitely take the chance... but if you have even the slightest doubt in your mind, I'd say the wisest thing would be to stay away from this business.
That's about all the advice that I can give you. You only live life but once... so I hope that you make the best of it. Good luck.
Do you ever listen to game music? If you do, which composer do you listen to?
Not too much... or actually, to tell you the truth, the only time that I listen to game music is when I receive samples from other composers, and that's about it (laughs).
Hi. Like you Yasunori, I too work as a game creator, and I just wanted to know... how do you manage to get by with only 1-2 hours of sleep!? What's your secret behind this? The longest that I've ever lasted is two nights without sleep and that's it... Do I just not have enough endurance or something (laughs)?
Obviously, my concentration level goes down too when I don't get enough sleep, but when a deadline for a project nears, it just becomes "physically impossible to get any sleep". Strangely enough though, during those times, my senses become razor sharp and I have almost no problem working under these extreme conditions. It's as if after a certain point, something kicks in and "another me" awakens inside of me. Like they say: "when people are faced with extreme conditions, they perform incredible feats which are thought to have been absolutely impossible".
I've experienced "this condition" many, many times before (and I can tell you that it definitely cuts down on your life span).
I have a small question, I hear that you don't want to do video game music unless you find it worthy, but I just want to know if you find the Xeno series worthy?
I think the Xeno-series have opinions going in both directions, but I really think it's one of the few RPG's that ventures to take on new challenges, the way that it does. It has this "freshness" to it that I never felt before in RPG's, and it was this fresh, new outlook that they had that really drew me to their game.
Do you currently have any Trumpet scores out for "Chrono Cross"?
Wow, yet another unexpected question (laughs). Sorry, but there aren't any trumpet scores out for "Chrono Cross", and I doubt there ever will be. I think the best way to go would be to try copying it by ear...
Do you have a particular favorite acoustic instrument?
Ooooh, that's a tough one!
I have so many acoustic instruments that I like, that it's hard to choose just one. Hmm... but if I were to choose just one, I'd say... guitar... no wait... maybe cello... no no... piano! Sorry, I guess I really can't choose one (laughs).
Are you planning on composing the music for the other Xenosaga chapters?
If so, will you keep Joanne Hogg as your vocalist?
So far, I haven't received any offers yet for Xenosaga Episode II (June, 2002). I can't say for certain if I'll be composing on Episode II... so whether or not I'll ask Joanne to sing is still undecided too.
Did you write the lyrics to the ending theme of "Chrono Cross"?
No, the lyrics to the ending theme were written by the vocalist, Ms. Noriko Mitose.
(Actually, it was more like a collaboration between her and the director, Mr. Masato Kato)
Recently for a school project, I listened to the song "BALTO" from the "CREID" album many times and transcribed the notes into a score and arranged it for a small ensemble. We performed it, and it went great! (It was all non-profit, I prmoise!) I was just wondering how you get your ideas for arrangements, since a lot of your arrangements for "THE BRINK OF TIME" and "CREID" are very different from the original pieces. Do the other musicians on the album work with you to come up with concepts, or do you conceptualize the arrangements before you even get together with them?
First off, I start by making the basic backbone of the song. I don't really go into small details at this time and just try to build an image in my head of "how I want this song to turn out". Then I take the piece to the arranger (in the above two albums, Mr. KALTA) and explain to him the concept that I have and we try to arrange the songs so that it gets closer to this image. The rest we have to improvise as we go along in the studio, because what sounds good on a synth module doesn't always sound good on live instruments. Sometimes the musicians play a little phrase just by ad lib, but if it sounds really good, and goes well with the song, we take it and put it into the song too. When it comes to recording percussion instruments, I usually decide which instruments to use, right on the spot. The way I see it, as long as the final product turns out to be like what I want it to be, the process doesn't really matter too much.
