- Atlus
  - Capcom
  - Cave
  - Falcom
  - Irem
  - Konami
  - Microsoft
  - Namco Bandai
  - Nintendo
  - Nippon Ichi
  - Grasshopper
  - Sega
  - Sony
  - Square Enix
  - Western Games

  - Castlevania
  - Chrono
  - Dragon Quest
  - Final Fantasy
  - Kingdom Hearts
  - Mana
  - Mario
  - Megami Tensei
  - Mega Man
  - Metal Gear
  - Resident Evil
  - SaGa
  - Silent Hill
  - Sonic
  - Star Ocean
  - Street Fighter
  - Suikoden
  - Tales
  - Ys
  - Zelda

  - Masashi Hamauzu
  - Norihiko Hibino
  - Kenji Ito
  - Noriyuki Iwadare
  - Koji Kondo
  - Yuzo Koshiro
  - Shoji Meguro
  - Yasunori Mitsuda
  - Manabu Namiki
  - Hitoshi Sakimoto
  - Motoi Sakuraba
  - Tenpei Sato
  - Yoko Shimomura
  - Koichi Sugiyama
  - Masafumi Takada
  - Nobuo Uematsu
  - Michiru Yamane
  - Akira Yamaoka

Home Contact Us Top


Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version :: Review by Duke Lionheart

Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version Album Title: Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version
Record Label: NTT Publishing
Catalog No.: PSCN-5001/3 (1st Edition); NTCP-5001/3 (Reprint)
Release Date: March 25, 1994; October 1, 2004
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Final Fantasy VI was released in 1993 and set marks for both console RPGs and their soundtracks. The game is very well-worked out; its presentation is as good as it can be on a 16-bit-video game system. The soundtrack still is considered by many the best video game soundtrack of all times and it definitely brought a new quality into this kind of music.

The revolutionary element is its careful, complex construction. Uematsu for the first time fully uses the Wagnerian technique called 'leitmotif' in his music. A leitmotif has much more dramatic power than can be instantly recognized and it can be varied. It may be of any length: A short fanfare as well as a long, cantabile melody, and it may be related to a certain event, issue, or character. However, it offers the risk of being used too often. Uematsu usually manages to avoid this, save for Final Fantasy X, in which there's an annoying amount of similar variations on "Seymour's Theme." In Final Fantasy VI, Uematsu uses an enormous range of about 20 leitmotifs/character themes and none of them gets over-used. Character themes are only played when there is a particular situation concerning this character; maybe there is a second or even third rendition for a special cause and a reprise in the ending theme. At very important points in the story, special tracks are played to emphasize the dramatic action. So most of the time, you hear the overworld theme, dungeon themes, the standard battle theme, or the town theme, and even if they're as great as can be, they can be a bit annoying after the 40th time. In fact, it's a topic of discussion why Uematsu never composes more than one theme for "normal battles." Thus, you'll hear the battle theme perhaps a few hundred or thousand times. When playing the game, you will have to live with it. Be thankful, for it is quite a good tune actually. It works well, because all the important parts of the story and very remarkable locations (like the desert or the mystic forest) have their own track or theme which makes them special. Leitmotifs or character themes remind you of what you have seen and learned already, and they do more: They, of course, also influences your reception of the story, especially of the characters. Though the graphics have improved since Final Fantasy VI, your characters are still just 24x16 dots tall and have no voice. They have facial expressions and you learn about them from the things they do and say, but the music you connect with them still is very important for defining the mood and emotions of the character.

It is even better, however, when listening to the soundtrack. You get a three-hour summary of the game and the story; you get almost equal shares of tracks that accompany a character, a location or a special event. You will be reminded of the most important parts in the game and remember the characters as good old friends.

Leitmotif Overview

  • Opening Motif (Tracks: 1-01, 3-14)
  • Catastrophe (Tracks: 1-01, 3-02, 3-14)
  • Terra's/Tina's theme = Main Theme (Tracks: 1-01, 1-03, 1-23, 1-25, 2-01, 3-15)
  • Locke's theme (Tracks: 1-04, 2-04, 3-15)
  • Edgar and Sabin's theme (Tracks: 1-07, 2-02, 3-15)
  • Kefka's theme (Tracks: 1-08, 3-14)
  • Shadow's theme (Tracks: 1-11, 3-15)
  • Imperial theme (Tracks: 1-12, 1-21, 2-13)
  • Cyan/Cayenne's theme (Tracks: 1-13, 3-15)
  • Gau's theme (Tracks: 1-18, 3-15)
  • Celes' theme (Tracks: 1-22, 2-07, 2-08, 3-15)
  • Setzer's theme (Tracks: 2-11, 3-09, 3-15)
  • Mog's theme (Tracks: 2-17, 3-15)
  • Strago's theme (Tracks: 2-18, 3-15)
  • Relm's theme (Tracks: 2-19, 3-15)
  • Gogo's theme (Tracks: 3-08, 3-15)
  • Umaro's theme (Tracks: 3-11, 3-15)

The Music

The most outstanding mark of the music of Final Fantasy VI is that it is very much a unified whole, consistent in style and melody, if not helping to define the characters of the story. It is mainly epic, heroic and dramatic. There also are contemplative and melancholy moments on one hand, and funny ones on the other, although they are quite rare. While other Final Fantasy soundtracks may have single tunes that match the best ones of Final Fantasy VI, they all have their weak points: Tunes that are poor, uninspired or simply don't fit in. Final Fantasy VI has, in my opinion, no such tracks. The few tracks which are not so good on their own still fit into the soundtrack very well in terms of storyline and atmosphere.

