Hitoshi Sakimoto (with translator Eriko) is here to answer your questions for a couple of hours (starting around 6pm PDT), so ask away!

Sakimoto is the creative force behind dozens of breathtaking soundtracks and arrangements for some of the most well-loved RPG/strategy games of the last two decades.

His credits include: Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII, Valkyria Chronicles, Vagrant Story, Tactics Ogre, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Odin Sphere and more....

His work is currently being featured in the Humble Music Bundle - You can pay-what-you-want for Best of the Valkyria Chronicles and albums from Christopher Tin, They Might Be Giants, OK Go, Jonathan Coulton, and MC Frontalot!

Proof: Humble Bundle's twitter and Sakimoto's twitter.

EDIT: "Thanks for all the questions on Reddit guys! Sorry for not being able to answer them all. Hopefully next time I can do something like this again."

Comments: 483 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

IFightForTheLosers146 karma

You're a superb artist with a style so distinct I can usually recognize your work any time I hear it! The soundtrack for Vagrant Story is still my favorite soundtrack of all time, so I'd like some insight into your work.

  1. What is your process when you start a new soundtrack?

  2. Did you have a favorite collaboration? If so, what did you enjoy so much about it?

  3. Your soundtracks are very orchestral, have you been influenced by any classical artist in particular?


Hitoshi_Sakimoto173 karma

1 - Usually, the director and I talk about any game material available at the time. We discuss things like story, characters and their background (even if some aspects may not be in the final game), time setting etc...

Then after those at length conversations, I would start with the theme song for the whole game. That theme song needs to encompass all the character and story background that the director and I talked about.

2 - All collaborations I have had were fun in their own way. It's always a great experience to work with people in this industry!

3 - I really enjoy Gustav Holst and Sergei Prokofiev's works.

websurfer09121 karma

I'm sure that many people here will say it, but I'll say it anyways: I really love your compositions. They're just amazing! Vagrant Story's music is something that I'll never forget.

I was wondering, I know that most (if not all) musicians have somebody else that they look up to for inspiration or admire, whether it be for their talent or style or whatnot. Who do you look to? Who is the most influential person in shaping your career?

And on that note, who is your "hero"? Who do look up to for your everyday life, not just your career?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto144 karma

The people who most inspired me musically was the YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

And if I have to chose a 'hero', i suppose it would be Steve Jobs. (sorry for such a predictable response lol...)

[deleted]80 karma

How did you get into the business of composing for video games?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto134 karma

Back when I was a student, a was creating games (not only creating the music, but also doing things like the programming).

And as time went on, I would receive contracted jobs which eventually shifted my role towards music and sounds.

RapistBurger76 karma

How long did it take to produce the music in FF TActics?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto119 karma

Well, I had been involved with the game for over a year... But in terms of actually producing the music itself, everything was made in around 1 month!

markrubianes62 karma

Sakimoto san,

Have you ever recieved classical training, or did you learn everything you know yourself?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto138 karma

Formally, I received no training. I actually learned music through experience (that is, learning while I composed)...

However I would always try to do anything I can to learn the skill of music.. I would buy many books, analyse sheet music scores etc... so i could develop and understand the basics.

Developing the basics was just for my own practice though (I wouldn't release anything like that publicly). But in the end, I try to express my own interpretation of what the game is.

I also had lots of friends who were music teachers, which taught me a lot as well.

1337haXXor59 karma

How do you feel that the move from chiptunes of earlier games (Treasure Hunter G) to full orchestration (FF XII, etc.) affected your composition? What was your preferred time of composition?

Also, just wanted to say I LOVE Hemoglobin 40.2, from 2197. :)

Hitoshi_Sakimoto89 karma


During the days of chiptunes, I always tried to do my best to express my music within the limitations of the sound hardware.

