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Final Fantasy IX OST

Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack is a video game soundtrack. You will find the track list plus an extensive track-by-track analysis below the standard review. It is my hope that you will gain a better understanding of video game music by reading exactly what it has to offer as it is different from American film music.
Composed by:
Nobuo Uematasu

Arranged by:
Nobuo Uematsu

Additional arrangements:
Shiro Hamaguchi (Disc 4, track 22),
Kunihiko Kurosawa (Disc 1, track 1; Disc 3, track 22; Disc 4, tracks 3 and 4)

Programmed by:
Minoru Akao

(Orchestral tracks)

Orchestrated by:
Shiro Hamaguchi

Conducted by:
Koji Haijima

With the recent ups and downs in the series as of late, fans such as myself have been wondering if the Final Fantasy series would be able to get back on the right track. Not just fundamentaly, but musically as well. It may be hard to believe but Final Fantasy IX man have just proven to be the true need for the series: to get back to its roots. FFIX is, if nothing else, a simple and fun-to-play game, and the music that accompanies it is not necessarily geared towards enhancing emotions or even trying to overpower the listener, it simply functions as a fun and enjoyable backdrop to the amusing antics and exploits happening on screen. Bottom line: this is just a great bunch of music to listen to. It doesn't take much intelligence, but that's okay. It really doesn't have to.

Measuring up to other sound compositions in the rest of the series, part 9, while still not nearly approcahing the incredible mastery of mature thematics we've witnessed in Final Fantasy VI, Uematsu-San has created a soundtrack that I place slightly ahead of my previous second-favorite Final Fantasy VII and light years ahead of the previous round in the series, Final Fantasy VIII.

I'd like to take a quick recap of every FF score that the true fans have experineced so far:

Final Fantasy: The horrendously mediocre sound system that the NES was equiped with was simply not an excellent tool for composers to work with. With just three lines upon which to write including percussion, this highly under-developed tool did not provide the means to make a truly outstanding score possible. Never the less, the origin of Final Fantasy brought one fact to attention: This new composer of twenty-seven years was an absolute master of melody. The soundtrack included such favorites as "Matoya's Cave, The Prelude" and the ever popular main theme which has become a nostalgic staple ever since its inception in 1987.

Final Fantasy II: While not much different from the original, the second installment added some fine new themes to Mr. Uematasu's repetoir.

Final Fantasy III: Still similar to the previous scores, yet Final Fantasy III was a new direction for the series, this score replaced the few mildly pleasing tracks with a barrage of over forty in total. A monumental acievemnet for its time.

Final Fanatsy IV: A true turning point in the series. After being upgraded to the new Super NES, Final Fantasy brought forth cinema and broke new grounds in video game story-telling, and the upgrading of the sound system tested not only the melody skills of the composer, but his arranging skills as well. With a psuedo-pop flair, Mr. Uematsu made the music of the series into a true hit. Not just in Japan, but somewhat in the US as well. Final Fantasy IV is responsible for introducing many fans to the series.

Final Fantasy V: While not introducing anything astoundingly new, Final Fantasy V was another hit among fans. I personally don't think much of this soudntrack, but I place it just ahead of FFVIII because of its absoulutely bombastic thrill ride of an end credits march: "The New Origin."

Final Fantasy VI: The *absolute* culmination of everything that had passed and would come to pass in the FF series. Part VI is peppered with robust arrangements and nearly countless heart-breaking themes. All neatly woven together in a unique tapestry which I proudly hail as my favorite musical work of the twentieth century. Purchase the soundtrack for Final Fantasy VI immediately. You won't be dissapointed.

Final Fantasy VII: The seventh installment in the series is responsible for introducing more fans to Final Fantasy than any other. This is my favorite game in the series and it contains one of the most incredible tracks of Mr. Uematsu's career: "A One-Winged Angel." This has recently lost its place as my second favorite FF score to part IX. However, I still believe that this is the most complex score in the series. This is also by far the darkest and most brooding of FF scores.