In terms of genres, the general style may perhaps be called "symphonic rock," but that's not a real good explanation. It is neither what you think of as "symphonic" nor as "rock" music, but it is rather something of its own kind. There are, of course, some pieces following a certain well-known genre, such as waltzes, Rock'n'Roll tunes and ragtimes.


Uematsu mostly uses classical instruments, but with much more drums and percussion than found in classical music. Strings are used in most tracks, but not in all, so they are not too dominant. Woodwinds are present in heavy numbers, too, while the brass section is not as represented. Harp and organ (church or electric) are used remarkably in some tunes, especially in those tracks most important, while the piano is not so prominent on this soundtrack. Quite a few tunes use electric bass, and sometimes also a distorted guitar. There are some synthesizer sounds, bagpipes (just once), and sometimes sound effects integrated into the music (one track is based on the sound of a cash register).

For the first time, Uematsu also uses sampled voices. Unfortunately, they are simply "ah"s and "oh"s and sound rather poor on their own. However, together with instruments, they create great effects. Back in 1993, sung voices in a video game soundtrack were something new to most players, so many received them enthusiastically.

Altogether, the sound doesn't seem very artificial if you get used to it (or are familiar with old video and computer game sounds). It lacks some brilliance, of course, but the bass is astonishingly full and round, providing a powerful, solid foundation. It's only the synthesized sounds that have almost no dynamic of their own soon be noticed and criticized by listeners used to real classical music. Nevertheless, especially in Final Fantasy VI, this is not as big a problem as it might be. Uematsu deals well with it. He creates dynamic effects with melodies and different instruments. Still, it has great effect on the overall impression of the music. The fact that the loudness of the music is almost always the same makes it appear more similar to rock or pop music again. This contributes to the feel that this is a new kind of music, unlike classical, film soundtracks or anything else.

Harmony and Melody

Most of the tunes in Final Fantasy VI are based on one single melody, following a chord pattern that culminates in a cadence. This is a classical composition style and has been typical of Uematsu so far. But in Final Fantasy VI, for the first time, quite a few themes use a different technique: a melody played over a single chord for a rather long time, which may change between minor, major, or diminished. Both Kefka's and the Imperial theme are mostly like this, as is the main part of Cyan's theme. This is the same with several dungeon or action themes too. This kind of theme will also be prominent in the next two soundtracks, especially in Final Fantasy VIII. Still, the overall harmonic impression is that of classical music, even if the harmonies don't fit in the regular classical harmony theory, with only a hint of jazzy chords and not too-striking dissonance or even atonality. Real polyphony with several "independent" voices is not very easy to find, but Uematsu's often great bass lines sound a bit like a melody themselves. Mostly these are in rock or funk rock style that are sometimes really strange, and sometimes reminds me of Paul McCartney.


Rhythmically, Uematsu is by far not as experimental here as in Final Fantasy VII, but uses a decent variety of rhythms: Rock beat in some tunes, tribal percussion in others, march rhythms, etc. There are some 7/8 rhythms, and of course the irregular accentuation of 4/4 tracks, as in "The Serpent Trench" and boss battle themes. Still, in most tunes, the rhythm is not as important as the melody, and there are no rhythm-only or ambient tracks, as with later Final Fantasy soundtracks.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Opening Theme

This is played over the introduction of the game. The soundtrack begins with a very dramatic motif. An organ creates a layer of fourths while the screen is dark, building up tension, which is released in a small second downward motif, by both the organ and choir as a lightning bolt strikes. Next, there is still darkness, and a harp is playing, first hesitatingly, then faster. When the first pictures of a landscape and the first words of the text mentioned above "Long ago, the war of the Magi" appear, the "Catastrophe" theme begins to play. It's in C minor, which is always a good key for dark, dramatic music. A dark bell sounds, then strings and harp begin to play, with the bell still occasionally chiming in. As we see the Imperial palace, a trumpet plays some kind of fanfare as we are taken into the modern times. The strings take over again, and conclude this part together with a harp in G major.

