xnera: Icon of Squall from Final Fantasy 8, drawn in ink. (ffviii)
[personal profile] lassarina, you'll want to read this post. :)

There will be not one, but TWO performances of Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy in Chicago next year. Same day, but different programs. June 26, 2011 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the CSO's Symphony Center. Woohoo!

And yes, I am already thinking of going to both. :p

edit: The email also announced the CD release of Symphonic Fantasies, a video game concert that was performed by Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln, featuring works by composers Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimomura, Hiroki Kikuta and Yasunori Mitsuda. I loves me some Shimomura-san (she's my second favorite composer!) so I need to get this CD.

edit redux: Mom called tonight, so I immediately told her the news. She wants to go to both concerts, too. :D
xnera: Icon captioned "Where the hell is the save point?" (where's the frakking save point?)
Calming music is much appreciated when you have the double-whammy of anxiety + ADD. Really helps with the focusing thing.

Sometimes, though, it's not calm you need. When your to-do list contains a googolplex of items, you spilled coffee on your shirt, the cat is hacking up hairballs, the mortgage payment is due, and you're working on the boss fight of spreadsheets?

That, my friends, is when you need some battle music.

(slight spoiler for FFX at that link re: spreadsheets, btw)

kinda long so I'll be nice and cut it )
xnera: Icon of Lucius Malfoy leaving the Death Eaters to perform karaoke  (TIN ROOF!!! RUSTED!!!)
Anybody who knows me knows that I am a huge, huge fan of Nobuo Uematsu's music, to the point where it's pretty much all I've listened to for years.

There's many, many songs of his I love, but I'd say that my favorite soundtrack, as a whole, is the Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack. In my opinion, it works well as one cohesive unit, with themes intertwining and layered upon one another. So it's no surprise that for a while, I was constantly listening to it at work.

One day I noticed that whenever "Breezy" came on, I felt myself relaxing. The tension left my body and my breathing became slower and easier. This led to the creation of my "calming" playlist. I play it over, and over, and over. It's about a half-hour long, which makes it great for keeping focused at work, because it means I can take regular mental breaks, if needed.

I'll be transferring a lot of files from my work laptop soon, and I wanted to make sure I don't lose my calming playlist because dude, I need it. So here it is. I have all of these songs on CD so it'll be easy to recreate it.

1. "Breezy", Final Fantasy VIII Soundtrack Disc 1, Nobuo Uematsu
2. "Find Your Way", Final Fantasy VIII Soundtrack Disc 1, Nobuo Uematsu
3. "Compression of Time", Final Fantasy, Vol. 8 Disc 4, Nobuo Uematsu
4. "Hollow Bastion", Kingdom Hearts Disc 2, Yoko Shimomura
5. "Run!!", Final Fantasy X [2002], Nobuo Uematsu
6. "Matoya's Cave",Black Mages, Vol. 2- The Skies Above, Black Mages
7. "Brothers [vocal version]", Full Metal Alchemist OST, Michiru Ōshima
8. "Eyes on Me", Final Fantasy, Vol. 8 Disc 3, Nobuo Uematsu
xnera: An icon of Sephiroth saying, "LOL". (Sephiroth LOL)
I've already gone three times before, but dude, it never gets old.

Yes, I have tickets to what will be my FOURTH concert of Final Fantasy music. Mom & I have lawn seats to the August 1st concert at Ravinia. You are all cordially invited to come with! Tickets are only USD$12 for adults, folks. If you're anywhere near the Chicago area and are a fan of the Final Fantasy games, you really ought to attend, because the concerts are just that fantastic.

Also, you don't have to be familiar with the games to enjoy the concert! If you love symphonies and pretty images, you'll enjoy it. Plus, did I mention it's only $12? Seriously, I would love to meet up with a whole group of people. Not that I won't have a ton of fun with just Mom (and Dad, if we can convince him to go), but dude, they're lawn seats, and to me lawn = party.

And because I am in a good mood and am really wanting to squee happily about Uematsu-san's music with other fans/potential fans, if you leave a comment I will gift you with a track of your choice from the Distant Worlds CD. Yes, that's right, FREE MUSIC!!!! I'm most familiar with iTunes, but if you have another preferred online store where it's (a) available; (b) has the ability to purchase single tracks; (c) can gift single tracks, let me know and I'll happily use that instead. I'm limiting it to giving away twenty tracks. I'll need your email address if you want one.
xnera: Icon of Noctis from Final Fantasy Versus 13, using magic. (FF Vs XIII)
I finished Final Fantasy III last night. Hooray! This puts me one step closer to my goal of playing ALL the Final Fantasy games (in the main series, at the very least) before FFXIII comes out.