Final Fantasy VIII: Probably the most controversial of all scores in the series. FFVIII is, IMO, the weakest Final Fantasy soundtrack to date. Although it contains a few good tracks, the lack of anything greatly substancial hurts this score tremendously. It's not horrid, but it could've been better. A lot better.

Which brings us back to the topic at hand: Final Fantasy IX. The newest offers us a new look at the old light-hearted greats of the series earlier years on the SNES combined with the new-found maturer sensibilites of the composer. Though to be honest, this soundtrack has one major pitfall: The main theme is severely overused. I thought that FFVIII's "friendship" theme was overused but sheesh! This problem is even more apparent in the game itself than on the CD. And because of the great length of the score (160 songs in all, 110 are which represented on the soundtrack) many tracks degreade into pointless, meandering background garble.

One of the extra added enjoyments is that some tracks from earlier scores have been updated and placed back in. Such as the "Gulug Volcano" track from the original Final Fantasy and, wonder of wonders, the good old FF prelude is back. This time in genuine orchestral glory, which really counts for something this time around. Unfortunately the same thing can't be said for the series main theme which has been given nearly identical arrangement compared to FFVIII's version and has bad only some slightly beefed up orchestration, but otherwise it is simply repeating itself the same as in previous outings.

Making a return to the series is the use of leitmotif to represent the various characters. None are quite as memorable as those featured in Final Fantasyu VI, but most funciton quite well within the context of the game and are a slight step ahead most of the character themes that are found in FFVII. The main "Melodies of Life" theme, which doubles as a chracter theme for Dagger and the love theme makes a special pop ballad appearance at the end of the score. Two appearances actually. Both of which are quite good, but I prefer the version used in the end credits sung in Japanese. The English version seems to be missing something. Though the end credits song doesn't funciton as well in the game as FFVIII's "Eyes on Me," it has a substancially more powerful performance, courtesy of Emiko Shiatori. Her voice is more inspiring than that of Chinese pop sensation Faye Wong, who sang the corresponding vocal piece for the previous installment in the series.

As I've stated, this is now my second favorite Final Fantasy score. I doubt that any fans of the series will find anything too horribly wrong whith it, and newcomers to the series will find plenty to like as well. There are many orchestral pieces in the score, and unfortunately only a couple are featured on this album. To complete the full set of music you must purchase FFIX OST Plus separately, which I don't own yet, but plan to purchase in th near future. The long-running series has almost always been blessed with outstanding music. I'm glad to see that it's not coming to an end just yet.

Track-by-track review:
Disc 1
  1. The Place I'll Return To Someday

    The theme used for the introduction that has been arranged for "ancient instruments" and performed by Kunihiko Kurosawa and Haruo Kondo. This is actually very interesting, but the performance of instruments is nothing to write home about.

  2. Forgotten Memory In the Storm

    A great orchestral track opens for the main title. I like this a lot and the performance is very good. The only problem I notice is that with genuine orchestration, the composer seems to place too much influence on surges between brass and strings. The result shouldn't bother most people, so it is a minor quibble.

  3. Battle Strategy Confrence

    This is a rather dull ambient string track. It wouldn't be memorable, but this is the music that introduces us to the main character Zidane.

  4. The Skies of Alexandria

    Another orchestral track. This is almost identical to "Forgotten Memory in the Storm."

  5. Vivi's Theme

    Vivi's light-hearted and somewhat mysterious theme fits the character perfectly. I like this, but there is a much better arrangement of it on CD 3.

  6. Feel My Blade

    This is one of the best tracks of the entire score. It is played at the beggining as many of the main characters attempt to capture Princess Garnet of Alexandria while the perform a stage play. It is an exuberant string and percussion piece with a bit of latin flavor.

  7. Vamo' alla Flamenco

    Another teriffic track. This picks up right where "Feel my Blade" left off. It's a Spanish-flavored dueling song, which sounds as if it could have come out of Horner's Mask of Zorro.

  8. Decisive Action ~ Search for the Princess

    This begins with a pretty nice little harpsichord solo, which in some ways foreshadows later tracks. One of the main themes from FFII is introduced as the love theme from the play "I Want to Be Your Canary" on a flute about halfway through which then mutates into a string piece.