Change of scene: We see Terra and two soldiers in Imperial Mech Suits on a snowfield, marching towards the town of Narshe. Terra's theme, which is also the main theme of the game, starts with a marching rhythm. It's a simple melody, kind of humble, yet it is powerful and expressive. Let's look at it: The whole theme is based on a single motif played by flute. This motif is played twice in a G minor key, then transformed into Bb major (the parallel) and finished by a cadence back to G Minor. Now you have a phrase in G minor. This phrase itself is also played twice, then transformed into a Bb major phrase (simply exchange G minor and Bb major parts, the cadence stays the same) and a final part with the harp and trumpet concludes this tune. Thus, Uematsu basically uses the same transformation (Minor - Minor - Major ?Cadence) here on two levels. Just by doing that with a simple motif, Uematsu creates one of his most beautiful themes.

Other Versions: A beautiful orchestral version on Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale with several variations of Terra's theme.

2) Colliery Narsh

This has a dark, cold tune, set off with strings and a harp. Then a bass joins, playing a rhythmical, almost jazzy motif, which plays on through the whole track. A piano also joins in, playing some licks and, finally, an oboe plays a lonely melody. Basically, the whole track is filled with diminished chords.

3) Awakening

This is the first warm, peaceful track in the soundtrack. It's played when Terra, who has met the Esper and fallen unconscious, wakes up in a warm bed and for the first time since a long time, she starts to think by her own. It's her theme, played by piano, in a very pure, innocent way, accompanied by strings and harp.

4) Locke

Locke is a thief - "treasure hunter" he calls himself - who helps Terra in Narshe and later takes her to King Edgar, who is his friend and the Empire's enemy. His theme shows him as a brave, heroic character. It's in G major, played by strings and driven forward by drums. The main part is very upbeat and straightforward, while the counterpart is more dramatic with breaks and modulations. This is one of Uematsu's best character themes.

5) Battle Theme

A funny, exciting tune: it starts out with the classical Final Fantasy battle motif, then continues with a rock beat, performed by an electric guitar, bass, and drums. Most noticeable here is the lively bass, doing lots of walks and licks. You'll find this kind of bass in many more of Uematsu's battle themes, especially on this soundtrack. A trumpet plays an exuberant melody, with fast string runs thrown in. There are two breaks or counterparts here: The first is very rhythmical, using small ritards on the musical flow, wehile the second one first slows down the tune, then after a short guitar solo, the pace builds up again, with strings leading to a climax, after which the trumpet melody begins again.

Other Versions: There's a catchy hard rock version on Final Fantasy The Black Mages in which a guitar plays the main melody.

6) Fanfare

This victory fanfare is also known since Final Fantasy. This is a very rocky rendition, matching the battle theme in character.

7) Edgar and Mash

Edgar is king of the small Realm Figaro, a would-be-womanizer, clever technician and enemy of the Empire. His brother Sabin has left the castle long ago to train in martial arts and relies a bit more on muscles than brains. As Edgar and Locke try to hide Terra from the empire, they meet Sabin again who joins them. This tune starts out with a majestic, fanfare-like motif played by trombone and trumpet. The structure is the same as in Locke's theme, the middle part being more lyrical here, showing the deep love between the two brothers.

8) Kefka

Kefka is perhaps the most wicked of all Final Fantasy villains. You don't know who he is and why he is so mad, but you can definitely tell that he gains pleasure from murder and destruction. Still, when you meet him for the first time (and easily defeat him), he seems rather ridiculous. He'll come back stronger though. His theme is rather weird, funny, and is reminiscence of a bit of circus music. Yet it is both powerful and volatile, symbolic with Kefka. It's in Bb minor, and most of the time it is a one-chord-piece.

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, there's an interesting variation, with some parts replaced by new ones, which sounds more like a weird dance. The version on Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections does some interesting variations, but sadly, like most tracks on that CD, it doesn't sound very much like Uematsu anymore.

9) Mt. Koltz

Mt. Koltz is where you meet Sabin for the first time. This is the first dungeon theme on the soundtrack and is used for many more dungeons and mountains to come. A heavy rock beat plays throughout the whole tune. Strings start with a layer of fourths, then play a melody which is then taken further by horns and by organ. The melody kind of always stays in motion, doesn't repeat itself, but continuously develops to get very triumphant when the organ comes in. Somehow, it really has a certain feel of climbing a mountain.

10) Returners

The Returners are a rebel movement fighting the Empire. Their theme is very militaristic with all melody done by brass, but to me, it sounds more like always being on the run (which the Returners are constantly doing) than preparing for a great attack.

11) Shadow

Shadow is a man who doesn't talk very much. He's a ninja who works only for himself and has no friends but his dog, Interceptor. Still, the party persuades him to join and later you'll find out that he has his own reasons for fighting the Empire. His theme sounds very much like a wild-west song. I am even slightly reminded of Morricone. A simple, calm melody is played by flute over an acoustic guitar, bass, and percussion.

12) Troops March On

This is the Empire's theme, played as a fast, aggressive march. This track gives a feeling of troops restlessly marching on wherever they are to go. It starts with two trumpets playing a short, contra point-like motif in C minor. The upper one plays further while the chord stays the same. The middle part takes the tune to Eb minor and then, triumphantly to E major for a short time. It then returns to its dark, determined pace.

Other Versions: There's a good orchestral version on Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, which is a bit slower and has a long new part added at the end.

