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Old 2010-07-03, 03:59   Link #1
te2rx
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Question Japan-esque music (hybrid folk and stuff)

I hate to be a ho right off the bat, but I actually launched a website devoted to this sort of music a few hours ago... Not because I have encyclopedic knowledge or anything (I don't), but because I want to find more. Unless a Japanese-language blog already exists somewhere, I don't think there's any space on the web devoted to it.

By "it", I mean things that sound like this, that, and other experiments that collide Japanese folk with modern music production & arrangements (whether that's electronic, pop/band, anime/game soundtrack etc.)

So my question to you is: Do you know of any other music that fits this theme? Do you know of any resources (websites, genre names, communities) to find this sort of stuff? I'm kind of at a loss, fretting if this sort of thing is too niche.

Last edited by te2rx; 2010-07-03 at 04:19.
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Old 2010-07-03, 08:59   Link #2
CeDeR
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mnnnnn yes...
Secrets of zen -japanese chillout vol.1
specially Miyagi and his song kyoto garden. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT_q8CbVAgA
Nice psy-ambient with beautiful japanese shamisen arrangements and oriental theme,
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Old 2010-07-03, 09:07   Link #3
Marcus H.
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Naruto has an astounding Japan-esque soundtrack. Well, mainly because Masuda Toshio is the one behind the soundtrack, and some of the credit songs for Naruto.

EDIT: I'm pretty sure Masuda is the artist for most of the BGM's used for Naruto.
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Old 2010-07-03, 14:47   Link #4
signorRossi
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Isn't Takanashi Yasuharu responsible for the japanesque Naruto music?
Anyway, I wanted to rec his works for 'Ayakashi - Japanese Classical Horror Stories' and 'Mononoke'; Kanashini, Tsunegihoro, Koigokoro, Samishige, Kanashige being pieces i really like and listen to frequently. Just beware that Takanashi reuses his melodies a LOT ;-) .
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Old 2010-07-04, 15:55   Link #5
SeijiSensei
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Uematsu's score for Final Fantasy X was intended to add a distinctly Japanese flavor to the series.

I'll second signorRossi's suggestion of the scores for Ayakashi Samurai Horror Tales and Mononoke. The Japanese rap opening to the former is especially interesting for its clash of styles.

From time to time while watching anime I've wondered what, if anything, is "Japanese" about modern anime scores. One aspect seems to be the use of percussion. Listen to the scores for Dennou Coil or Moribito and see how often deep drum sounds appear. In some cases I'd say there's a certain "wistful" or "sentimental" feeling that characterizes Japanese scores (Ootake's work on Bartender is a good case in point).

I'd also suggest listening to Sakamoto Masayuki's score for Kemono no Sou-ja Erin.
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Old 2010-07-05, 02:37   Link #6
te2rx
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Thanks for the suggestions! I'm definitely checking them out
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
From time to time while watching anime I've wondered what, if anything, is "Japanese" about modern anime scores. One aspect seems to be the use of percussion. Listen to the scores for Dennou Coil or Moribito and see how often deep drum sounds appear. In some cases I'd say there's a certain "wistful" or "sentimental" feeling that characterizes Japanese scores (Ootake's work on Bartender is a good case in point).
yeah, if it's not by instruments and music motifs pulled straight from Japanese folk, I go by feel, which is subjective and often hard to put a finger on... it comes down to whether you think the music is expressing mono no aware (the "ahh-ness" that is integral to Bartender) or yuugen, or those sort of Japanese aesthetic ideas. A lot of Japan-esque music uses western scales, chord progressions, sometimes exclusively western instruments and otherwise western music concepts in order to express "Japanese" ideas or convey Japanese imagery... and at the same time there's music that will use Japanese folk instruments for an indiscriminate "ethnic" flavor without being particularly Japan-esque.

Sometimes percussion is hard to go by because ensemble taiko drums (mixed with other indiscriminate "tribal" drumming) has become very common in modern soundtrack work. Everyone is used to hearing that sound and it's no longer associated with anything.

