Back in 1997 when the original Final Fantasy VII released on the Sony PlayStation, there was already talk of a PC version to follow. One of the curiosities regarding the PC version though is how it handled the epic soundtrack.
The MIDI format for music has been around for decades, however Yamaha took the format further by extending the capabilities and creating the XG MIDI variation. This provided far more powerful control of the effects, while also expanding the number of standard voices that were available from 128 to 676.
The XG Format is a music-source format for electronic musical instruments advocated by Yamaha. It is a format in step with the multimedia age, specifically developed to handle data exchange, offer rich reproduction, and be compatible with computers, with a high degree of compatibility with General MIDI. It is characterized by a voice arrangement geared toward expandability, a wide range of voices, voice correction, a variety of effects, and external input compatibility.Yamaha press release
Final Fantasy VII took advantage of the format specifically for the PC version, creating a unique sounding yet still capturing the fondness we all had for the original PlayStation release. Yamaha licensed its music S-YXG70 soft synthesizer to Square Soft so it could be bundled with the game, ensuring the music tracks could always sound at their best without the need for additional hardware.
I own a Yamaha MU50 XG Tone Generator, so playing the MIDI XG format music through the traditional hardware of the day is a fun and pleasing experience for the ears, and I wanted to share this with you all. So, I have captured three of the tracks from the game soundtrack for you to enjoy on YouTube – so you can see the Yamaha MU50 reacting to the XG MIDI information and playing back the music from its own inbuilt instrument voices.
If you would like to hear more, let me know in the comments below which tracks are your favourites so I can consider them for a second part to this article.