While many of you may have missed the news, the guys over at Noisycroak in Japan (who you may recall from our coverage of Castlevania Judgment) recently hosted a composer roundtable to answer fan-submitted questions and discuss a wide range of topics involving the game music industry in Japan. Composer and studio head Hideki Sakamoto hosted the unprecedented event, which our own Chris Ling attended along with a number of Famitsu staff, and the results were pretty amazing.
What we have here is Chris’s English translation of the massive transcript that Noisycroak posted in to their website (in Japanese) a few weeks ago. Yes, a complete English transcript of all 17,000+ words! I’m definitely grateful to Chris for doing this for us, as well as to Sakamoto-san at Noisycroak for putting this together, Mitsuyoshi-san for coordinating Chris’s attendance, and to all the participants for taking part in this event and for letting us post the English-language transcript here for your reading pleasure.
While it’s quite long, there’s a lot of great stuff here. Nobuyoshi Sano is particularly hilarious, and it’s funny reading how Sakamoto-san was constantly trying to keep everyone on track (with mixed results). I found some of the discussion towards the end about game music concerts and “young” heroes to be interesting, but let us know what you think!
Read the entire transcript of the event after the jump.
First Game Composer Round-Table Discussion
Organized by Hideki Sakamoto (Noisycroak)
Transcript provided by and republished with permission from Noisycroak
English translation provided by Chris Ling (Original Sound Version)
All photos courtesy of Noisycroak
Sakamoto: Hiccup… ahem, it’s time for us to begin! It seems a few of us are looking groggy already.
Sano: Good idea. If we don’t start soon people are going to start falling asleep…
Everyone: Oh no! (laughter)
Sakamoto: In that case… this begins the First Game Composers Round-Table Discussion!
Everyone: Woohoo! Clap clap clap!
Sakamoto: …of course everyone might be wondering what the theme of the discussion is. The topic of discussion will consist of answering user-submitted questions received on Noisycroak’s site and questions collected from staff members of Noisycroak.
Sakamoto: In addition, to the person with the best response, the title of MVC (Most Valuable Composer) and an accompanied trophy will be given.
Everyone: (looking at the trophy) It’s… so small!
Sakamoto: My apologies…but since we ran out of budget, I instead went to Tokyu Hands and purchased this for 900 yen last night. In order to appease everyone, I have arranged for a blond-haired Bud girl to serve everyone.
Yukawa (Tsuyoshi): (Door opens and Yukawa appears, crossdressing as a Bud girl in a budlight dress) Pleased to meet you all!
Everyone: … (speechless)
Sano: This… is a bit too cruel…
Kouda: Ahahaha… the mood has taken an amusing turn has it not?
Sakamoto: Looks like the only one amused… is Mr. Kouda… his (Yukawa) outfit took up a considerable part of the budget so please be kind to him. If you want a refill on drinks do not hesitate to call upon his services.
Everyone: (weak laughter)
Sakamoto: Okay… let’s begin with the first question, which was also the most received question.
Question 1: When composing music, what is something you must keep in mind? (To everyone)
(Kanagawa Prefecture, White)
[In regards to deadlines]
Sakamoto: This is a rather broad question…
Sano: To think we’d get this so soon…
Everyone: Serious stuff! (laughter)
Sakamoto: What does everyone think? A personal trigger to start composing such as working from a blank slate or the opposite of listening to loads of music to get the ball rolling would be all right to mention. Even something like a good feeling would be okay such as something as simple as saying “today, I decided to wear orange socks…” or something similar.
Sano: Orange socks you say. (laughter)
Nakamura: Would it be all right to mention things we do while composing?
Sakamoto: Anything would be fine. Today we will let it all out! Everyone’s embarrassing and private moments!
Nakamura: Not setting deadlines for oneself!
Sakamoto: Interesting. This is something you understand very well?
Nakamura: In other words, the extra time you have for doing composition. When it is a matter of needing to finish a song, I don’t like needing to think about how much time I need to spend to finish it.
Sakamoto: When presented with the situation that the deadline is tomorrow, that is something to light a fire under your ass and get to composing too. That works for me anyway.
Sano: Being spurred to action by deadlines……something like that.
Sakamoto: That’s right. Waiting up until the last minute.
Sano: Well, how about (looks at Mr. Nakamura and Mr. Sakamoto) we discuss this further?
Sakamoto: Ahaha! By the way, Nakamura, when you were in junior high, how would you study for midterm exams?
Nakamura: I studied hard for those exams. Something along the lines of “tomorrow is math, so I’ll study that.”
Sakamoto: Itou and I weren’t like that!
Itou: W-Wait… don’t bring me into this… I think I want to agree with Mr. Nakamura, but somehow (points at Sakamoto) this always ends up happening.
Sakamoto: Mr. Kouda, when you write the orchestration, doesn’t it usually take a long time?
Kouda: I would say that I am similar to Mr. Sakamoto. I hate it when my sense of freedom suddenly becomes increasingly diminished once I start writing.
Sano: Yes, yes yes.
Itou: Are you talking about musical freedom?
Mitsuyoshi: Are you talking about how the form of the music is created?
Kouda: I prefer being able to control all possibilities and outcomes for music.
Nakamura: But, if you require those conditions you will never finish. (laughter).
Sano: Is it ever the case that you just didn’t think of anything?
Sakamoto: That isn’t what you call work. (laughter)
Itou: I like conditions like that, so things just get drawn out up until the deadline.
Sakamoto: Right, right, that’s my impression of it. What type of person are you, Mr. Mitsuda?
Mitsuda: I’m someone who cannot operate without deadlines. I would just keep on writing without end.
Itou: Even for a single song?
Mitsuda: As long as I was permitted to do so, I would do that. (laughter) Just like Mr. Sano…
Sano: Ah, but for me I would grow tired of my own music!
Sano: So actually I am more like the opposite. I would think, “how many times have I listened to this song!” Of course that is obvious, since I wrote it. (laughter)
Sakamoto: That happens as well. How about you, Mr. Hidenori?
Hidenori: I’m the type that needs a fire lit under my ass. I was the type who turned in all my homework at the last minute.
Sakamoto: I suppose this is just a habit that stays with you from when you are a kid until now?
Hidenori: I see. There is a time before the sound effects are implemented in the game, but when I have the time to make pieces, I’ll do it at once. But like Mr. Mitsuda, if I finish early, I’d like to tinker around as much as possible. Like changing the base line for no apparent reason.
Sakamoto: How about you, Mr. Sano?
Sano: Eh? What about changing the bass line for no apparent reason?
Sakamoto: No uh… not that…
Sano: Just now, when I heard the key phrase “changing the bass line for no apparent reason” I thought to myself “that’s happened to me before.” (laughter) This is completely unrelated to the question but… when writing music, isn’t there a tendency to want to escape from reality? For instance, even in a situation where I have to write a song at all costs, I’m suddenly thinking about where to go drinking later.
Sakamoto: That happens, doesn’t it.
Sano: Usually, it’s like inviting someone (to drink) who you wouldn’t normally invite. But isn’t it the case that you start drifting while writing music? Consider that the (song) length needs to be longer, but like the previous discussion, suddenly you decide to tinker with the bass filter. Even though I’m thinking, “this isn’t good at all! The timeline, the timeline!!” without reason I change something else… you have to quickly increase the length. This of course has absolutely nothing to do with the (question’s) discussion.
Sakamoto: Ah I see, err… everyone please focus on the question! At this rate, White will be disappointed! What do you think, Mr. Hosoe?
Hosoe: Well, there’s nothing really to worry about since I am someone who creates deadlines.
Sakamoto: So you make your own deadlines then.
[Turnaround Time On Songs]
Nakamura: The thing to keep in mind when you start composing is “to make your own deadline.” (laughter) The production side then asks “around when will this song be finished?”
Sano: Huh, that’s a silly question!
Nakamura: Very silly!
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sano: This is very important so please mention it on the website! Why do they want to know from me when I will finish this song? I really have no idea!
Nakamura: It’s true that it is tough to answer.
Sano: That’s what I’m saying. This isn’t something you can put together as if there was an assembly line.
Sakamoto: Even if it is something that can be done in a day, sometimes it can drag on beyond your control for even two weeks.
Nakamura: When that happens, how do you respond?
Sano: … exactly!
Everyone: Ahaha!! (raucous laughter)
Sano: Well, you should try to respond with a vague answer! That is the best way!
Mitsuyoshi: For example, if upper management asks how long it will take to do a certain number of songs, it is hard to determine the average time if it is that vague of a statement. Of course it isn’t a good thing either if you can’t come up with a timeframe.
Sano: Well, they will allow you to finish it. They are pros after all! (laughter) But, before working on the song your mental state might not be up for it. This is something that I’d want them to understand… eh, well it looks like I’m off topic (in regards to the question) again…
Sakamoto: I figure some of you have worked with senior colleagues before. In regards to things to keep in mind when making music, what kind of advice did they give you?
