1UP: “Nocturne – A Little Night Music”

“A Little Night Music: A Conversation with Shoji Meguro on the Sounds of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne”. 1UP, 24 September 2004. <http://www.1up.com/features/night-music>

A Little Night Music - Header

Shoji Meguro has been with Atlus for several years now, and had a hand in the soundtrack for many of their flagship RPGs. By his own accounting, “I’ve taken part in PersonaDevil Summoner: Soul HackersMaken XMaken Shao and Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.

“[In Nocturne,] I tried to express the emotions I felt when viewing the images in Shin Megami Tensei, as well as stay true to the concepts of Megami Tensei 1 and 2. In the dungeons, the dark atmosphere transitions to dark, but showy battle effects. In story scenes, gorgeous graphics are combined with the traditional use of subtitles. Taking all this into account, I created modulating pieces with touches of 80’s music for the sake of nostalgia.”

Tokyo Conception
Listen now! [editor’s note: link inactive, so redirected to YouTube]

Previous games were marked by a very electronic style of music, but Nocturne’s soundtrack moves toward a more orchestral sound. “I wanted the music to reflect the changes experienced by the characters as well as the shifts in gameplay, which cycles between stillness and movement. I believe it’s important for a composer to write music that emphasizes the main theme and that flows from scene to scene — not just create whatever he wants to.”

Along those lines, he offered specific insights into the creation of three of the game’s key tracks. “Tokyo Conception will be appreciated by those who enjoy baroque-style music with pipe organs. In composing it, I first captured the scene from the game on a PC. Then, using a sequencer, I directly added music to the movie. To do this, I first developed a concept, and then improvised while watching the movie. At the time, I thought to myself, if this doesn’t work, then I’m in a world of trouble. I think this process ended up being the best for this piece. It was a miracle,” he laughed.

Main Theme
Listen now! [editor’s note: ibidem]

“The main theme of Nocturne, used in the second title movie, is my favorite piece. When I was composing sample battle music during the planning stage, my fingers suddenly created this melody. It was obvious that it couldn’t be used during the battles, so we decided to include it throughout the game.”

“Finally, as for the Theme of the Leaders of Reason, Mr. Kaneda requested this song just before the game went into the mastering stage, and originally, I turned him down. But, because he looked so disappointed, I changed my mind. I think all Megami Tensei fans, Mr. Kaneda included, will like it.”

Theme of The Leaders of Reason
Listen now! [editor’s note: ibidem, not sure if this is the correct song, though]

Though he worked solo when creating those tracks, when it came time to revisit the game in its expanded Maniax form — the version that U.S. gamers will see this fall — he had some help. “We used three different composers for the game’s added components–Dante, The Labyrinth of Amala, and the new bosses. Each is unique from the others. Even longtime fans of the series will enjoy the pieces composed for the new bosses.”

Speaking on his future plans, Meguro mused that “I used to wait for the god of music to descend on me — but these days I just force him to come out, because there’s no time to be complacent.” He didn’t say exactly what his next project would be, but says that “I would like to create something original that may only be expressed through video games. I will continue to strive to produce music which makes games truly enjoyable. This is not as easy as it sounds, but I feel confident that we have established a system which will allow users to immersed in the Megami Tensei series.”