"Sulyya Springs" - Final Fantasy XIII
For those curious as to why this is my favorite song (and are braced for some personal emotionality), click below.
As you may have guessed, my iTunes library is jammed full with video game songs. However, this particular song is far and above the most played in my collection (with 1832 plays and rising, as I write this). It relies heavily on piano and ambient synthesized sounds. There's a steady drum beat that grows and fades, like the ebb and flow of the water in the spring. Despite the drum beat, though, the melody is played legato and is accompanied by many sustained, complicated chords. Sulyya Springs is a sort of resting place for the characters of the game before they continue their search for the city of Oerba. Almost everything about the song is ambient, from the melody to the harmony to the lyrics (which are in English, but processed to make the sound seem more nebulous. Of course, it's also sung by a Japanese lady who may or may not have the most reliable English skills). It's a sound that embraces your hearing, filling your mind to the brim with what it has to offer.
I feel like one of the most important reasons why video game music is so powerful is that it can be deeply rooted in memory; this applies not only to the memory of the game you're playing but also to the events going on in your life at the time of playing the game. All of the music in Final Fantasy XIII is beautiful, but this particular song really stuck with me. I remember that it made me cry the first time I heard it, and I still listen to it whenever I'm feeling down to remind myself of the beauty in the world. In addition, Final Fantasy XIII was the last game that my father tried to follow the storyline for as I played it. It had been quite a while since he'd shown such an interest in a game's story, and it made me really happy that he was so intrigued by what was happening. He'd miss bits and pieces of the story while he was at work, and when he came home he asked to be filled in on what was going on. The game has a lot of technical language and a pretty twisty plot, so my sister and I had fun explaining why the main characters were running from the law or what those lumbering, zombie-like monsters were. It was the first thing we had shared for a very long time.
Recently, life has been a little harder than usual. Things at home are stressful, things with relationships are even more so and oftentimes morale-crushing, work is difficult, and the plans for my future are still an inchoate mess. It's at times like these when I'm thankful for the beauty of music and the escape that it creates from reality. Here, in this score, is where I pour my fears, doubts, and sorrows about what I may be dealing with at the time. This song is a friend of mine, and I'll always appreciate its company.
If you have any video game songs that are important to you, I'd love to hear them. Just comment below.