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Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon :: Review by Moses Rose

Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon Album Title: Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon
Record Label: NTT Publishing
Catalog No.: N30D-006 (1st Print); NTCP-5017 (Reprint)
Release Date: October 28, 1991; October 1, 2004
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Composed by the celebrated Nobuo Uematsu, arranged by Maire Bhreatnach, and recorded in Ireland, Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon is a collection of arranged tracks, selected from the acclaimed Final Fantasy IV. As indicated by the album name, the instruments chosen and the styles incorporated into the arrangement of Final Fantasy IV's original compositions are all of an Irish brand and sound. The album's quality of performance and recording is superb, and the arrangements within are predominantly top notch.

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) The Prelude

This recording of "The Prelude" begins with its familiar scale, played on a harp. The flute then chimes in with the main melody. Soon in the background is the accompaniment, performed by strings. "The Prelude" is played verbatim as it was the original soundtrack for two times, and then the flute, abandoning the melody, improvises — seemingly randomly — up and up and up on the scale until it recedes back to the main melody and the piece closes.

The harp is clunky and sketchy on the main scale. And though the flute counterbalances the jagged harp, it is exceedingly weak — as though it might falter and break apart. The flute does genuinely sounds as though it will fall apart. And the 'arrangement' of this piece is merely that same flute, meandering above and beyond the scale ever so lamely and insipidly. The piece is terribly banal.

2) Prologue...

The "Prologue" begins with a small intro and then quickly enters into the main melody — carried by the viola with the guitar and accordion in the background, providing support. For one full loop there is no arrangement. The second time through, the viola plays a near inversion of the main melody and further arrangement is carried on from there. After a bit of a reprieve, the piece returns to the melody and it closes. Note that this is the first example of what will be referred to as the border method of arrangement. That is, the original melody / arrangement / original melody method.

Although the inspiring and driving primary melody of the "Prologue" seems understated with the use of such soft instruments as the viola and guitar, the portions of arrangement give the piece an idyllic and relaxing sound. The arrangement here feels particularly Irish, and the piece, overall, calls to mind people, engaging in a kind of gentle, organized, swaying dance. The piece is nice.

3) Chocobo-Chocobo

The compulsory Chocobo piece on most of Uematsu's arranged albums, the melody of "Chocobo-Chocobo" is carried by the fiddle with the viola for support. The piece incorporates the border method: it plays through the melody twice, carries on in embellished arrangement, plays through the melody twice again, and then closes.

The instruments used to play the Chocobo theme are well suited to it. Although to play the Chocobo tune at the fast pace that it is played at here may be construed as a bit obnoxious, it is absolutely appropriate. The arrangement featured in "Chocobo-Chocobo" is excellent — perfectly suited, again, to the feel of the Chocobo tune and perfectly suited to the album. It is lively and upbeat, and, like the "Prologue," reminds one of an organized dance — though this time something lively and upbeat, something more individualistic and full of spirit.

4) Into the Darkness

"Into the Darkness" is a far away dream-like piece with a twinge of melancholy — though alarmingly less melancholy on this album than on others. Its tune is carried by the viola and fiddle in tandem, supported by the harp. At certain portions, mainly the climax, synthesized voice is used as background as well. The arrangement on the melody is a bit dutiful and may bore some the second or third loops through, but the piece nonetheless carries that sense of free spirit that is apparent throughout the whole album. This composition, frankly, is quite beautiful. "Into the Darkness" reminds one of the wistful fantasy of one locked, perhaps, in a tall and dense dungeon, overlooking the green and misty fields saturated with freedom.

5) Main Theme of Final Fantasy IV

The overworld music of Final Fantasy IV, this is an upbeat and adventurous theme with a hint at romance or intrigue. Its rising and falling melody is carried by the viola and is supported by synthesized voices in the background and the scale which makes itself so commonly heard in Uematsu's soundtrack. The melody, which features immediately as the piece begins, is played through once and then immense arrangement occurs. The fluttering and vibrant arrangement only occurs in the background, though. The flute takes over the main melody, and in the background, where once was the scale so seemingly essential, the violin takes its place and dances about ever so capriciously — contrasting very well the dutiful work of the flute. The piece ends with the main melody again, but this time played by both viola and flute. A quick and attractive piece, "Main Theme of Final Fantasy IV" is quite grand and urges one to set out on adventure his or her self.

6) Welcome to Our Town!

Obviously the town theme of Final Fantasy IV, "Welcome to Our Town" is typical Uematsu town fare. The key melody, performed by viola and fiddle, is dutiful and mundane, which does excellently to complement the arrangement. The melody is performed once through, and then, with the walk down of the harp, descends into an exceedingly distinct 'happy town revelry' piece. Quite literally, the new content of this piece feels as though one were observing an annual town festival in Ireland. And in terms of structure, the whole piece is really a happy dancing tune sandwiched between the melody of "Welcome to Our Town." The track is certainly enjoyable, and, although not awesome, certainly compliments the rest of the album.

