Monday Melodic Musings: Suna no Utsuwa – Piano Concerto ‘Shukumei’ 1st movement

And you thought this was all an April Fool’s Day joke…

Now that we have the shocking announcement out of the way, let’s move on to this week’s piece by starting off with the source. If you’re like me at all, you probably haven’t heard of Suna no Utsuwa, a J-drama that aired in 2004 and revolves around murder and a pianist, subjects that aren’t normally bedfellows, but I’m told it works well here.

But if there is something about this show that I have heard of, it would be composer Akira Senju. I first became aware of how well Senju can channel drama and melancholy when he scored the Red Garden soundtrack (I rated it a rare masterpiece) though I’m sure most people really know him best through his Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood soundtrack (not as well-regarded by me, but I seem to be a minority opinion-holder). Through Suna no Utsuwa, Senju gives us a firm reminder of his ability to capture the mix of hope and despair, and nowhere is that displayed more brilliantly than in the piano concerto that he composed for the show (Speaking as a fanboy for piano concertos, one need only look at the number of piano concertos in anime to quickly see why J-drama OSTs are superior).

Piano Concerto ‘Shukumei’ 1st movement

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Anime Instrumentality to Become J-Drama Instrumentality

After nearly four years of writing about anime soundtracks, we at Anime Instrumentality have collectively come to a realization that in order for us to continue our evolution as J-music fans and hone our insights and analysis, it is necessary for us to explore other media. The only criteria is that it would have to be Japan-specific, so after combing through the gamut of J-music from bunraku scores to visual-kei to Ainu music, we’ve ultimately settled upon J-drama soundtracks.

Part of our goal is to fight back against the rising tide of moe (which is a cancer) and “2D > 3D pig disgusting” sentiments. The most meaningful way to counteract these phenomena is by focusing on a medium that features real people in real-world situations. Thankfully, in analyzing the music, J-drama scores aren’t too wide a leap from anime soundtracks. With so much cross-pollination in the composer department, we feel that exploring J-dramas provides us with a “similar, yet different” feel that we seek.

It also helps that many J-dramas tend to stick to romantic polyhedrons or comedies, giving plenty of opportunities for composers to show off their ability to write soft, tinkly piano music or ratchet up the emotional flow with sustained, harmonious strings that are beautiful and dynamic, with a complexity that rivals Bach’s counterpoint. In fact, we’re confident that these works will be able to withstand the test of time; it’s just that people haven’t had the exposure to them and we’re looking to change that. [Read more…]

Monday Melodic Musings: Michiko to Hatchin – Paraiso

zzeroparticle: I don’t really quite know what happened to Michiko to Hatchin. As in, I didn’t really quite finish the series and since then, I haven’t really heard much of a peep about it from the broader anime community, making the chances of me picking up that series and seeing it to completion that much more unlikely. That’s a bit of a shame since I remember being captivated by the opening theme the first time I watched the series and its premise was engaging at the outset. [Read more…]

2nd Annual Anime Music Awards – The Best of 2011

2011 wasn’t just a very solid year for anime. On the anime music front, we were treated to a considerable number of soundtracks and opening and ending themes that left an imprint upon our collective subconscious. While heavy hitters like Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s soundtrack rocked our world with haunting, memorable themes, this year also saw quiet efforts from other composers bubble forth, leaving us enamored with their compositions. Opening and ending themes also saw a mix of old and new artists make their stamp upon the year, with a fine example of both being Triple H’s (new artists) and Etsuko Yakushimaru’s (established artist) work on Mawaru Penguindrum. With so much in tow, we at Anime Instrumentality would like to present the first of three articles looking back on 2011 by talking about the best 2011 had to offer musically. [Read more…]

Monday Melodic Musings: Tytania – Andante Grandeioso Kokka

Soundtrack music’s goal, first and foremost, is to evoke the emotions running through any given scene and help immerse the viewer in the going-ons. Good soundtrack music will do that so well that one can simply let the power of the music convey the scene in its totality. And for those who are fortunate enough to be able to experience good music paired with memorable visuals, the scene will forever be etched in their minds by the nostalgia borne from experiencing such a sublime combination.

But good soundtrack music doesn’t necessarily always remind people of how great a show can be. Many enjoyable soundtracks accompany mediocrity on down. Guilty Crown is often cited as one of the more recent examples of this. And there’s Yosuga no Sora from 2010 too. The list goes on.

Andante Grandeioso Kokka

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