Suddenly I'm remembering the recent Battlestar Galactica TV show though, and how that had very recognizable (i.e. real) ensemble taiko drumming in it. There was a part in the 4th season where a Shamisen and Japanese wind instruments started jamming over the taiko drums and my jaw hit the floor I was really glad they did that

but yeah, I'm thinking about doing a feature or something on soundtrack composer Kenji Kawai, so Moribito (among other things like Vampire Princess Miyu and obviously Ghost in the Shell) are on my mind. I'll check out that Kemono no Souja Erin and Final Fantasy X... I remember Dennou Coil pretty well, but I think it had predominantly western music... strings, glocks, pizzicatos and horns doing the usual orchestral soundtrack stuff, though it was a nice soundtrack for the show

nice avatar btw ... I only saw the movie once but I remember that hilarious bit of animation
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Old 2010-07-05, 05:35   Link #7
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by te2rx View Post
By "it", I mean things that sound like this, that, and other experiments that collide Japanese folk with modern music production & arrangements (whether that's electronic, pop/band, anime/game soundtrack etc.)
The first musician that came to my mind after hearing the samples you provided in your original post was Kitaro. But he has been so over-played through the years that his sound has become something of an irritating cliche. More importantly, Kitaro's music is mostly late 1980s, early 1990s New Age, which is not really the kind of sound you're looking for.

The only two Japanese bands/duos that I know which try to produce "modern" sounds with traditional instruments are Rin' and the Yoshida brothers. But their music leans more towards popular audiences so, again, it's not really what you're seeking.

In the end, if you find yourself enjoying Seirei no Moribito's soundtrack, I'd highly recommend that you further explore Kenji Kawai's music. I suspect his sound is the closest to what you're seeking, often introspective, sometimes melancholic. His oeuvre is not just limited to anime, but also extends to live-action films (Ip Man 2) and documentaries (Apocalypse: The Second World War). However, Kawai is probably most well-known for the soundtracks of Oshii's Ghost in the Shell movies.

The following is a stunning example of his music, which literally lifts the soul to a transcendant high.

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Old 2010-07-05, 05:50   Link #8
sergho
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In Samurai Champloo, in one of the episodes toward the end-- i know, samurai champloo is not know for traditional anything-- there is some traditional music.

A lady singing acapella. Very sad. But it's good too.
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Old 2010-07-05, 11:17   Link #9
signorRossi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sergho View Post
In Samurai Champloo, in one of the episodes toward the end-- i know, samurai champloo is not know for traditional anything-- there is some traditional music.

A lady singing acapella. Very sad. But it's good too.
Obokuri Eemui sung by Asazaki Ikue, but it isn't that song completely traditional (aside the piano ). I really like that one.

@TinyRedLeaf
I think Kawai already used this tune in the Patlabor movie (without chorus), and I also might have heard it in the Seirei no Moribito OST (although I couldn't find it when I looked for it again). The 3 'Chants' are still awesome.
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Old 2010-07-05, 11:41   Link #10
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signorRossi View Post
@TinyRedLeaf
I think Kawai already used this tune in the Patlabor movie (without chorus), and I also might have heard it in the Seirei no Moribito OST (although I couldn't find it when I looked for it again). The 3 'Chants' are still awesome.
The track is from Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, but I can't say I blame you for mistaking where it's from — after a while, you'd notice that his music almost always sounds the same. For example, there are a few refrains from The Sky Crawlers soundtrack that evoke memories of Seirei no Moribito. The differences are usually found only in the degrees of subtlety. For example, the Moribito tracks do have a hint of "Tibetan", "Central Asian" influence to them, while The Sky Crawlers' music has a despondent feel, a sense of helplessness that distinguishes it from the similarly melancholic, yet transcendent tone, of GiTS' sound.

Incidentally, this is the rough translation of the song I linked previously.

"One day, one night, though the moon may not shine
The night bird cries in painful sadness

When I turn to look, the flowers have fallen away
As if all comfort has vanished from the world

As the gods gather in the new world
Day breaks, and the night bird calls out

A blossomed flower beseeches the gods:
'I grieve for my existance in this living world
But my dreams shall never die
Though in anguish...I scatter'

Sorrows of a hundred nights, within perpetual darkness
Pray to the ruling gods for the embryo to be born
"

Set in the context of the movie's universe, it's actually quite heartbreaking.
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Old 2010-07-05, 23:45   Link #11
te2rx
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yeah, Kenji Kawai's music (particularly for TV series) can sound rather homogeneous at times. You can't blame production people for recycling material though, cuz it's what they have to do to make a deadline. It'd be great if everything was an ambitious, high-production-value project like his Ghost in the Shell and Avalon soundtracks but that's usually not the case.

