Behind The Games: Meet the Composers - Nobuo Uematsu

GameSpot's series of behind-the-scenes interviews with some of the video game industry's top musicians begins with Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu.

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Most people are bound to recognize at least one melody from a popular video game, but how often do you actually know who is responsible for it? Behind the Games: Meet the Composers highlights some of the most talented minds in this specialized segment of the video game industry. Here's your chance to find out how the composers got their start, what their musical backgrounds are, and what drives them to do what they do every day. Whether you're a video game music fan or an aspiring musician, Meet the Composers digs deep to uncover what it's like to be in the shoes of a virtuoso.

Nobuo Uematsu | Composer and Founder, Smile Please Co. Ltd. & Dog Ear Records

Last.fm Profile:
植松伸夫
Currently Listening to:
A little bit of everything
Currently Working on:
Final Fantasy XIV (PS3 | PC)
Biggest Musical Influences:
Vienna Boys Choir, Elton John, Pink Floyd
First Instrument Played:
Harmonica



Biography:

Nobuo Uematsu is one of the most prolific and well-known video game music composers today, often referred to as the John Williams of video games. He is known for his work on the Final Fantasy series, but his credits also include anime soundtracks and arranged albums. Even though he left Square Enix in 2004 to form his own production company Smile Please and later started Dog Ear Records in 2006, Uematsu continues to take freelance assignments to compose music for video games, working closely with Blue Dragon developer Mistwalker Studios. Mr. Uematsu is currently working on the soundtrack for Square Enix's upcoming massively multiplayer online game, Final Fantasy XIV.

Born in Kochi, Japan in 1959, Uematsu enjoyed music at a young age, but never had any formal training. As a self-taught musician who learned to play the piano at the age of 12, he spent some time playing in amateur bands as a keyboard player after graduating from Kanagawa University. His big break came in 1987 when he was asked by Hironobu Sakaguchi to compose for a game called Final Fantasy. More than 20 years later, his work is still extremely popular. His Final Fantasy music was the centerpiece of the first-ever video game music concert in the US called "Dear Friends," which was held at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in 2004. He has also been making appearances at the Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy series of concerts, which is currently on tour and scheduled to make stops around North America.

Abridged Discography:

  • Final Fantasy IV (SNES | PS | GBA | DS)
  • Final Fantasy VI (PS | GBA)
  • Final Fantasy VII (PS | PC)
  • Final Fantasy VIII (PS | PC)
  • Final Fantasy IX (PS)
  • Chrono Trigger (SNES | PS | DS)
  • Blue Dragon (X360)
  • Lost Odyssey (X360)
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
  • Away: Shuffle Dungeon (DS)
Who are your favorite video game composers? What are your thoughts on music in video games? Let us know with a comment.

Discussion

247 comments
Pete5506
Pete5506

This guy is a legend, The music in Final Fantasy Xl is some of his greatest work.

widdowson91
widdowson91

Nobuo Uematsu is awesome. The soundtrack for Final Fantasy VII is his best work, it's the best videogame soundtrack of all time.

michel6
michel6

I agree with #texasgoldrush, FF VI is the greatest masterpiece, even considered by Nobuo itself. Too bad the yougs could not appreciate it in the old times. PS: Gamespot is deleting comments regarding the criticism about Nobuo being voiced by a drunk-like woman. Well, that does not get rid of the fact that Nobuo should be subtitled in RESPECT to all non-english fluent speakers.

2chingy4u
2chingy4u

woah, Nobuo Uematsu's voice sounds like a womans (yes, this is sarcasm)

Honenheim
Honenheim

Wheres the GREAT kenji kawai when you need him.......his work in folklore was quite magestic.

ExireHG
ExireHG

If Uematsu delivered me my mail I'd probably collapse. XD Uematsu is one of my favorite composers/musicians period. Motoi Sakuraba next!! He's literally been everywhere and done just about all the composing for the entire Star Ocean and Tales series, plus many other great stand alone games. T here are a lot of great Japanese composers. Yasunori Mitsuda, who did Xenogears, both Chrono games, Shadow Hearts, and the first Xenosaga. I wish I could vouch for Yoko Kanno, one of the best in the business. But she doesn't really do game music, mostly anime. Still, she's more than godly in her own right, Gamespot should feature her anyway. XD

shadowClint
shadowClint

I think they should interview Frank Klepacki next time (Red Alert series), I mean Hell March is like the main theme of the RTS genre.

Wings_008
Wings_008

subtitles?, where you can hear the man speaking is much than hearing a hot translator's voice, or is it? this man adds life to games, his music are very memorable

ramen38
ramen38

This guy just adds so much quality to games that I enjoy playing them even if the gameplay isn't fun. Thanks Nobuo!

ChidoriBoyU
ChidoriBoyU

loved this guy's music in FF VII PLEASE SHOJI MEGURO NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meme_lon_chin
Meme_lon_chin

Great Composer, I became a fan when I heard FFVII soundtrack, also, he did an awesome job in the movie FFVII: Advent Children which I love LONG LIVE UEMATSU!

Broculus
Broculus

I guess it has already been said that Uematsu is a living legend and heard of his heroic tales of godlike awesomeness!? Well its all true. Uematsu rules! I especially enjoyed this interview for a very specific reason. It brought me much closer to Uematsu. Since i have already felt kinda connected to him through the keyboards, the cello and now bikes ;) and his songs being the only music giving me instant goosebumps. And most importantly: He was the first composer to kindle my fascination with VG-music and in turn i was in the VBC, which ignited his interest in music in general. Thank you for the Interview Anti-Thank You for the Fudged up system that let me write this comment 12 days after my initial try...

