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The Black Mages III – “Darkness and Starlight” (Nobuo Uematsu)

November 8, 2009

Today is my friend’s wedding in Boston, and so I wanted today’s Daily to be a classic love song. This is ‘Darkness and Starlight”, an arrangement of the wedding opera from Final Fantasy VI, “Aria di Mezzo Carattere”. This version is from The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight (2008). The song is also known as “The Dream Oath.” This is an amazing rock ballad with real opera singers and a giant organ that one reviewer compares with Vivaldi. Congratulations, Tiffany and Derek! May your years be long and full of happiness!

The Black Mages III: Darkness and Starlight – “Darkness and Starlight” (Nobuo Uematsu)

“Darkness and Starlight” is about the true love between Draco, a knight who fights for the Western Army, and Maria, a princess who has been betrothed to the leader of the Eastern Army, Ralse (another East Side/West Side story?). Draco’s army is routed in battle, and so he cannot win her in the field and must steal her by crashing the wedding. In the end, Ralse is killed in the duel, and while Maria is sad to see him die, she is glad to finally be with Draco. In the game, however, the finale never quite occurs due to an interruption in the opera. You can check out the lyrics here. You can find the Japanese lyrics here.

“Aria de Mezzo Carratere” was pretty unique for vgm at the time (1994). It was a complete mini-opera that was composed using the limitations of the Super Nintendo sound chip. The vocals in the original were played by strong square waves, so the music sounded like “OOOH-AAAH-III-AAAAH!” (Subtitles were placed at the bottom of the screen). It’s actually quite amazing what Nobuo Uematsu was able to pull out of the sound chip. What is also fun is that the player has to ‘memorize’ lines from the script by selecting them from a list when it’s time to say them. If the player chooses wrong, she gets booed out of the opera house.

The song includes the tracks “Overture”, “Aria”, “Wedding/Duel”, “Finale”, and “Epilogue”. Interestingly, there was no Epilogue in the actual game – the wedding gets interrupted in the middle of the fight scene by a real fight scene between the player’s team and a giant squid (!).

Other albums contain “Aria di Mezzo Caraterre”/”Darkness and Starlight”/”The Dream Oath”, including Distant Worlds and Tour de Japon, in which a slightly shorter version of the song is played and the Game Music Concert 4, which has the longest version at over 21 minutes.

The Game Music Concert albums (otherwise known as ‘Orchestral Game Concert’ or OGC) are legendary orchestral albums of vgm played by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. There were five made in the series, covering everything from Mario to obscure Japanese RPGs, and are highly sought after as collector’s items.

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