13) Cayenne

Cyan, or Cayenne, is a noble and fearless knight from Doma Castle who hates the Empire. His theme starts with a dignified, slightly desperate motif, but becomes more lively and hopeful as it develops. Just like Cyan, he seems gallant, but inapproachable at first, and takes some time to reveal his emotional side and real strength.

14) The Unforgiven

Kefka, who sieges Doma Castle and finds that it can't be taken by force, poisons the river that goes through Doma. Everyone there dies soon except Cyan, who didn't drink the water, so that there would be more for the others. When his king and his family die, Cyan goes mad and attacks the whole Imperial army on his own. Luckily, the heroes' party is there, too, and they join forces. This is a desperate, dramatic orchestral tune, using many diminished chords.

15) The Mystic Forest

This tune is played as the heroes have to find their way through a haunted forest. It is rather eerie, mystical, and dangerous there, as is the tune. The chord progression it starts with (from A minor to F major to F# dim. to F major by just changing one tone) is a really popular one. Uematsu uses it several times (e.g. "Forested Temple," Final Fantasy VII and "Succession of Witches," Final Fantasy VIII) and you might know it from the James Bond Theme as well.

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections, there's a piano version, played quite nice, but a bit too hesitatingly.

16) Mystery Train

This train usually takes the dead ones to the other side, but nevertheless the party boards it to get out of the forest. They even meet a friendly ghost there and manage to leave it before they've gone too far. However, when they leave the train, Cyan's wife and son board and he can't do anything about it. The tune starts with the sounds of a steam train, then an acoustic guitar plays a sad melody which then is repeated by the orchestra as a kind of march for the dead.

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale this piece is done by a piano and a solo violin in chamber music style. There's lots of new dissonances and it's really lively and funny in the first part, then lyrical, romantical in the second. Wonderful! The version on the Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections is not that good and is somehow uninspired.

17) Wild West

The heroes find themselves in the veldt, a desolate, yet impressive place. This tune starts with lots of percussion, then there's some strings in the background. So far, the veldt seems like a place where there's not much going on. However, some monsters and a strange creature (which will turn out to be a boy) show up. Therefore and suddenly, the rhythm changes, and a moving feeling comes into the piece, with a melody evolving similar to the "Mt. Koltz" theme.

18) Gau

Gau is a ten-year-old boy who ran away from home and now lives in the desert, acting more like an animal than like a human. By offering him meat, the party gains his friendship. He's still just a small boy, as his theme, which is a peaceful, calm melody, shows. First, it is only played by a single viola with a Spanish guitar accompanying, then it is picked up by the full orchestra.

Other Versions: Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale: Very long version with strings and harpsichord. Not very impressive. Same goes for the piano version.

19) The Snake Path

This tune is played when the party goes on an exciting underwater ride. Uematsu uses lots of string chords and runs to show the current of the river they have to follow. The rhythm is quite interesting: Uematsu uses a 3-3-3-3-2-2 accentuation in a normal 4/4 measure. This scheme is also used in "The Decisive Battle" and battle themes in other Final Fantasy soundtracks ("Force Your Way," Final Fantasy VIII).

20) Kids Run Through the City Corner

A peaceful theme, played in most towns. It's in 3/4 measure, though it's not really a waltz. A melody is introduced first as a solo voice, then another voice joins in, playing a third higher. Together with the middle part, this is a simple, but beautiful and uplifting tune.

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale: Nice version with harpsichord added and altered intro and ending. The Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections version is nothing special, and is rather boring.

21) Under Martial Law

This uses the Imperial theme again, though it's hard to recognize. It's only the first part of the theme, slightly altered and alternately played in E minor and C minor. It sounds more like a "calm before/after the storm" tune. It is played in cities occupied by the Empire. In contrary to the track before, it sounds very miserable and dreary.

22) Celes

Celes is a young, beautiful woman who at first works for the Empire but then changes side because her conscience tells her to do so. She soon falls in love with Locke, but he can't deal with his emotions and does not answer her love. Still, this is a very romantic theme and one of the most beautiful themes Uematsu has ever written. It's in Eb major here, played by a celesta (what a coincidence!) with lots of strings in the background.

Other Versions: Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections: Quite nice and a not too slow version.

23) Save Them!

A fast-paced, dramatic orchestral tune that includes a very triumphant rendition of Terra's theme as the story focuses on her again in a dramatic show-down with Kefka who tries to capture her.

24) The Decisive Battle

This is played in most boss battles in the game. It's a hard rock tune again, using strings, organs, distorted guitar, electric bass and drums. The character of the tune is more dramatic than the normal battle themes, but it's still rather uplifting and heroic than desperate and dark. Again, we have the exciting 3-3-3-3-2-2 accentuation as in Track 1-19.

Other Versions: On the Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections there's a really good version, very dynamic and imaginative. One of the few good tracks on that CD. On The Black Mages, there's a hard rock version of this. It's rather cool, especially the "chorus" part.