Gioh
Gioh

i prefer Moby. Sure those childish chimes stick, but wont catch me playin that on my HiFi. Lol, also includes...its all he does!

Aesahaettr
Aesahaettr

That was truely epic to hear him speak about his works. Having recently written a dissertation about him and his influence I wish i'd seen this earlier and added it for some browny points. More people should hear his music instead of labelling it 'Video Game Music' and just ignoring it as so many have in my experience. Looking forward to the next composer :)

whistlermike
whistlermike

I agree with tebian, there are many amazing works by great composers that don't get the recognition they deserve

tebian
tebian

He is truly one of greatest artist in our time with so many works that go unheard cause they are "game" soundtracks. You sit in the Distant Worlds concert and I dare you not get a feeling of amazement at the range of the music and just the share quality of work he composes. The man stands alone in the gaming field in my opinion and should be heard by more in the general public outside Japan.

valentha
valentha

Stan LePard (Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge) is my favorite game composer. His composition for the Crimson Skies game for the X-Box was outstanding and really set the mood of the era. Love the music of the Soundtrack and hope that Smith & Tinker when they do the next Crimson Skies game being Stan LePard back for the music. George Oldziey comes to mind for good music. Liked his compositions for the Wing Commander series.

ShirkDawg
ShirkDawg

Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, and Hitoshi Sakimoto have got to be my three favorite composers. They put most other game music to shame. It's sad that most games of today focus more on voice acting, while music gets the shaft.

xrman
xrman

This guy is a legend. Gamespot should interview the composers from the Xeno series.

KidKombo
KidKombo

good interview, its nice to finally see the face behind the name. Nobuo has inspired me so much and is a major reason why i adore the older Final Fantasy games. coincidentally, i started playing FFIV yesterday and the first thing that really hit me was the music....just amazing and so ahead of its time, no other game soundtracks in that era (1991) sound anywhere near as complex or as beautiful. a true visionary!!!

Teckblader
Teckblader

Nice interview but why don't they use subtitles? :P getting al little annoyed by the voice of the translator

MrFinalFantasy
MrFinalFantasy

ah! his songs always seem to calm me down before the storm. wait. was that one of the titles for a song in FFIX? i am not sure. but yeah. he's great.

Darkchaoss
Darkchaoss

Very nice interview =D was waiting for one of these for a while. Nobu's music is amazing.

somberfox
somberfox

This guy's music is legendary.

icecold49
icecold49

Haha this guy is awesome. Looking forward to hearing about his two secret projects. I lol'd when the interviewer asked for info on ffXIV.

bVorkitup
bVorkitup

Awesome. Here's hoping you guys cover other excellent composers like Chris Huelsbeck, Rob Hubbard, and Inon Zur.

Sablicious
Sablicious

Well... he sure does LOOK like Elton John! : /

tekken220
tekken220

I don't like the idea of a FFVII remake because I'm tired of fangirl-ish comments about Cloud.

NeoTaintedAngel
NeoTaintedAngel

Am I the only one who is sick of the world of Final Fantasy VII? We've gotten enough games on that, can't we see a remake of like, Final Fantasy VI? I mean, give VII a break. (Inb4Fanbois rip me to shreds.)

itachi100
itachi100

@ArmoredBreaker actually, most players are against the remake, and everyone already knows it will NEVER happen. but yes, uematsu is amazing. and why wasn't FFV listed in that list?

Mc_Trickz
Mc_Trickz

The BEst!!This guy is a legend already!

ArmoredBreaker
ArmoredBreaker

Everybody hopes for a remake of final fantasy VII, Nobuo Uematsu is the awesome!!

pathock3
pathock3

hey this is great! bravo gamespot! my favorite game composer is jeremy soule and I'd love to see one for him!

gmreedy
gmreedy

So...when are we going to see the next composer, or is he the only one gamespot is showing?

seeddrmmr
seeddrmmr

This man basically wrote the soundtracks to my young life I spent so much time listening to his creations...no one has ever brought so much soul to a limited 8/16 bit video game. He's one of the best. Thank you for some of my fondest childhood memories, Mr. Uematsu.

Kenzuke
Kenzuke

@ Kcoshiob I agree completely, simplicity is often "better" than complexity in that the songs and melodies are easier to remember recognize if they are fairly simple. The Prelude theme that's been in pretty much every Final Fantasy game to date proves this. Simple, and beautiful, it is definitiely fantastic.

Kcoshiob
Kcoshiob

Such great and simple melodies. Something a fully trained musician may overlook because of their very simplicity. Most of my gaming memories are wrapped up in this man's music. FFIII/VI being my fav. This can only be followed up by Eric Brosius, or Matt Uelman.

chechak7
chechak7

FF music is awesome ...Nobuo Uematsu is great ....ya I hope Square Enix is preparing for the remake of FFVII & Final Fantasy VIII

FoxDie85
FoxDie85

No one can compose music like him .. especially, for Final Fantasy VII (best game and music ever) .. I hope Square Enix is preparing for the remake of FFVII, and I hope they'll ask Nobuo Uematsu's help .. (:

nestorafranco
nestorafranco

he can control our emotions with the tips of his fingers...

guitardude1243
guitardude1243

He is great composer, part of what makes Final Fantasy series so great.

JVII
JVII

Looks like they did the opposite of saving the best for last.

Decretum
Decretum

Fantastic interview, but I had difficulty listening to the translations. The jagged and cut voice over is really annoying.

Falru
Falru

Lol @ 10 minute-written song becoming the main FF theme xD

canana
canana

@Sophia - Good job for the feature, it really show something beyond the composer.

lutomboy
lutomboy

i wonder what the other 2 things he is working on ??

TheFreakyManga
TheFreakyManga

That guy is amazing... I loved the music in all of his games especially for FFIV for the DS!