7) Theme of Love

Another conspicuously titled track, "Theme of Love" is the compulsory slow moving romantic track of the old Final Fantasy games. It is indeed exceedingly slow, and the arrangement the piece receives is no slower. The piece is dull and routine. It does not aspire or inspire — it only bores.

8) Melody of Lute

"Melody of Lute" is a fantastical piece with a melody akin to something popular imagination might perceive as coming out of a mechanical music box. It has a vortex-like melody which changes little throughout the piece: in fact, the track's melody receives little or no improvision from the original. Instead, the composition is embellished and builds in beauty. It begins with what sounds like a lute, plucking the notes of the piece. It plays once through, and then the banjo begins plucking as well the whole of the melody. The flute, fiddle, and percussion eventually all join in as well, clamoring about, taking turns with portions of the melody, and generally emitting the tune happily and in accordance with each other. It's a very simple piece, and very whimsical. It might remind one of beautiful cooperation, a collaboration of close friends working together for a common, delicate goal of some sort.

9) Parom & Polom

"Parom & Polom" is a lively piece akin to most of the 'comic relief' music found in many of the older RPGs. It's goofy and loud — a bit halting as well. The structure of the piece is the old standby: the bordered method. The original melody of" Parom & Polom" is intensely obnoxious. It is loud, haggard and awkward. And the way in which it is played on this album, with a high pitch fiddle and little accompaniment, renders it even more so. The new content sandwiched in-between the original piece's melody, having nothing to do with the original, is nice; it's another dancing piece analogous to the sound of "Welcome to Our Town!". "Parom & Polom" makes one think only of how obtuse this piece is on an album with so many dreamy, wistful pieces.

10) Giotto, the Great King

"Giotto, the Great King" is a dutiful piece similar to many town themes. It has a nice, methodical sound to it which never reaches anywhere, but manages to maintain its integrity throughout. It is a bit common. The piece's structure — the bordered method — lends itself to the piece; the arrangement is little less dutiful than the core melody itself. "Giotto, the Great King" is, ultimately, the consummate filler track.

11) Dancing Calcobrena

"Dancing Calcobrena" is a mad carnival type composition with a particular merry-go-round sound to it. The track begins immediately with the melody, carried by the fiddle, backed up by accordion and percussion. It is structured in the bordered fashion, and is one of the few pieces which features new arrangement perfectly suited to the original melody of "Dancing Calcobrena" itself. The piece has, in addition to the 'mad carnival' sound aforementioned, a mechanical or industrial rhythm maintained in it. These two things in combination — carnival and industrial — may recall to mind nothing positive in the reader. But the piece is not at all obnoxious. The melody is in fact quite haunting and ethereal. It might remind one of malignant, mechanical dolls on parade — quite an appropriate reminiscence, might I add.

12) Mystic Mysidia

"Mystic Mysidia" is the theme of the town, Mysidia. A return to the sound of the earlier tracks on the album, this is a lively and upbeat piece with a hint of intrigue. It begins a bit plainly: the melody is maintained by the fiddle and is supported by the viola until it erupts into the second portion of the melody, which is much more lively and upbeat. Not arranged in the bordered format, this piece features a climax — arranged from the original — which maintains the piece's interest and makes it much more thrilling. Like many of the earlier tracks, this piece reminds one of a brilliant song and dance of sorts.

13) Illusionary World

"Illusionary World" is a mysterious piece with a spiral type melody akin to "Melody of Lute". It begins with voices, growing ominously, before the fiddle and viola, backed by the lute, dive into the main melody. The main melody is played two times, and then we see another use of the bordered format. This time, the new content is quite good, but entirely inappropriate with the original melody. Whereas "Illusionary World" is a fairly somber piece suggesting a far off, misty place, the arrangement is lively — much like many of the dance tunes used in above compositions. This incongruity does not make the piece sound at all poor; instead, it is simply difficult to categorize the piece's mood, because it is both happy and sad.

14) Rydia

"Rydia" is a fairly mundane and unaspiring piece. Its melody is not altogether banal, but simply exceedingly slow and methodical — with little variance and not much depth. "Rydia" is one of the few tracks on this album to receive absolutely no arrangement. In fact, it is performed verbatim from the original, and the second loop through is no different than the first. It is much a filler track. Perhaps some may like it for its simplicity.

15) Troian Beauty

"Troian Beauty" is a wistful, hopeful piece, perfectly suited for the fantasy that Final Fantasy IV is. The track receives no arrangement and is simply looped a few times. The melody is carried by the viola with the lute in background along with percussion. To be most forthright, I absolutely adore this piece of music. I find it difficult to describe how awesome the piece rises and falls, how it dips and soars. It is most beautiful, and reminds me of no physical thing — only pure emotion. Perhaps the tested emotion of a long lived relationship.


Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon is an exceedingly high quality album. In addition to being backed by top notch source material, the album has high quality instrumentation and solid arrangement. Although its moods are eclectic, Celtic Moon's showcase material are a number of melancholy, wistful fantasy-like pieces. These several pieces are inexpressibly beautiful.

Overall Score: 8/10