Nowadays, maintaining my expression of my music is still important, but at least there no restraints in terms of technical limitations.

liquidaria50 karma

Do you prefer to have knowledge of the game (story, characters and so on) before you begin work or do you prefer to start with a blank slate?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto79 karma

Of course! Information about the game in necessary... It's the only clue I have in the beginning of the process.

p_san43 karma

Hi Sakimoto-san, huge fan here! How did you get into music? Are there any suggestions you’d make to someone who’s interested in learning composition?

p_san49 karma

翻訳: 崎元仁さん、はじめまして、大ファンです! どうやって音楽に興味を持つようになった? 楽曲を習いたい方にアドヴァイスがありますか?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto79 karma

音楽に興味を持った理由は・・・・、わかりません。w そういう生き物だったようです。 私自身は若干の演奏のトレーニングしか受けていませんので、作曲は学んでいませんが、 勉強をしていてもしていなくても、とにかく曲を沢山書く事が重要だと思います。 できれば楽しんで!

bernardobri34 karma

I'm very fond of your works on Tactics Ogre, Vagrant Story and Valkyria Chronicles. What's your favorite setting (medieval, fantasy, military, etc) that you have worked composing, and which one would you like to work in the future that you haven't worked yet?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto75 karma

Personally, I'm big Sci-fi fan.

I've done sci-fi games in the past, but it would be great to work on more projects that have a sci-fi setting.

Nypholis32 karma

You are amazing. As a firm believer that the soundtrack can either make or break a game, I must say I absolutely love your work.

My question is less geared towards your composer side, but rather as an overall gamer. Do you have a favorite game to play, one that you could sit down and play time and time again? If so, what is it? If not, would you be able to narrow it down to a genre, or era?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto78 karma

I entered the industry because i love games, and used to play many, many games.

But these days, unfortunately I simply don't have the time to play the games that I want :-(

As a gamer, I like the typical games out there... But especially, I like games where you cant immediately figure out 'why' they're fun, but you just have to try it for yourself and it will grow on you.

Some examples that spring to mind are 'Flower' and 'Left 4 Dead 2'.

spacecowgoesmoo31 karma

  1. What are your favorite chords and compositional tricks that you use?

  2. Music reviews often comment on how beautifully complicated your harmonies are. Do you put lots of thought and consideration into each chord movement, or do you just jam at the piano and write down what sounds good?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto73 karma

2 - My sempai told me 'you should complete the entire composition in one go'... but I haven't done that very often.

So for each song, I just try to come up with different ideas. Then at the end I'll choose which one I think is the best.

Once I choose the idea, I'll play it out on the piano, and record it into a midi sequencer.

From there, I decide the structure of the song, which parts go where.

anorchism29 karma

So are you more of a high five giver, or a fist bumper?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto75 karma

I'm a fist bumper.. maybe cause i'm a Tekken kinda guy? lol...


Forcen28 karma

Who is your favorite video game composer?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto58 karma

I really enjoy Johan Skugge and Jukka Rintamaki (BattleField 3)

kaelan_23 karma

Big fan of your work - been playing through Valkyria Chronicles 2 the past couple days so I've had lots of opportunities to enjoy your music recently :)

In my opinion you have a very distinctive style - you're one of the composers currently working in video games whose work is easy to recognize when hearing it, regardless of the particular game in question. Is this something that comes naturally to you, or do you invest a lot of energy into maintaining a particular style or fingerprint across your work?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto43 karma

Of course musical and personal technique is necessary for a composer... But I think it's even more important to have an individual style which you can call your own.

I try to create my music as uniquely as possible (within the reasons that the industry allows).

It might not always go well... but if the music ends up being only average, I always try to think of a new approach which would be unique to my style. I must always believe I can find a solution!

remeard22 karma

1) How were you contacted for the Humble Music Bundle? Was there any major loopholes you had to jump through to get on board?

2) Are there any video games or movies that you wish you had the opportunity to work on? If so, which

Hitoshi_Sakimoto42 karma

1 - When Christopher Tin was making the 'Calling All Dawns' album, he contacted my company (Basiscape) on some choices for vocalists. I had worked with 'Lia' on an album before, and recommended her for the job. It turned out to be a great collaboration.

