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KINGDOM HEARTS III -World of Tres- Interview: Shimomura & Ishimoto



trapped in revamp hell
Staff member
Nov 1, 2009

The second interview from the KINGDOM HEARTS Orchestra -World of Tres- pamphlet is one with Yoko Shimomura and Takeharu Ishimoto! The two discuss how they first met, their composing process and inspirations, work on KINGDOM HEARTS III, and more.

Check out the previous interview with Nomura & Shimomura here!

Composer Interview
Yoko Shimomura & Takeharu Ishimoto
February 18, 2019

I “kept an air” of disinterest

–The two of you first met at SQUARE (currently SQUARE ENIX), if I am not mistaken. What were your first impressions of each other?

Shimomura: I was actually on Ishimoto-kun’s interview board.

Ishimoto: That was 21 years ago.

Shimomura: Back when SQUARE was still in the ARCO TOWER office in Meguro.

Ishimoto: At the time of the interview, I had a shaved head and a scraggly beard. I wore ripped jeans to the interview and kept this air of disinterest.

Shimomura: What, you were disinterested!?

Ishimoto: I “kept an air” of disinterest (laughs). I asked the other employees afterward, and they all said they wore suits because… it’s a job interview. As for me, I don’t dress differently than I usually do for anyone– I want people to see me as I always am. Anyway, when we started talking about the actual work, I was like, “Oh, boy…” My first impression of Shimomura-san was honestly quite positive, and my opinion hasn’t changed since. In creative work like this, it’s important to establish trust and feel comfortable speaking our minds honestly.

Shimomura: (laughs)

Ishimoto: What the actual work entailed was taking Shimomura-san’s songs and putting them into the program memory so they can be played back, so I knew that I was going to be working with her. But we didn’t really talk much at the interview, did we?

Shimomura: No, it was a standard interview. For a sound manipulator(*1).

Ishimoto: A few days after the interview, I received a call that said they wanted to hire me, but at the time I was applying to other companies, too.

Shimomura: Oh, really?

Ishimoto: Yes, but I felt this passion at SQUARE that really motivated me… so we ended up working on Legend of Mana (LoM hereafter) together.

Shimomura: Yes, and the music from LoM is still very popular to this day. The brunt of the work, that is to say, most all of the sound in the game was done by Ishimoto-kun alone.

Ishimoto: Oh, I remember one year, I saw the first sunrise of the new year with Shimomura-san… from my cubicle.

Shimomura: We really did something that romantic together!?

Ishimoto: Yes, it was New Year’s Day. Back then, it was normal for us to stay overnight at the company working. It’s unthinkable now.

Shimomura: I hated the idea of welcoming in the new year at work, so I most likely went home once. But then I came back to the office around 2 a.m. and after that is when we saw the sun rise together, probably. I went back home just to see the date change… (laughs).


–By the way, was there a decisive factor in you hiring Ishimoto-san?

Shimomura: At the interview, I asked him if he you drank (alcohol), and he gave me this look like, “What’s up with this person?” But he finally said “no,” and that left a very good impression on me. Most people in that situation would have said, “a little” or “I’m somewhat of a social drinker,” but this person had the ability to clearly state his position without fear. When you work in a creative field like ours, there will inevitably be clashes, and in an environment like that, a person who can say “no” when he wants to can be vital. So, I thought, in a way, here was an ideal candidate.

Ishimoto: That’s… deep.


Game composers have to write so many songs

–When you worked together as composer and sound manipulator, what were your impressions of each other, work-wise?

Shimomura: You worked as a sound manipulator up to KH II?

Ishimoto: Yes, I didn’t do KH I though. I started from KINGDOM HEARTS Final Mix.

Shimomura: And then you became a composer, so I think it was from BbS, when you started writing songs.