Nakamura: They were rather strict. They would say things like “one day, one song!” Where I am, I do not have staff to help me write the music.
Hidenori: Was it like being issued a challenge?
Nakamura: Yeah. The challenge would be to complete around 1-2 songs.
Sano: On the contrary, to be told something like that is probably a good thing.
Sakamoto: Mr. Sano, isn’t that how you normally do things?
Sano: That was only for a certain period of time. I gave up soon after.
Sakamoto: Both you and Mr. Mitsuyoshi said that was “pretty amazing.”
Mitsuyoshi: Yes exactly. I can’t constantly crank out one song a day.
Sano: I’ve been charmed by these keywords. “Nobuyoshi Sano’s One Song Per Day!”
Mitsuyoshi: That has a real good ring to it! (laughter)
Sano: It is abbreviated as “Sano One!” Or so I’d think but I’m having a bit too much fun with this. (laughter) In practice this would be really painful!
Sakamoto: Sano One! To say the least, it would be awe-inducingly terrible. (laughter)
Sano: But, if it isn’t at that level then (one song per day) wouldn’t be doable.
Sakamoto: Well then, I guess that about covers this question then?
Sano: Eh… are you sure?
Sakamoto: Don’t worry about it! There was meaning in this discussion.
Sano: There was a lot of stuff mentioned and all, but in other words, “always make deadlines” I guess. (laughter)
Nakamura: That is the correct answer!
Sano: With that said, White, “when composing music, something you must keep in mind” is to “always make deadlines!”
Sakamoto: On to… question number 2!
Question 2: When composing music, do you ever put lyrics in on the spot and sing to yourself?
(Tokyo Prefecture, Zazen Kid)
[What do you do when a good melody or rhythm comes to mind?]
Sakamoto: So this is asking whether one might unconsciously throw their own lyrics in when working on the melody.
-: When playing a game and listening to the music, users sometimes have the tendency of throwing on their own lyrics on the spot and sing along. Given that, I suppose composers might do that as well. However it might be like Mr. Sakamoto singing the phrase “I love you.” (laughter)
Sakamoto: It’s hard when dealing with 5 beats which corresponds to 5 syllables. (laughter) What about everyone else?
[Chris: The phrase used is “a i shi te ru” which is 5 syllables whereas the translation “I love you” is only 3 syllables. For the sake of not modifying the translation’s meaning, it was left as 5 syllables for the Japanese phrase.]
Sano: Instances like that have happened before.
Sakamoto: For example, is it something that happens when creating the melody? There are those who might have an idea suddenly come to them while composing and there are those who are playing a few notes on the keyboard or guitar while searching for a sound or a melody. I think I’m the latter of the two. Do any of you have those moments before writing or recording anything you suddenly get that feeling of “whoa, I just thought of something amazing!” and start humming to yourself as you go home?
Sano: As for which type of person I am when doing that, I would say I focus more on the beat than the melody itself.
Hidenori: Ahh, I think I’m like that too.
Sano: Exactly. There aren’t many times where I would hum something from the melody.
Sakamoto: Investigating a bit further, do you ever think that the phrases and beats that are forgotten if you start humming before going home that perhaps a lot of it was… bad to begin with?
Mitsuyoshi: That does happen!
Sakamoto: Forgetting all that when I go home or return to the workplace, I feel the things I remember and the things that come to mind suddenly are real. If it was something bad that I don’t want to recall I think I would inform myself.
Sano: I am someone who would want to hold on to all of it. I came up with it after all.
Sano: Mr. Sakamoto! You say that the phrases you can’t remember must not be important but I don’t think that is the case. You should hold on to all of that! (laughter)
Sakamoto: What does the melody maker, Mr. Mitsuda think about all this?
Sano: Mr. Mitsuda is one that draws from melodies?
Mitsuda: When I first started composing, I was someone who only used 3 chords.
Everyone: Ehhhhhhh?! (surprise)
Sakamoto: Ahwahwahwah, you mean like C, F, G?
Mitsuda: To be frank, that is correct. That way the melody can come together as the chord changes.
Itou: The theme song from Chrono Trigger was originally done using 3 chords, right?
Mitsuda: That’s correct. I tried to give it a jazzy feel. However it ended up not sounding like jazz at all. (laughter)
Sano: Were you trying to create tension in the melody?
Mitsuda: It wasn’t my intention to create a feeling of tension.
Mitsuyoshi: But it was tense no less.
Mitsuda: So it did become that way.
Sano: Well, it just got binded that way huh.
Mitsuda: Back in the day, my teacher had told me that “great songs from groups like The Beatles were built on the foundation of the 3-chord!” So I thought, in that case I will do the same. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Have you been using that since then?
Mistuda: In general… any song works well that way.
Sano: How about putting out a CD entitled “Mitsuda 3-chord?” Every song up until now written using 3 chords!
Sakamoto: Ah, I want that!
Mitsuda: I wouldn’t let you listen to something that embarrassing. (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: However, that method of composition is interesting.
Sakamoto: Are you referring to how the melody becomes more important that way?
Mitsuda: In general that is the case. In the case of jazz, you could create a lot of it using chords. The foundation can therefore be built upon with the piano.
[How do you get started?]
Sakamoto: So what kind of interface does everyone use when they get working? Mr. Mitsuda goes with the piano, right? I imagine everyone has their own preference such as using a sequencer or writing out notes.
Hosoe: The piano for me.
Sakamoto: Same for me.
Sano: How about you, Mr. Hidenori?
Hidenori: When I work I prefer the piano as well.
Sakamoto: Mr. Sano, you also go with the piano I assume?
Sano: That is true… however, there are times that I think, “I want to make this without a piano!” Something like, “today, I will use just the mouse.”
Sakamoto: That’s… an answer to the previous question is it not?! The “when composing music, what is something you must keep in mind” one. What is it doing here?!
Sano: Ahh, did I just backtrack there? (laughter) It isn’t that bad to tie it together though. It’s the same with Mr. Mitsuda’s 3-chord discussion.
Hidenori: When creating music, even the things you have to keep in mind change. When writing rock music, for the most part even if you start with the rhythm you will use the guitar for that. However, if you have to write a piano song of course you wouldn’t use a guitar then. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Mr. Kouda, how do you go about writing music?
Kouda: First off, I’d start with the piano although well, anything works for me. Thus, I would really get playing one instrument while switching to another while writing music.
Sakamoto: Thus in the end you would just remove the piano then?
Sakamoto: To some degree your composing style is similar to me. Mr. Itou, you often use pen tools to write your music, correct?
Itou: I have to brainstorm before I start. There are times where I just use the mouse while I think.
Sakamoto: How do you go about making music, Mr. Mitsuyoshi? Start with singing perhaps?
Sano: Of course! You can start off with “Daytona!” (laughter)
Sakamoto: “Japan’s Number 1 Singing Salaryman!”
Mitsuyoshi: No, no, no… (laughter) When making music, I work on the melody and the chords at the same time. Of course when I approach the chords I somehow end up singing to the tune of an improbable melody. (laughter) Lately, I have been rather fixated on that.
Sano: In other words, it’s all “Daytona.” The lyrics are filled with “Daytona” but there are other “Daytona”’s in there!
Sano: I think I’d be in deep trouble for saying that. Thankfully the man himself is laughing. I think the fans will be angry instead. (laughter) But, I am not worried! Someone who has written a song to defeat “Daytona” is here after all. (looks at Mr. Hosoe) Ah, there you are!
Mitsuyoshi: Eh, I think you got it backwards. Ridge Racer came first after all. I have created a song to defeat Ridge Racer instead!
Sakamoto: Ohhhh! Is this is Sega vs. Namco showdown?
Sano: It might be the case but not quite… When Daytona was first showcased at a game show I thought, “Sega is letting you sing…” I recall thinking, “you want to hear yourself sing that badly?!” (laughter) The others on Namco’s sound team were a bit mortified.
Nakamura: But before that Bose speakers were used for Ridge Racer, right?
Mitsuyoshi: I recall thinking, “we’re doomed!” when that happened. Back then we were desperate to top Ridge Racer.
Sakamoto: That about covers this question I think…
Sano: Sometimes you hum and sometimes you don’t! Otherwise, everything will have “Daytona!” in it!
Sakamoto: We… well then, let’s go on to the next question!
Question 3: To all the composers I say hello. In the future I want to compose music in the game industry. Right now I do compose my own music, but I am wondering if there are any secrets to maintain the motivation to compose music?
(Penguin running through the city)
[Would you listen to your own music again?]
Sano: Ah, it would be best not to consider this occupation, right? What does everyone think about that?
