Resident Evil Sound Chronicle
Resident Evil Sound Chronicle (Biohazard Sound Chronicle Best Track Box)
March 9, 2005
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Resident Evil 2 Best Track Collection – Masami Ueda
Hello, I’m the lead composer of Resident Evil 2‘s music, Masami Ueda. I have many memories of working on this project. At the time, I was taking on my first job as lead composer, despite my lack of experience; I was thrilled, but I had to work diligently so as not to cave in to the pressures of such an assignment. I would go home once a week to get a change of clothes…and this went on for several months. When will this end? Maybe it will never end, I thought to myself. About the only thing I did for enjoyment was eating, and I loved going on late night trips to convenience stores with other members of the team. Thanks to those trips, I must have gained about 10 kg from when I joined the company. Right now I’m on a diet, and I still haven’t gotten back to my original weight. Well, 3 kg left to go. Got to keep at it!
I helped out on the original Resident Evil by composing a few tracks, but none of that game’s music made much of an impression on me at the time. I found all of it hard to understand, and unsatisfying to listen to as music. Looking back, I feel that perhaps it was the exact right way for horror music to be.
Even though Resident Evil 2 is called a survival horror game, it has a strong action game flavor, with a feel closer to a blockbuster than a B-grade horror movie. That flavor comes out in the music as well. I wanted to combine those two sides, blockbuster and horror, and create a unique sound for this game. By now it’s actually quite a familiar technique, but combining synth and orchestral sounds was something quite new in game music of the time. So the score ended up being quite different from the first game’s. Listening to it now, it seems a little rough around the edges, but I am still satisfied with the sound that we created for Resident Evil 2.
Of all the games in the Resident Evil series, this one is my favorite. I love the tension in the escape scene at the end, and I remember loading it up and playing through it over and over. I hope that this CD brings back all of your nostalgic memories as well.
Resident Evil 3 -Nemesis- Best Track Collection – Masami Ueda
Hello, I’m the lead composer of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis‘ music, Masami Ueda. I’ve written a lot about the various troubles that occurred during Resident Evil 2, but the composition on this game, by contrast, went rather smoothly. Although it goes entirely without saying that I was able to follow the track laid down in Resident Evil 2, I still struggled at the beginning.
In this game, you are constantly pursued by the Nemesis. I spent a good deal of effort trying to figure out what kind of music would fit this character. For Resident Evil 2, I created a theme known as the “G Theme” that was used in scenes related to the G-virus mutants. I thought that it worked out well, but it was a very dramatic gesture. The music in the series couldn’t help but get more showy as they both evolved, but I wanted to keep it from becoming too melodic. While trying out various ideas, it suddenly came to me: a theme doesn’t need to be a melody. And thus, the various tracks that became the backbone of the Nemesis’s music were born. Most of the Nemesis music uses the same instruments and a rhythmic theme, and revolves around those elements.
As for the other music, I emphasized the atmosphere of the locations the main character visited, letting the music give color to the setting. Compared with the music for the Nemesis, it has a separate feel more like quiet movie music.
Even though Jill was the protagonist for this game, I found it strangely masculine on the whole. There really aren’t many other female characters, and I feel that the director, the action game-loving [Kazuhiro] Aoyama, put a lot of his own personality into the game. I think this comes out in the music as well. Either way, I think that masculine, very game-like action feel was what made Resident Evil 3: Nemesis different from the others. Whether barely escaping the punch of the Nemesis himself, scoring a combo through oil drums, or recalling the atmosphere of the bonus game, it’s all reflected in the character of the music. If your copy of the game is tucked away in a drawer somewhere, I hope this music allows you to experience those times when you gripped the controller in fear once again.
Resident Evil -Code: Veronica X- Best Track Collection – Takeshi Miura
Hello everyone. I was the primary composer for Resident Evil Code: Veronica X‘s music, Takeshi Miura. I was asked to write liner notes for this collection commemorating the release of Resident Evil 4, and I’m very grateful for this chance to say a few things. It’s already been five years and my memory is a bit fuzzy on some things, but like a zombie, they follow me around anyway (laughs).
The concept behind Code: Veronica’s music at the time was to follow Resident Evil 2‘s style with music using cinematic techniques. In terms of genre, it was based on orchestral instruments. Unlike the previous games in the series, we used a lot of folk instruments, and it follows the script a good deal more closely as well. I remember working to depict the emotions felt by Claire, Steve, Chris, Wesker, Alfred, and Alexia in the music. And that was how the first Code: Veronica, in other words, the Dreamcast version, was finished.
Afterwards, it was decided that there would be a “complete version” for both Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, and that was the beginning of hell for me (laughs). The work porting the music over to the PlayStation 2 was particularly troublesome. Overall, it spent a long time in development, so I think it ended up with a good deal of polish. It was all thanks to the staff joining together, never giving up no matter what came along and working harder to make the impossible possible, and I learned a good deal. I also think that I grew a bit on this project.
It may seem a little bit presumptuous, but I personally chose the tracks on this collection. I hope you can hear the results of the hard work the three of us composers put into this score.
Resident Evil Remake Best Track Collection – Shusaku Uchiyama
“The fear of walking there”. That was the tagline used at this game’s release, and from the beginning, fear factored heavily into our overall concept of the game. In the music as well, my primary aim was trying to find ways to instill fear into audiences.