Ishimoto: Game composers have to write many songs. I mean, you have to write 60, 70, maybe even 100 songs in quite a short amount of time. I don’t think there are many other areas of music where that’s done. Your standard music artist might put out 20 singles in 3 years, so when I joined the company, I was dumbfounded by the sheer volume of work that goes into game music. As far as Shimomura-san’s work style goes, she was especially impressive when she was under the gun. The sheer speed of her writing…

Shimomura: I am so, so sorry… (laughs).

Ishimoto: The latter half of the project is when the acceleration begins and never stops.

Shimomura: A quadratic curve… no, more like a quantic curve. Just clean, straight increase (laughs). The problem is, Ishimoto-kun can’t start his work until I finish mine, so it must have been a nightmare for him after I submitted. I’m really sorry that I put you through that.

Ishimoto: No, I really think this is a case of the ends justifying the means. I mean, in the end, the work is tough whether the songs come in early or late, and who can really say they are unhappy when the end product sells so well?


–And what was your impression of Ishimoto-san’s work, back when he worked under you?

Shimomura: I’m a person who doesn’t like to compromise. I would think about minute details that I initially agreed overlook (and that most people wouldn’t think twice about), and I would ultimately ask for it to be changed later because it bothered me so much. Do you remember me doing things like that…?

Ishimoto: At the time, we didn’t have streaming technology(*2), so we couldn’t achieve CD-quality playback. We had to pack all the sound into the internal sound source, or put more simply, into 512KB. To put it simply, it’s like putting 100 people in a 3m x 3m room. Like an overweight person shedding weight, I had to trim the fat off the music. Still, there were some things that shouldn’t be trimmed off, like strings(*3), so I tried my best not to. There were times when I was asked to put back sounds that got cut, in which case I would have to start all over again. With Shimomura-san, her music mainly features piano and strings, so those sounds can’t be cut. It makes the music sound thin and rough.

Shimomura: I’ve actually had the experience of personally mapping the memory(*4) for reading in the sound. Streaming technology had just gotten started around them, but Tetsu-san (Tetsuya Nomura) was afraid that reading in the music that way could prevent the game from running smoothly. He wanted to use internal sound sources, and also didn’t want the screen to freeze up when tracks had to be crossfaded(*5), so we always had to have 2 songs in memory. Battle music and field music have a completely different feel from each other, so obviously the instruments have to change. It would be ideal to have those changing instrument tracks be read in before entering the new stage, but we also have to conserve memory as much as possible. In order to do this, I created something called a permanent waveform(*6). It was here that we stored the piano and string sounds that Ishimoto-kin said we always needed, and thus always kept them available. The other half of the memory for all the other changes, but this put a lot of limitations on the waveforms themselves(*7), because all those sounds had to be squeezed into half the memory of what was usually available. I’m sure it was extremely difficult.

Ishimoto: Yes, it was a challenge. It’s hard to imagine right now because memory and storage are no longer much of an issue.

Shimomura: Not so much in the PlayStation days perhaps, but there was a time when there were even restrictions on the size of MIDI(*8) data, so I often had to shave data off of the song itself. There were 24 unusable tracks total(*9), 16 of those were for the music and 8 were for the sound effects, but I think there was overlap on 4 of those tracks. If I somehow forgot to raise the priority of the melody and Sora put out some kind of sound effect, the melody would just cut out right there (laughs). But I would usually just say I want the song this way, or I want this kind of sound, and Ishimoto-kun would do all of the actual work. I’m very grateful for that.


You don’t want to be known as someone who cuts corners

–Are there any episodes you look back on and say, “Wow, that was rough”?

Shimomura: For KINGDOM HEARTS II, I recall I was very particular about when to start playback of Dearly Beloved during the opening. I came in on the weekends and kept telling the programmer, “No, that’s not it! Adjust the timing so that this part of the song is playing when this screen comes up!”

Ishimoto: I’m not really someone who thinks of work as being rough or too much trouble. I mean, you’re supposed to do your job, and that’s it, so I don’t have many stories like that. You don’t want to be known as someone who cuts corners. For example, if I worked for songwriter or composer that I ended up not getting along with and maybe didn’t put forth my best effort, then that author works with someone else the next time and has a better experience. That’s really not helpful for finding my next job.