25) Metamorphosis

Another dramatic tune that uses Terra's theme, but this time mainly in diminished chords that build up tension without releasing it. It is played when Terra, meeting the frozen Esper again, is transformed into one herself and, out of her mind, flies away.

Disc Two

1) Tina

A much warmer and happier version of Terra's theme than the one in Track 1-01, this time in G# minor. The drums play the same rhythm, but the instruments have changed, so Terra's theme sounds much warmer, happier here. There's also a new middle part. You'll hear this when walking on the world map (before the catastrophe).

Other Versions: A quiet, lyrical version on the Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections.

2) Coin Song

A sad, quiet version of Edgar and Sabin's theme, mainly in minor chords. It is played as the brother remembers how they decided by a coin which of them would be the one to rule the kingdom and which one would leave.

Other Versions: The Piano Collections version is rather uninteresting, as you'd expect.

3) Techno de Chocobo

Very strange rendition of the famous Chocobo theme. It's not really techno, but you might imagine a Chocobo being high on ecstasy or speed when you listen to this. I wonder how Uematsu came up with this...

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, there's a most interesting "Milan de Chocobo" which does strange things with the Chocobo theme. On "Final Fantasy VI Special Tracks," you can find another "Techno de Chocobo," which is not as funny as the OSV version, but interesting too, with a cool piano solo near the end.

4) Forever Rachel

Another sad version of a main character's theme. This time it's Locke who remembers his past and it's much worse than Edgar and Sabin's: His girlfriend Rachel fell from a bridge with him standing right beside her. This is why he doesn't respond (yet!) to Celes's feelings. "Forever Rachel" is among the most famous tunes Uematsu has ever written and is definitely a good example of what he can do with a character's theme. The tune starts with a fragment from the middle part played in E, A and D Minor consecutively. Then a more lyrical rendition of the main motif is played in G minor (instead of major), first quietly, then with strings.

5) Slam Shuffle

This is played in the town of Zozo, where it always rains and no one will say the truth. A jazzy, upbeat tune with a "rainy" character and the sound of rain in the background. Music for dancing naked in the rain.

6) Spinach Rag

The title is a bow to Scott Joplin, the godfather of ragtime music who has written pieces like "Pineapple Rag" and "Peacherine Rag." In fact, it sounds very much like a Scott Joplin Ragtime at first, but the structure is different. Very memorable tune.

Other Versions: This had to be on the Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections and they couldn't do much wrong here. In fact, there's even a (nice) new part and a nice accelerando at the end.

7) Overture [Start of Opera Sequence]

This is perhaps the most famous sequence in Final Fantasy VI. Celes has to take part in an opera in order to contact Setzer, who owns an airship (which the heroes need) and is a huge opera fan. In the opera itself, a Romeo-and-Juliet-story is told, in a medieval setting. Celes plays the "Juliet" Maria, while her Romeo is named Draco. The voices are sampled "ah"s and "oh"s and sound rather artificial, particularly in the low regions. Still, in 1993, this was something special: sung voices in a video game soundtrack. Uematsu has really composed 16 minutes of music that might very well fit in a classical opera. It's well worked out and very catchy at the same time. The overture begins dramatically and pompous in B minor, then a harp part follows. After that, tension is built up again, climaxing in several diminished chords. Then Draco appears and sings a part derived from Celes' theme. Then a lively, military part, changing from string runs to triumphant brass. Finally, a playful, baroque melody is played by flute with a harpsichord accompanying.

8) Aria Di Mezzo Carattere [Second Part of Opera Sequence]

This is Celes' theme as an aria in D major. The female voice sings Celes' theme once, sounding a bit weak by itself, but when the orchestra joins in, it sounds great. The melody is now sung twice, the second time ending on a Bb minor key. A middle part begins with polyphonic strings, then French horns play a small melody over varying chords and it goes back to the vocal part which is again sung twice, then the French horn part finishes the tune on D major again.

9) The Wedding Waltz ~ Duel [Third Part of Opera Sequence]

This beautiful waltz in E major is played as Maria is forced to marry a man she doesn't love. Then, suddenly Draco appears with his forces, attacking the wedding company. A quick three-note motif suddenly signals dramatic action, followed by a drum-roll. The motif is now developed into a crescendo, building up to an E minor cadence. A fast part follows, dramatizing the ongoing battle. Then Draco finds Maria, he calls her name and she answers. Then Draco sings a "call-to-arms" motif, and the fast, dramatic part is resumed as the battle continues. So much for the opera. Unluckily, the action above the stage is even hotter where the remaining heroes chase the mad Octopus Ultros who wants to drop a weight on the actors. Instead of that, they all fall down onto the stage, providing for a sudden end of this tune.

10) Grand Finale? [Conclusion of Opera Sequence]

At first, there's only murmuring to be heard as the audience discusses whether the appearance of four fighters and an octopus is part of the opera. It is not, but now there's a real battle going onstage. Uematsu has composed a wonderfully exuberant, crazy Scherzo in F# major for this, very crazy and terrific.