Sakamoto: That is a bit defeatist…
Hidenori: Are you saying that just to not have more rivals? (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: Under what circumstances would one want to not consider this occupation?
Sano: No, no I’m just joking. Don’t they seem young to you? (laughter)
Sakamoto: Given the assumption… what would be the secret to staying motivated when composing music??
Nakamura: The only thing is to have faith that the music you are writing is good.
Sakamoto: Do you listen to the music you’ve written up until this point?
Sano: Sure, why not.
Sakamoto: I listen to a lot of my older work but Mr. Itou doesn’t do that at all.
Itou: I think my weakness has been exposed…
Sano: Ah, being sober? You can’t do this while being sober. If you listen to your own music while sober, I think you’d become quite sick of it. You might hear yourself saying “Ah, maybe I’m no good…” (laughter) Sometimes when you aren’t able to write you might listen to an older song and think, “this was pretty good at the time…” You might say to yourself, “if I say I can’t write this song this time, I will have to apologize and give up…” None of this is can be the secret to maintaining motivation of course. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Indeed. In fact, your motivation will decrease instead… (laughter)
Hidenori: What should you do to avoid that?
Sano: What should you do?
Sakamoto: How can you bring out the motivational power? I think there are perhaps many possibilities.
Nakamura: Instead of just seeking out the end result, if the process is interesting enough, anyone can do it I think.
Sano: However, this fellow (Penguin running through the city-san, who submitted the question) also writes their own music. Well if that is the case, it would be worrisome if motivation can not be maintained.
Sakamoto: Mr. Nakamura’s talk about his approach to writing music itself seems fairly enjoyable. This is a core principle.
Nakamura: That is true. It would be impossible to enjoy oneself if the focus is on the end result alone I think.
Sano: Ehh, but is the process really that enjoyable…?
Sakamoto: Ohh! A fresh discussion suddenly developed!
Mitsuyoshi: Perhaps so. It is a matter of time I think. When you allow for time to lapse in a state of discontent, don’t you sometimes have a sudden rush of adrenaline?
Sano: Even before a single song is completed?
Sakamoto: Ah, I get it!
Itou: Something like “Composers High.”
Sano: Yes, yes like “Composers High.” (laughter) Why is that though? From the beginning to the end you want this to be perfect. Like the feeling of “I’m a genius!” but if that isn’t possible you can’t feel a release.
Nakamura: So that sums up Mr. Sano’s motivation then.
Sano: But… is that really the key?
Nakamura: Only if one naturally believes that. Well for you anyway.
Sano: No… I don’t think that’s quite the key here. “Work.” If you don’t think it is work then you can’t continue on. Is there anything one can truthfully say about that? And personally for me, if it is truly necessary I’ll just take a bath.
Mitsuyoshi: Bath…? (laughter) Why is that?
Sano: When I am in the bath I can do some lateral thinking. In other words, it is like entering another state of mind you might say.
Mitsuyoshi: It is true that the sound from the splashing of water is rather pleasant.
Sano: I really like that!
Mitsuda: But isn’t that a bit scary? When you take it easy in the bath and afterwards listen to your own music, don’t you say to yourself, “what the heck is this?!” when you listen to it?
Sano: That doesn’t happen often. Basically, you enter the bath already thinking, “I am really no good!” (laughter) So while you are in the bath, you start to forget things like that as the feeling of relaxation takes over. Afterwards when you get out and listen to your own music you suddenly think to yourself, “a lot of things have happened, but you can do it, Sano!” (laughter) This exhilarating feeling from entering a bath can be found in other things I’m sure.
Sakamoto: So the conclusion is to “take a bath”… onward to the next question!
Question 4: What brand of alcohol do you drink while at work?
(Representative of Mamachop)
[What is the effect of being drunk while composing?]
Nakamura: While at work, could they really mean drinking alcohol while working?
Sakamoto: That’s what it looks like.
Sano: Do you drink at work, Mr. Hosoe?
Hosoe: Especially so during the winter.
Sano: Do you work somewhere where you can only stay warm by drinking?! (laughter) What have you been drinking lately?
Hosoe: I drink rum most of the time. Like hot rum for example.
Sano: Hot rum sounds good.
Nakamura: Why are you into rum?
Hosoe: Because it warms you up. (laughter)
Sano: … You’re like a pirate.
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sakamoto: Other than dealing with the cold, do you drink in hopes to find inspiration?
Hosoe: No, even when I’m not drunk I can create music. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Well, it is for warmth only then.
Sano: Does anyone else here drink while at work?
Mitsuyoshi: Sometimes when I’ve hit a roadblock at work and think “I give up!” I clock out, take a seat and knock one back you might say.
Sakamoto: I have taken a drink before at work. When drinking alcohol I might get a flash of inspiration… or so I hope.
Sano: In a case like that there’s something else as well. Perhaps the idea of “escape”…
Mitsuyoshi: At times like that it is not surprising.
Sakamoto: There are times when you hope inspiration may strike when you hit a roadblock.
Itou: Perhaps it is true that when you get drunk something might come to mind that wouldn’t happen otherwise. However, when you are trying to do editing, it would certainly have an effect on your ability to do so. Thus I get the feeling it would still be a roadblock either way.
Hosoe: And then, you might drink more if it would supplement your energy…
Sakamoto: Drinking to give you more energy, now that is an awesome concept! Mr. Mitsuda, do you drink while at work?
Mitsuda: I have never taken a drink while at work. I would be the type who would be completely incapacitated that way.
Sano: When Mr. Mitsuda drinks, talking to him becomes more interesting but he then loses his ability to write music. (laughter)
Sakamoto: I can sort of see someone like you, Mr. Kouda, drinking while at work…
Kouda: I don’t do that at all. I’m just like Mr. Mitsuda where if I did that I would be trashed.
Sakamoto: Is that so! In that case shall we leave the answer as, “Mr. Hosoe drinks rum?”
Question 5: When composing music, do you look at the game screen to take in the atmosphere of the scene to write music? Or do you write music without it? Also, when do you get the inspiration?
(Saitama Prefecture, Sun)
[Writing music while looking at the materials and writing and accumulating music.]
Sakamoto: Perhaps, this is something dependent on the schedule?
Hosoe: There are times when you don’t have access to the game materials.
Sano: But there aren’t many times that music will be written without having any sort of materials.
Sakamoto: For example, are there times where you might write a song you have a liking to, when not working, and think to yourself it might be a good fit?
Sano: That would be rather amazing coincidence.
Sakamoto: That hasn’t happened before for me though. If I were to gather up everything about the game and then try to make music that way, I would feel sick.
Sano: There are those that have a stock of songs though.
Sakamoto: If that was the case it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Of course if you were to say it was wasteful, that is the case…
Hosoe: Kenji Ito seems to have a savings account of songs.
Sano: It seems that Ken Ito does do that… wait but is it all right to be having fun talking about people who aren’t here right now? (laughter) But, I do have a feeling that is the case! The “game composer with the largest stock of music” is Ken Ito!! I wonder who the runner-up is?
Hidenori: I want to say it’s Mr. Nakamura.
Nakamura: No, no I don’t. I have zero.
Mitsuyoshi: I have seen HIRO (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), the composer for Outrun accumulating songs.
Sakamoto: Well, how would we go about answering this question?
Mitsuyoshi: It would be about writing music after getting a feel for the atmosphere of the project.
Sano: Well, when making a game a lot of people are involved you know. For example, from the viewpoints of the composer and the game creator, the game creator might say “oh, this will work for the game” but the composer may then say, “this won’t work at all.” With that kind of correlation (he points at Mr. Mitsuda who is sitting right next to him) certainly, right now, this kind of distance is created. (laughter)
Sakamoto: I… it’s painful it seems. (laughter) Despite how busy you are I do thank you for stopping by!
Sano: But it might be interesting to try writing music with that influence.
Mitsuyoshi: That can be true.
Sano: There are times where you might hear someone say, “in any case, please write it,” but that alone isn’t very interesting. Even up until the end you might want to have a look at it (the game screens)…
Mitsuda: That way is good.
Sano: Whether it is a small or large influence, without that there would be no meaning to the music you write.
Sakamoto: When you go see the game together and want to be completely satisfied it is best to see the game scenes and materials first before composing.
Sano: After all a game is something you have to work together to make.
-: Do you think the days of seeing the scenes in a game that makes you hungry to work on it have long past?
Sano: I think it is more seeing the paper materials than just the game scenes. A “oh this looks interesting, I want to write music for it,” kind of feeling. But a game like that doesn’t really come my way though. (laughter)
Sakamoto: What was your procedure for working on Monster Hunter?