I had problems getting into this one. Maybe it was because I had played nothing but RPGs for months. FFI, FFII, the complete Kingdom Hearts series, FFVII... by the time I got to FFIII I was a bit burned out.

But really, I think the problem was the Distant Worlds concert. I absolutely loved seeing bits from all the games, and I left the concert with a deep urge to collect and play them all ASAP. FFIII was one that I was most excited about playing; the opening video really intrigued me and made it look awesome. Anticipation tends to be a problem, much like hype. I had heard so much hype about FFVII that I pretty much expected that it would not live up to it (and in my opinion, it didn't), so it doesn't really surprise me that FFIII was not the awesome experience I was hoping it would be. Disappoints me, yes, but not surprises me.

Discussion of why it did, but also listing the things I *did* like about it )

I want to take a moment to talk about the music. Part of the reason I enjoy playing the early games is because I'm well familiar with the musical themes from listening to the various Final Fantasy CDs nonstop for the past six years. So I was looking forward to hearing the familiar tunes, much like I sometimes wandered around in FFI just so I could hear the music play. Matoya's Cave, man. <3

One of my favorite songs from the Final Fantasy N Generation disc is The Breeze, which is an arranged version of a Final Fantasy III theme. I fully expected to hear it in game; because of the feel of the song, I suspected it might be the end theme. Except I didn't notice it while playing. o_O So I did a bunch of Googling and Wiki-ing and YouTubing, and after much research, I have concluded that The Breeze is a heavily arranged version of the Hometown of Ur theme. Which fascinates me. Part of the reason FFVIII's OST is high on my favorites is that the individual themes are layered and rearranged throughout the soundtrack; to me, it speaks of how brilliant a composer Uematsu-san is. The fact that The Breeze is so, so different from its in-game song just blows my mind, and makes me wish I understood music theory better so I could pick it apart some more.

Likewise, I had a similar issue identifying Roaming Sheep; more searching and researching, and I have decided it is likely a arrangement Eternal Wind. Y'all agree with these two discoveries, or are my ears deceiving me?

And finally *snerks*, I griped to [livejournal.com profile] mackillian this morning that the game did NOT end with the Final Fantasy theme. WUWT? Except I just listened to the end credits again, and you DO hear a phrase or two of it in the background towards the end. I'm still grumbling about this because IT'S THE FRICKIN' THEME SONG and it IMO should be much more prominent, but at least it IS there.

I found the music mostly forgettable while playing, but I highly suspected it was due to the limitations of the DS' sound system, and after listening to the tracks again via YouTube I have confirmed that. They sound much, much better on my computer than on my DS, and it's no wonder to me, then, that I love the arranged/concert versions so much. That said, there WAS one theme that captured me in-game, and that was Forbidden Land Eureka. It's the most epic, powerful theme in the game, in my personal opinion, and I loved revisting Eureka so I could hear the song again.

So there's my review. Yes, I will play this game again. I'm hoping I'll like it better the second time around, but even if not... well, I'll still enjoy it. If only because Ingus is so cute when he's pouting. :D

And this icon reminds me that I haven't watched the Versus trailers in several days, so I'm gonna go do that.
xnera: Icon of Lucius Malfoy leaving the Death Eaters to perform karaoke  (TIN ROOF!!! RUSTED!!!)
So, that concert thingy. I'm sure you all want to hear about it.

It was such a happy accident that led to me being there. I had set up a Google alert for "nobuo uematsu", but hadn't been checking it in several months, though alerts kept coming. But I was bored one day, and decided to click on the email. I quickly did a O_O when I saw that yes, there WAS going to be another Final Fantasy concert, and yes, it WAS going to be in Chicago. O_O And hey, I had just happened to receive my vacation pay recently, which meant I had money in my bank account to splurge on two VIP tickets that would not only bring me to the concert, but would also allow me to MEET Uematsu-san. O_O Really, HOW COOL IS THAT?

Too cool, perhaps.