Other Versions (Opera Sequence): The Orchestral Game Concert #4, performed in the middle nineties in Tokyo, featured a 23-minute-performance of the Opera sequence. Three real opera singers sing (in Japanese) and there's a new part at the end, a beautiful reprise of Celes's theme, but now as a duet. There's also a version of the aria on Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, which is similar to the one from the The Orchestral Game Concert #4, but with another singer (and Italian lyrics) and some other instruments, especially a harpsichord. Very beautiful, too.

11) Setzer

Setzer is a gambler and womanizer, yet he is persuaded to help the heroes; he even joins their party. With his airship, they now can travel above the clouds. It is a very heroic and triumphant theme in C major. It sounds good in this original form, but very flat compared to what Uematsu does with it in the "Ending Theme."

12) Johnny C. Bad

Another pun here: the title refers to Chuck Berry's most famous Rock'n'Roll "Johnny B Goode." Actually, this is a fast, funny Rock'n'Roll/Boogie Woogie tune following the standard blues pattern. The piano plays the main melody, accompanied by guitar, drums and a groovy, "walking" bass.

Other Versions: On the Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections, there's a wonderful, groovy version of this, with many great variations.

13) The Empire "Gestahl"

This is a slower, heavier and darker version of the Imperial theme. It starts with a gong sound and slow downward string runs, then the main melody is played by French horn and the middle part by strings. Percussion is used in a very minimalistic way here, adding to the menacing feel of this theme. You hear this in Vector, the Empire's capital.

14) Devil's Lab

Now this is most unusual: this tune is based on the sound of a cash register opening and some metallic "booing" sound that plays all the way through. At first, a synthesized bass plays, then the brass and string section enter, but then some other synthesized "industrial" instruments join in. Trombone, French horn, and strings start with the melodic part. The "main melody" here is given from one of these instruments to the next almost seamlessly.

15) Blackjack

This is the theme you hear when riding the airship. Unlike most of Uematsu's airship themes, its got a certain melancholy feel to it, although it is based on a rather fast beat.

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale,, there's an orchestral version that takes the beat away and totally relies on the melancholy feel of this tune. Interesting arrangement.

16) ??

This is a very strange tune, played in situations in which the heroes are obviously fooled by someone. It uses percussion, woodblock and strange sound-effects. Unlike most tracks, it doesn't fade out, but stops with a sound effect, and immediately the next track begins.

17) Mog

Mog is a Moogle, a creature you might compare to a teddy bear in white. Mog is the only one of his kind who can say more than "Kupo!" His theme: a playful, funny melody played by several woodwind and brass instruments in an call-and-answer-way over some kind of slow rock rhythm.

18) Stragus

Stragus is an old and weird man, but with great love for his (adopted) granddaughter Relm and with his own special magical powers. Such is his theme: slow, mystical and a bit crazy. Good theme, but not too intelligently placed after Mog's theme, since the style and instrumentation are somewhat similar.

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections there's a so-so version of this theme with some dissonance, frentic style and some slow parts.

19) Relm

Relm is a 10-year-old girl with a gift for sketching. Her theme is one of the most beautiful ones in the soundtrack (as long as you get along with bagpipes). It's slow and a bit lullaby-like as is Gau's theme, but hers is somehow more inspired and developed.

Other Versions: On Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, there is a nice version of "Relm." It's rather close to the original with real bagpipes in it and a new part added in the middle.

20) Another World of Beasts

A dark, eerie tune for the strange, mystical world of the doomed Espers. A harp begins playing a strange chord (Eb minor with great seventh) in 7/8 rhythm, and a flute plays a lonely melody. In a middle part, strings join for increasing tension.

Disc Three

1) New Continent

Disc three begins with a fast harp arpeggio, remindful a bit of the Prelude theme. After 5 seconds, however, an electronic sound basically comes crushing in, and this tune shows its true face: an evil bold march-like tune with electronic elements. The main melody is played by strings over a G major chord (though the scale is that of D major). Then, a dark fanfare increases the tension, and some electronic sounds build up to a climax. This is played just before the game's turning point, when the Empire and the heroes race for the conquest of three ancient statues in which the magical powers of old are stored. They are to be found on an island that has been uplifted into the sky. After one repeat, the track goes right over into "Catastrophe."

2) Catastrophe

Not stopped by the heroes, Kefka kills the Emperor and seizes the ancient magical power. The world is doomed and will no more be the same. Thus, we hear again the "Catastrophe" theme we know from the very beginning. Only, this time it's all played by strings and woodwinds. No organ, no trumpet, no harps. The former trumpet part has changed: no more does it lead away from the unspeakable, but underlines the inevitable.

3) The Fierce Battle

Another boss battle theme, and it's sort of developed from "The Decisive Battle." It's in the same key, A minor, and the accentuation now is 3-3-2 (this will also be used later, such as in "The Legendary Beast," Final Fantasy VIII), only it's more extreme. The first boss theme was rather easy, funny rock. This tune is not. "The Fierce Battle" is more dramatic, symphonic in the beginning, darker in the main part where a wonderfully wicked synthesizer sound takes the lead, and bolder and more heroic near the end where the trumpet enters.