Kouda: It took a long time to do research on the game. In any case the proposition was to make a real-looking dragon, for example it would be the largest object in the game, and thus there was research done on Rao Sheng Long, a monster in the game. During that research, I always had in mind what it looked like. When I was selected to compose the soundtrack, for the theme song at first I thought it wouldn’t be that sort of song and was told to do something more ethnic sounding. But gradually as the game became more complete and I was able to take in the grandness of its world, I asked that an orchestra be used for it.
Sano: You asked for an orchestra for the soundtrack? Hasn’t that been a failure for a lot of companies?! (laughter)
Kouda: I was very insistent about it. I said to them, “this song must be done using an orchestra.”
Sakamoto: What about you, Mr. Hidenori?
Hidenori: Often times I would create an image in my mind when composing music based off seeing everything in the project design materials. Since the schedule is decided long before, often times there’s not enough time to see all the images as they are not ready yet so I often have to rely on roughs and unfinished material. Basically, the sensation you get from the production of a game is stronger than from the production of the music.
Sakamoto: That can be understood. Those who write music first and those who need a total image first.
Itou: When I was working on the music for Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon, I had to consider that this was a game with a happy looking world with a dark development on the inside. Taking that in, I couldn’t give the music a bright feel to it and thus found myself completely submerged in the game while composing the music.
Sakamoto: In front of his house there’s a park and once he told me that “even though today is the deadline, I cannot make music.” When I asked him, “why is that?” He told me “that the lantern festival nearby has been under the spell of the Matsu Ken Samba and if he were to make any music now it would all be Matsu Ken Samba.” (laughter)
[Chris: Matsu Ken Samba refers to a song sung by Ken Matsudaira who is an actor famous for his work in period (samurai) television shows. It was rather popular given the period style clothing in the music video but with a rather, Brazilian flair as can be assumed from the name.]
Itou: That was really difficult you know. Somehow the phrase “Matsu Ken Samba” even got into the song I was working on.
Question 6: This is a question for everyone. What do you think about music from games from the West? Also, slowly more games are being made which are geared towards the Western marketplace. Has that changed the way game music is being made?
(Saitama Prefecture, Yasuoku)
[Clearly, a matter of budget?]
Mitsuyoshi: By Western, they mean foreign titles.
Sakamoto: Western games in other words.
Hosoe: There isn’t really that many more though.
Sakamoto: So the question is about how foreign artists write music then?
Sano: Also, in regards to FPS games, they seem to have crazy high budget orchestras.
Itou: It’s almost on the level of Hollywood films these days.
Sano: The Japanese game industry is pretty jealous… with the huge budgets that they have, their film-like creations are on a magnitude beyond anything we have. Thus to answer how we think about this, the answer is that, “we are jealous.” (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: But in regards to music is anyone that conscious of Western-style tracks? As for me, I don’t really think too much about it… It’s not like I think, “Oh no! We need to make “Halo“-like music!”
Everyone: That is true.
Sakamoto: There is music that sounds like it’s from an FPS game is there not?
Nakamura: Titles like Gears of War… There seems to be a lot of titles that make use of a full orchestra.
Sano: A lot of them tend to have Hollywood-style orchestrations.
Nakamura: For Japanese people, I wonder if there might be game music that is particularly memorable. As for movies, you always have music that people can say they have heard of before. That is why music is so important in games.
Mitsuyoshi: For example, I don’t really have any particular memory for music from Western games like how Mr. Kouda described the kind of unforgettable melody in his songs from Monster Hunter. Certainly, the feeling from music in Western games is rather gorgeous.
Sano: Then, the tracks from Monster Hunter are truly impressive.
Sakamoto: The basis is catchy but it is spread all over the place.
Sano: You could say it is “damp” in a sense. Or perhaps wet. I am a fan of orchestration that is damp. Don’t you suppose Hollywood-style orchestration is a bit on the dry side?
Sakamoto: What do you mean by “wet?”
Sano: Well… there’s a feeling of wetness… I guess that’s all I have. (laughter) Well, there’s something there! Even if orchestration is used, some melodies seem to carry a feeling of wetness.
Nakamura: Are you talking about songs that make you cry?
Sano: It’s something close to that I suppose. In other words, I think there’s an emptiness to Hollywood-style orchestration.
Hidenori: I can’t quite describe the sensation persay, but I am a fan of horror films and always look forward to watching the latest Japanese offerings. However when I watch what one of these films become when they are remade, I do feel that they feel empty.
Sano: Ah, you’re getting closer! Comparing US rock to UK rock, I feel there’s a sort of wet feeling to the latter. It’s something like that.
Mitsuyoshi: I’m in agreement!
Sakamoto: “Pathos”… perhaps?
Sano: Maybe. Perhaps it’s something on the genetic level.
Sakamoto: This discussion has certainly gotten complicated! (laughter)
Sano: Yes, right now we are using a variety of vocabulary that might sound misleading though. (laughter) But it is there, that wet factor.
Nakamura: (Western game music) techniques are impressive and certainly they have a lot of know-how. They have a massive budget and at times their procedures can be different, but that alone isn’t the only difference.
Hosoe: In short, the answer to the question is, “no change” I suppose you can say.
Sano: But right now, in regards to the presence of the Western market there’s not much that the industry can do.
Nakamura: Going with things that are distinctly Japanese or shifting more towards Western tastes is a challenge I think.
Sakamoto: As for music that is true but there are also differences in the Japanese and Western approach with sound effects. How does the sound become that way.
Nakamura: Even things like the confirmation sound is different. It’s rather mysterious. (laughter)
Hosoe: In regards to the US, a studio might borrow a military vehicle for use for sound effects. They can also be rather fussy about the sound of a gun.
Sano: Capcom can be like that too. For Biohazard 5 they asked ex-servicemen who still had firearms to fire them so that the sound can be recorded.
Kouda: For Devil May Cry, a mic was setup a few hundred meters away while the sounds of a fired gun was recorded. “The Grand Canyon is a bit too big but I wish we had an area like Monument Valley to work with.” Banter like that was fairly common. (laughter)
Everyone: That’s way too big!
Sano: But that is true. We sometimes hoped that maybe the bubble would happen again.
[Chris: Sano refers to the 1980s real estate bubble which halted the accelerating economy of Japan and led to more than a decade of recession which is still being felt in Japan today.]
Mitsuyoshi: Certainly! (laughter) Right now funding has really been frozen. At the same time we would try to build up reserves but would end up with many things we’d want to do but are unable to do anything about. As Mr. Sano mentioned if the bubble would occur again, things would get out of hand!
Sano: Furthermore, even though there’s less money available, young people sure know how to spend money compared to those of us in our generation! That would be the way to understand the Western market!
Everyone: It would work! (laughter)
Sano: I joined up just after the bubble period. I always wondered why people were talking so much about the bubble. Mr. Mitsuyoshi, you were working during that time right?
Mitsuyoshi: That’s right. The game world’s bubble though was a bit off.
[Chris: I suppose he is referring to the 5th generation of video games when consoles transitioned into disc-based, 3D engine-driven systems. There’s no specific event, like the NA Video Game Crash of 1983 (as referenced in wiki), but the wiki article talks about some stagnation which includes the failing of many consoles around this time.]
Sano: The kind of world where it was okay to say, “do you want to go get ramen? Let’s head to Sapporo!” (laughter) That kind of expression doesn’t work if you don’t know about the bubble but should it happen again then it is no problem! So to the person who asked this question, please bring back the bubble……
Sakamoto: Uhhh, it doesn’t appear that we gave any sort of answer here……
Sano: Well, there is no real change!
Sakamoto: Th… that works! Well then, on the next question…
Question 7: Has there been any projects where you thought, “please, anything but this!”?
[I will not do this project.]
Sano: Oh my… if only for this question today was worth it. (laughter)
Sakamoto: There are many cases of this happening. Isn’t that right, guys?
Sano: There are many indeed that make you feel like that!
Nakamura: Anything but work without guarantees…
Sakamoto: That wouldn’t even be considered work anymore!
Sano: Did that happen before in the past?
Nakamura: It was something that involved getting something else instead of payment. For the sake of getting promoted for example…
Hosoe: And then it leads to insolvency…
Sano: So the answer to the question is insolvency?! (laughter)
Nakamura: That I would really want to avoid. (laughter)
Sano: Ahahaha! So besides the matters of money, what else would be a big factor?
Nakamura: A project that never ends!
Mitsuyoshi: Shenmue was like that… strictly speaking, it finally ended and was released but as the scale of the project grew out of control I seriously thought it would never end.
Hidenori: Within the company there’s a section that is often called the “pubic utilities” section. (laughter)
Sakamoto: What about you, Mr. Itou?
Itou: There are times when a ridiculous order is given. Like say having voice on an FM source.
Sakamoto: As a creator that’s a bit too much. (laughter)
Itou: But within the structure of that question it’s not quite what Mr. Sakamoto might have had in mind. If that was the case then I guess I can’t think of anything.