–Then how about the opposite, where you say, “That was a good experience”?

Ishimoto: I’m really glad that the first work I did at SQUARE was with Shimomura-san. When I initially joined the company, I wasn’t a composer, but I got to work with her on LoM, and then after a slew of other projects, we end up working together again–this time as composers–on KINGDOM HEARTS. I don’t think there are many instances like that, where a composer works with another junior composer that she initially interviewed at her old company. Let’s say there are two composers assigned to create 60 songs, of which one is told to make 40 songs and the other 20 songs; I think both composers would feel cheated. I mean, if it wasn’t for this other composer, you would get to do all 60 songs, and get the money for all 60 songs (laughs). On top of that, if the two composers don’t get along, then both would be saying “Why does it have to be this person?” This is purely my own perspective, but I’m very comfortable working with Shimomura-san. It’s often the case that composers don’t get along because they can’t communicate effectively with each other, but we don’t have that problem precisely because we worked together at SQUARE. Back then, maintaining good communication was essential for doing our jobs.

Shimomura: Our good relationship wasn’t really built on hanging out after work and such, but rather just work on top of work on top of work. We were separated by cubicles, but we did spend an inordinate amount of time occupying the same room. Because we at one time worked at the same company, even now as a freelancer I find it easy to work with Ishimoto-kun. I mean, he deals with all the difficulties for me (laughs).


Unlike my work, Ishimoto-kun’s songs are cool

–When you began your career as a composer, what did Shimomura-san’s existence mean to you?

Ishimoto: Starting with Shimomura-san, I have the utmost respect for my senior colleagues during SQUARE days. When I joined the company in the late 90s, there were many interesting people there. The thing about the music of KINGDOM HEARTS is that the songs are so different for each character and world. There are the major songs that are bright and cheerful and the minor songs that really push the darkness forward. Not many composers can do both kinds of songs this well; more often than not, they lean toward one side. Making completely different songs for each world takes a lot of hard work. I can’t think of any other game with this much musical variety.

Shimomura: I tend to look view Ishimoto-kun as a workplace compatriot, a colleague of equal standing. I’m not sure how it is now, but back when I was at the company, we really didn’t have much of a pecking order. As long we all did our work, we were all equal. Still, one thing I have to say is that unlike my work, Ishimoto-kun’s songs are cool. His work on The World Ends with You (TWEWY hereafter) is especially great, and he even got an actual “singing song” in there. I like using songs that feature vocals myself and have done so in the past with Parasite Eve and the end of LoM, but I don’t think I can make the kind of songs that are in TWEWY. The music was just so impactful, and so unusual in the sphere of video games, in a good way. There weren’t any composers at SQUARE then that were making music like that, so it was quite a shock to the system. It made me wonder, why didn’t he say he could write music in the first place? I had heard stories of people who wanted to work at a video company as a composer, but the companies never seemed to be actively looking for composers, so they applied to sound effect positions to get a foot in the door. I thought maybe Ishimoto-kun could have been one such person.

Ishimoto: No, that wasn’t the case for me at all. The first time I even thought about writing music was when I turned 30. Men in their 30s tend to think about doing things like that, I think. With the technology shifting from internal sound sources to streaming, I felt that I needed to change along with the times. That’s when I decided I should start writing music.

Shimomura: Had you not written any music before that?

Ishimoto: A little, just as a hobby, but I mostly listened to popular music, so I didn’t have the first idea about classical composition.

Shimomura: Still, I think you have a good ear for it.


The song descends; humming while playing the guitar

–How do you go about composing? What is your process?

