Final Fantasy I – “Fanfare” (Nobuo Uematsu)October 4, 2010
And now for one of the most classic Final Fantasy themes, “Fanfare”, the victory fanfare. This theme has appeared in some form or other through every single game in the series – except Final Fantasy XIII, which used a completely new victory fanfare (and as such was an even more extreme departure from the rest of the series). In fact, the “Fanfare” jingle even appeared in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children as a ringtone! The victory “Fanfare” made its first appearance in Final Fantasy I, so for the star of this 8-bit Monday, we showcase that version! However, the video below contains every single version (XII-XIV are poor rips).
The “Fanfare” to Final Fantasy I is my favorite in the series and also the best version on the NES. The track begins with a brief trumpet flare which begins with a flourish from 0 decibels to max that allows it to cut suddenly from an interruption at any point in the battle music. (Actually, in the original version, it sounds more like a cross between a piano and bells for that perfect, shiny victory). This jingle has played in every single game in the series save XIII and is heard at the end of every battle, making it THE most recognizable piece of Final Fantasy music.
Next comes the actual fanfare section, which plays as the game tallies up the experience points and items collected. The trumpets give the player a nice pat on the back while in the background, the bass (which in later versions has a nice little flute twirl) lets the player know they are looting the bodies and counting up the prizes. The simplicity of the theme made the track extremely memorable, and its appearance at the end of every battle creates a Pavlovian sense of victory and happiness in the heart of every fan who hears it outside of the game. You also have to enjoy the silly victory arm-waving that occurred during this sequence.
For some notable changes over the years, Final Fantasy II’s rendition (0:39) sounds a little tremulous, with more timbre on the square wave, while III (1:18) added a meaty drum for a kind of trance rendition. IV is a straight-up adaptation of the original, complete with a nice snare while V added a flute section that sounds more like glittering treasure. VI feels more like III with a plodding drumset and is sadly a little inferior to the rest of the soundtrack. VII was the first to add a completely new fanfare section, and while the series went back to the traditional composition for IX, I dislike any of the themes created after VII, though I do admit IX has a nice medieval festival feel to it. XII (9:10) would be awesome with its epic orchestration…but why did they cut out some of the notes?