How was working with Mr. Yoshitaka Hirota on "Shadow Hearts"? Has your experience on "Shadow Hearts" influenced you in any way to compose your breathtaking music for "Xenosaga"? Finally, if you had the chance to work on a Squaresoft project again, whom of the remaining SQUARE composers would you like to try working with?
Well, he definitely writes some stimulating songs, so it was really fun working with him. I also think that he's really easy to work with because although his musical directions differ quite a bit from mine, we both share the same passion for music. As for the question of whether the songs for "Shadow Hearts" influenced me to write some of the songs off of "Xenosaga", the themes are totally different, so I would have to say "no". And for the last question... I don't really have anyone in particular that I'd like to try working with right now.
I heard that there is an Electone score out for "Chrono Trigger", and I've looked all over trying to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately, I found out that they have been out of print for a long while now. I would do anything for that score! Is there any way that I can get my hands on a copy?
We're sorry, but we at PROCYON STUDIO do not have any Electone scores for "Chrono Trigger". If you try contacting Yamaha Music Media, they may be able to guide you to a store that still has some leftover stocks (but I'd say chances are very slim, since this score has been out of print for a very long while now).
Lately, I've been listening to this new age healing type of music by this artist called, "Delirium", but have you ever listened to them before?
Sorry, but I've never heard of them... I'll try looking for them the next time I go by the CD store.
I was just curious... What language is being used in the song "The Beginning and The End" of "Xenogears"? The lyrics are written in both Japanese and English, but it definitely doesn't sound like they're singing in English.
It's being sung in Cryllic, one of the languages used in Bulgaria. The original lyrics were written in Japanese by the director, Mr. Tetsuya Takahashi, and later translated into English, and further translated into Cryllic. We thought about printing the Cryllic lyrics in the booklet, but no one would be able to understand the meaning of the song, so we decided to put the English lyrics in.
Do you personally choose the musicians who play in your albums? Also, have you ever had an amateur musician play in your album before?
Usually, I choose the musicians who play in my albums (when I have a certain image in mind, but can't come up with any musicians that meet that image, I contact my coordinators and get them to help me find people that best match that image). Alot of times I ask my coordinators for musicians that are way beyond reach, and end up troubling them (laughs). It's usually a matter of budget or schedule, but sometimes there are people who are so out of reach that we literally, "don't know how to contact them" (laughs). As for the second question, whether the musician is professional or amateur is of no matter to me - as long as they can produce the sounds that I want. Many of the overseas musicians that I know, have seperate jobs aside from being musicians, but when these people are "called to action", they show up with their instruments in hand and give me nothing less than their best professional performance. So if you think about this, whether you call a musician "professional" or "amateur" doesn't really matter too much... wouldn't you agree?
Are there any chances of you publishing the soundtracks for the games Mario Party and Bomberman?
I'm sorry, but the rights to the songs of Mario Party and Bomberman don't belong to me, so the possibilities of publishing these soundtracks from our label is slim to none. If I only had the rights to these songs, I would have been able to publish them!
I heard that in order to write the songs for Xenosaga, you listened to over 20-30 classical CD's in a single day, but what kind of CD's did you listen to?
I listened to a countless number of CD's but the ones that I listened to the most were works of Wagner, Lovell, Bach, Mahlar, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms.
Now that you've become one of the most internationally recognized composers in the world, do you have any plans of spreading your field of work into countries such as the US?
As long as it sounds interesting, I'm willing to take on any type of work - regardless of the place or country. I'm especially looking forward to taking on new challenges!
What were your reasons for choosing Joanne Hogg as the vocalist for the Xeno-series?
While working on Xenogears, we already had it decided that we were going to ask an artist from overseas to sing for us. But when it came time to choose the vocalist, I couldn't quite find a vocalist that matched the image that I wanted to create. Right about that time, I ran into the album of the Celtic band "IONA" in a CD store... and just one listen, and I quickly fell in love with her beautiful voice.
I've heard alot of rumors on the net that says that a sequel to "Chrono Cross", called "Chrono Brake" is under development, but are you writing the music for it?