I had actually been kind of blue in the weeks leading up to the concert. Because this? Was a really huge deal. REALLY huge. I've been in love with the music from Final Fantasy since I first heard "To Zanarkand" when Roger fired up FFX for the first time (five years ago, if you can believe that). It's played a huge part in my life since then. There's not much I've listened to BESIDES Final Fantasy music in the past five years (excluding music from Walt Disney World, and that's only been in the past two years). Getting to meet the man behind it all was... intimidating, in a way. As I told Jean on Saturday, i was feeling a "what now?" kind of thing. Five years of love was culminating in the biggest possible way, and I didn't know what was going to be left afterwards.

So I was feeling a bit odd about the concert already. Add to the fact that I had taken a freaking vacation to Detroit to see the last one... well, that certainly didn't help things. Detroit was such an AMAZING experience. Especially the concert itself. The orchestra was incredibly awesome, and the audience had this energy to it. The mix of the two made it an exhilarating, incredibly high experience. One that I knew could not be repeated. So I was kind of feeling a sense of nostalgia and loss, because dammit, I wanted Detroit again, but you can never go back home. I knew I would enjoy this one, but it wasn't going to be Detroit--it was going to be something different, and I wasn't sure I was really prepared for that.

What it turned out to be was FUN. No, there wasn't the amazing energy that Detroit had, but there was a lot of laughter and sheer delight. Plus there was a [livejournal.com profile] birds_sing. <3 It was so very great to see her again, and I'm really glad I invited her to come with. Anyway, enough with the introspection. I'm getting tired, and I'm sure you want to hear the goods anyway.

Miracles from realms beyond )
xnera: Icon of Lucius Malfoy leaving the Death Eaters to perform karaoke  (TIN ROOF!!! RUSTED!!!)
NOBUO UEMATSU IS COMING BACK TO CHICAGO!!!

I AM SO THERE.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I've had "nobuo uematsu" as a Google Alert for the past two years now. I knew there'd be another concert eventually. And yes, I am likely going to spring for the $150 tickets. Sitting in a box seat in Detroit was the greatest experience ever, and there's no way I could go back to regular ol' seats.

edit: My bank account is hurting now, but it's so, so worth. Because guys? I AM GOING TO MEET UEMATSU-SAN!!!
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
And then I heard those magical words: NOBUO UEMATSU.

I was in the right place! I WAS GOING TO SEE FINAL FANTASY!

I got my ticket, and headed indoors. The atrium was smallish, but nice, and I could hear the sounds of flutes floating through the air. I immediately made a beeline for the souveniers. I wanted to get two soundtracks--one for me, and one for my mom.

Oh, I haven't told you about mom yet. She had misgiving about this vacation. She wasn't too sure about me going to Detroit alone (and I don't blame her for this at all; I was a bit nervous about it myself). But she also couldn't wrap her mind around the concert.

"So what are you going for? A concert."
"Yup. It's a concert of video game music."
"...Video game music."
"Yup. It's really, really good."
"Is it outdoors?"
"No, it's a symphony. It's at Orchestra Hall."
"Oh. I see."
I could tell that she didn't. "Let me burn you a copy of some of it. I think you'll enjoy it."

I was too busy that night to burn anything, but gave Dad my copy of the Symphonic Suite the next day at work (it was a burned copy for traveling).

Mom called me that night.

"Karen! I just had to call and tell you how much I ENJOYED the CD! I was so disappointed when it ended and I realised there were only seven tracks! WHERE CAN I GET MORE?"

So yes, mom's a Uematsu fan now. ^_^

Back to the souvenir table. Hmm, I don't see any CDs.

"I don't see it but I've got to ask: Do you have the soundtrack."
"No! I wish we did! We'd be selling them like hotcakes!"

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE SOUNDTRACK. THOSE BASTARDS!

It's okay; I can probably get it online. But it would have been even specialier to get it at the concert so I could listen to it on the train on the way home, and so I could present mom with her own copy. I did buy a program, though.

Fifteen minutes to showtime! The ticket checker told me the boxes were on the second floor, so I headed upstairs. It turns out that the flute music I heard was live--a high school flute choir was playing on the second landing.

Hey, that sheet music looks familar...

"We'll play The Royal March next."
"I've played that!"

Giggles from the schoolgirls. I hadn't meant to say that outloud, but it kind of just blurted. *grins* It was one of my favorite songs from chamber ensemble in my high school days, and it was a thrill to here it again.

