Between tradition and modernity – The eclectic approach of Joe Hisaishi to Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” soundtrack
In the world of Japanese animation movies, the way composers work on the creation of the soundtrack is quite different from the way we’re used to in the western world. The creation of what is called an “Image Album”, often based on simple suggestions and ideas about the movie, before it is actually completed is one of the most relevant differences. The music created for this album, which is published as a trailer months before the movie itself, sets the boundaries within which the composer should remain while composing the final soundtrack. There are many consequences to this habit: the music is used often as a simple commentary to the scene (or to the emotions that are expressed or that are proper to a specific character) without a proper syncing, and many editing and re-writing or re-orchestrating techniques are involved, in order to use the pre- existing material in a proper way. With this paper, I would like to concentrate on the soundtrack of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”, written by his usual collaborator Joe Hisaishi. Through a selection of different cues I will analyze the relationship between the Image Album and the final soundtrack as well as the editing and re- orchestrating techniques that allow Hisaishi to adapt the themes to the actual images. Due to the frequent “commentary” nature of the music, I will also concentrate on the symbolic role that it has in relation to the dramatic action.
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Nahum, Matteo. “Between tradition and modernity – The eclectic approach of Joe Hisaishi to Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” soundtrack.” Master's Project, Berklee College of Music, 2015. https://remix.berklee.edu/graduate-studies-scoring/25.