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Devramble #2

  • Pancake
  • 12/08/2017 11:48 AM
I wanted to talk a little about the game's music today.

There's no mistaking that Motoaki Takenouchi is a talented composer and a great musician, but this soundtrack arguably isn't an example of his best work. It can be argued that the divisive features of this score - the funky influences evident in the battle music and others, the asian folk style established in parts of the soundtrack juxtaposed against ear-piercing synths, beeps and boops, work as setting an intriguing atmosphere but fail as concerns the whole game experience. This snippet from an interview is very revealing of how the composition process had went for him:

Q: Were your experiences on ... Granhistoria more positive?

MT: ... For Granhistoria, I was offered the opportunity to use folk music, but to assemble those kinds of sounds, you had to start by buying the instruments. What’s more, the music programmer just didn’t do his job, so none of those sounds are in the game at all. Working with the drivers was a pain, as the default sounds were awful, and we had to do workarounds even to fix issues with pitch.

On top of all that, the development company fell into unprofitability partway through development, and I hadn’t been paid up-front. All of those circumstances together made it difficult for me to work up the motivation to compose, and it’s really unfortunate that the game became a title that I don’t like to be associated with.

It's unfortunate, isn't it? In all honesty, the soundtrack did became, due to these problems and with its shortcomings, an interesting one to work with. For example due to its diversity of styles the early folk-influenced pieces give way to funk and industrial influences little by little, as the game's story grows more hopeless and desperate in conjuction with the gradual emergence of its antagonist(s). I can certainly appreciate this aspect of subtle storytelling.

The soundtrack as a whole: highlights... and missteps.

Granhistoria had the strangest sort of battle music... the short multi-layered funk tunes that are either ear-grating or captivating depending on one's mood. There are two tracks representing grief and loss heard early on, simple compositions both, but worthy of note. Moreover, the current Ashina Palace music (it's used at Galmania in the original) perfectly represents the ambiguity of the setting and characters supposedly working for the Kingdom you're trying to save from ruin. Later, there's the great folk dance of Migal and Juzaria. And finally, after enduring an ear-piercing awfulness (...) of the final dungeon, the powerful final boss music feels composed out of raw force. Then, a chilling ending piece conjures an ethereal reminiscence as the game's bittersweet, ambigious ending(s) unfold.

Even with its rare highlights worth all the praise in my opinion, I don't love the score. There's roughly 20 pieces plus a few snippets for inn/level up SFX and such, not enough for a JRPG of this scale. It's difficult to make its lack of pieces not sound monotonous after a while, and compared to something like FF6/Chrono Trigger which go to great lengths in developing and supporting their ensemble casts fantastically through inspiring and diverse music, Granhistoria's music is less subtle, focusing on mood and location. There's no individual character themes here for example, which is a shame.

In the end, all I could do was to insert the music without its disgusting echo effect, paying close attention to fading between scenes when applicable, and hope for the best, really. I was able to add to some scenes and locations by changing some pieces around... I'm constantly looking for ways to either add or remove music should the occasion ask for it.

In conclusion, it's fair to say even though there were serious problems with the inception of this game's ambivalent score, Motoaki Takenouchi deserves credit and acclaim for persisting and creating some enchanting music, and his unique music provides a good atmosphere for this unusual game overall.

Source for interview


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The Granhistoria OSV has some pretty awful sections. It's a shame there isn't a remastered version of it somewhere. I'd suggest maybe playing the music a little more quietly than normal and relying on sound effects to bring the audio aspect to life, maybe? Also ambience. So much ambience.
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