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Final Fantasy's Iconic 'Prelude' Track Was A Late Addition That Took 5 Minutes To Write

There isn't much to say about the "Prelude" of "Final Fantasy" that hasn't already been said: This deceptively simple arpeggio is a work of understated genius that has been the soundtrack of many a childhood, and continues to be the defining musical motif of the entire franchise. By design, it's one of the first — if not the very first — pieces of music you hear upon loading up any "Final Fantasy" game, having been incorporated into either the opening menu or new game intro theme of nearly every installment since the first (via Fandom). 


And it's not just the intro themes that the "Prelude" presides over. Its simplicity makes it an extremely versatile motif to incorporate into nearly any kind of arrangement, a fact the franchise composers have taken advantage of over and over again as it appears as a haunting accompaniment in themes like "Anxious Heart" from "FF7," a rapid-fire accent in themes like "Scale and Steel" from "FF14," and more. 

Suffice it to say, it is one of the most enduring masterpieces of the franchise, and many fans might be surprised to learn that it was an extremely last-minute addition to the original "Final Fantasy" — one that was written in under 10 minutes, no less.

The Prelude was a last minute request from Hironobu Sakaguchi to Nobuo Uematsu

The story comes from an email exchange between former series composer Nobuo Uematsu and frequent series writer Kazushige Nojima during the development of "Final Fantasy 10," noted in a fan translation via archived nobuouematsu.com. While discussing the music for the game, Nojima mentioned including an arrangement of the "Prelude" — which, in turn, prompted Uematsu to reminisce on its inception in the "final stages of development" for "FF1." Apparently, series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi sprang a sudden request for Uematsu to create a piece of music for a segment of the game with "utmost urgency," at which Uematsu "hurriedly conjured" in 10 minutes what would be known as the "Prelude." However, Uematsu is also quoted to have finished the song in about five minutes. Whether ten or five, that's an impressive feat.


As of the release of "Endwalker," the "Prelude" has been featured as a motif in nearly every "FF14" theme (via Alex Moukala) — to the point where adding the tune to an arrangement is jokingly considered an "FF14" thing to do. The arpeggio has even become the signature of "Final Fantasy" of sorts outside of the video game industry, featuring in arrangements like the "Stand By Me" cover made by Florence and the Machine for "FF15," as well as the "FF14"-inspired "Fly Me To The Moon" cover by Sia.

Despite Uematsu having "never expected the tune to span over" the entire franchise, the "Prelude" has become an enduring franchise mainstay throughout its stunning transformations over the years and, hopefully, will continue to feature in "Final Fantasy" music in many installments to come.