  9. The Jesters of the Moon

    Yet another great track! This is an exciting and somewhat mischievous track with a fairly rauckus duet with (though it's more like a competition with) an electic organ. This has a comical, if not endearing melody.

  10. Steiner's Theme

    The good music had to stop somewhere, and in an unfortunate way. Steiner's theme is (IMO) very repetative and boring, and it's comic tone involuntarily dismisses any interest that I might have had in hearing it.

  11. Prima Vista Band

    Not exactly very interesting, but this light-hearted "carny" track is quite listenable.

  12. Stolen Eyes

    A soft and lovely playing of the main theme by a solo flute over stings.

  13. Tonight

    This is a fanfare that kicks off exactly the same way as a castle track did in Final Fantasy V. Nothing special.

  14. Your Warmth

    A fairly short snippet of the love theme from "Canary".

  15. Mistaken Love

    This starts off in the same way as the previous track, but it segues into some loud and disturbing music and the love theme appears again.

  16. Queen of the Abyss

    This is considered the leitmotif for Garnet's mother, the Queen of Alexandria. It is actually a minor key variation of the main theme.

  17. Awakened Forest

    Is it just my imagination or is all of the forest music in RPGs starting to sound the same? This is arranged in almost exactly the same manner as Yasunori Mitsuda's "forest" theme from Chrono Cross. This has a melody that shows up in the second half, but the arrangement is so ambient in nature that the melody is made completely forgettable.

  18. Battle 1

    Compared to the last two main battle themes from Final Fantasy games, this seems to be rather simplistic and annoying. It is based on rock music and contains none of the brilliant orchestral writing contained in the fighting themes from the two previous games.

  19. Fanfare

    For the first time since 1994, the melody following the classic Final Fantasy victory fanfare is back. It is a little less enthusiastic this time, but the simple fact that it is here at all is almost a blessing for fans.

  20. Memories of that Day

    A collection of fairly dismal snippets of the main theme.

  21. Battle 2

    The boss battle music is even less memorable than the regular battle music. It is rather disheartening that the tracks that usually mean the highest of quality in the series are placed on the back burner in terms of enthusiasm. This sounds as if the composer just decided to write something up really quick one day and never gave it a second thought.

  22. Game Over

    I seem to have heard this more while playing the game than in the last few in the series. It begins with a harpsichord solo that changes into a collection of piano arpeggios reminiscent of the classic FF Prelude.

  23. RUN!

    Uh-oh! You can only guess by the title what this track sounds like, so I don't really have to describe this one ;-).

  24. Good Night

    ...pleasant dreams... (at least this makes up for the abscence of any sort of a "sleep" track from the previous game).

  25. Crossing those Hills

    The overworld theme of Final Fantasy IX. As you may have guessed, this is actually another version of the main theme. This arrangement begins almost like a lullabye, but soon sounds more like a pop song.

  26. Ice Caverns

    While the ultimate example of wonderful ambient "cold weather" music is Secret of Mana's "Prayer of the Arctic Circle," this track combines what are usually associated with frigid temperatures. It's kind of hard to describe, but you'd get the idea if you were to hear it.

  27. Frontier Village Dali

    A soothing and melodic bit of folk music.

  28. Far Away in the Twilight

    This is basically just ambience with some foreboding tremolo strings. Nothing special.

  29. Reckless Steiner

    Another irritating playing of Steiner's theme. I really don't understand this theme. It sounds as if Steiner's a complete idiot, but if you've played the game you'd know differently.

  30. Limited Time

    A *very* simplistic arrangement of Vivi's theme.

  31. Zidane's Theme

    This is the theme for the main character!? It sucks! It is full of optimism, but the horrendously dull melody all but totally fails to lend importance to the object it personifies. It's best to simply associate the main theme with both Garnet *and* Zidane and just try to forget that this track exists at all.

  32. Black Waltz

    Almost exactly like "Far Away in the Twilight," but this contains bits of Vivi's theme.