I've been a fan of K.K. for a while . Ghost in the Shell was my gateway to both anime and Japan-esque music back in the day.

@sergho: yeah, now that you mention it, I remember that part... when Mugen was having some near-death experience I think? I'll have to track that down
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Old 2010-07-06, 03:55   Link #12
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by te2rx View Post
@sergho: yeah, now that you mention it, I remember that part... when Mugen was having some near-death experience I think? I'll have to track that down
The best place to start looking is in Samurai Champloo fansite AMALGAM, and the specific scene you're thinking of can be easily found in, where else, YouTube.

The song, as I recall, is sung in a dialect and style common to the Ryukyu Islands. Besides Asazaki Ikue, there is also the much younger Chitose Hajime, who also sings in the same style. She performed the first ED of Blood+, Kataritsugu koto, which I enjoyed. To my chagrin, though, some friends have told me that it sounds like an old-fashioned Hokkien love song.

Which should not be surprising, actually, considering how close Taiwan is to the tail end of the Ryukyu chain. It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to see how the musical tradition could have hopped a little further south, and into a sinicised environment.

And, oh, the lyrics to Obokuri Eemui can be found here. As you can see, while the tone of the song suited Mugen's "death scene" perfectly, its deeper message is completely unrelated, telling a tale, instead, of heartbreaking poverty.

Don't know why, but the Japanese do seem to have a penchant for catharsis.
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Old 2010-07-06, 05:52   Link #13
te2rx
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haha, thanks for the writeup. I took the liberty of posting that verbatim (w/ citation) into the blog.

Somehow I missed signorRossi pointing out the song previously... sorry about that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Don't know why, but the Japanese do seem to have a penchant for catharsis.
I think a lot of their aesthetics are geared toward "pure", symbolic expressions... distilling and essentializing abstract ideas into iconography and stuff.

I feel like the whole of their comics/animation/games culture can be explained through that, and why those industries can never be reimplemented in "the west" (read: America) verbatim. "We" tend to prefer the heightened/exaggerated reality of Hollywood films over the "pure" and symbolic expressions of the latest genre anime.

Anyway I'm flying off on a tangent. I don't know where the preference for essentialization and symbolism comes from though... in the end I'm just an artist and not a scholar :p
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Old 2010-07-06, 07:59   Link #14
signorRossi
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Chitose Hajime also performs the second version of the 'Kemono no Souja Erin' OP and the ED of 'Ayakashi - JHT'. This style of singigng is quite refreshing among the JPop you usually get as anime ED and OP.
Atari Kousuke sings in a traditional island style too, I never skipped his ED for 'Natsume Yuujinchou', truly marvellous.
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Old 2010-07-06, 15:56   Link #15
SeijiSensei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signorRossi View Post
Atari Kousuke sings in a traditional island style too, I never skipped his ED for 'Natsume Yuujinchou', truly marvellous.
He also performs the ED for Genji Monogatari Sennenki (the OP by Puffy seems wildly out of place). I can't recall the score for Genji now, but it might be another one that fits the OP's request. I'd give the just-completed House of Five Leaves a listen as well.
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Old 2010-07-06, 16:37   Link #16
Shiroth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
I can't recall the score for Genji now, but it might be another one that fits the OP's request.
Yes the score is exactly what the OP is looking for, plus i've always said that more people need to listen to works by S.E.N.S., so i highly recommend it.
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Old 2010-07-06, 17:54   Link #17
SeijiSensei
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According to ANN, they also did the music for Kimi no Todoke and xxxHolic.
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Old 2010-07-06, 18:01   Link #18
Shiroth
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ANN is correct, and all three scores are truly outstanding. Though for the best that S.E.N.S. has to offer, that would be their studio albums. Especially their 'Sound. Earth. Nature. Spirit.' volumes.

If anyone would like a taster of a few tracks, just let me know. & i must apologize for what is basically me taking over the thread . Though when it comes to S.E.N.S., i just want to share the love.
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