Japanese Composers Say Western Game Music is "Dry"

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Japanese Composers Say Western Game Music is "Dry"

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A group of Japanese game musicians recently talked a bit about soundtracks in North American videogames, which Tekken composer Nobuyoshi Sano described as "pretty dry."

Nine Japanese videogame musicians took part in a roundtable discussion for the most recent issue of Famitsu, among them Keisuke Ito (the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series), Nobuyoshi Sano (Tekken, Ridge Racer), Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (Shenmue, Sega Rally), Takayuki Nakamura (Lumines, Virtua Fighter), Hidenori Shoji (Yakuza), Masato Kouda (Monster Hunter) and Shinji Hosoe, who created the music for many Namco games in the early 90s. The group answered a number of questions posed by the users of Noisycroak, including one about their opinions of music in Western videogames.

"You see a lot of first-person shooters put huge budgets into the music, hiring full-on orchestras and so on," Sano said. "They basically make games like they make movies and they use vast sums of money on it, so if you're asking me what I think about it, I'd respond that I'm jealous!"

"In the US they'll borrow a tank just to record sound off of it," Hosoe said. "We just can't do that here."

Despite the huge budgets for music in many American games, however, the Japanese developers weren't entirely uncritical of the result. "A lot of it does a gorgeous job at creating atmosphere, but what you never see is really unforgettable melodies -- like you see in Kouda's Monster Hunter, for example," said Mitsuyoshi. Sano concurred, saying, "That's what makes Monster Hunter so great. There's real warmth to the music, where I think the Hollywood orchestral sound has this image of being pretty dry in my mind."

And while the participants expressed good-natured envy at the amount of money their American counterparts had to work with, Nakamura pointed out that having a big bankroll doesn't necessarily add up to much. "They're great technological achievements and they're made with big budgets, but that isn't what it takes to produce good music," he said.

Source: 1UP

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They have a point, you listen to music in JRPG's and then compare it to WRPG'S and the difference in quality is astounding. Oblivion has great music, but as they said it has no memorable melodies - Lost Odyssey has a fantastic soundtrack with a number of song's I still can recall.

(Bad examples yes, but I used them because they are great examples of the two types of RPG)

And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

Don't rub that on their faces...you'll just make it worst!

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

Bingo.

Monkey Island. I dare you to tell me that wasn't memorable at all.

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

He's two standard deviations away from the mean.

Really? I think that Jack Wall, Jesper Kyd, and Jason Hayes/Matt Uelmen, to name a few, are amongst the most exceptional game composers out there. That composer for the Final Fantasy games is pretty good, I guess, but I don't ever remember anything that's ever quite stuck with me in a Japanese game, though I've probably fewer than most people.

what about the soundtracks in the wipeout series, you cant possibly call that dry.

RebelRising:
Really? I think that Jack Wall, Jesper Kyd, and Jason Hayes/Matt Uelmen, to name a few, are amongst the most exceptional game composers out there. That composer for the Final Fantasy games is pretty good, I guess, but I don't ever remember anything that's ever quite stuck with me in a Japanese games, though I've probably fewer than most people.

Bingo! I was just thinking that. Jack Wall is a genius.

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

Yes thats true(I think) but in fairness in the majority not to generalise the music in Japanese games is much better than the music in Western games at least in my opinion as I am a JRPG fan so I'm a tad biased.

Sonic Mayhem and Rob Zombie collaborating for the soundtrack of Quake 2 remains one of the most enduringly brilliant examples of game music to this day.

And if by "dry" they mean "less of a tendency to launch into a tedious Jansen/Ming music video in the middle of the game", then yes, I suppose thet are correct.

Must I shove the Halo soundtrack down their throats?

By the way, what is their soundtracks like?

"Do do, da do doot"?

(Martin O'Donnell rawks!)

Maybe if Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill 1-5) or Shoji Meguro (Persona) had made this claim I'd be more inclined to listen.

As well, The Halo Soundtrack, The Metal Gear Soundtrack and the Mass Effect Soundtrack do prove them a little bit wrong.

I'd have to say I'm generally inclined to agree. For all of the games that I've played over the years, there aren't many pieces of western music that have stuck in my mind. I'm not sure I'd use the word "dry" as much as "forgettable."