Total Time: (72:20)

Disc 2
  1. Cid's Theme

    A slow, but majestic tune for the "Regent" of Lindblum, Cid. Not really one of the better tracks, but still fairly listenable.

  2. One Problem Settled...

    This kind of reminds me of "The Spy" from FF 8, only more enjoyable. It has an enjoyable but not very catchy melody.

  3. Lindblum

    This is of course the music that plays in the town of Lindblum. The beginning of this reminds me of "Optimism" from Chrono Cross, only it is slower and has a more easy-going sound.

  4. Song of Memories

    Another variation of the main theme. This time it is assisted by the lovely voice of Emiko Shiratory. This only gives the melody more credibility. It sounds very lovely.

  5. Hunter Chance

    This is another one of those "hurry" tracks that generally iritate me so much, but this is different. It happens during a certain event in Lindblum, and sounds very exciting. The odd synth effects in this are used again in the final battle music.

  6. Qu's March

    We're getting back into the silly and annoying music. This creeps along at a slow pace, but it full of loud tympani and synth voices.

  7. Quina's Theme

    Like the character Quina herself, this track absolutely does not fit with the rest of the game or soundtrack, and it puzzles me that it even should exist. It is similar to the previous track, only much louder and more grating.

  8. Aloha de Chocobo

    The first of the two chocobo tracks is played on solo acoustic guitar.

  9. Ukulele de Chocobo

    The real chocobo arrangment of the game is a light piece played by ukulele and (I think) kettle drums. This is definitely one of the more creative ideas used for the chocobos. Great track.

  10. Freya's Theme

    This is another theme that does well in accomplishing it's purpose, but you will probably forget it once it stops playing. It spotlights a harpsichord and sounds fairly dark.

  11. The South Gate Border

    A simple arrangement of the main theme for a two flutes, with one playing very low (low for a flute that is).

  12. Fairy Battle

    At random points in the game, you will enter into "battles" with creatures that will trade certain items for others. This is a somewhat silly piece, but it is listenable and well written. The beginning reminds me of the fairy music from the Zelda series.

  13. Kingdom of Burmecia

    The music that plays while you visit Freya's hometown. It is a slightly beefed up version of Freya's theme with a choir instead of harpsichord.

  14. Unforgotten Face

    Freya's theme is played again. This time by a piano accompanied by a very synthy flute.

  15. Kuja's Theme

    The theme for the main villain of the game is introduced. A piano solo hardly does the theme justice. This is reprised several times, though.

  16. The Sword of Doubt

    Nothing spiffy. Just a continuation of the previous track.

  17. Sleepless City - Treno

    A slow and enjoyable "ragtime" piano piece. Very simple but enjoyable.

  18. Tanatalus Theme

    This is the theme for the thieves that Zidane hangs out with at the beginning of the game. It sounds kind of silly, but I like it. It somehow reminds me of Berlin's "Puttin' On the Ritz."

  19. Immoral Rhythm

    Another version of Kuja's theme. This time assisted by pound percussion that sounds *extremely* similar to Queen's "We Will Rock You." Strange, eh? If you saw the character it would make more sense :-\.

  20. Garnet's Theme

    This is of course another playing of the main theme. I like this arrangement better than any others so far.

  21. Gargant Roo

    Basically just pounding piano chords accompanied by percussion. And some creative percussion at that.

  22. Cleyra's Trunk

    A collection of warbling distant strings, nothing more.

  23. Cleyra Settlement

    This town theme sounds remarkably similar to Tweety Bird's song "I'm safe in here from dat old puddy tat..."

  24. Eternal Harvest

    An Irish-inspired gigue that contains some of Mr. Uematsu's trademark harp arpeggios.

  25. Grieve for the Skies

    Slow and ambient strings in minor mode play for two and a half minutes.

  26. Extraction

    The second disc is unfortunately ended on a dull note. This is another slow ambient track that contains some more of the pounding percussion heard so much in this soundtrack.

Total Time: (71:20)

Disc 3
  1. Ambush Attack

    This is one of the better "hurry" tracks, but I could *swear* that I've heard it before. I really like the 6/4 time.