Even after talking with him through emails, I was too busy to make it to their recording (I did get my assistant to send lunch over to them though lol...) One day I hope I can meet Chris face to face!

Anyway, later on Chris emailed me about the Humble Music Bundle and asked if I could join it. There were some things we had to sort out (like copyright clearance) but in the end it looks like it has been a really successful promotion with many talented artists.

masterlobo16 karma

First of all, thank you for doing this AMA. Secondly, I love your work on FFT and FF12.

  1. What is the creative process behind 'area' songs? For example, how did you imagine composing Phon Coast for a beach setting.

  2. How much freedom did you have when making OSTs for FFT and FF12, considering they come from a strong franchise known, in part, for their awesome music.

  3. What music do you like outside of Video Game music?

  4. Would you leave an important proyect if they make you 'sell out'?

  5. Phon Coast is an AWESOME song!

Thank you for your time!

Hitoshi_Sakimoto30 karma

2 - The most important thing for me when making the music for those games was to match the music with all the different scenes in the game.

The musical transition between scenes was also important, as well as sticking to the 'instrumental style' which was decided early on in the game's planning.

And I try to make each scene memorable in it's own way. Either by using a specific instrument or musical technique etc...

Other than the above, I actually had a lot of freedom to do what I wanted.

3 - I like listening to jazz fusion as well as techno music.

Wopsy14 karma

Which video game song has brought you to tears? I can think of a few, but it is usually in the context of the video game.

Also, do you ever play video games that have been composed by all-time greats, such as Uematsu, to see how they obtained the inspiration to write what they did?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto46 karma

I'll admit that recently i watched the trailer for 'Dead Island', and it made me cry.. The music was good too.

DelusionalZ11 karma

Hello Mr Sakimoto,

First of all, I would like to say that I have always loved your music. As a composer myself I find your musical style to be diverse and inspirational.

I have a few questions though, and I'm sure others have asked these as well:

  • Where do you find inspiration for your music, and what is your creative process for developing a soundtrack?

  • What soundtrack was the most fun/satisfying to develop in your career?

  • Are you or BasisSCAPE working on any current projects that you are permitted to speak of?

  • A question from a friend of mine: "have you ever considered, or been asked to collaborate with other equally big names such as Shoji Meguro, Masashi Hamauzu, or Junya Nakano?"

  • Do you think you will return to the style of Breath of Fire V at some point with a future soundtrack? This was by far one of my most favourite soundtracks from you; the industrial style was beautiful!

Thank you!

EDIT: Some additional questions;

  • What modern artists inspire you?

  • What do you love the most about creating music?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto22 karma

Regarding the BoF5 question, I enjoy writing that style of music. It would really be nice if I get the chance to write for something like this again!

[deleted]10 karma

May I just say, you are in my top five favorite composers. Your style is beautiful, and I know almost your whole catalogue. My question from one composer to the other is how do you create such memorable melodies? And how do you choose which chords to complement them? I hope one day to be as great as you. This is my soundcloud, have a listen!


Hitoshi_Sakimoto13 karma

Thanks for the kind words!

I think all composers focus on the melody the most.

Perhaps i can't explain this well.. but really I just wait until the idea for the melody comes to me.

WorldOneWon4 karma

I apologize if anyone has asked questions already, but I am not going through so many comments to see if my questions have been answered

  1. What was it like working with people like Nobou Uematsu?

  2. When creating music, which "area" do you like working on the most? That is, do you find yourself enjoying making Main themes, Battle themes, World map themes, character themes, city themes....etc?

  3. Do you find yourself getting lost in your art? As in, you see what you need to create music for, and imagine how the composition will play out?

  4. What is your all-time favorite piece you created, and what is your all-time favorite videogame piece?

Hitoshi_Sakimoto16 karma

3 - Sometimes i get caught up in the director's limitations, so I need to concentrate on something specific which fits the director's vision and move on from there...

4 - I always say i like my newest piece the most. In terms of a game, i have to to say that Half Life really left an impression on me, and I love the music of Half Life 2 as well...