On to my seat! I get my free poster as I enter, and am shown to Box K, Row 1, Seat 7 - just off center on the right-side. I sit down in my chair, which is much more comfortable than what I'm used to at the theater.


"Oh, awesome awesome awesome."

This got me some weird looks, but I didn't care. I was excited!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for: the concert, the concert, the concert.

The concert. Was. AMAZING.

First song: Liberi Fatali. One of my favorites, as I fell in love with Squall the first time I saw it. I wasn't too sure of the high school choir at first since they pronounced the Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec different than I'm used to, but then the orchestra crescendoed and Squall was fighting Seifer on the screens and I was completely enthralled. I may have cried a bit.

Then To Zanarkand, the first Final Fantasy song I fell in love with (I went home and downloaded both the .mp3 and the sheet music after Roger played me the opening of FFX.) So, so beautiful, and sad, and haunting. They chose to play most of the Yuna's dance during the sending, which was effective even though that's not the music that goes with that scene. I got chills during this one.

Then Terra's Theme and Theme of Love. I've never played VI and don't have Terra's Theme on any of my assorted discs, so this was new to me. I liked it, though, and thought the video clips looked interesting. Theme of Love I'm well familiar with, and was glad to here it expertly played.

Then came Dear Friends and Vamo'alla Flamenco--more favorites, especially the latter. I have to do extra gushing for these two. While the orchestra was warming up, I noticed an acoustic guitar player sitting in the front row. Odd, because you don't usually see guitars at the orchestra, but very cool, I thought. He played on these two songs.

OMG. He was INCREDIBLE.

He watched the conductor more than he watched his sheet music, so that he got the cues perfect. Dear Friends sounded more poignant than normal, with the slight hesitation before each note was struck, and Vamo'alla Flamenco... *explodes from glee* Just amazing. Absolutely amazing. Not only the guitar player, but the whole orchestra. So very good!

Rounding out the first half was Love Grows More Squall & Rinoa! I squeed when they played the Waltz of the Moon clip. May have gotten more looks for this, but I DON'T CARE. A favorite song (not this arrangment of it, but still a favorite), with possibly my favorite video clip from all the games, played by an excellent orchestra. I couldn't not squee.

Intermission time! I decided to go downstairs and get a soda. While I was waiting in line I smelled something wonderful, and saw a girl walk by with a plate of pasta, so I craned my neck and saw they had a mini-buffet where you can purchase food. So I switched to the next line so I could get a better look, intending to get some of the wonderful-smelling pasta since I missed out on my Fettucine Arrabiata earlier, but then I saw this CHOCOLATE. MOUSSE. CAKE. and since I had thought it would be cool and sophisticated to get desert after the concert, well, why not get desert AT the concert?

Woah. Richness. Silky smooth and definitely a mousse if a heavy one, and by the taste of it, likely dark chocolate. It was very, very yummy, and disappeared too fast.

On my way back to my seat I saw a girl dressed as Rinoa. Hee! I so would have come in costume, but I can't pull off Rinoa because of my weight, and can't do Lulu because of my legs (I really would't want to be her, anyway, but Roger kept telling me I should. Apparently I have her boobs), and I'm not familiar enough with Tifa to go as her, and yeah, it would have been fun to go as Yuna and I likely could have done it (her summoner's outfit), I simply didn't think of it ahead of time. But I was wearing my pretty pretty floral outfit, and so I was happy. Very cool to see people in costume though, and I rather expected I would.

Most of my favorites were played in the first half, but the second half still had lots of goodness. Aeris' Theme. You're Not Alone. Ronfaure, from FFXI--first time hearing this and seeing the game. I didn't realise online games could be so graphic intensive! I mean, I know computers have come a long way, but the only online games I play are Boggle and the like. I'm assuming the FMVs are played from the local harddrive, and not served over the network; still, very impressive, and makes me wonder if I should try it. :D

Then it was the Final Fantasy I - III Medley. *squees madly* I love these melodies. The Symphonic Suite tracks were always my favorite on the N Generation CD, leading me to splurge for the full Symphonic Suite. It was so. very. awesome. to hear these played live by an orchestra--and a really good orchestra, at that!

Next was Cloud Smiles, from Advent Children! It was fun to hear a sneak peak of the FFVII:AC soundtrack, and to see those lovely videos. From a musical standpoint, the song was interesting because you could hear strains from the FFVII soundtrack flowing through it. It was just okay, though, because it didn't stick in my mind much, not like when I heard To Zanarkand or Liberi Fatali for the first time.