  2. Loss of Me

    I'm not really sure what this theme is meant to symbolize, but it is definitely one of the more memorable melodies from the game. One Uematsu's best, IMO. This track is not to be missed.

  3. Fossil Roo

    More ambience. Nothing really special as far as thematics go.

  4. Mountain Pass ~ Conde Petite

    Still another ambient track, but this one is a little more interesting. A like the guitar that shows up about one minute into the track.

  5. Black Mage Village

    Now this is a great track! It's an odd synth pop song with more interesting flavor than just about any track so far. It kind of reminds me of "Mystic Mysidia" from FFIV. As you may have guessed, this is based on Vivi's theme.

  6. Unfathomed Reminiscence

    One of the more classical sounding tracks. This is basically a string selection with a harpsichord as accompaniment. Rather sweet and uplifting.

  7. Ceremony for the Gods

    An oriental flavored version of Quina's theme. Still annoying as ever.

  8. Eiko's theme

    A happy tune played by guitar, ukulele and a couple woodwinds. This reminds me a lot of "Descendant of the Shinobi" from FFVII which was used as Yuffie's theme. This is a little more enjoyable though, mostly because of the improved synth engine.

  9. Ruins of Madain Sari

    This is pretty similar to "Conde Petite." Maybe a little more exiting, but I don't really like the accordion.

  10. Wall of Sacred Beasts

    This music plays curiously as the heroes discover a mysterious wall covered with ancient art. I'm not so sure I like it that well. It's just another track thrown into the mix and carries little importance.

  11. Iifa Tree

    A very scary and foreboding track. This of course plays when you visit the Iifa tree which is spewing evil mist all over the world. The team finds some very nasty secrets in here.

  12. Salamander's Theme

    A dull track with a funky bass beat. Skipable.

  13. Footsteps of Desire

    Another version of the villain, Kuja's theme. As usual, this is dark and menacing, but it lacks the heavy stomping percussion of the previous track featuring the theme.

  14. We are Theives!

    Another version of the Tantalus theme. The funny thing is that this sounds almost identical to it's other arrangements. There's little or no difference whatsoever.

  15. The Slew of Love Letters

    This plays when something interesting happens to Steiner. It has a very nice and playful sound, plus is has more of that harpsichord we've been hearing so much in this score.

  16. Quadmist

    This is simply a collection of repeating happy chords with some interesting percussion. It starts well but it really doesn't go anywhere.

  17. Moogle's Theme

    Well, as the title says, this is the Moogle theme. This has appeared in many FF scores in the past, so if you're familiar with Final Fantasy, you probably know what it sounds like. Anyway, it's a silly theme that sounds somewhat like the chocobo theme.

  18. Protecting My Devotion

    A fun track. This is the same theme that was heard in "Loss of Me," but this arrangement is far superior. It contains some of the latin flavor that was heard on disc 1.

  19. The Chosen Summoner

    This contains an odd synth choir that plays behind random pieces of the main theme played very ominously. This is interesting but not very listenable.

  20. Keeper of Time

    Garland's theme. Dark and mysterious, and played on a pipe organ. This reminds me a lot of Golbez's theme from FFIV.

  21. Oelivert

    This is the same theme that was heard all the way back on disc 1, track 1. The arrangement is similar so there's little difference between the two.

  22. A Fleeting Past

    The same theme again, this time "sung" by a synth choir.

  23. Sneaking Frog and the Scoundrel

    This is a parody of Elton John's "Crocodile Rock," which is pretty obvious when you hear it. An enjoyable track because of this fact.

  24. Sacred Grounds ~ Esto Gaza

    Who ever said that things that are supposedly "sacred" have to be accompanied by wordless choirs? I suppose it works, but it gets tiresome after a while. The pizzicato strings actually add to the vocals, making it sound pretty good.

  25. Gulug Volcano

    This is a new arrangement of the old Gurgu volcano music from the very first Final Fantasy game. This is one of the best on the soundtrack.

  26. The Heart and Melting Magic

    A sorrowful duet between a cello and harpsichord. Very entertaining.