Shimomura: This may sound a bit pretentious, but when I write music, I’m really not thinking about anything; I don’t really even feel like I’m “composing.” The way to say it is, “the song descends upon me,” but in my case, it’s more like “I can start to hear the song.” There’s a multitude of sounds that come into my head, and for those that seem incomplete I search for a way to move them forward. The sounds that I hear already seem to know which direction they want to go in, so all I’m doing is directing the traffic in that direction. I sometimes hear multiple sounds at once, and other times all I hear is the melody from beginning to end. There are also times where I can only hear the chords and not the melody. It’s actually the most difficult when I hear every sound, because my data input skills can’t catch up! When I’m inputting the data, the sound itself has already advanced several bars ahead, so I’m always desperately trying to keep pace. So, I don’t have this sense that I’m “making” something. I don’t have a system of starting with chords or melodies or such, so when you ask me, “Then how do you make your music?” All I can answer is “I don’t really think about it.” Sometimes a sound just floats into my head, or when I’m playing, I suddenly say “Ah!” and it starts from there. When I am able to hear the sounds and when those sounds start to form an overall image in my head, I really don’t know.

Ishimoto: For me, I usually say to myself, “I’m going to write a song!” Then I start humming while playing the guitar. When I come up with a chorus that I like, I put it into 8 or 16 bars and think about where to put it, and what should come before and after. A song’s intro is so important because it establishes the hook.

Shimomura: I recently wrote a 4-bar song and asked Tetsu-san to listen to it. I asked, “How’s the hook?” And he said, “I don’t know, because it’s too short.” (laughs) Still, I felt that if I could present those 4 bars and make him want to hear what came next, that would be a win for me. So, any song where I can make Tetsu-san say, “I don’t really understand it yet, so can you write something a little longer?” I dream to have potential. I mean, some songs you can tell won’t work, even if it’s just 4 bars. The intro would often be part of those 4 bars, so in that sense I think it is a good measure of whether the song has a good hook or not.

Ishimoto: I think it’s the same with visual art but getting started is the most difficult part. If I can come up with a phrase that works the intro, then things start to move ahead smoothly. But without that catalyst, I don’t know what to do.

Shimomura: When you’ve come up with the first verse, second verse, and chorus, but can’t come up with an intro, that’s really rough. You end up having to review the whole thing from the beginning. In those cases, I do think really hard, but the more I think, the worse the song seems to become (laughs). Not every song you write is going to live up to your ideal, so sometimes you just have to eke one out before the deadline. You say things to yourself like, “I really like this intro, so I want to make it work somehow.” “But there’s no time left, so maybe I’ll just submit it as is.” “No, because I’m sure I’ll regret it later.” “These are the kinds of thoughts that go through my head.


–Is there anything you do to refresh your mind, or some process you have to inspire yourself when you’re stumped like this?

Shimomura: The Twilight Town theme Lazy Afternoons was rejected 7 times. I asked Tetsu-san point blank, “Can you tell me specifically why it’s no good?” And he replied, “There’s not enough ‘twilight’ in it.” So, I just went out onto the veranda, and stood solemnly… in the twilight (laughs). When I had to have a demo ready by the next morning, sometimes I just could not come up with any sounds to improve the song. Then, as I thought to myself, “It’s no good, I’m out of time,” new sounds suddenly started rushing into my head. In those instances, I just throw out all the old data and enter a race against the remaining time. Several songs in KINGDOM HEARTS II were created that way.

Ishimoto: When you’re stumped, all you can really do is think your way through it. I know it’s rather impolite, but I sometimes don’t pay attention to what people are saying when they’re talking to me (laughs). I just go into a trance, thinking about music and many other things. This habit just gets worse when I can’t come up with a song. But we live in a convenient age now, so I sometimes look and listen for hints in various software. Shimomura-san is classically trained, so I consider her a “true” composer. As for me, I just look for sounds that are cool or fun and start from there, so I don’t know if I’d call myself a true composer. Whether I start with the rhythm or start with the melody is always a case-by-case thing with me.


If hard work is all that it is, of course you should do it.

–Can you tell me about any artists or songs that influenced you?

Ishimoto: When THE BLUE HEARTS(*10) came to my home prefecture of Miyazaki, I skipped school to go see their live show. I got an earful from my parents when I came home (laughs).

