Kumi Tanioka in 2007
August 29, 1974 |
Nintendo of Europe
|Associated acts||The Star Onions|
Kumi Tanioka was born in Hiroshima, Japan. She studied music and composition while in school and enjoyed listening to video game music as her younger brother was a gamer. Among the composers she grew familiar with were Square employees Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito. Her favorite classical composers at the time were Piotr Paleczny and Hiromi Uehara. Tanioka attended Kobe University, where she studied music and joined a choir. Although she had planned on performing music as a career, during college she became more interested in composing than performance, and in video game composition because of her childhood experiences. After graduating, she joined Square (now Square Enix) as a composer in 1998.
Her first score was the soundtrack to 1998's The Fallen Angels, which she composed with Masaki Izutani. That same year, she composed her first soundtrack to a game in the Chocobo series, Chocobo's Dungeon 2, with Yasuhiro Kawakami, Tsuyoshi Sekito and Kenji Ito. Her second work in the series was also her first solo soundtrack, that of Dice de Chocobo, a video game adaption of a board game. She composed for two other projects over the next two years, All Star Pro-Wrestling with Tsuyoshi Sekito and Kenichiro Fukui and Blue Wing Blitz by herself. Her first major composing role was in 2002, when she was one of three composers chosen to write the soundtrack to Final Fantasy XI. Although she did not contribute more than one song to the multiple expansions to the game, during this period she joined The Star Onions, a band made of Square Enix composers that arranges and performs Final Fantasy XI music. The group has released two albums to date.
After Final Fantasy XI, Tanioka returned to the Chocobo series to arrange her Dice de Chocobo soundtrack for the game's remake, Chocobo Land: A Game of Dice. After that, however, she composed what would become her signature soundtrack and the start of a continual series of games, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Although she would then go on to write the soundtracks to Code Age Commanders: Tsugu Mono Tsuga Reru Mono, Code Age Brawls and Project Sylpheed, since 2007 she has worked only on the Crystal Chronicles series, composing the music for four titles from the game's five sequels and spinoffs. On February 28, 2010 Tanioka announced her departure from Square Enix since having the dissolution of their sound production team; she joined the composer's group GE-ON-DAN with many other Square Enix composers like Junya Nakano. In 2011, she became one of the founding members of Ringmasters, a non-exclusive group of artists and composers.
Unlike the soundtracks to the numbered Final Fantasy games, no songs from the Crystal Chronicles or Chocobo soundtracks have appeared in any compilation albums produced by Square Enix. Songs from the two series have also not appeared in any of the official Final Fantasy music concerts, although "Morning Sky" from the Crystal Chronicles soundtrack was played in the first Games in Concert performance in Utrecht, Netherlands on November 26, 2006. It was performed by Floor Jansen of the band After Forever and the Metropole Orchestra.
Musical style and influences
Kumi Tanioka's signature style, especially for the Crystal Chronicles games, is that of "world music". She has described the musical style for the soundtrack to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles as being based on "ancient instruments". The soundtrack has extensive use of many medieval and renaissance musical instruments like the recorder, the crumhorn and the lute, creating a distinctively rustic feel, and also follows the practices and styles of medieval music. She says the idea came to her while looking at illustrations of the game world, which gave her the idea of making "world music", where the tracks would "not [be] limited to a single country or culture". For the soundtrack to Ring of Fates, Tanioka tried to focus on "creating a new landscape containing the same atmosphere". She returned to using instruments in an "ethnic manner" again in composing the soundtrack for Echoes of Time. The piano performances in the Ring of Fates soundtrack were done by Kumi Tanioka. She did the performances herself rather than use an outside performer as most Final Fantasy soundtracks have done primarily because she "likes to play piano", and they were done without any sheet music, as she preferred instead to improvise. She took extensive piano lessons as a child, and lists piano and choral music as the biggest influences on her musical style. She also claims to have been influenced by music from a wide variety of cultures, like Indonesian, Irish and Balinese music.
- Chocobo's Dungeon 2 (1998) – with Yasuhiro Kawakami, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and Kenji Ito
- Dice de Chocobo (1999)
- All Star Pro-Wrestling (2000) – with Tsuyoshi Sekito and Kenichiro Fukui
- Blue Wing Blitz (2001)
- Final Fantasy XI (2002) – with Nobuo Uematsu and Naoshi Mizuta
- Chocobo Land: A Game of Dice (2002)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2003) – with Hidenori Iwasaki
- Code Age Commanders: Tsugu Mono Tsuga Reru Mono (2005) – with Yasuhiro Yamanaka
- Code Age Brawls (2006)
- Project Sylpheed (2006) – with Junya Nakano, Kenichiro Fukui, Takahiro Nishi, and Keigo Ozaki
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (2007)
- Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon (2008) - with Naoshi Mizuta, Junya Nakano, Masashi Hamauzu, Kenji Ito, Ai Kawashima, and Yuzo Takahashi
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (2008)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (2009)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord (2009)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (2009) - with Hidenori Iwasaki and Ryo Yamazaki
- Mario Sports Mix (2010) - with Masayoshi Soken
- Ragnarok Odyssey (2012)
- MA.YU.MO.RI (2013)
- Music of the Chocobo series
- Music of Final Fantasy XI
- Music of the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series
- Diago, Gee (September 2011). "Interview with Kumi Tanioka". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
- "インタビュー『ファイナルファンタジー・クリスタルクロニクル リング・オブ・フェイト オリジナル・サウンドトラック』" (in Japanese). Dengeki. October 2007. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
- Chris. "Kumi Tanioka :: Biography". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 2009-11-17.
- Chris (2010-03-01). "01 Mar 2010 - Confirmed: Kumi Tanioka Leaves Square Enix". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
- "Games in Concert" (in Dutch). Gamer.nl. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
- Space, Daniel. "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles OST". RPGFan. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- Jeriaska; Kumi, Tanioka (2008-03-29). "Interview with Kumi Tanioka". RPGFan. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
- Tanioka, Kumi. "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time liner notes". Retrieved 2009-04-21.
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