Total Time: (71:42)

Disc 4
  1. Airship ~ Hilde Guard

    Probably the best airship theme in the series since "Searching for Friends." This is actually very similar the last airship theme "Ride On," only a little more jumpy and upbeat.

  2. Secret Library Daguerro

    A simple melody played by a solo acoustic guitar. It's such a dull instrument. I wish that he'd use something else.

  3. Ipsen's Heritage

    The theme from the title screen appears again. This time with a low men's choir in the background. This has a very ethnic sound.

  4. The Four Medallions

    Same theme. Again.

  5. Consecutive Battles

    Nothing really special here. Just a piano ostinato with some strings on top.

  6. Terra

    Very good. This track has a bit of sadness surrounding it which adds to it's purpose. You'll have to play the game to know why.

  7. Soulless Village Bran Bal

    The same as the "Terra" theme, only it sounds even more dreary and sad.

  8. Castle Frozen In Time ~ Pandemonium

    Garland's theme again. This is almost identical to "Keeper of Time."

  9. You're Not Alone!

    This is easily my favorite track of all. It's based on Garland's theme, but this time it is very hopeful and optimistic. About one minute into the track and electric guitar appears and takes over the melody, making the track even stronger. BTW, this accompanies my favorite scene in the game, which is probably why I like the track so much.

  10. Passing Sorrow

    A pretty boring track with an acoustic guitar and two flutes. Strings appear later in the track.

  11. The Rebirth of Evil Mist

    A lonely and distant piece of ambient music. It adds to the game well, but does little on it's own.

  12. Assault of the White Dragons

    A standard piece of action music. It contains bits of the various themes of the game.

  13. Place of Memory

    Dark music that has a very depressing zeal, which adds to the nostalgia that the track is clearly intended to produce. I'd have to say that the track accomplishes its goal quite well.

  14. Crystal World

    This is simply the prelude music played in a different mode. It's nice to hear it again since it wasn't in Final Fantasy VIII at all.

  15. The Dark Messenger

    This is Kuja's theme transformed into a battle track. It sounds similar to "Maybe I'm a Lion" from the previous game. It's rock with heavy 1970s influence.

  16. Final Battle

    The final battle music is also set up almost exactly as the final battle music in the previous game. I begins with a minute of quiet ambience which soon breaks out into a techno/rock action piece. This is actually probably the weakest final battle theme out of the Playstation FF trilogy. But, that doesn't mean that it's not any good. It's actually very enjoyable if you give it a chance.

  17. Bittersweet Romance

    The love theme from "Canary" finally appears again.

  18. Hidden Lips

    Nothing special, just random motives.

  19. I Want to be Your Canary

    An extended version of the previous track. Mutations of the "Canary" theme appear in the second half.

  20. Two Captured Hearts

    A gigantic arrangement of the Canary theme continues into...

  21. Towards That Gate

    More playing of the Canary theme. This time it is given a robust arrangement for a real live orchestra. The music builds to an ecstatic conclusion as the two main characters embrace.

  22. Melodies of Life ~ Final Fantasy

    The end credits begin with an ingenious pop ballad based on the main theme. Emiko Shiratori's vocals are excellent (much better than Faye Wong's), and sound much better in Japanese as opposed to the English version (heard in the U.S. version of the game). The second half of the track is and arrangement of the series main theme that sounds nearly identical to the one used in FFVIII, only with newly added orchestration. To be completely honest, I like the FF8 version of the theme better.

  23. The Prelude

    Finally! It's back! Final Fantasy VIII did not contain this classic track which really angered a lot of long time fans (including myself). This time the track comes full circle with a live (recorded) orchestral performance. FF fans couldn't ask for more!

  24. Coke Commercial (15 Second Version)

    A bombastic orchestral arrangement of the main theme for a 15 second Japanese Coke commercial.

  25. Coke Commercial (30 Second Version)

    The same, only extended by 15 seconds.

  26. Melodies of Life ~The Layers of Harmony~

    As I've mentioned, the song just doesn't have the same effect when sung in English. This track proves that very well.

Total Time: (72:07)

Final Fantasy IX is Copyright 2000 Digicube. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.