There are many ways to express fear in music, but for this game, we decided on bringing out the horror atmosphere with music that didn’t stand out so that players would be drawn into Resident Evil’s world. In particular, the stage music was composed without any attention-grabbing melodies, and we made sure that the presence of enemies would naturally make itself felt via the sounds of footfalls and rustling clothes. It was also important that, as a remake, it needed to retain its connection to the original while bringing out some fresh elements. I found the graphics amazing, and made it my goal to ensure that the sound wouldn’t seem poor by comparison. My fear became palpable as the production progressed. So while we based this score on the original, it was given a complete overhaul to match the visuals and there were many pieces that were rewritten from scratch. Even so, I feel that people who played the first version may find themselves thinking “I think I’ve heard this somewhere before…” It might be interesting to take out the original for a comparison.
I still remember a lot of my experiences from the actual production as well. When the project first began, I believed the programmer who told me “we’ll be able to use CD streaming sound!” So I wrote all sorts of elements into the music, but a few months before the deadline, I was astounded to be told “for various reasons you’ll have to convert for the internal sound chip!” I remember struggling to rewrite pieces so that they could be crammed into a few megabytes. And that was right around the time I felt like breaking down because I’d messed up and completely wiped my hard disk.
Those are my memories of Resident Evil, but in the end I feel that the story, gameplay, graphics, sound effects, and music all came together for a great horror game experience. I hope that remembering that world of fear through this CD, you go back to play the game one more time.
Resident Evil 0 Best Track Collection – Ichiro Kohmoto
As I approached this score, I needed to decide how best to create something that matched the style of the previous games in the Resident Evil series, but still expressed the concept of a prequel. In response, we decided that the composition should focus not on the main characters, but on the villain most symbolic of the game, James Marcus. If the villain is firmly established, the main characters will stand out in contrast. So Marcus casts a shadow over the main theme and all of the music at important points.
There are three tracks that provide the key to the rest. We made sure to have elements of these in important scenes. These are: the main theme, “zero”, Marcus’s song, and the special violin techniques used in tracks relating to the leeches that Marcus controls, a focal point of the game. These kinds of special techniques are not heard very often in video game music, so they gave the game a unique quality.
For the familiar save rooms and the piano-led finale, we followed the lead of previous games in the series. You might think that the sound effects have nothing to do with the music, but in the Biohazard series, the connection between the two is very important, and the music that plays in the various locations can at times resemble sound effects more than pieces of music. Amidst a stream of sounds like instruments that don’t exist, the player’s footsteps give rhythm to the music, and in order to increase the level of tension even more, other sound effects color the music as well. To capture that illusory feeling, we used timbres in our compositions that would be effective together with the sound effects. We wanted to have the music add imperceptibly (in a good way) to the player’s feelings of fear. And we balanced the music and sound effects to create this terrifying atmosphere. When planning for this soundtrack started, I went back and played Resident Evil 0 for the first time in a while. (Man, that Mimicry Marcus is scary…)
Resident Evil 4 Best Track Collection – Misao Senbongi
The Resident Evil series underwent a complete overhaul for Resident Evil 4. “The enemies are not zombies” and it uses “an over-the-shoulder perspective”. Those are the two biggest changes. Accordingly, we took a different approach with the music and sound effects as well compared with previous games in the series. We tackled this project with an awareness of how different the music backing these unknown enemies would have to be from the slow tempo, dark music that accompanied the zombies in earlier games.
In the past, you would enter a room and music would play, signifying the presence of enemies, which emphasized the location above all, but this time the enemies themselves are more important, so the music will start up when one of them notices the player instead. At the beginning, I tried out the first town, and found the places where I thought “maybe we should add something here”, and that turned out to be my primary approach to the music. As a result, I was able to control the tension and release of each section by focusing the player’s attention on the enemies.
As usual, we were asked at the beginning to compose “with a horror feel”. But looking at the visuals, I saw the forms of enemies that looked like humans, running and attacking. And the settings were villages and forests in broad daylight. The kinds of horror music used in the rest of the series wouldn’t work here; we needed something that was neither orthodox nor modern horror music. We needed a horror music that would have some of the earthy, rooted but strange feeling of this place which has been around for so long. But what would that be?
Somehow, the first track I composed, Ganado I, struck a chord with the director, and he told me “do it like this!” I felt that I had won my first battle…but the next tracks I wrote didn’t provoke the same response. I couldn’t produce the same earthy, strange sensation as before. What wasn’t working?
After composing by trial and error, I found the connection between all of the tracks that had gotten a good reaction from the director, and it was…synth sounds? That’s what it was. For some reason the metallic, synthesized tones did the trick. That’s right, the key to an earthy horror sound was synthesizers (who’da thunk it?)! After that, the composition process went smoothly. But even then, none of us were able to predict how the director’s thoughts would keep changing from that point. (Is he out of control?) You can enjoy these changes in the soundtrack and the game itself (laughs).
Finally, they’re not included on this soundtrack, but the sounds of the wind and rain that you hear in the game’s stages to add to the atmosphere were very carefully designed. I hope you listen closely to even these subsidiary sounds as you walk through the world of Resident Evil 4. You might make some new discoveries.
Translated by Ben Schweitzer. Edited by Ben Schweitzer and Chris Greening. Please do not republish without written permission.
Posted on March 18, 2014 by Ben Schweitzer. Last modified on September 20, 2014.