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Yoko Shimomura's Kingdom Hearts Advent Calendar 2020



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Are you following composer Yoko Shimomura on Twitter? If you are, then you're probably aware of her Advent Calendar! Every day from December 1st~25th, she will share a story behind one of the songs included in Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory.

We will update this article throughout the month. Below, you can find the entries posted so far:

December 24th: March Caprice for "Melody of Memory" (KHMoM)

As you can tell from the title, I was asked to make a marching song for the first KH. This time I changed the tempo, so I thought you wouldn't be able to march to it, but I think it works if you move fast enough. Forward, forward, forward. Let's all keep walking forward.

December 23rd: Happy Holidays! (KH2FM)

Christmas is finally upon us! I wanted to express the joyful atmosphere, sparkling lights, and snowy world, so I wrote this song. If you compare this song with that of another snowy world - Arendelle from KH3 - you might be able to feel the difference between them...!

December 22nd: Destati (KHO)

As I've mentioned several times in past interviews, this was the very first song I wrote for Kingdom Hearts. There have been numerous concert performances, arrangements, and soundtrack recordings, but MoM was actually the first time Destati was used in its entirety in-game.

December 21st: Monster Smash! (KH3)

Only 10-second of the intro was ready early on, and I received a tentative OK for those 10 seconds. The song was actually completed at the end of development. The rest of the song kept playing in my head while I was working on other songs that had yet to receive approval.

December 20th: One for All (3D)

In all of KH history, this song (together with the battle theme) was given a title earliest. I thought "This just HAS to be the title!" (laughs) I made it with the image of marching, parades, courage, a little comical, fun, and so on.

December 19th: Vector to the Heavens (Days)

The title was inspired by the fact that Xion's name is derived from an imaginary number. "Vector" comes from the mathematical term. And the meaning behind the original English word "vector"? Where will those thoughts and heart go?

December 18th: Fate of the Unknown (KH2FM)

This song gave birth to Terra and Aqua's themes, and KH2's secret movie gave birth to the Keyblade Graveyard theme. It's really fun to think, "I'll definitely use this phrase the next time this scene or these people appear!" 

December 17th: Guardando nel buio (KH)

I asked Tetsu-san, who was on a business trip, to listen to the sound from the speakers on his cell phone so that he could check the demo. I'm sorry for talking about such a last-minute production; Tetsu-san was even on the station platform at the time. I'm really sorry!

December 16th: L'Impeto Oscuro (3D)

It's a song that I had made too last minute, so when it came time to record, I still hadn't hadn't gotten the director's approval yet. The approval actually came while we were recording; when I heard the call after we finished, I left the studio skipping.

December 15th: Lord of the Castle (Re:CoM)

When I write fast piano passages, I have to play them at a reduced speed in order to create the data (because otherwise I can't play them lol). Re:CoM didn't [originally] use live performance audio, but we recorded it for KH1.5. Benjamin [Nuss], who played for us during that time, joined me in a concert afterwards.

December 14th: Roxas (KH2)

As I've mentioned in previous interviews, I just played the piano and this song came out. It's short and doesn't even have a chorus. I never thought [Roxas] would become such a popular character...! At the time, I was debugging it while thinking, "Huh? Where's Sora?" lol

December 13th: Kairi I (KH)

Sora's theme is from KH2, but Kairi's theme is from the first game. Even though there are three versions, I and II are almost the same. I couldn't decide which chord was better, so I decided to use both.

December 12th: Sora (KH2)

Initially, Sora's theme was going to be a different melody, but when I started working on the staff roll at the end of development, this phrase came to mind and Sora just popped into my head. I thought, "This can only be Sora!" and so it became his theme.

December 11th: Rage Awakened (KH2FM)

This is an honorable song that has been used so many times, even in PVs. I always get orders for hidden bosses with the name "Mystery Man", so I'd be wondering "Who are you? Who are you??" as my imagination runs wild during the writing process.

December 10th: Rowdy Rumble (KH2)

I wrote this song because I wanted to make a battle theme where the same phrase is repeated in slightly different timbres. Actually, due to a slight mistake, my demo version of this song was played at an event before it was completed. I was in the audience and turned completely pale lol

December 9th: Traverse Town (KH)

One loop is only 34 seconds long. It immediately jumps into the melody without introduction, but I think this simplicity works surprisingly well. It's not like you need a long song because you'll listen to it repeatedly or for a long time, right?

December 8th: Darkness of the Unknown (KH2)

I made it with the intention of being able to move on to the next song at any time according to the phases of the final boss, but it actually is divided into three separate songs. It was originally designed to be played as a single track, so for the soundtrack, I connected them all together and recorded them as such.

December 7th: Another Side (KHFM)

This was the last song I wrote as a Square employee. I watched the secret movie of the mysterious world over and over, and made this to scale. The piano phrase at the beginning of the song was written in the image of Organization XIII for Tetsu-san, so ultimately it became their theme.

December 6th: Dismiss (BbS)

I had a very detailed request, "Put that melody, that phrase, but don't put that phrase." At first I thought "how unreasonable", but it actually came together surprisingly easily. It was as if the song had been there from the beginning.

December 5th: The Afternoon Streets (KH2)

To contrast with the "twilight" feeling of "Lazy Afternoons", this song was designed to convey the image of "when lights begin to illuminate the city". The gentle light leaking from the windows, the smell of cooking dinner, a happy and gentle time. But why do I suddenly feel a strange loneliness?

December 4th: Stranded Beyond (KH3)

The song pretends to be fragile and elusive, but the groaning string melody from 1 minute and 4 seconds onwards is heart wrenching. When I heard the performance of this part of the song during the recording session, I was struck with an inexplicable sense of sadness and despair.