4) Rest in Peace

In the game, you hear this sad, short tune when your heroes are dead and your game is over. In the soundtrack, it marks the change of the world which Kefka has devastated and now is utterly altered. The heroes are parted when their airship is destroyed; strangely, all of them survive this (but they have to, of course).

5) Dark World

The title says it all: This is a dark tune for a cold and devastated world in which Celes (who is now the main role) finds herself. With the continuous use of an organ, it sounds kind of religious, and there is still a small feel of hope to it. It starts with the sound of chilly winds blowing, then an organ comes in, repeating a simple motif over and over again, relentlessly and depressingly. A single harp plays a minimalist melody, and a gong underscores the epic feel of this tune. Then, the chords change from minor to major, a clarinet enters, playing a short melody which is a bit like a very slow fanfare. Then, it goes back to the sad harp part.

6) The Day After

This tune is used when Celes, who was stranded on a solitary island, for the first time reaches a city, re-entering civilization. There are survivors, and they continue to live on, though its kind of a sad and depressed life. This tune is not as epic as the previous; instead, it is rather simple, but still leading nowhere in particular. After a rather lively intro, slow, simple beat sets the pace for clarinet and Spanish guitar, playing another sad melody.

7) Searching for Friends

One of the greatest tunes in the whole soundtrack. This is really great work from Uematsu, and this is what he's probably best in: he composes tunes that display feelings and that are set towards a certain mood. This piece is definitely about the return of hope and about friendship. It begins with strings in an upward 4-note progression, while a rather fast hi-hat beat fades in, and then goes straight into a beautiful, a bit innocent, yet determined flute melody, while some electronic-metallic sounds add to the beat. A synthesized choir joins in later, but what is greatest in this tune is the electric bass which plays some kind of counter-melody and always stays in motion without being fast.

8) Gogo

No, this is not about go-go-dancers. Gogo is a strange character who joins the party (if you find him) for "fun," as he says. You don't learn much more about him, but he's a funny guy. His theme first sounds really menacing, beginning with timpani and drum roll, then it turns out to be a light-hearted circus-like tune, getting really exuberant at the end.

9) Epitaph

Another sad version of a main character's theme. And like Locke, Setzer too mourns a departed love of his. Quite nice, but not too interesting on its own.

10) The Magic House

Another funny tune. It builds up and builds up and finally develops into some kind of dance. The instrumentation is strings, woodwinds, acoustic guitar and electric bass.

11) Umaro

Umaro is a Yeti. Though he's rather dumb and unable to communicate with anyone save for Mog, he's a good and really strong fighter and somehow a good pal. Sadly, his theme sounds a bit too similar to Gogo's theme, but it gives a rather good impression of a snowman moving a bit clumsy first, then a bit faster, and finally going into a sort of snowman dance.

12) Fanatics

Now that Kefka "rules" the world, he has also found worshippers, who have erected a tower in praise of him. "Fanatics" is a rather simple tune, but very atmospheric, dark and crazy. The sampled voice sounds really good here with organ and percussion in the background.

13) Last Dungeon

Re-united, the party sets out to finally put an end to Kefka's doings. Unluckily, they have to find their way through Kefka's tower first, which is a giant maze with lots of demons and monsters guarding him. This track starts with eerie synthesizer sounds and then goes into a heroic, dynamic orchestral march. There's also this electric bass again, doing some real strange figures and counter-melodies.

14) Dancing Mad

Finally, Kefka has been found. However, this is the hardest battle of all, because he first sets you against his three strongest monsters, called Poltergeist, Doom, and The Goddess. This is one of the really great moments in the history of video games and video game music. For each of the four battles, Uematsu has composed a different bit of music, and the first one goes over into the second without any pause, and the second into the third likewise. The great thing is, it's exactly the same in the game. Once Poltergeist is defeated, the party hurries on to battle Doom and when the Poltergeist music reaches its end the next time, the Doom music continues right away. Each of the four themes would be great on its own, but together they form something gigantic. The main instrument is the organ, church organ or electric, used in all parts.

Poltergeist Battle: This starts with the "Catastrophe" theme, again played in C minor by organ as in the opening track, but there are some sound effects added that creates lots of tension. Then, a slow, religious part with organ and female voice follows, right before the tune unloads itself in a heavy, violent, rock-like part. Here, the male-voice-and-organ-combination works again, as in "Fanatics."

Goddess Battle: The organ takes over into the second theme, which is in C# minor and not as fast and heavy as 'Poltergeist Battle.' It's more crazy though; another one of these tunes that sound a bit like circus music, but it's still very evil. The male voice is there again, but also in a short, staccato way; the drums sound like some aggressive insect, and there's a short organ solo part.

Doom Battle: The organ solo part from 'Goddess Battle' moves into this tune, which is all organ (save for a gong). It's epic, it's polyphonic, it's religious and very dynamic, changing from upbeat, almost happy, to crazy, to mad. It is in a major key, C# major, which is most atypical for a battle theme. Unlike the others, it fades out at the end.