Sakamoto: What about you Mr. Yukawa? Perhaps something like “I’d like to stop with the job of doing Bud girl cosplay.”
Yukawa: No, I’m holding on right now.
Hidenori: Perhaps we should go with a generalization?
Sakamoto: That’s a good idea.
Sano: Mr. Mitsuda, what’s the number one thing that would make you say, “anything but this!”?
Mitsuda: Well, I don’t think there is anything like that. But it seems every single time a client selects a sound director it is always a new guy.
Sano: Ah! I see.
Mitsuda: Thus, I always have to show them how I have everything listed in Excel. The list would contain song titles but where the songs are used would not be written down. So when I receive the scenario information, I have to ask them to have everything written correctly each time. But when I work with the next client, it’s the same thing all over again.
Sakamoto: Mr. Mitsuda’s system is fairly useful it seems.
Mitsuda: That’s probably the closest thing for me that would make me think, “anything but this!” (laughter)
Sano: I see. But, then you’d have a rather impressive occupation teaching people Excel and Word.
Mitsuda: True. But then I’d become Aviva. (laughter) Well, I think I’ll pass on that.
Sakamoto: If it becomes too much then it would be a problem then.
[Chris: Aviva is a company that operated vocational schools that focused on information technology.]
Question 8: When I was an elementary school student, I played Chrono Trigger and came to love game music when I heard Mr. Mitsuda’s songs. With the feeling of wanting to make music that can create such a feeling of excitement and emotion, I want to some day get involved in making game music. With that purpose in mind, I would like to know what would be the best way to study and train. Please teach me.
(Kanagawa Prefecture, Feather Mantle)
[For example, watch and observe a movie.]
Sakamoto: Uohhh! Mr. Mitsuda has been personally named! First off, I don’t know exactly the best way to get involved in the industry persay. You could consider going to a vocational school, interview with a maker or developer, or apply at a company like ours. There are many ways to approach this.
Sano: But thinking about a lot of us here, when we were young we didn’t exactly go out and try to study the method to make music right?
Mitsuyoshi: I doubt it. (laughter)
Sakamoto: I didn’t study either but when I was younger I went through the phase of thinking I wanted to make game music in the future.
Mitsuda: I didn’t think I would be involved in games the way I am right now. Just music alone would be boring I thought so I was thinking if I combined art and music together it might be better. As for films I think anything works. That is something I thought about wanting to do.
Sano: Eh, you did think about that?
Mitsuda: I really like films. Even when I was in high school I didn’t do anything. (laughter) I didn’t even get involved with a girl at all.
Mitsuyoshi: You’re kidding!
Mitsuda: No, no it is the truth. That’s why I would be bored when I went home alone. So I ended up always going out to rent or borrow movies. From European to even American films. I watched a lot of Japanese animation.
Sakamoto: Is that how you found yourself wanting to get involved with making game music?
Mitsuyoshi: Perhaps it was from this withdrawal.
Mitsuda: Exactly. I was just filled with sound.
Sakamoto: If you wanna learn how to create music for games, you’re saying it’s probably a good idea to listen to music from movies and stuff, right?
Mitsuda: I wonder about that.
Sano: Even if that was the case, you can’t just sit there and just hope that it happens. You have to find your own purpose. By the way, what films left a strong impression with you?
Mitsuda: Classic films like 8 1/2 and Charade.
Sano: Ehh?! You saw some great stuff. Charade?! Just listening to this talk I imagine it’s something you would take a much older woman to go see. (laughter) Somehow outside of the world of films this doesn’t happen at all.
Mitsuda: Not at all. (laughter)
Sano: But, have you ever wanted to write music that had that kind of atmosphere? Perhaps offer to write music that sounds like that from Charade.
Mitsuda: I would do it in a heartbeat!
Sano: (laughter) Whoa. Well, there you have it folks! Mr. Procyon Studios, I would like to place an order for a “Charade“-style song!
Hidenori: This has become a good keyword. (laughter)
Sano: I want you to go watch Shinkansen Daibakuha! This is an amazingly good film with Ken Takakura playing the lead.
Sakamoto: Is that also a useful film to watch?
Sano: Absolutely. I can’t remember where any of the music is used though. (laughter) But, telling someone to just go watch movies is rather simple advice.
Mitsuda: It’s a good way to build up your perceptions though such as maybe determining a songs timing for example.
Sano: Just like with games, it’s a medium that links up the connection between images and sound.
Sakamoto: Is it all right to just listen to music though? Perhaps you could go and learn the songs by ear…
Mitsuda: There’s a good difference between that and just observation.
Nakamura: There seems to be a lot of folks who write music who are also quite knowledgeable about music in films. The conclusion is simple: Go to the movies!
Sano: Exactly. Listening to this I think we all see eye to eye on this. (laughter) It’s important to be in agreement! But, this person wants to hear a response from Mr. Mitsuda so the response has become, “Go see Charade!” (laughter)
Mitsuda: Either Charade or Poppoya will do. (laughter)
Question 9: What do you do if the music you’ve produced before sounds like something you produced in the past or something someone else did?
(Gunma Prefecture, Akihiro@Kayama)
[Do you discard it if it sounds similar? Or even if it sounds similar it’s okay?]
Sakamoto: What about this one?
Nakamura: … it can’t really helped… right? (laughter)
Sano: In the case that the product has already shipped?
Sakamoto: For example, after finishing a song you think, “I’ve done something great! But, it sounds like something I’ve heard before.”
Itou: In order to defend against that, Mr. Sakamoto thoroughly listens to each and every one of his songs.
Sakamoto: Yes, there’s that.
Sano: Are you serious? That would be impossible. I would recommend that you quit that at once!
Sakamoto: T-That isn’t my only motive! I actually really enjoy listening to my own music.
Sano: It’s all right, even if it sounds similar to something else! Of course other composers will be in a similar situation but I think for yourself there is nothing wrong with that.
Sakamoto: But, I would think that I would be shocked if something in the finished product sounded similar to another product.
Sano: But at the same time you wouldn’t just give up, right? After all you’ve already put it out. The number one thing to worry about is when you get a “well I finished that quickly…huh, it sounds similar?” kind of feeling. (laughter)
Sakamoto: It happens, it happens. (laughter)
Nakamura: Isn’t there a useful iPhone app that’s out right now for that purpose? The one where you hum a tune into the device and it searches for a matching song. If I think that a phrase I’m using sounds kinda hackneyed, I’d just use the app and search for it.
Itou: If you find a match do you fix it?
Nakamura: If there’s a match I’d discard it. (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: But, as for arranges you’d have to make changes.
Nakamura: If the melody line is exactly the same then it would be a problem after all.
Mitsuyoshi: I do that though. If the arrangement is interesting enough.
Sakamoto: This is something that is hard to determine whether it’s something you’ve put out before or something that you might have heard in passing.
Mitsuyoshi: You are thinking about whether or not your song is good. Thus it would seem similar to your own originality.
Sakamoto: I understand now! The most important thing is that you value your own self worth.
Question 10: Among the projects you’ve worked on in the past, is there any that brings forth any memories?
(Tokyo Prefecture, God Triangle)
Hosoe: I wonder what is meant by that.
Sano: Let’s go with, “bringing forth bad memories.” Besides, talking about good memories would be too boring. (laughter) Something bad enough to make you allergic to the very idea!
Sakamoto: There’s no way we can talk about something like that! (laughter) To phrase it differently, we should consider among the masterpieces, you might say, and select something from there?
Mitsuyoshi: For me, it would be Daytona and Shenmue. Daytona would be the positive and Shenmue would be the negative. (laughter) Although lately, Shenmue doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it was. It was a lot of trouble and all, but even to this day the reaction from overseas has been impressive. I guess it wasn’t a bad game at all.
Sakamoto: To the point that rumors still persist of a sequel…
Mitsuyoshi: “I hope so too.” … I want to play it. (laughter)
Hidenori: You really do?
Mitsuyoshi: Well, things have changed. Back then I absolutely did not want to play it. It brought back too many painful memories of working on the game. But as time has passed my opinion has changed. I guess I became more mature as I got older…
Hidenori: As time passes, good and bad titles suddenly look like amazing games as well.
Mitsuyoshi: I do get that feeling when I see the reaction from overseas.
Hidenori: I can say the same with the Ryu ga Gotoku series, which I’m working on right now…
Mitsuyoshi: Yeah, I know what you mean. We’re at the same company after all. (laughter)
Hidenori: Working on matching the motion with voice required a lot of trial and error and when we got there people would think it was Shenmue all over again. I guess it’s meaning as a pioneer has gotten stronger it seems.
Nakamura: Sega just moves too quickly. (laughter) I feel the same way for both of them.
Sakamoto: What do you think, Mr. Hosoe?