Shimomura: They held a live show during school hours?

Ishimoto: The venue was really far away, for one. And also, it was going to be full of BLUE HEARTS fans that lived in Miyazaki! I wanted to connect with them and find out what they were like. The same goes for the KINGDOM HEARTS concerts, wouldn’t you say? People from all over the country use their hard-earned money for transportation and lodging just to see the show. Now that I’m on the production side, I feel I owe it to these people to do the best work that I can. If hard work is all that it is, of course you should do it. There are kids who use their allowances to come see these concerts. They must be serious fans if they’re doing that, and I think it’s important for us to always remember that these people are right there in the audience.

Shimomura: I completely agree.


–You said you came to Tokyo right after graduating high school. Was it always your intention to pursue music in Tokyo?

Ishimoto: I had already decided to go to Tokyo when I was in junior high school. I had originally intended to not even go to high school, but my parents told me to “at least finish high school.” I lived in the countryside, so I had strong feelings about going to Tokyo.

Shimomura: I hail from Osaka myself, but Tokyo is undoubtedly the center of the music world in Japan. I wanted to go to Tokyo myself, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. That’s why I admire Ishimoto-kun’s will and determination to go. I ultimately couldn’t go against my parents’ wishes, so I’m envious of his story of going to Tokyo with a dream… not to mention I think it’s really cool.

Ishimoto: When I first got to Tokyo, I felt overwhelmed in areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya. You know how when it’s a red light at that “scramble crosswalk” (in Shibuya), a huge crowd gathers on the street from all directions? I realized when I saw that how difficult it was going to be to just be one face in that crowd. In order for all these people who are dressed just like me to pay attention to me, I knew I had to do something really special.

Shimomura: I’m impressed that you already had the intention of making people pay attention to you (laughs).


–You said earlier that you use a guitar when you compose. How many guitars do you own?

Ishimoto: I own about 9 or 10 guitars. I still have the first guitar that I bought. It’s a Fender Telecaster(*11) that I bought when I was in 7th grade, and I still play it to this day. You never want to get rid of the first thing you bought that is of value to you. I keep thinking the reason it’s special is because it’s still with me, and if I were to let it go, maybe no one will ever play it again. Plus, I still get a jolt when I see it, the first guitar that I ever bought. I feel as though it keeps me honest.

Shimomura: It has looked after you for 30 years, after all.

Ishimoto: I played baseball in elementary school, and in junior high I got really into soccer. But when I bought that guitar, that was it for me. I started a band when I got to high school, but I was kind of a bratty kid back then, and I said to my parents, “I know now that I can never surpass Oh-san and Nagashima-san(*12) in baseball, and I can’t surpass Maradona(*13) in soccer, so now I’m going to try music.” I had this notion that rock musicians didn’t need to know how to read music, all they had to do was play as instinct and feeling. Even at that age I somehow knew I didn’t want to live life as an average salaryman. My intention from high school was to continue playing in a band.

Shimomura: So, Maradona changed your life?

Ishimoto: When you see a player with such godlike ability, you just know that you won’t be able to put food on the table with soccer.

Shimomura: I think most people would say the same thing about music (laughs).


That song reinforced my belief that I could never write a melody like that

–From here, I would like you to talk about the music of KINGDOM HEARTS. Are there any songs you particularly like from the series?

Ishimoto: I like Vanitas’ theme, Enter the Darkness. It has a very Shimomura-esque melody.

Shimomura: I don’t think so at all.

Ishimoto: That melody has 3 different characters incorporated into it, right?

Shimomura: Yes, Sora, Ventus, and Roxas. But really, the Ventus theme is a fusion of Sora and Roxas.

Ishimoto: That song reinforced my belief that I could never write a melody like that. I was doing some work on it late at night once, and I couldn’t resist sending Shimomura-san a text saying, “This song is really great!” And she texted back, “That’s not my song.” (laughs)

Shimomura: Well, the Vanitas theme is all about the rhythm and the arrangement.

