Nobuo Uematsu (植松 伸夫; Uematsu Nobuo, born March 21, 1959) is a Japanese composer of video game music, and one of the most well-known, prolific, and versatile in the field. He has composed music for many games produced by Squaresoft and Square Enix, including the Final Fantasy series of role playing games, and some pieces for Chrono Trigger.
Born in Kochi City, Kochi prefecture, Japan, Uematsu began to play the piano when he was twelve years old (his greatest role model early in life was Elton John) and is a self-taught musician. After graduating from Kanagawa University, he composed music for commercials before joining Squaresoft (now Square Enix Co., Ltd.) in 1986. He went on to compose music for over thirty game titles, including the award-winning Final Fantasy series. In October 2004, Uematsu formed Smile Please Co., Ltd. and continues to compose for Square Enix along with several other companies. The style of his compositions range from stately classical-like pieces, to New Age, to hyper-percussive techno-electronica, similar in sound to some music by the band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, one of his stated influences. Uematsu is a renowned composer who has been touted as increasing the appreciation and awareness of video game music. A prime example is the Final Fantasy VIII theme song, "Eyes on Me", composed and produced by Uematsu. The theme song featured Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong and sold a record 400,000 copies. It then went on to win "Song of the Year (Western Music)" at the 14th Annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1999 — the first time music from a video game won the honor.
The music from the game series has grown to such renown, Nobuo Uematsu was named as one of the "Innovators" in Time Magazine's "Time 100: The Next Wave — Music" feature. Uematsu's approach to Final Fantasy music is diverse, encompassing many styles. This diversity along with the popularity of the music has resulted in a variety of musical performances including classical symphonies, rock and acoustic. After a string of successful concert performances in Japan including a six-city, seven-show concert series titled "Tour de Japon –music from FINAL FANTASY–," the first stateside concert, "DEAR FRIENDS -music from FINAL FANTASY-," followed May 10, 2004 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California selling out in three days. The performance featured music from world-renowned Final Fantasy video game series, performed by the acclaimed Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and conducted by Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra director Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Due to the positive reception for this performance and clamor from fans for more, a concert series for North America was to follow.
In 2003 Uematsu expanded his horizons yet again when he formed The Black Mages, and released an album of specially arranged versions of his classic Final Fantasy pieces. The Black Mages, in which Uematsu himself played keyboards, are a group of technically accomplished rock musicians who reinterpreted and expanded on the original compositions found in the series. In the same year, for the first time ever his music from Final Fantasy was performed in a Symphonic Game Music Concert outside of Japan. It took place as the official opening ceremony of Europe's biggest trading fair for video games, the GC Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany. Another concert featuring Final Fantasy music took place one year later in Leipzig, Germany again.
While he is best known for his work in video games, Uematsu's work spans a wide-range of outlets. Some of those works include composing the theme song for the anime film "Oh My Goddess!" and writing music for top Japanese vocalists such as Emiko Shiratori and Rikki.
Uematsu has written a column, "Nobuo Uematsu no Minna Sounano?", for popular Japanese gaming magazine Weekly Famitsu for several years. Two compilations of the columns have been released. Additionally, Uematsu signed to finish the Chrono Trigger soundtrack after his friend, Yasunori Mitsuda, contracted stomach ulcers.
Uematsu's music has been a large part of the Final Fantasy franchise's great popularity in the United Kingdom and the United States. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, the United States synchronized swimming duet of Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova won the bronze medal using two of his pieces from Final Fantasy VIII in the second half of their routine.
As of 2004, Nobuo Uematsu lives in Japan with his wife Reiko and his dog Pao.
In early 2005, Nobuo's rock band, The Black Mages, released its second album titled Black Mages II: The Skies Above. Arrangements included Final Fantasy VIII's "The Man with the Machine Gun" and Final Fantasy X's "The Skies Above".
His company, Smile Please, will compose music for various video game companies, including Square Enix and Mist Walker.
During 2005, he toured the United States with his concert Dear Friends: Music From Final Fantasy.
As of 2006, his music from Final Fantasy was presented in a concert entitled "VOICES: Music from Final Fantasy" that took place on February 18th at the Pacifico Yokohama Conference and convention centre. Star guests included Emiko Shiratori, Rikki, Izumi Masuda and Angela Aki. The concert focused on the vocal songs from the Final Fantasy series and was conducted by the American Arnie Roth. At this concert, Nobuo Uematsu confirmed his participation with PLAY! A Video Game Symphony, a North American video-game music concert he wrote the official opening fanfare for. PLAY! is a world-tour featuring video game music, including Final Fantasy. Uematsu, along with long-time friend Yasunori Mitsuda and other composers such as Koji Kondo, Akira Yamaoka, and Yuzo Koshiro, was in attendance at the world-premiere of PLAY! A Video Game Symphony in Chicago on May 27, 2006, and the European debut in Stockholm on June 14, 2006. He was also in attendance at an autograph signing at Tower Records in Chicago the day before the Play! premiere along with Arnie Roth and Angela Aki. His music from the upcoming Mist Walker game Blue Dragon was performed, as well.