Hosoe: It seems everyone has some sort of memories of stuff they’ve worked on.
Sano: Ehh. (laughter) Please give us an example.
Hosoe: Cybersled. There was a certain amount of time to work on the music so I tried experimenting with different things.
Sano: Yes, yes, yes! During that era, this was the number one thing Mr. Hosoe wanted to do.
Mitsuyoshi: Starblade was also worked on by you, right?
Sano: I see footage of it from time to time on YouTube and inevitably it brings me to tears!
Mitsuyoshi: It is pretty cool is it not.
Hosoe: The balance of the ROM’s capacity and the dialogue’s capacity was pretty bad…
Sano: You couldn’t get all the music in, huh. I was a fan and I would be incessantly talking about it. (laughter) The end really teared you up.
Hosoe: It does leave an impression. For the voice, instead of getting a voice actor we got some big-wig at Namco America we poked fun at and called “Mister Starblade.” Supposedly afterwards he left the company and left Redwood City. (laughter)
Sano: That’s a good story! Perhaps he left on a journey to a different star. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Mr. Mitsuda, you had talked about Xenogears earlier.
Mitsuda: The good and the bad that was Xenogears.
Sano: What was the bad part…?
Mitsuda: Definitely the lengthy development time. It was a period that lasted about two years. It was really hard to maintain my motivation. Being an RPG isn’t it natural that the most dramatic tracks would be reserved for the end? Whether it was the last boss or the last dungeon. (laughter) Back then it was really important.
Sano: So you had to deal with all the music you wrote for that 2 year period of time.
Mitsuda: That’s right. Irish music at that time wasn’t really popular yet as this was a bit before the screening of Titanic but at that time I had already started recording some Irish-themed music for Xenogears. About a year into the development, Titantic was premiering and when I heard the ending song instantly I had the notion that it sounded way too similar to what I was writing. I was incensed when talking about it, (laughter) that I wrote down under the number of days that the soundtrack had been recorded up to, “recording must be complete before Titanic comes out!”
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sakamoto: A s…small form of resistance eh…
Sano: What was that, Mr. Mitsuda’s, well…
Mitsuda: I was naive back then. (laughter)
Sano: Right! Compared to a big name like that, you were a small fry! But, you probably knew that. (laughter)
Mitsuda: For a variety of reasons it was a favorite project of mine. Afterwards when everything was finished, I collapsed and had to be taken away by ambulance.
Sano: What do you mean by collapsed…
Mitsuda: Gradually, my display appeared to look warped. I thought to myself, “ah, this can’t be a good thing…” My breathing was already becoming difficult and all I could remember was calling the ambulance. It seemed that I had collapsed, but at the same time a programmer who had also pulled an all-nighter with me was sleeping. His complexion was just as bad as mine so when the paramedics showed up and said, “are you all right?!” it turns out that they were going to carry out the programmer instead.
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sano: This story is going downhill!
Mitsuda: As soon as they got him on the stretcher, he woke and apparently said, “What’s going on?!” (laughter)
Sano: Well, you probably were unaware of what was going on.
Mitsuda: Not at all. By the time I came to, I was laid up in the hospital with an IV attached to my arm. When I started writing I had hardly ate anything as I thought it was too much of a hindrance.
Question 11: Have you ever written a song for someone you liked?
(Tokyo Prefecture, Blond-haired Bud girl)
Sakamoto: This is a question from my staff member, Yukawa. Has anyone here had this experience? Perhaps a love song or something.
Sano: I’ve done that many times, when I was drunk. Something along the lines of, “you like my song from Ridge Racer? Well, how about I give you one?” (laughter)
Sakamoto: M… Mr. Sano, uhh, that’s not exactly what I had in mind… A good story would be better. (laughter)
Hidenori: Honestly, I’ve done that once.
Hidenori: I was in a band when I was in school and had wrote a guitar piece.
Mitsuyoshi: Was it something you put your heart into and played?
Hidenori: Yeah, you could say that. (laughter)
Sakamoto: How about you, Mr. Kouda?
Sano: Mr. Kouda seems like he definitely did. (laughter) With a full orchestra!
Kouda: No… actually I never did… (laughter)
Sakamoto: What about you, Mr. Nakamura?
Hidenori: Seems like he would have. Perhaps even a proposal.
Mitsuyoshi: It might be surprising but I’ve never done so.
Nakamura: Well, maybe with flowers… or something.
Sano: That’s normal! Is it all right to do something that simple?! If that is the case I guess someone like me of an open heart is on the cutting edge. Granted, I don’t think any of the kids who might read this will understand what I’m talking about. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Are you talking about Tiffany?
-: By the way, what about you Mr. Sakamoto?
Sakamoto: Nope, I’ve never done so.
Sano: (looks over at Sakamoto’s wife who is watching nearby) Ma’am, what are your thought?
Sakamoto’s Wife: Well, when we were first dating he did say something like, “I will write a song for you.” I haven’t received it yet but I imagine it would be something on a grand scale…
Sakamoto: Stop, stop! Don’t say anything else!
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Nakamura: On the other hand, I’d be more interested to hear whether or not you are happy with that.
Mitsuyoshi: It would be a good idea to put your wife’s name in the lyrics right?
Sakamoto’s Wife: That would be lovely.
Sano: By the way, out in Las Vegas there was this store that sold CDs where your name would be sung on it. Apparently it sells pretty well.
Sakamoto: Yes, yes there is! I know about it!
Hosoe: There aren’t many names in Chinese so it would be pretty easy I’d imagine.
Sano: Eh, there aren’t many names in Chinese?
Sakamoto: G… guys! This isn’t a discussion about the number of names in Chinese. The answer should be something that is far more positive!
Sano: This can be the start of a good business venture…
Sakamoto: Please stop thinking about business and rights! Anyways, that concludes the user-submitted questions and we will now go on to questions I have personally submitted.
[Hideki Sakamoto’s Question Corner]
Question 12: If you had 10,000,000 yen, what would you use it for?
[Chris: At 94.9698 yen to the USD, that would be $105,296.66 USD]
[What would you buy or make.]
Sano: 10,000,000 is a difficult amount.
Hosoe: It’s not enough for anything I’d want to do anyway…
Sano: What would you do, Mr. Sakamoto?
Sakamoto: Simple… I’d donate it to UNICEF.
Sano: You are totally lying!
Sakamoto: Everyone, let’s raise our public image! It’s a very good opportunity! Actually, Mr. Sano has asked a question like that before in the past.
Itou: Ah, it was probably something he said while drinking. At that time, Mr. Sano said that he would leave 10,000,000 yen on the roadside with a sign that said, “take whatever you like” and would have a camera there to take pictures of what people would do when seeing something like that. “It would be amazingly awesome!” he says. (laughter)
Sano: …maybe I was out of it? Who was I at that moment? (laughter) Right now if I had 10,000,000, I’d get flowers. (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: By the way, if you were to want to build a studio, would 10,000,000 yen cover the costs?
Hosoe: No way.
Sakamoto: Well it depends on the scale I suppose.
Sano: Wouldn’t you guys be thrilled with a fancy plug-in for 10,000,000 yen? (laughter) Ah, if I had 10,000,000 yen I would make a plug-in! With the help of Procyon we can make a plug-in. The one thing I really want to work on right now with Procyon is a plug-in. So if I had 10,000,000 yen I’d go up to them and say, make me a plug-in!
Sakamoto: Using the money to make something is a good idea.
Sano: It’s interesting to make software. What kind of software would you want, Mr. Sakamoto?
Sakamoto: Me? Hmmm, I think I would honestly try to write software to help people in need.
Sano: …what did you just say? (laughter)
Sakamoto: We have to raise our public image and… you’re really stubborn about this. Sorry, but nothing comes to mind…
Mitsuda: On that matter, there isn’t really anything as great as AutoPan.
Sano: There it is! There it is- AutoPan! Mr. Hosoe, what was that software, Songbird was it? That AutoPan is really something.
Hosoe: It’s good isn’t it.
Itou: What’s the difference?
Sano: Who knows? Wait, weren’t you pleased with AutoPan itself? (laughter) I recall you being oddly excited with it.
Itou: In this day and age, it comes with most sequencers.
Sano: Songbird is for hardware. Back then, that kind of automation wasn’t really possible.
Sakamoto: What’s so different about that.
Sano: Back then, the data wasn’t the actual songs itself but was something that involved audio levels but you couldn’t use auto panning. For that purpose we had effectors.
Hosoe: After you then used the reverse phase.
Sano: That’s right. Thus a not so calm mix was made. (laughter)
Sakamoto: In any case, if you have 10,000,000 yen in your possession, the answer is to make “a profitable plug-in.” On to the next question.
Question 13: When you look at a woman, where do your eyes go first?