Ishimoto: I wouldn’t say that. The last Vanitas arrangement admittedly had a pretty digital sound, but this time, I arranged it more orchestrally, with a touch of rock and roll.

Shimomura: It’s true that I created the melody for Vanitas in the sense that it’s a conglomeration of 3 character melodies that I wrote, but I tend to look at it as a completely new song. Can’t we just say that it’s your song, Shimomura-kun?

Ishimoto: Absolutely not. I mean, just hearing that uplifting melody gives me an adrenaline rush. After a day of working on it, I would go home, and the melody was still inside my head. Unlike movies, game music is put on a loop, so when you die fighting a boss, you go back to the save point, make your way to fight the boss again, and then the same song will play. That’s why the catchier the melody, the more it stays in your head.

Shimomura: Well, I suppose there’s a simple solution: write longer songs so they don’t loop as often (laughs). My personal view is that looped songs should be 2 minutes at the longest, and it’s a success if people don’t get tired of hearing it two or more times. If you create a 5-minute song and it plays twice, that’s 10 minutes, and if people get sick of it after just the second time, that’s out of the question. I think the correct way to do game music is to make 2-minute songs that you can listen to over and over again. Music for the last boss may be an exception, because the structure may be more complex by necessity. But medium bosses? I’d say 1.5 to 2 minutes max. Maybe it’s just me that thinks this way, and everyone else just gets sick of the repetition, but… (laughs). But everyone has their own preferences; it’s very difficult to make a song that everyone likes.

Ishimoto: Isn’t it great when people actually remember a melody that you made? That alone is enough for me to say, “Yes!!”

Shimomura: Japanese people tend to focus a lot on the melody, and human beings can only produce one sound at a time, so they have a natural tendency to hum the melody. That’s why I think melodies should be made simple and easy to remember. But more often than not, the composer is the last one to know whether he/she actually succeeded in doing that (laughs).

Ishimoto: All composers have their own preferences and habits, like certain chord progressions. I hear my own chord progressions sometimes and think, “I’m using this again?” But to the fans of our music, it’s a familiar, even endearing characteristic. So, there’s no use in worrying about it too much, but it does tend to become a concern for creators.


It was kind of strange to feel that it got better

–Were there any songs that you found especially troublesome to make?

Ishimoto: I don’t know about troublesome, but there were songs that required a lot of retakes. The Vanitas theme was a single take, but nearly everything else… (laughs)

Shimomura: What about the Pirates battle theme?

Ishimoto: That one actually wasn’t as long originally. But it’s kind of strange to feel that it got better after Nomura-san talked to me about it. If he hadn’t talked to me, I don’t think it would have turned out like it did.

Shimomura: I can totally understand that. I think Dearly Beloved got better after Tetsu-san’s evaluation. It wasn’t troublesome per se, but there was an amazing retake! For Rapunzel’s theme, he said, “The song is good, but I don’t understand why it has to be about Rapunzel.” He was basically saying Rapunzel’s theme shouldn’t be about Rapunzel, so what was I going to do!? I had put a harp in the piece to give the image of Rapunzel’s flowing hair, so I just doubled up on that sound. Then, I just flat out asked, “The harp is supposed to symbolize Rapunzel’s flowing hair. Did that not come across?” It’s not always good to vocalize what you’re thinking (laughs). After a few more adjustments, I finally got the OK, but I had intensified the harp part so much already that the actual harp player became very skeptical of the recording. What happened was, after I had intensified the harp art so much already, the arranger (Natsumi) Kameoka-san intensified it even more, because she heard that “it’s Rapunzel’s hair.” What happens then is that the tempo gets very fast and busy, and certain harp sounds can pick up a lot of noise, so the performer told me that the piece was “difficult to play” I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or an insult. All in all, it was a memorable retake session (laughs).

Ishimoto: But Nomura-san doesn’t really say that a song is flat-out no good.