He composed the main theme for the upcoming Nintendo Wii game being directed by Masahiro Sakurai, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Though Uematsu has officially only been contracted to write one song, he has stated he would "definitely love to do more" if he was asked.
Final Fantasy XI tracks composed
- Sometime, Somewhere
- Despair (Memoro de la Ŝtono)
- Repression (Memoro de la Ŝtono)
- Dash de Chocobo - with Naoshi Mizuta
- First Ode: Nocturne of the Gods - with Naoshi Mizuta
- Second Ode: Distant Promises - with Naoshi Mizuta
- Third Ode: Memoro de la Ŝtono - with Naoshi Mizuta
- Distant Worlds - with Naoshi Mizuta and Izumi Masuda
Video game soundtracks
This is a list of games for which Nobuo Uematsu has composed music; this is not a list of soundtracks released on CD.
- Genesis (1985)
- Cruise Chaser Blassty (1986)
- Alpha (1986)
- Crystal Dragon (1986)
- King's Knight Special (1986)
- King's Knight (1986)
- Aliens (1987)
- 3-D WorldRunner (1987)
- JJ (1987)
- Apple Town Story (1987)
- Cleopatra no Mahou (1987)
- Rad Racer (1987)
- Final Fantasy (1987)
- Nakayama Miho no Tokitoki High School
- Hanjuku Hero
- Final Fantasy II (1988) — Rescored by Tsuyoshi Sekito on the Wonderswan Color and PlayStation versions (2000, 2002)
- Makaitoushi SaGa (a.k.a. Final Fantasy Legend) (1989)
- Square's Tom Sawyer (1989)
- Final Fantasy III (1990)
- SaGa 2 Hihou Densetsu (a.k.a. Final Fantasy Legend 2) (1991)
- Final Fantasy IV (1991)
- Final Fantasy V (1992)
- Romancing SaGa 2 (1993) — With Kenji Ito
- Final Fantasy VI (1994)
- Chrono Trigger (1995) — With Yasunori Mitsuda and Noriko Matsueda (also with Tsuyoshi Sekito for PlayStation version)
- DynamiTracer (1995)
- Front Mission: Gun Hazard (1996) — With Yasunori Mitsuda, Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano
- Final Fantasy VII (1997)
- Final Fantasy VIII (1999)
- Final Fantasy IX (2000)
- Final Fantasy X (2001) — With Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano
- Hanjuku Hero Vs. 3D (2002)
- Final Fantasy XI (2002/2003) — With Naoshi Mizuta and Kumi Tanioka
- Hanjuku Hero 4 (2005) — With Kenichiro Fukui, Hirosato Noda, Tsuyoshi Sekito, Naoshi Mizuta, Kenichi Mikoshiba, Ai Yamashita and Kenji Ito
- Final Fantasy XII (2006) — With Hitoshi Sakimoto
- Blue Dragon (2006)
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2007)
- Lost Odyssey (2008)
- Cry On (TBD)
- Final Fantasy XIII (TBD) — With Masashi Hamauzu
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996) — Music from Final Fantasy IV arranged by Yoko Shimomura
- Ehrgeiz (1998) — Music from Final Fantasy VII arranged by Takayuki Nakamura
- Kingdom Hearts (2002) — Music from Final Fantasy VII arranged by Yoko Shimomura
- Kingdom Hearts II (2005) - Music from Final Fantasy VII arranged by Yoko Shimomura
- Final Fantasy: Pray (1994) — with Risa Ohki
- Final Fantasy: Love Will Grow (1995) — with Risa Ohki and Ikuko Noguchi
- 20020220 music from FINAL FANTASY (2002)
- Over the Fantasy — with Kana Ueda
- The Black Mages (2003)
- The Black Mages II - The Skies Above (2004)
- The Black Mages III - Darkness and Starlight (2008)
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
- Nobuo Uematsu's official Japanese website
- Nobuo Uematsu's official English website
- Smile Please Co., Ltd. official Japanese website
- Unofficial Nobuo Uematsu website
- SquareSound Biography of Nobuo Uematsu
- Composer profile at OverClocked ReMix
- Final Fantasy Music Online Mini-Biography about Nobuo Uematsu
- Nobuo Uematsu on Wikipedia