The music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has rightly gained lots of attention since the game was announced. With a team helmed by legendary JRPG composer Yasunori Mitsuda (of Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, and Chrono Cross fame), and made up of Xenoblade series veterans ACE, Kenji Hiramatsu, and Manami Kiyota, there's no doubt the music will be quality. And basically, every single trailer has confirmed that.
One of the most arresting tunes we've heard is the game's main theme — A Life Sent On. Lead by a beautiful Celtic-sounding flute, and evoking powerful emotions, this stunned us from the very first trailer it was used in. It's haunting, and despite sounding a little Celtic (a bit of a signature sound for Mitsuda), there's something very unique about it. And it turns out that it's all down to some custom-made flutes.
In an 'Ask The Developer' interview published on Nintendo's website, director and producer at Monolith Soft — Koh Kojima — revealed that it was Mitsuda's idea to create a unique flute so that the game's signature sound would be distinctive.
"Before Mitsuda-san started writing the music, he said, "Let's make flutes." I wondered why we should be making them, but Mitsuda-san said, "By making the flutes from scratch, you can create a sound that hasn't been heard before." Since we had told Mitsuda-san in advance that Takahashi-san wanted to interweave the two melodies of Noah and Mio into a single piece of music, Mitsuda-san seemed to have thought that creating the flutes from scratch would enable him to choose a scale freely and express himself more easily. Above all, he said to me that the fact that the same flutes used in the game exist in real life would be compelling and unique. It sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try."
So, of course, Monolith Soft created two unique flutes just for this piece of music. And they might look a little bit familiar if you've been keeping an eye on your Xenoblade Chronicles 3 trailers, tweets, and promotional material:
These two flutes are based on the flutes that Noah and Mio play in-game. Not only is the flute a key instrument for the game's music, but it's also an important narrative device. Played by an Off-Seer, this person uses the flute to send off the dead with a beautiful, ethereal song. So there was no other way about it — that main theme, the one that plays when Noah is first seen playing the flute in the trailer, had to be played with the same instrument by the musicians. Bravo, Monolith Soft.
It's no surprise that so much effort has gone into the music — and in our review of the game, we called the sound of the game "sensational":
- Further reading - REVIEW Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - An Epic, Emotionally-Charged Masterpiece
The two flutes also have totally different sounds to each other, too. Genki Yokota, from Nintendo Entertainment's Planning and Production Department, shared that the two flutes were specifically made to be different from one another:
"...the music is comprised of two distinct melodies, one of Noah and one of Mio. Noah’s melody is played by a larger flute with a slightly lower pitch, whereas Mio’s melody is played by a smaller flute with a slightly higher pitch."
But this is all just about one theme at the moment, isn't it? Yokota revealed that there are 140 tracks in the game — one hundred and forty. And creative director Tetsuya Takahashi felt like that wasn't quite enough! Phew.
You can read the full interview on Xenoblade Chronicles 3's music right here, where Koh Kojima also discusses the difficulties of designing the game's cast of characters.
Are you looking forward to the music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3? Sound off in the comments!
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