Shimomura: Yes, he rarely rejects songs outright. He always says something like, “Could you fix that one part just a little?”

Ishimoto: I’ve had that experience, too. Nomura-san is a designer, so he knows what not to say to creators. Lest they become demoralized. I think he’s very careful with his words.

Shimomura: When I was asked to start work on Dearly Beloved, he said, “Make it very technical so that not just any pianist can play it.” I figured what he wanted was something like a virtuoso piano concerto, so that was the direction I took. But then I was given a sample song that represented what he wanted, and it was a somber, dare I say somewhat dull piano piece (laughs). I deduced that what he wanted was this kind of solemn song with a little more technical flair, but it was a contradictory piece on many levels. It reminded me of Stitch’s Space Hawaiian. The setting was space, so I made the music very space-like, but then I was told, “This is Stitch, so could you give it a Hawaiian feel as well?” And that’s why the song is how it is. I think you can see a lot of my hardship represented in that piece.

Ishimoto: I actually kind of have fun with the odd requests. I take the 1-to-2-line retake request e-mail from Nomura-san and just use my own interpretation of what he wants in the retake. It seems to work better when you provide a version 1 and a version 2.

–Finally, a message for all the fans and supporters attending the concert.

Ishimoto: This is actually my first time hearing the live sound of a full orchestra, so let’s enjoy it together!



(*1) Manipulator: In this case, it refers to a technician that programs a synthesizer to adjust sequence data output. Just as a performer can have a profound effect on how a composition sounds, so too can the work of a manipulator.

(*2) Streaming technology: a playback method using pre-recorded sound data, much like a CD. It carries advantages such as not having to consider issues like polyphony, allowing for near unlimited freedom in playback. On the other hand, the hardware specs required to use the technology are very high, thus it took a long time for the game world to adopt it.

(*3) Strings could not be cut: The sound of string instruments requires a lot of detail for accurate playback, so pairing the data down can quickly result in the sound becoming artificial and unauthentic.

(*4) Memory mapping: For game consoles such as PlayStation, sounds must be read onto memory and played according to the sequence data. Mapping refers to the process of setting up these reads.

(*5) Crossfade: The process of slowly fading out the volume of one song and fading in the volume of the next song so that the sound transition is seamless.

(*6) Permanent waveform: A sound (waveform) used in every song that is always read onto memory. By always having oft-used sounds like piano pre-read onto memory, read times can be shortened.

(*7) Restrictions on waveforms: The PlayStation internal sound source was able play up to 24 CD-quality sounds. Each waveform had a memory limit of 512KB. On a CD this would equal about 3 seconds of sound. At the time, game music had to be constructed by working around these limitations.

(*8) MIDI: Short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This was a popular standard for processing electronic instrument data and was implemented in the PlayStation internal sound source as well. In this case, it refers to the data created using that standard.

(*9) 24 tracks: In music production, sounds that are played simultaneously in melodies etc. are organized into tracks. Here, 24 refers to the track limit of the PlayStation internal sound source.

(*10) THE BLUE HEARTS: THE BLUE HEARTS was a Japanese punk rock band formed in 1985. After their major debut in 1987, they produced hit songs such as Linda Linda and TRAIN-TRAIN that are still remembered throughout Japan. The band broke up in 1995.

(*11) Fender Telecaster: One of Fender’s signature guitar models, the Telecaster was the original solid-body electric guitar. The sound that is produced by its simple design is extremely popular to this day.

(*12) Oh-san and Nagashima-san: A reference to baseball players Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima, who played for the Yomiuri Giants from 1959 to 1974. They were collectively known as the “ON-Hou” (ON Cannon), and their play made them national celebrities. Both have been awarded Japan’s National Honor Award. 

(*13) Maradona: A reference to the Argentinian soccer player and coach Diego Maradona. Called the “Child of God” during his prime playing years, he appeared in 4 World Cups, guiding Argentina to the championship in 1986.

Interviewers: Tomoko Kanemaki/Taketeru Sunamori