A review of A New World: Music from Final Fantasy – seven leading pieces from the Brisbane performance.

The New World Players perform music arranged from the 30 year history of Final Fantasy. These eleven musicians, and one conductor in Arnie Roth, toured through Australia before their international tour continues overseas. This post is a short review of the Brisbane performance, and a list of some of the Final Fantasy pieces the ensemble performed.

Their sound allowed the audience a chance to hear the music of Final Fantasy in a new way, which I guess is where the title “New Worlds” stems from.

Alternatively, several of these pieces were new, and performed for the first time in Australia, or performed for the first time worldwide.

Some of the leading pieces, those I thought defined the event, that the ensemble performed that night were:

1. Two Final Fantasy traditions – The Victory Fanfare and the Chocobo Medley

An exacting string section, precise percussion, and energetic brass and woodwind performers worked together flawlessly alongside a solo guitarist (and ukulele expert!) to strike up a brilliant version of these well know themes. The victory fanfare marks the end of each battle in the Final Fantasy games. Hearing it live gives an insight into the technical work behind even the simple or smaller musical scores. Chocobo’s, for example, are brought to life with a simple but playful melody, which the Ukulele expert played with chill precision, and a bit of swagger.

2. The Gold Saucer piano arrangement

Benyamin Nuss’ solo piano performance invigorated and expounded the sounds and themes of Final Fantasy. In particular, Nuss premiered a piano arrangement of the Gold Saucer theme from Final Fantasy Seven, and it was a fun surprise. Nuss other performance from Final Fantasy Seven stunned the audience.

3.The Those Who Fight piano arrangement

This and high energy battle theme performed close to the end of the second act turned the piano keys from fiery to incandescent. Nuss’ high-speed performance earned lengthy applause from the audience.

5. Temple of Chaos theme

Audience members can find a closer glimpse into the technical construction of each piece. Delving into history, an arrangement of the Chaos Shrine from the first Final Fantasy game displayed the technical brilliance of the New World Players, and the attention to detail that series composer Nobuo Uematsu, and Tsuyoshi Sekito.

6. Ivalice Landscapes

An arrangement of separate pieces from Final Fantasy Twelve marked the end of the first act. It wove a journey through the vast and complex world of Ivalice, from the Estersands, through the Salika wood, to the booming waves of the Phon Coast, into the gloom of the Feywood, and away through the mists of Nabudis. This was definitely an exotic and moving piece.

7. Safe Haven (Camp Theme)

From the first game, all the way to the most recent game in the series, the performance include a piece from Final Fantasy Fifteen, which is impressive, considering the game was released only recently in November, 2016. A relaxed arrangement of Tetsuya Shibata’s music, which contrasted with the more active and emotional sounds in the performance such as To Zanarkand, and the popular One Winged Angel.

Overall, the sound quality was polished, capturing the atmosphere of adventure, whimsy, and magic embodied in the music of Final Fantasy. For more information on the Final Fantasy New Worlds tour, the ensemble website has more information.


Steven Universe Piano Music from PandaTooth

Pandatooth plays theme music specific to games and film, publishing their own arrangements and sheet music online. They have a good ear for transcribing, since the themes sound accurate to the original.

You can find Pandatooth’s YouTube channel and sheet music on their website.

And, you can support their work on Patreon.

With Steven Universe returning this week, here is Pandatooth’s medley of songs from the animation.

Final Fantasy Distant Worlds 30th Anniversary tour announced

The Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds Orchestral performance began in 2007 for the 20th anniversary of the Final Fantasy game franchise. This year marks the 30th anniversary, and a new concert tour is about to begin.

The concert is a multi-media experience, and Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu has been announced as a special guest. Conductor and composer Arnie Roth will return as conductor for the Distant Worlds Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus.

Distant Worlds starts in Sydney, Australia on July 1. It then continues into North America, Europe, and Asia, before visiting Tokyo and Osaka in December.

Those interested can also vote for the music they would like to see and experience at the event.

The Distant Worlds website has more information on the new Distant Worlds tour.


How to play Super Mario Bros. themes on piano

After receiving a book of Super Mario music arranged for piano, I started to play the World 1-1 theme, and wanted to play faster to recreate the sunny, jazz-like sound of the Mario theme.

I am going to need more practice first though.

This post covers a bit about the composer of the piece, and a few practical steps on how to go about playing Mario piano themes.

Memorising the melodic part of the music, and the supporting bass notes of this arrangement is essential to eventually performing the piece at the intended speed. The Mario music composer, Koji Kondo, intended the music to be played like a faster, jazz-like piece.

Koji Kondo’s goal in composing Super Mario Bros. music is to create a jazz-like sound, without recruiting difficult chords. This style is one of reasons Kondo is considered a mastermind, with his music compositions remarked as milestones in game music design.

Jazz is usually played fast with improvisation, which requires talent or time spent practicing scores. Influences from other sources are also a large part of the Jazz-like sound. Kondo started learning music on the electric organ, which he pushed to produce a hard rock sound in high school. Practice, however, is just as important as talent or musical influence.

Breaking down music into sections, and rehearsing those parts individually, is a good strategy when learning a new piece for the first time.

The version of the Super Mario Bros. themes I have has broken the music down into different sections. It’s easier to learn any new piece of music after dividing the sections up, and focusing on one at a time. Later, build the piece up, adding in each new section.

Playing the Right hand part separately, and then the left hand part separately before putting the two parts together, is also a good strategy.

The melodic part of the piece, usually carried in the Treble clef part of the music stave (the five lines and four spaces the notes appear on), is played in the right hand. Since Mario’s theme is so well know, the right hand is what will create the familiar sound.

Play this part separately from left hand first. Bass clef notes usually provide support to the piece. Music with a resonant bass clef added gives a sense of combined ensemble – a choir, or an orchestra, working together. Eventually, look for the notes where the left and right hands play at the same time, and start to practice the two parts together.

For more information on Koji Kondo’s background, glitterberri.com has an interview on his life and music.

Alfred music has copies of the Super Mario Series for Piano.