The concert ending with--of course!--Final Fantasy. Just the regular orchestral version of it, but still so very lovely, if short. A great end to a great night!

Or was it the end?

The orchestra stood up, and conductor Arnie Roth took his bows, and the audience was on its feet cheering madly. Roth then left the stage while we continued to clap and cheer.

And then he came back out. And so did the choir. :D

Now, I don't know if it is normal for orchestras to do encores. I haven't been to enough symphonies, alas. I don't recall if there was an encore at the LOTR symphony, but that is likely because we were so high up and it was hot and uncomfortable up there so I was sleepy. There WAS an encore at the Do-It-Yourself Messiah, which was very fun because we got to encore OURSELVES with another round of the Hallelujah. Fun!

Anyway, back to Detroit. We are standing and screaming (screaming at the Orchestra? Sounds like a rock concert!) and someone yells "ONE-WINGED ANGEL!" and Arnie hears and says "Maybe". And he does a poll at Uematsu-san's request, asking the audience how many were from instate and how many from out of town. The instate audience is loud, but the out-of-staters (myself included!) make an impressive noise, and one person behind me yells "OUT OF COUNTRY!!! CANADA!!". Arnie then asks us wouldn't be fun if we could have the orchestra in our living rooms as we play the games? We all laugh.

And then they launched into ONE-WINGED ANGEL.

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. I cannot begin to describe how awesome this was. It was awesome. Awesome. AWESOME. So very powerful and strong and PERFECT and lovely and GUH. Awesome. *loves madly* I am so tempted to write to the DSO to squee at them madly and tell them how awesome they were and to maybe send a donation. That's how awesome they were.

I wish there could have been even more! But alas, that was the end. :( But what a way to end, huh? DID I MENTION IT WAS AWESOME?!?!?!

Arnie Roth is signing autographs in the atrium. Mr. Roth is like a nobody to me--I don't know who he is, and have never heard of him before. But I stay anyway, to soak up more of the atmosphere. Because these are my people. These are the people I can relate to, because we all share the same love. I'm in line behind some teenage boys, but the age difference doesn't matter, and we spend most of our time in line squeeing over the various games and discussing our favorites. I heard some spoilers for FFVII, alas, but I wasn't about to tell them they couldn't talk about it because I haven't finished the game yet, and I've played enough into it that although they were spoilers, it wasn't a total shock, so I'm alright with it. One guy programmed FFVIII's card game for his Texas Instrument calculator! And then I mentioned Chrono Trigger, and the kid in front of us turned around and said "Chrono Trigger is a sweet game", and the discussion got even larger. :D I don't recall everything we talked about, but it was a lovely way to end the evening, especially since I was still all hyper about the concert and needed an outlet for the hyperness.

Finally reached the front of the line. Folks were getting their posters signed. ARE YOU CRAZY? THE POSTER HAS UEMATSU-SAN'S AUTOGRAPH ON IT!!! NO ONE IS FIT ENOUGH TO SHARE HIS AUTOGRAPH!! I had Mr. Roth sign the front of my program-which promptly got smeared. *sighs* That's okay--like I said, I was mostly in line for the atmosphere, and not for the autograph. I told Arnie how I had missed the concert in Chicago and had come to Detroit just to see it. It was kind of loud and I was dazed, but I thought I heard something about "concert" and "2006". COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE DOING ANOTHER CONCERT SERIES NEXT YEAR?!?! OMG! That would SO rock. And if it comes to town, I'm bringing my mom to it.

They were taking people's names and email addresses, and I happily left mine. And then it was time to go. As I left the building I stopped one of the employees and asked if there was some way they could call me a cab. He walked out with me and looked for one, and when he couldn't find one immediately available, directed me to the end of the block, where there were three security guards working who would be able to get me one. So I walked down the block, and just like everyone else I've met this weekend, they were uber nice, and they got me a cab within five minutes!

I got back to the hotel right around 11:00. I had hoped the bar would be open so I could get another drink and pretend to be all sophisticated, but they had just closed, so I went upstairs and settled for soda. I sat down and t00bed about on the AlphaSmart a bit, writing up my experiences of the day, but I didn't last very long: I was tired, and had a long, busy, and early day planned for Monday.

Onto post seven!

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