Sakamoto: Okay, here we go! Now we will see the true nature of everyone!
Sano: Is this your type of woman?
Sakamoto: No, but it works. (laughter)
Itou: For this question, I’d like Mr. Kouda to answer…
Sano: Good idea!
Mitsuyoshi: I want to know Mr. Kouda’s weak point!
Hidenori: I heard it was missionaries.
Kouda: The first thing I see on a woman… “the figure?”
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sakamoto: “The figure” you say!
Sano: What’s with that keyword! That’s a good one!
Sakamoto: In other words, what do you mean? Perhaps the form?
Kouda: I don’t know… I suppose it might have something to do with the posture or the gesture.
Sakamoto: This isn’t the opinion of most people I would think. (laughter) Isn’t there a particular part you might focus on?
Kouda: No, those are trifling matters… yes? (laughter)
Hidenori: I sort of get what he’s saying but at the same time I don’t. (laughter)
Sano: Generalizations are difficult.
Hosoe: Like for instance I have an odd feeling I can’t see the feet.
Sano: Eh? What do you mean?
Nakamura: Do you mean that she doesn’t have feet?
Hosoe: It’s like I can only see the shape of the foot.
Sakamoto: Umm, it seems one confusing matter has been superseded by another confusing matter so now none of it makes sense.
Sano: Simply put are you saying that’s a ghostly-looking woman then? (laughter) So where would my eyes go. I wonder.
Mitsuyoshi: By the way, Mr. Nakamura and I would go for the breasts. We are from the planet of the boobs after all!
Sakamoto: Do you live on Chichibu Mountain on Planet Boobs?
[Chris: I don’t know quite how to explain this. “Chichi” is another way to describe breasts so I suppose this is some sort of play on words here, but Chichibu is an actual town in Saitama Prefecture which, last I checked, has nothing in it that would relate to breasts in a humorous manner.]
Nakamura: Don’t lump me in with you.
Sano: What kind of breasts do you speak of on your planet?
Mitsuyoshi: In any case, large ones. Large is good.
Sano: There are people with overly large breasts out there.
Mitsuyoshi: “Too much” is not good.
Sano: What is the cut off point for “too much” anyway? (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: Uh, that is a good question… F (cup)?
Sano: Your (English) pronunciation is too amazing! (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: Well, I’ve been like that since I was younger… eh, wait, why did this turn into such an erotic discussion? (laughter) Lately, I’ve begun to like a smaller size.
Everyone: Which is it anyway?!
Nakamura: How about between Masami Nagasawa and Haruka Ayase?
Mitsuyoshi: No, no, Haruka Ayase’s is a bit too big. Eh, why are we on this subject now? (laughter)
Itou: The prevailing opinion is that Masami Nagasawa has rather large breasts. Wait… (starts fantasizing)
-: He appears to be fantasizing about it! (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: “Mr. Itou is a fan of large breasts!” (laughter)
Sano: 100% perverted old man. (laughter)
Sakamoto: What about you, Mr. Hidenori?
Hidenori: I’d look at the hair first…
Mitsuyoshi: That’s a bit deep. (laughter) You check for things like whether or not there are split hairs?
Hidenori: Yes, split hairs is a good measurement of proper nutrition after all.
Sano: Thus, nourishment is important then?
Hidenori: Of course. (laughter)
Sano: On the other hand if you said you were into split hairs that would be more interesting. “I will provide you with nourishment!” or something like that. (laughter) What about you, Mr. Mitsuda”
Mitsuda: That’s okay, I’ll pass!
Hidenori: Fans around the world would like to know too.
Mitsuda: Mmm… maybe the lips…
Sakamoto: What kind of lips?
Mitauda: In terms of what kind, I’d say I like thin lips best.
Mitsuyoshi: That doesn’t sound half bad!
Sano: (looking at the comment) Are Mr. Mitsuda’s fans all right with that?! (laughter) But, why thin lips?
Mitsuda: Isn’t there a saying that people with thin lips also have a thin amount of luck?
Sano: Ahh, people who don’t have a lot of luck…
Mitsuda: People you’d say, “I want to protect you!” to.
Sano: Yes, yes, yes. That was a good finish. (laughter)
Hidenori: There’s a junior of mine who is a fan of Mr. Mitsuda. I think theirs is thin as well. (laughter)
Question 14: When you go to sleep, of course you’d sleep in pajamas right?
Sakamoto: Of course, I assume a number of you change into pajamas when you go to sleep.
Mitsuyoshi: By the way, does anyone sleep in the nude?
Hidenori: Yes. (raises hand)
Everyone: Whoa, someone does!
Sano: Eh, completely naked? Is it “always naked?”
Mitsuyoshi: “Always naked” you say. (laughter)
Sano: Well, there are those that opt for being “always naked.” It would be good if there was an idiom for that. (laughter) There might be times where you are drunk and intend to strip down and hop into the bath but end up going to sleep instead. That’s what I would call “always naked.” But for you, do you make sure to be naked when you sleep?
Hidenori: When I get back to my room, the first thing I do is strip down.
Mitsuyoshi: Like the “Terminator.”
Sano: The “Terminator!” I understand I guess. (laughter) Next time this discussion comes up I will say that! “Oh, you’re going Terminator.” (laughter)
Sakamoto: (looks at Mr. Sano) Do you go with just a t-shirt and shorts?
Sano: Eh, who me? As for me there’s nothing interesting to say. It’s not like I was going to say I sleep naked…
Nakamura: Even before you get to the bath you are naked?
Hidenori: Yes, totally naked. Since I live alone this is something that isn’t that hard to understand I think. If you live alone that is.
Itou: Do you cook in the nude as well?
Hidenori: Sometimes. I’ve burned myself a couple of times as well. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Where did you burn yourself?
Sano: If it was konjac or stir-fry it would be a major problem. (laughter)
Question 15: What did you do with the stimulus money?]
[Chris: Just like the US, the Japanese government gave out stimulus money as well to bolster the economy. Needless to say, it didn’t do much.]
Sakamoto: Has everyone already used it?
Nakamura: I already received it. I forgot what I did with it though…
Hidenori: I also received it. I was fairly apathetic about it so I just donated all of it.
Nakamura: Ah, that gave you plus points to your public image! (laughter)
Hidenori: That wasn’t really my reason for doing that. (laughter) I actually had my doubts about the purpose of the stimulus money. I actually thought about refusing the money but that didn’t sound like a good idea. So I just donated it.
Hosoe: If you refused it, the municipal government would probably get a hold of those funds.
Sakamoto: Mr. Sano doesn’t seem very interested in jumping in on this topic.
Sano: I don’t really know much about your reasons for doing that. I’m thinking, “you guys really know a lot about this.” (laughter) In the first place why do we have stimulus money anyway? I’m pretty bad when it comes to filling out forms in the first place. That’s the same at work. By the way how much was the stimulus money anyway?
Sakamoto: About 12,000 yen.
[Chris: At 94.9698 yen to the USD, that’s about $126.35 USD.]
Hosoe: It also depends on the size of the family.
Nakamura: For people over 65 and under 18 it would be 20,000 yen, so Mr. Sano, your kid would have gotten 20,000 yen.
[Chris: At 94.9698 yen to the USD, that’s about $210.59 USD.]
Sano: Ahh! My son did mention that. They were apparently talking about it in his class. In a sense it was like receiving money for New Year’s. He had the image that that money was effectively his.
Mitsuyoshi: My kid also said the exact same thing. (laughter)
Sano: That’s expected. It’s spread pretty quickly through his class and in the elementary school.
Mitsuyoshi: They asked me, “how much money would be received?”
Sano: I took drastic measures! I said, “receive, what are you talking about?”
Nakamura: The politics of fear. (laughter)
Sano: The only stimulus my son is going to get is some seaweed topping on his ramen. (laughter)
Question 16: Choose in order who’s the most stylish.]
Sakamoto: Let’s be honest about this. So, who would be the most stylish amongst us?
Sano: I’d say Mr. Mitsuda.
Mitsuda: No, no, I totally don’t have an instinct for girls. Sorry!
Sakamoto: No, I’m not talking about that. I’m more talking about girls falling over you instead.
Sano: Thus, I’d say it would definitely be Mr. Mitsuda.
Mitsuda: No, shouldn’t it be Mr. Sano instead?
Sano: I am not what you would call stylish.
Nakamura: Mr. Kouda is fairly stylish don’t you think?
Mitsuyoshi: Mr. Kouda alternates in and out of it. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Just looking around it seems we have a lot of good-looking guys in here.
Mitsuda: Well, when Mr. Mitsuyoshi is doing a live set it’s pretty amazing.
Sano: The amount of deep voice cheering is fairly impressive. (laughter) Kind of like YMO’s Hosono. (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: Th… thank you very much!