Both are good in general. But japanese game music is more memorable in general. It reminds me of the boss theme from streets of rage. I can not hear it for 20 years. But when i hear it the first thing i think will be. "Boss time"

Call me crazy, but if the game play is utter shit I could care less if the music is fantastic. They honestly couldn't have picked a worse choice than monster hunter for that very reason.

Damnit if that guy hadn't of done the music to monster hunter, I would be giving them a piece of my mind.

It's actually ironic, madworld has a great western soundtrack, and the game's made in japan.

Next thing i know they'll be running over people in their ambulances.

AzureWrathHal:
Call me crazy, but if the game play is utter shit I could care less if the music is fantastic. They honestly couldn't have picked a worse choice than monster hunter for that very reason.

I take it your one of those guys that can't kill a kut-ku right?

AzureWrathHal:
Call me crazy, but if the game play is utter shit I could care less if the music is fantastic. They honestly couldn't have picked a worse choice than monster hunter for that very reason.

What exactly do you have against Monster Hunter's gameplay? It does very well for itself so it must be doing something right.

You know that article title is a lot more combative than there comments seem to be. I know "Japanese composers wish they had the budgets of their western counter parts" is not as good a title but still it seems a little more true to what is said in the article its self. other than that they can have their opinions and they might be right in general too, not true in every case but not much is.

They do sort of have a point. I mean generic FPS no.587 probably has a very 'dry' soundtrack, but actual decent western games usually have a good soundtrack. Just to add to the list we have going here, I've always liked Frank Klepacki and Jeremy Soule.

Sounds like jealousy, its not our fault you dont have money japanese man. Also of course the MGS thing pointed out by funk. Just do your thing and we will do ours japan, thank you.

Some of my favorite soundtracks were from FF and Shadow of the Colossus (even though there wasn't many songs in the latter one), and they're both Japanese. I've always liked them, cause they do orchestral soundtracks extremely beautiful, the synth soundtracks are well done, and the little blip-blop soundtracks have a fun childish tone. The western soundtracks do actually sound a bit dry. Japanese game music is either more fun, childish or epic. Or all at once.

Personally, I find almost all modern video game music to be "dry", east or west. For me, the move to CD-audio killed it. Before that, you had bleeps and bloops, and you had to work within the limitations to make something genuinely catchy. Then alluvasudden you can just hire an orchestra to drone on and on, and for the most part that's what's been done since the ps1 generation. Of course, I like poppy, overt melodies, so I'm biased. Just my opinion.

sheic99:

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

He's two standard deviations away from the mean.

He's also massively more expensive to hire than most other composers that do videogames. Well beyond the budget of most games. Also, not all the music in MGS is done by Harry Gregson Williams.

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

MGS is a Japanese game made with an American budget. The best of both worlds.

GloatingSwine:

sheic99:

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

He's two standard deviations away from the mean.

He's also massively more expensive to hire than most other composers that do videogames. Well beyond the budget of most games. Also, not all the music in MGS is done by Harry Gregson Williams.

More importantly, this isn't a criticism of American composers. it's a criticism of big-budget American developers who have all their music done on the cheap. That Konami went and got Harry Gregson-Williams is beside the point; the point is that a lot of Western companies wouldn't have bothered.

Someone hasn't played a Madden game

What about the orange box. Portal in patiqular... tell me Still Alive isnt lodged in your brain :)

These guys clearly have never played Elder Scrolls games.

cobra_ky:

GloatingSwine:

sheic99:

CantFaketheFunk:
And yet, MGS had an awesome soundtrack done by a Western composer, no?

He's two standard deviations away from the mean.

He's also massively more expensive to hire than most other composers that do videogames. Well beyond the budget of most games. Also, not all the music in MGS is done by Harry Gregson Williams.

More importantly, this isn't a criticism of American composers. it's a criticism of big-budget American developers who have all their music done on the cheap. That Konami went and got Harry Gregson-Williams is beside the point; the point is that a lot of Western companies wouldn't have bothered.

There's some truth in this...

it seems that its more a case of remarking on varying music budgets rather than a criticism of western game music. but just on the off chance...
get 'em frank klepacki!

Was nobuo uematsu busy during this conference?

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