Kefka Battle: The final battle is introduced by the opening motif the whole soundtrack started with in the beginning. Then, it all goes crazy. The electric bass plays a heavy-metal-like motif in C# minor and the percussion play a furious, tribal rhythm. An electric organ enters, playing something even more crazy in a strange rhythm, very fast, and a distorted guitar does heavy power chords. For a moment a part of the "Kefka" theme can be heard, then it's all madness again. Actually, the whole thing is Kefka's theme, but so drastically or weirdly altered in rhythm (the "main" part of this alternates between 4/4 and 7/8 bars) and accentuation that you hardly realize it. Suddenly, when you're still wondering "What the...," it goes over into a another slow religious organ-only part, most beautiful and yet holding the tension. Then it's played again, with rock beat drums and synthesized female voice added, and then, with the addition of Kefka's crazy laugh it goes back again into crazy, violent madness. This is so incredibly powerful, heavy stuff that it really might drive you mad as well. I can't think of any music even comparable to this.

Other Versions: There's a rock version on The Black Mages which suffers from really poor synthesizer sounds that in fact are much worse than those in the original.

15) Ending Theme

If there is one track that can surpass the 'Opera Sequence' and "Dancing Mad," it is the "Ending Theme."

Once Kefka is defeated, his tower collapses and the heroes have to find their way out of it real fast. As magic is beginning to fade from the world, they worry whether Terra will survive this, but she tells them not to care. You don't have to play this, you can just enjoy this wonderful "encore" sequence. Each of the characters has to show his/her unique qualities again, and Uematsu underscores this, of course, with a reprise of his/her theme. But it's not just 13 character themes played one after the other; it's one giant piece of music that seems to tell a story on its own. Of course, characters in a special relationship to each other appear together. This is, of course, Celes and Locke, who maybe now will find the strength to answer her love. Yet this is also Relm, Shadow (who is probably her father), and Strago.

After a harp intro, the first character presented is Cyan, his theme being played as a very dignified march. Next is Setzer's theme, played by woodwind and harp, only in a rather innocent, relieved way. Then follows Edgar and Sabin's theme, great and pompous by a full orchestra, in changing keys, building up to a climax; suddenly Mog's theme is played as a waltz, very joyfully and playfully. Umaro's theme is next, done as a march. First, it is played by a tuba, then it's transformed from minor into major and played by a flute, giving it a much more light-hearted character feeling. A triumphant, dynamic, march-like rendition of Gogo's theme follows. Here, the two themes do not sound too similar. Then, some melancholy variations over Gau's theme change the mood, and a romantic version of Celes' theme follows, which is then repeated in a heroic, victorious way and then leads over to Locke's theme, which sounds stronger than ever, beginning as a march, then building up to a climax. Then, as a contrast, the harp comes in again, a flute joins and plays the middle part of Terra's theme. The main motif of her theme follows, but only in a brief, rather sad variation, and the harp plays on. Relm's theme is played by the woodwind section, easily and innocently, but it just seems to be an addition to the harp which finally leads into a grand rendition of Shadow's theme. This is done by a full orchestra while the harp goes into long, beautiful arpeggios. This is the greatest moment in the whole track so far: Shadow's theme which we know as simple and calm, offers rich emotional complexity here. Again, Uematsu brings in a full contrast, because next is Strago's crazy theme, played fast and exuberantly. Then the character presentation is ended with a slow, sweet outro.

However, the character part is only half of the Ending Theme. For now, drums lead into a very dramatic action cue, and as the airships takes off from the collapsing tower, Setzer's theme is played as a fast rendition based on diminished chords. A long, slow, stately part follows, introducing a new melody which seems like a two-minute-long transition. Then suddenly Setzer's theme comes up again, as you see the airship racing across the again blue sky, with all party members including Terra safe and alive, and the credits begin to move across the screen. This time it's a cheerful, fast orchestral march, triumphant music that doesn't seem to end. It eventually does: the tempo slows down to another melancholy, yet relieved version of Terra's theme which finally fades into the slow transitional part that was heard after the flight from Kefka's tower. And then finally, like in most Final Fantasies, the last theme you hear is the Final Fantasy theme, majestic, dignified and beautiful. Uematsu's still got something more for us, though: the last 70 seconds are just one fast, furious finale, ending in a bombastic climax.

16) The Prelude

Well, somewhere had to be "The Prelude" theme. It's rather simple, some harp arpeggios at first, then a flute plays a simple, peaceful melody with strings in the background, and yet it's very nice, dreamy and magical.


Uematsu has never before or later written something so gigantic. For me and many other fans of his, this puts him high among the greatest composers of all times. Technically, it may be not as complex as Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven, but emotionally, it may be the greatest single piece of orchestral/video game music ever written. This is music that would survive on its own, without the game, because it tells a story by itself. I love this soundtrack!

Overall Score: 10/10