Octopath Traveler composer Yasunori Nishiki has been sharing all sorts of thoughts on the game's soundtrack since it released. He's been publishing these thoughts on the official Japanese page for the game's soundtrack. Here's a rundown of some of the content he's been sharing with fans.
On the main character themes:
“Every main character’s theme was made to be around one minute in length. Something I discussed with the Hayasaka-san, the sound director, was the theory that memorable game themes should be around one minute or so. And it was true – the old Final Fantasy character themes are all composed to be around that length. Focusing on the simple elements lead to the themes and motifs being easily remembered in a small amount of time.”
On ‘Battle 1’
“This ‘Battle 1’ theme is probably the track that players of Octopath Traveler will hear the most (even more than the main theme), meaning that this track is representative of the true face of this game. While trying to realize this game’s theme for the music, which was ‘the gorgeous audio image provided by live instruments’, as well as how to represent the musical elements present in battle themes from classic RPGs, I came to the current composition.
Although there are some brass and electric guitar parts in it, it’s only there to liven up the music, and string instruments remain as the centerpiece of the track.
The composition of the piece is like this: Intro-> A-> B –> Chorus, like how a song would be composed. I decided to compose the piece like this based on the fact that the chorus would most likely be heard thanks to various tactical elements like the Break system. With this type of composition, the chorus comes along just as the battle starts to heat up (in this game, that would be using Boost points for flashy, strong attacks), and make the player feel even more pumped up. This is why I thought this was appropriate.
On the other hand, for games where each battle is quite short, I believe that a memorable melody is a must, so it really depends on the type of game you’re making. It requires a high amount of skill.
Finally I would like to state again that ‘Battle 1’ is the face of the game, and I always think that personally, it’s one of the types of songs I find the hardest to compose.
This song was so hard to create… (cries)”
On ‘Boss Battle 1’
“I’ve composed quite a few battle tracks for Octopath Traveler, and each of them presents a different concept to each other.
Early in development for Octopath Traveler, there was a proposal regarding battle themes, where only orchestral instruments were to be used, and modern instruments such as drums and electric guitars were to be discarded. (Although we determined later on that the battle themes wouldn’t be lively enough without them, and decided to include them.)
The song I composed from during that period was this song, which is meant to sound as orchestra-like as possible no matter whether drums were included or not.
The intro to the track is composed in the classic fashion of bringing out the tension of fighting a strong opponent. Afterwards, the drums kick in, and the focus is then placed on the protagonists, with phrases that are meant to encourage them.
All the boss battles seamlessly transition in from the character intros, which plays during the events leading up to the fight, which we nicknamed “Battle Extend”. Because when you enter the battle is determined by when you advance the text, this becomes an interactive element to the music. However, this sort of interactive element isn’t uncommon nowadays, so we thought that we may as well make the lead-up as emotionally charged as possible, and I remember putting a lot of effort into this.
However, because of this, the tempo for boss battle themes had to be fixed at 164, and had to start in the G Minor key, which caused no shortage of headaches.
By the way, I wonder how many people realized how different the track is from the version in the first demo? Actually, back then the drums were synthesized, and the whole latter section of the track was missing.
You could say that people who know this bit of trivia are the true Octopath Travelers.”