I'm not really sure if they're really working on it or not... Even if they were, I'm not involved in it, so there's not much I can say.
I was wondering about the legalities of performing your "Ormus" from the Xenosaga soundtrack with a group of singers in my music school. Also, I would like to know whether a SATB music for this piece ever be published?
Actually, we've already published a complete SATB music score for "ORMUS" as one of the Fan Club privileges. We've also thought about publishing a full-Orchestra score of the music from Xenosaga, but so far, we haven't received any offers from the publishers. (Although this is still undecided,) we MAY try publishing it from PROCYON STUDIO CO., LTD. someday.
As for performing "ORMUS" with your friends, as long as there is no money involved, and it's only for fun, there's no problem with me.
I'm studying music and dreaming of becoming a composer someday, but I just wanted to know... do I have to be some kind of a "natural-born musical genius" to be able to write good songs? Or if I work and study hard enough, will I be able to compose songs like you?
I'm not really sure. If you take a look at me, I started composing music at a rather late age in my life, and I never had any natural-born talent for composing. I wouldn't say "perseverence is power", but I do think it is important to keep working at what you are doing and to continue creating.
I've heard that your name is in the staffroll of "Radical Dreamers" under the title, "Song / Voice", but is this true? Is there really a song to "Radical Dreamers", and are you singing in it?
Yeah, I'm singing in it (laughs).
To tell you the truth, I'm just grunting "Oo-! Ha-!" in it.
I think it was used in the battle with Yamaneko (Lynx).
Who is your favorite American composer?
Hmm... lemme think...
Lately I've been listening to James Newton Howard (composer for "Dinosaurs") alot... but I'm not really sure if James Newton Howard is American.
Do you ever write your own lyrics?
I know that I don't have any talent in writing lyrics, so the answer is "NO". Although I DID write the original lyrics for a song in CREID, I'm no match for a professional lyricist like Ms. Junko Kudo (of course...).
On the other hand, I used to write alot of poems in the past. One of it's inside the liner of "Chrono Trigger Original Sound Version".
Have you ever listened to "Chrono Trigger" played on the Electone, and have you ever played the Electone before? Also, if it's possible, I'd like to hear your thoughts on these instrument.
I listened to the demo of the Electone version back when Yamaha Music Media published the "Chrono Trigger for Electone", and I tried playing the Yamaha Electone a long time ago, but I gave up because it was waaay too difficult for me (laughs). I think it's a really interesting instrument in that there's so many things that you can do on it.
When composing songs, is there anything that you receive "hints" from?
Looking at a picture or photograph, reading a poem, going on a trip, talking to somebody... I receive hints from almost anything.
When working on a big project, approximately how many hours of sleep do you get in one day?
In the development stage, usually about 1 to 2 hours a day.
The toughest was during the development of Xenosaga. During this period, I got about 1 - 2 hours of sleep a day... for the whole month. I was even writing songs in my dreams (according to the staff, I was humming melodies in my sleep).
What was your first experience with making music electronically? Have you ever had experience in tracking Amiga modules (or later evolved tracker formats like ImpulseTracker or ScreamTracker) earlier in your musical experience, or did you jump right into synthesizers and MIDI setups??
I began making music electronically back in high school, and the setup that I used back then was a Yamaha DX21 (synthesizer) and a sequencer called "Come On Music". I really wanted to try using the Amiga modules, but they were really expensive and were definitely out of reach for little high school students. Before starting computer music, I used to set up 2 tape recorders in front of my piano and recorded melody lines on one recorder while using the other to overdub other melodies.
Are you ever going to sell merchandise like Procyon Studio shirts on this site?
Sounds like a good idea to me.
But the question is, "will anyone wear it?" (laughs)
If we have the chance, we may try making one someday.
How do you feel about the fact that "Radical Dreamers" was never released as a ROM?
I'm very dissappointed.