December 3rd: Wave of Darkness I (KH0.2)

We performed this live to accompany the trailer that debuted during the 2017 orchestra concert in Los Angeles. I fondly remember shouting "Excuse me!!" from the stage, trying to stop the audience from leaving as they were unaware that we would release new footage after the concert as a surprise lol 

December 2nd: Hand in Hand (KH)

This song wasn't originally planned. But as I was playing Traverse Town, I felt that I wanted to express the joyful battles of Sora, Donald, and Goofy in music, and this song popped into my head. I wanted it to be the battle theme for the second half [of Traverse Town], and negotiated for it to be used.

December 1st: Dearly Beloved -Swing Version- (KHMoM)

The swing arrangement I've always wanted to do has finally been utilized in a game! The person in charge of the team liked it so much that he listened to it more than 100 times. I have also been listening it to it quite often, perhaps up to 200 times now (laughs).

 
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Oracle Spockanort

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I love all of these ;A;

December 4th: Stranded Beyond (KH3)

The song pretends to be fragile and elusive, but the groaning string melody from 1 minute and 4 seconds onwards is heart wrenching. When I heard the performance of this part of the song during the recording session, I was struck with an inexplicable sense of sadness and despair.

;A;
 

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December 7th: Another Side (KHFM)

This was the last song I wrote as a Square employee. I watched the secret movie of the mysterious world over and over, and made this to scale. The piano phrase at the beginning of the song was written in the image of Organization XIII for Tetsu-san, so ultimately it became their theme.
 

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You know I never got that sense from Stranded Beyond. To me it's a sound of tranquility and wonder.
I kinda sounds like wonder...wonder about what lies beyond. i can't explain exactly because I'm not a musical, but it does feel around 1m 10s that we've reached the end of the world so to say. I felt this right when Sora's scattered bits were shown in the Final Battle trailer...
 

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You know I never got that sense from Stranded Beyond. To me it's a sound of tranquility and wonder.

Follow the cello ;-)

But yes definitely wonderment as well... it straddles that line in a really interesting way
 
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She had to negotiate for Hand in Hand to be in the game? Like, Nomura didn't deem that song adequate at first?
That song pretty much defines KH1 for me. It's one of the most recognisable songs in the franchise. The fact that she had to insist... Wow.
Nomura should have begged Yoko for that song, not the opposite.
 

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She had to negotiate for Hand in Hand to be in the game? Like, Nomura didn't deem that song adequate at first?
That song pretty much defines KH1 for me. It's one of the most recognisable songs in the franchise. The fact that she had to insist... Wow.
Nomura should have begged Yoko for that song, not the opposite.
Just goes to show that Nomura doesn't understand the franchise at all, scatterbrained as he is
 

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Just goes to show that Nomura doesn't understand the franchise at all, scatterbrained as he is

waaah doomposting waaah nomura

Nomura not initially wanting a second battle theme for Traverse Town is a country mile away from 'not understanding the franchise at all'.
 

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Ngl the Hand in Hand thing makes me sad. The possibility that I could’ve missed out on that theme, one of my top ten, makes me appreciate it and Yoko even more.
 

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December 8th: Darkness of the Unknown (KH2)

I made it with the intention of being able to move on to the next song at any time according to the phase of the final boss, but it actually is divided into three separate songs. It was originally designed to be played as a single track, so for the soundtrack, I connected them all together and recorded them as such.





She had to negotiate for Hand in Hand to be in the game? Like, Nomura didn't deem that song adequate at first?
That song pretty much defines KH1 for me. It's one of the most recognisable songs in the franchise. The fact that she had to insist... Wow.
Nomura should have begged Yoko for that song, not the opposite.

From the way she talks about it, it sounds like they were fine with using Night of Fate as the battle theme for both halves of Traverse Town and didn't really consider it could have its own unique song until Shimomura made Hand in Hand.
 

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Follow the cello ;-)

But yes definitely wonderment as well... it straddles that line in a really interesting way

Oh sure, I know the part you're talking about, to me despair just seemed a little strong of a word is all. I feel more of a melancholy, contemplative sense from it.
 

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December 10th: Rowdy Rumble (KH2)

I wrote this song because I wanted to make a battle theme where the same phrase is repeated in slightly different timbres. Actually, due to a slight mistake, my demo version of this song was played at an event before it was completed. I was in the audience and turned completely pale lol
 

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December 11th: Rage Awakened (KH2FM)

This is an honorable song that has been used so many times, even in PVs. I always get orders for hidden bosses with the name "Mystery Man", so I'd be wondering "Who are you? Who are you??" as my imagination runs wild during the writing process.
 
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December 11th: Rage Awakened (KH2FM)

This is an honorable song that has been used so many times, even in PVs. I always get orders for hidden bosses with the name "Mystery Man", so I'd be wondering "Who are you? Who are you??" as my imagination runs wild during the writing process.
It amazes me how she's able to compose music for characters she doesn't know at the time and still the music fits them so well. I guess she receives some additional info like which kind of emotion should be conveyed in these particular tracks buts that's still very vague and yet she nails it.
 

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December 12th: Sora (KH2)

Initially, Sora's theme was going to be a different melody, but when I started working on the staff roll at the end of development, this phrase came to mind and Sora just popped into my head. I thought, "This can only be Sora!" and so it became his theme.
 
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December 13th: Kairi I (KH)

Sora's theme is from KH2, but Kairi's theme is from the first game. Even though there are three versions, I and II are almost the same. I couldn't decide which chord was better, so I decided to use both.
 

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She's really not giving Kairi II enough credit. The chord progression gives it a much more longing, somber mood than the first.
 
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