“O Fortuna”: the Use of MIDI in Final Fantasy VII

Since its inception in 1983, the MIDI file format has efficiently stored and transmitted musical data between various devices. Although its initial purpose was for controlling multiple instruments at once, MIDI has been used for a variety of methods, including musical composition, file sharing, and software synthesis. However, one of the most significant uses of MIDI, has been as a medium for video game music. In fact, many of the most well known video games of the 1980s and ‘90s heavily employed MIDI, including Final Fantasy VII, composer, Nobuo Uematsu, who designed the game’s entire soundtrack, using a Roland SC-88 synthesizer. Although the game’s soundtrack was well received, with critics especially favoring the piece “One-Winged Angel”, many stated they felt the MIDI sound weakened the overall quality of the track.  This suggested that MIDI’s characteristic lack of soundstage, clarity, and inarticulate or ‘fuzzy’ timbre detracted from the realistic atmosphere of the game.