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Kumi Tanioka

Kumi Tanioka Date of Birth: August 29, 1974 (Hiroshima)
Education: Graduated from Kobe University
Instruments Played: Piano
Place of Residence: Tokyo
Joined Square: 1998
Official Web Site: Profile at Square Enix American Web Site


This biography was written by Chris exclusively for use at Square Enix Music Online. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission, as this is a violation of copyright.

Kumi Tanioka was born on August 29, 1974 in Hiroshima, Japan. She gained a lot of musical experience while she was growing up, having taken piano and singing lessons, and studied the influence of music on people as part of her diploma at Kobe University. Interestingly enough, it was mainly thanks to her brother that she decided to go into the field of game music for her career. With her brother an avid game fanatic in his younger years, Tanioka often observed him playing and expressed an interest in game music from an early age. She always wondered what it would like to compose for video games, particularly the Final Fantasy series. Indeed, now she knows the answer!

Tanioka joined Square Enix in 1998 and immediately started work on the Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon 2 Original Soundtrack. She composed alongside Yasuhiro Kawakami, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and Kenji Ito, and handled many of the lighter themes. Composing a third of the soundtrack, her role was bigger than any of her colleagues. Her next work maintained her involvement in the Chocobo series and saw her go solo by composing the score for Dice de Chocobo, which was released on the PlayStation and later re-released on the WonderSwan Color under the title Chocobo Land: A Game of Dice. As no Original Soundtrack was released for the game, few fans have actually heard her work on this album, though the vocal theme, "Tiny Wings," was released as a bonus track for the Square Vocal Collection in 2001. The work was essentially a vocal rendition of the "Chocobo" theme, sung by Mari Izukawa, complete with some enjoyable instrumentals.

Tanioka's following work saw her compose some of the music for All Star Pro-Wrestling alongside rock composers Tsuyoshi Sekito and Kenichiro Fukui. The extent of her work is not known, since no Original Soundtrack was released for the game once again. Furthermore, unlike Sekito's and Fukui's work, Tanioka's work was not included in the bonus tracks for the All Star Pro-Wrestling 2 Original Soundtrack. Her efforts composing the entire score of the Japan-only flying RPG Blue Wing Blitz on the WonderSwan Color the following year also failed to achieve recognition, since no Original Soundtrack was released for it. Indeed, with three scores that didn't have their Original Soundtracks released, Kumi Tanioka was probably getting frustrated by her lack of published work for Square...

Fortunately, Tanioka's real big break came in 2001 when she was asked to work with Nobuo Uematsu and Naoshi Mizuta on the Final Fantasy XI Original Soundtrack. Though outnumbered by Mizuta in terms of the tracks she composed, few of her tracks failed to satisfy, and her versatility was aptly demonstrated. Square clearly recognised her success on this soundtrack, as they asked her to compose the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Original Soundtrack in 2003. Tanioka was responsible for every single track, apart from "Eternal Oath," which was composed by Hidenori Iwasaki, who she worked with on Final Fantasy XI. Adopting a fairly light-hearted style throughout the soundtrack and utilising ancient instruments from ROBA HOUSE to the maximum, it certainly one of the most original Final Fantasy albums to ever be released.

Tanioka's most recent role to date was participating in the live Star Onions concert during the Final Fantasy Chains of Promathia Special Night on 11 September, 2004. The concert featured six items, including Tanioka's "Gustaberg" and "Ru'Lude Gardens." The live performance of "Gustaberg" was featured as a bonus track on the Final Fantasy Chains of Promathia Original Soundtrack. The Star Onions band originally comprised of Tanioka and Hidenori Iwasaki on piano, Tsuyoshi Sekito on guitar, and Naoshi Mizuta on bass guitar, though has been extensively modified after they reunited to create the Final Fantasy XI - Music from the Other Side of Vana'diel arranged album and perform at the FFXI Summer Carnival 2005 on August 27. The arranged album features ten performances from The Star Onions and guest performers, with Tanioka responsible for playing the piano and synthesizer. She was personally responsible for arranging "Vana'diel March" and "Mog House," while Mizuta and Masato Kato were responsible for the rest.

Despite Tanioka's lack of new projects recently, the future looks bright, as she will be composing for Square Enix's upcoming action RPG Code Age Commanders, which still has yet to receive a release date. This score will also introduce Yasuhiro Yamanaka, the latest signing to Square Enix's music team, who will be the synthesizer operator. Described by his fellow employees as young, lively, and a perfectionist, Yamanaka has a lot to live up to, since Hidenori Iwasaki did an utterly fantastic job synthesizer operating for Tanioka's last major score. With some luck, he and Tanioka will prove to be an equally versatile team.

List of Game Projects

Note: This list only includes games that the composer has actively worked on, so those games that feature reprises of the composer's work from older titles are not included.

Key: C = Composer, A = Arranger, P = Performer, S = Sound Programmer, E = Sound Effects, M = Synthesizer Operator

Year Game Role
1998 Daraku Tenshi The Fallen Angels C
Sony PlayStation
1998 Chocobo's Dungeon (aka Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon 2) C+A
1999 Dice de Chocobo C+A
Sony PlayStation 2
2000 All Star Pro-Wrestling C
2002 Final Fantasy XI C+A
2005 Code Age Commanders C+A
WonderSwan Color
2001 Blue Wing Blitz C+A
2002 Final Fantasy XI C+A
Nintendo GameCube
2003 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles C+A

List of Albums

Original Scores

Arranged Albums

Other Albums

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