I should mention that I played "Run" for the violinist in my band, last night. Her son plays a lot of loud PC games, and so she has a negative association with video game music in general. When I told her I was going to play her video game music, she rolled her eyes. But when it got to the violin improv solo, her eyes popped! "That's really good!" I'm trying to get her to do more stuff like that (which she's really starting to do), so I had ulterior motives. Though, one thing she pointed out, curiously, is that the violin used on that track (and I'm guessing on the other rock/electronica tracks) is most likely a solid body electric violin. Makes sense if you're going for that Mahavishnu Orchestra sound like they're doing here. At first, during the melody line, she thought it was a synth violin, but when the little imbellishments and slides start coming into view, she quickly realized it was real, just solid body. Our previous fiddle player played solid body... his kinda sucked though, and we all developed a distaste for electric fiddle. But after hearing this album, it's rekindled my appreciation for the instrument. (I need to go back and listen to more Mahavishnu and Dixie Dregs, me thinks).
I'm surprised noone in any review or interview has mentioned "Win or Lose" on disc 3. How do you "compose" something like that? Well, obviously you just get good jazz musicians together, write a good head, and tell them to improvize the rest. Problem is, it goes counter to the tightly controlled world of film and videogame music where the composers write every last note. That's why you hear so little jazz in soundtracks, unless you're doing stylized melodic stuff for noir. I'm pretty sure I've never heard bop on video game soundtrack. Everyone's talking up the electronica and rap elements, and they are need, but they aren't exactly new to video games these days. Jazz, on the other hand, is pretty much completely out of the blue. Uematsu would once in a while throw in some Rhodes piano blues cuts, but once again, much more streamlined and stylized. The upright bass solo on "Win or Lose" is particularly wonderful! But there's a piano solo in there that I want to transcribe as well.