Soundtrack Central The best classic game music and more

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Shiva Indis Dec 7, 2015

I felt the need to translate a promotional interview Kanno did for the Dreamcast game Napple Tale recently, and it benefits no one sitting on my hard drive. So I hope you enjoy.

From Dreamcast Magazine vol. 28 (Aug. 25, 2000), p.50-51

Please tell us how you came to be the composer for Napple Tale.
Kanno: When I met Mr. Matsumoto, the director, he said, "Rather than the usual fantasy or combative-type games, I want to try something like an old nursery rhyme with a slightly off-kilter world. I want to create something unlike the staccato sound that is popular." I thought, if that's what he has in mind, I'd like to try it, and I accepted the job.
At that point did you know anything about the substance of the game, such as illustrations or world-building plans?
Kanno: As far as pictures, it was such an early stage of development that the characters were not settled yet. Any pictures the developers show off at that point won't be the ones that are adopted in the end. It was really the very beginning and the characters all changed around.
Comparing your initial impression to the final game, is there anything that feels different to you?
Kanno: Early on it was darker, German-influenced...with "muted colors," you might say. There were many scenes where I thought that devils might show up. But when I see the actual game screens there are teddy bear slippers and the like, and the the world seems very "pink" overall.
You created a substantial number of songs for Napple Tale -- was this the plan from the beginning?
Kanno: Yes, from the beginning.
And for a game of the Action RPG genre, there is a particularly large number of vocal tracks.
Kanno: Really? Honestly, I don't know anything about other games (ha-ha). With the vocal pieces, there was an image from the very beginning of fairies appearing in the air, singing. And the planners and I all thought about whether to use Japanese lyrics or made-up words... In the end, we decided singing in Japanese would be more accessible, and then the stage was set.
Maaya Sakamoto's singing voice, whether in Japanese or otherwise, conveys a feeling of softness, don't you think?
Kanno: Normally I would lean toward a more ethereal voice for fairies, but for this game, the characters are so “pink” that I thought a "Songs for Everyone" style would work well. So I had Maaya Sakamoto sing in very clearly enunciated Japanese, almost in the style of a commercial jingle.
While you were composing the songs, did you get any requests from the development team?
Kanno: Nothing in particular.
So everything was OK from the first try?
Kanno: First, I received a list of scenes for which the developers requested music, which came out to 70-80 pieces, and one at a time, I wrote pieces to match the requirements. After I wrote the songs, I let them know at delivery something along the lines that I didn't mind if they used a song I wrote for spring in autumn or winter scenes, so I'm not sure that counts as OK from the first try (ha-ha). Because of that, when I saw the actual game screens I kept discovering unexpected songs used in unexpected places.
Do you recall any specific examples of these discoveries?
Kanno: Very early on, I wrote a waltz based on an image of "a tea party in Alice's world with a rabbit carrying a watch." It is a very happy-sounding song, but it was used in the scene where the teru-teru bouzu ghost appears. I never would've thought a waltz would be used in a ghost scene (ha-ha). But the way the teru-teru bouzu whirled around scattering water drops is fitting for a waltz, and that struck me as very elegant and interesting.
On the other hand, are there any scenes where you felt the scene didn't suit the musical idea?
Kanno: I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but nothing so far.
From what we have heard of the soundtrack, all the songs match the game's slightly surreal vision wonderfully.
Kanno: Do you think so? I'm really not able to tell these things myself (ha-ha). I just tried to write music that sounded airy and soft.
Napple Tale has a large number of musical pieces. Was it time-consuming, compared to other times you've written game music?
Kanno: I can't definitely recall how long they took so I can't make the comparison, but this one was not taxing. If I'm not mistaken, I started work in September of last year. For 3 months I was doing performances, writing the songs a bit at a time, and the final recordings went on up to April. During that period I didn't feel like I was stressed or taking too much time. If 100 weird creatures showed up right now and you asked me to write a song about it, I could handle that just fine -- that's what it felt like at the time (ha-ha).
Are there any songs that you are especially fond of?
Kanno: Hm, that does happen sometimes, but...right now I like them all. The monster-type songs were particularly fun to write. Knowing their back-stories, I ended up feeling affection for the monsters.
If you were asked to do game music again, would you jump at the opportunity work on another game in a similar style?
Kanno: I am always quick to get bored, so if I was to do fantasy again I'd probably want the next one to be something explosive (ha-ha). And people point out, "that's not what you said last time!" I tell people that I'd like to work on something where everybody dies -- that sort of thing (ha-ha). Once I'm done done with a story set on Earth, for example, I want my next job to be set in outer space. Whether animation, a game, or a commercial, I like each job to be something different than the one that preceded it. So rather than hoping that a lot of jobs with similar stories come my way, it makes me happy to get work where I can find different possibilities.
The Napple soundtrack will be released as 2 CDs, is that right?
Kanno: Whether to make it one album or two, what jacket art to use, what to name the songs...all these decisions were left up to me. Ordinarily I expect there to be some limitations, like "this picture is off-limits" for jacket art, but on Napple I was told, "do as you see fit," and that is exactly what I'm doing (ha-ha). I plan to use the titles "Illustrated Guide to the Fairies" and "Illustrated Guide to the Monsters." I'm in the middle of discussions about what contents to put on them right now.
And the theme song single will be released ahead of those CDs?a
Kanno: Yes, that's right. As I mentioned earlier, this is what it would be like if Maaya Sakamoto sung on "Songs for Everyone." The single has a highly produced sound, so those expecting something like the singles she has released thus far may find it confounding. The jacket art is of Maaya done in a manga style. We commissioned the illustrator Kouji Morimoto to draw it based on an image of Maaya napping, right at the moment when she drifts into dreamland. Actually there was some talk at the time that we ought to use photos of Maaya for her singles (ha-ha). I want everyone to enjoy the opening and ending songs along with the game. There is one bonus track, a curious little ditty I threw in (ha-ha).

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