Soundtracks

Toru Takemitsu
Biography

 was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory. Largely self-taught, Takemitsu possessed consummate skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre. He is famed for combining elements of oriental and occident philosophy to create a sound uniquely his own, and for fusing opposites together such as sound with silence and tradition with innovation. He composed several hundred independent works of music, scored more than ninety films and published twenty books. He was also a founding member of the Jikken Kobo (experimental workshop) in Japan, a group of avant-garde artists who distanced themselves from academia and whose collaborative work is often regarded among the most influential of the 20th century. Takemitsu’s contribution to film music was considerable; in under 40 years he composed music for over 100 films, some of which were written for purely financial reasons (such as those written for Noboru Nakamura). However, as the composer attained financial independence, he grew more selective, often reading whole scripts before agreeing to compose the music, and later surveying the action on set, “breathing the atmosphere” whilst conceiving his musical ideas. One notable consideration in Takemitsu’s composition for film was his careful use of silence (also important in many of his concert works), which often immediately intensifies the events on screen, and prevents any monotony through a continuous musical accompaniment. For the first battle scene of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, Takemitsu provided an extended passage of intense elegiac quality that halts at the sound of a single gunshot, leaving the audience with the pure “sounds of battle: cries screams and neighing horses”.

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