If possible, I'd like to leave behind all the games that I've worked on in some tangible form, so I'm dissappointed to say the least.
See, Kato-chan!? I told you we should've packaged "Radical Dreamers" with "Chrono Cross"! (laughs)
How did you get to know Ms. Maki Susukida (playing the snares on the "Xenosaga" soundtrack)? I myself am a percussionist too, and I'm just dying to know...
Actually, I met her for the first time on this album. She was a very beautiful lady and her performance was exceptionally good. I'd like to ask her to join me on a different album again some day.
I've seen the arranged version of Xenogears, but is there ever going to be a vocal version of "Xenosaga"? I'd really like to hear it arranged in an Irish sound.
I don't know if there will ever be an arranged version to "Xenosaga", but I'd like to try bringing back "Millennial Fair" in some way (well, it was never really a "band" so there's no such thing as a "split up" or a "come back"... laughs). The members may be a little different than before, but I definitely would like to take on something like that again.
Back when I was going through some albums in a used CD store, I ran into this album by "Nick Heyward" called "from monday to sunday", and the jacket for this album looks EXACTLY like the jacket of "THE BRINK OF TIME". Was this album used as reference for the design of your album?
Wow... I didn't know there was such an album (I'd like to take a look at it too).
On that album, I just told the concept and theme to the designer and let him take care of the design, and if I remember correctly, the bird inside the booklet wasn't even a rooster in the beginning... (I can't remember WHAT it was though...)
If this "from monday to sunday" was published before "THE BRINK OF TIME" there is a possibility that the designer used it as reference, but if you ask me, I think it's mere coincidence.
A little sidenote. The rooster you see on the album was actually brought into the studio for the photo shooting (not to mention the lil chicken) and the fried eggs were also fried in the studio. At first, they couldn't get the fried eggs in just the right shape, and the poor ole' assistant had to eat all the badly shaped ones (laughs).
Is there ever going to be a musical score published for Xenosaga?
So far, we haven't had any deals from the publishing companies.
We're thinking about trying to work something out with Doremi Music Publishing, but if that doesn't work, we may try publishing one from PROCYON STUDIO (laughs). But in that case, the only distribution method that we would have is Internet orders.
Is there ever going to be a band score published for Chrono Trigger?
I'm sorry, but there aren't any band scores for any of my works.
How about trying to arrange the songs with your bandmates? I think it would be kinda' fun.
Do you ever listen to metal or heavy rock? If yes, who do you listen to?
I don't listen too much to heavy stuff like metal and heavy rock, but if it's hard rock, I like people like Van Halen and Steve Vai.
I'm a big fan of your music, and right now I'm writing a novel while listening to your music. Will you be willing to read my story once I finish it? And if it's not too much to ask, could I ask you to write a song to match my story?
Yes, I'll read the story, but regarding the song, I think the song that you listened to while writing the story would be the best match for your story. There probably won't be any room for my music to butt in (laughs).
I've read in game magazines that "Xenosaga" is going to be the last game-related work that you will be taking on, but is this true?
I'm thinking about trying to spread my field of work to take on more band work, stage music, and movie soundtracks (whether this really works out or not is another story). So I'm going to gradually decrease the number of game-related titles that I take on. But I'll still take on game music, if I feel that it's "really worth working on".
I'm a big fan of you and Mr. Uematsu, but I just wanted to know... why did you quit SQUARE? I would've love to seen a Mitsuda & Uematsu collaboration in a Final Fantasy series, like in Final Fantasy X. Is there still a chance that you two may work together on a project someday?
The reason that I quit SQUARE was because I wanted to test my possibilities.
Actually, I received a call from SQUARE, asking me if I wanted to work on Final Fantasy XI, but at the time I was completely packed schedule-wise, and so I had to decline their offer.
In regards to me, collaborating with Mr. Uematsu again... I would say the possibilities are very slim.
If this is something like "TEN PLANTS" that we're talking about here, it may be possible, but in the same game... I would say "probably no".