Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Solon Jhee Dec 15, 2007

One can count with some parameters (not subjetives of course or just a bit) to measure the quality of an rpg OST? I'm interesed in that cuz i'm gonna create a blogger, thanks for any suggestion


Vaeran Dec 15, 2007

I personally rate the Xenogears OST eleven sandwiches out of a possible blue.

GoldfishX Dec 15, 2007 (edited Dec 15, 2007)

If I remember tracks after they're over, I guess that means they're pretty good.

Or better...if I want to listen to the stuff again (which helps the memorability factor considerably), it's probably pretty good.

Megavolt Dec 15, 2007

Parameters?  That's a tough question.  I guess there's memorability, cohesiveness, composition, sound/instrument quality, music direction, and just how well the music fits with and enhances the context of the game experience.  I think the weight of each parameter probably changes a little depending on the approach of the soundtrack.  Final Fantasy VI for example emphasizes melody whereas Vagrant Story is more moody and complex.  They're both brilliant but in slightly different ways.  Or some people might say that Final Fantasy Tactics has a less varied score versus Final Fantasy VII, but that's not a fair way of judging it, because one is a SRPG and the other a traditional RPG.  An emphasis on battle themes isn't necessarily a flaw if that's what the game calls for.  Of course, that's where you might want to make the distinction between how well a score works in the game versus how well it works on album, which opens up another set of variables.

Ramza Dec 15, 2007

Megavolt hit them all well. Some are more subjective than others, such as "memorability."

I was asked this question for an interview on FF Omake. It went like this:

FFOmake: When you sit down and listen to a video game soundtrack, what are some of the things that you keep in mind when you are judging the overall quality of the musical score? Like do you have a set criterion that you follow when you work on a review of a soundtrack?

Patrick Gann:
We do not have a set of criteria for judging a soundtrack and I think this is really important. Some people would like to see us attach grades to our reviews (as we would with game reviews), but I have time and again denied this possibility. Yes, people who submit reviews are allowed to give some sort of score in their review to try and rate it alongside their favorites, and even I am guilty of calling a score "A" or "B" level work. But at the end of the day, we have no standardized scoring, and I think that's important since so much of judging music is subjective: more so than with the games themselves, anyway.

As for me, however, there are plenty of things I'll keep in mind and be looking for when reviewing a soundtrack. You yourself said you love VGM's "diversity." When I first listen to a soundtrack, that's one thing I'm listening for: diversity. Even if the soundscape is limited to a certain format (be it the 8-bit Famicom chip or a live orchestra), there are ways to diversify the sound. One such way is to draw from various ethnic sources. In the last decade, I've noticed more and more of this; I don't know if that's me getting smarter or composers getting better, but I think it's a positive trend either way!

Here are a few "tests" I do. Usually, when I listen to a soundtrack, it's while sitting at my computer. I have a wife and a son, so there's a lot to distract me. However, if the music is commanding my attention (or, better yet, commanding the attention of my family!), then that's a sign that the music has a powerful attractiveness. If I find myself humming particularly themes from a soundtrack after two or three listens, that means the music was "memorable" or "catchy." If I find myself wanting to listen to the album over and over, but I can't remember how the song went, that means the music was technically complex and very appealing to my intellectual side (this is the case with a lot of modern compositions, those that use atonal patterns and other 20th-century techniques).

Also, sometimes I'll listen to VGM while driving. If I have a road trip, and I also have a rock-influenced album, y'all know the two go hand in hand!


It's tough to do. Which is why I don't do it. But if you want to set up parameters, "memorability" or "melodic strength" is key. Then there's "sound quality" (and "recording quality" if there are live instruments involved). Then there's "diversity" (which means they aren't using the same melodic motifs or the same chord progressions/patterns OVER AND OVER from track to track). Then there's "performance quality" if there are any performed, non-sequenced tracks (i.e. - vocals and guitar solos).

Good luck!


loveydovey Dec 15, 2007

I know a video game tune's good when it gets licensed for a Victoria's Secret commercial.

Solon Jhee Dec 16, 2007

Thank u all, i think that memorability is a simple but really effective way to plasm a comparisson between a good and a bad release (viewed subjectively).
The edition and selection tracks unfortunately are the most important points to the possible success of a release and sometimes much potential is lost because of this....
i share a lot Patrick Gann's point of view, however, i really prefer those reviews with some kind of punctuation

XLord007 Dec 16, 2007

Vaeran wrote:

I personally rate the Xenogears OST eleven sandwiches out of a possible blue.

A winner is you.

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