Sakamoto: Sounds like Mr. Mitsuda is the number one choice.
Mitsuda: That isn’t true!
Mitsuyoshi: Mr. Mitsuda is rather crafty. (laughter) If Mr. (Yuzo) Koshiro was here he’d agree. Especially looking at those round, puppy-dog eyes of yours…
Sakamoto: (looks at the Enterbrain staff member who came to cover the event) That is why we have Famitsu with us here. I wonder in general what they think…
Mitsuyoshi: The magazine does have a section that embraces performers after all.
Sakamoto: “Game composers to embrace?”
Sano: I would be totally against that! It would be best not to do that! Well, a while ago did we not have a grand time talking with Mr. Hosoe about a favorite song of his that had a groove that was like being in bed? A lot of people were into that techno style and there were many repetitions although fans of funk didn’t really get into it…
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sano: And there was a girl at the time I think who asked, “well, what song would be best” or “consequently, what would be best.” I don’t remember what his answer was though. It seems techno wasn’t really that popular. There was a lot of repetition after all. (laughter) That is why I wonder how things that are progressive rock-like are.
Mitsuyoshi: A change of rhythm? (laughter)
Sano: The change of rhythm took a while, it seems!
Mitsuyoshi: Fusion-style would be self-satisfying I suppose. (laughter)
Sano: A solo job. (laughter) Right now if it was like the “Tamori Club” it would be great!
[Chris: Tamori Club is a popular late-night variety show hosted by Kazuyoshi Morita who goes by the name of Tamori.]
Sakamoto: Ahaha… ouch, ouch my stomach hurts! I think it is now time for Mr. Kouda’s input…
Kouda: I was thinking of saying something about rhythm change but it seems it has already been mentioned. (laughter) Next is tempo change?
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sano: Well this conversation has gotten interesting!
Itou: If you choose rhythm change and tempo change you can probably do it in unison. (laughter)
Sano: I don’t use tempo change at all.
Mitsuyoshi: But in the case you reach the end of the song doesn’t the tempo increase?
Everyone: At the end! (laughter)
Sano: I go for crescendos, crescendos! Let’s tie this conversation in with more music terminology. “Isn’t there da capo?” (laughter)
Mitsuyoshi: Like “dal segno.”
Itou: Are you saying that at that age dal segno is tough?
Sano: That’s amusing! (raucous laughter) The discussion here is impressive. Well, this is certainly a mature conversation.
Sakamoto: In the end I go for a ritardando. Everyone knows that.
Sano: After all, all we are talking is music!
Mitsuyoshi: What about staccato?
Sano: I would go for pizzicato. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Does anyone use tremolo? And then perhaps use fermata for the ending…
Hosoe: At this age, gradually work in decrescendo…
Mitsuda: Or perhaps you could say diminuendo…
Sano: (laughter) This is abnormally animated. As expected, it’s impressive if you have the vocabulary!
Mitsuyoshi: In the end there was no answer to the question though. (laughter) What do you think, Mr. Kouda?
Kouda: So you are thinking this isn’t very stylish then?
Sakamoto: Ah, I remember now. If a game composer’s job was stylish. But when you get into the industry you’ll think that it wasn’t supposed to be like this. What would you have to do to be stylish then?
Sano: Stopping to think about it, I think you can say it is already no good. (laughter)
Sakamoto: (raucous laughter) That’s true! So the answer is that “Mr. Mitsuda is the most stylish.” On to the next question!
Question 17: Moustaches… is it better without it?
(Mr. Sakamoto’s picture is displayed.)
Mitsuyoshi: Huh? Is this a personal question about Mr. Sakamoto?
Sakamoto: Yeah I was just thinking about this… I’ve always had a moustache.
Sano: …By the way have you gained weight?
Sakamoto: I have…
Nakamura: Where did you take that picture?
Sakamoto: It was in Las Vegas.
Sano: Las Vegas you say… but what kind of scenery is this? Is this supposed to be a gravure picture? Somehow I find myself transfixed on your clothing.
Sakamoto: This is my personal fashion style!
Mitsuyoshi: Looks Hawaiian.
Nakamura: Maybe more like Los Angeles-style.
Sakamoto: This isn’t a question about locations…
Sano: The t-shirt you are wearing is kind of like that from “Ultra Q” and… Did you dye that yourself?
Sakamoto: Well, this is certainly a perk. To have such a pleasant feeling from asking such stupid questions to you guys!
Sano: Sorry, I was just trying to deftly bypass talking about your moustache. (laughter) Do you constantly cut it?
Sakamoto: Unfortunately my wife always cuts it for me…
Sano: Oh no! The topics I hate the most, which is what people speak fondly about, has left me shaking! Mrs. Sakamoto, how do you cut his moustache?
Sakamoto: My cute wife always manages to cut it very cleanly.
Sano: Uhh… when you two are alone do things get heated then? (laughter)
Sakamoto: No, things work out just fine.
Nakamura: How long has it been since you two were married?
Sakamoto: It’s been 3 years. From the time we started dating… wait, you guys are interested in this? (laughter)
Sano: Compared to moustaches it’s all right!
Sakamoto: My question has come to nothing!
Sano: In regards to moustaches, you cut them and they grow back after all! If it suits you I don’t mind if you go and shave your eyebrows as well.
Sakamoto: I’d like to thank everyone for being a part of this up until now. We are now down to the last two questions. The next question is a more serious one.
Question 18: In the music industry, when a composer writes game music why are the conditions and the reception different from a composer who writes game music in the game industry? What does everyone think about this?
[The industry differs in regards to the conditions.]
Sakamoto: For example with tie-ups, when you submit some of the songs in the music industry, from the beginning the rights and royalties are set but with people in the game music industry it’s more natural to set up a complete buy out instead.
Hosoe: Probably because back in the day a lot of it was done in-house…
Nakamura: That’s true.
Sakamoto: Back in the day programmers wrote the music.
Sano: That was a really long time ago.
Sakamoto: I wonder if that sort of old custom still continues to this day.
Sano: It doesn’t really seem like it.
Sakamoto: That’s fine but why is that? Those people out there who aim to be game composers might be in tears I think. Even an amazing song will have its rights sold to be used as much as they like. But with the music industry, it is inconsistent that composers set up conditions of rights before even writing anything.
Nakamura: Well, composers in the music industry are fantastically wealthy from the profits they generate and I would think they would think nothing was wrong with that. If that didn’t change I don’t think their opinions would change either. That is why artists get their faces on the big signboards like famous talents in order to sell their image which of course doesn’t really reflect the quality of the work.
Hosoe: It’s a small percentage.
Nakamura: For example, if these people were that profitable would they be this…
Sakamoto: No, it isn’t a matter of whether they are profitable or not but from the beginning why are the conditions that different. This is a bit different from the earlier discussion. Perhaps no one has had any experience with this?
Mitsuyoshi: To expand on the topic, I wonder if there are times when people might look down upon their status.
Sakamoto: It’s less likely for artists in the music industry. Besides when writing a song the quality of it’s parts can be mutually inferior so perhaps it is true that they rely more on image than anything else.
[The knowledge of legal folks.]
Mitsuda: I can clearly say I don’t know a lot about the legal folks in the game industry. But, if it was explained to me once I would just nod my head and say, “oh, is that so?” For me I would say that if it involved selling the rights as well I wouldn’t support it but I would be more understanding if the terms were explained to me. There’s an image that the legal department would just take everything if you offer the rights. That is why if we were to sweep that away and make an effort to utilize legal options then I don’t think it would be a problem at all. As for the game industry that sort of system still isn’t feasible. The music industry has been around longer than the game industry and has established these practices, has it not? But it should put everyone at ease if the legal department presents the terms. So it isn’t that the position of the game composer is low but it’s more that the lawyers don’t know any better. If everyone takes the time to learn about this and let it soak in, I think things will go smoothly.
Sakamoto: Well, what if sound creators decide to maintain their rights and say the graphics and programming people did the same, wouldn’t it be rather cumbersome?
Mitsuda: How so? Overwhelmingly the composer’s guarantee versus his workload is pretty weak.
Sano: “I wouldn’t know about that,” you might say.
Sano: But if composers clamor for rights then others will follow suit which might lead people to being in opposition to the idea.
Mitsuda: There are illustrators who hold on to the rights.
Sano: There are people who would do it. But it’s a matter of how many. In terms of legal matters, when a game is being made there is a written contract that encompasses the entire project. The point is that at the same time the game’s music would be included in that as well. If that is the case then the need to have a new contract for just music would be the exception. If that is the case then lawyers would view it as too much trouble. It would be an extra workload for them. Thus it is a difficult plan of action.
Hosoe: Whether it’s the publisher or the developer, things really have changed.
Sano: It certainly has.
Mitsuda: But if you were to perform at your own live event, isn’t it a bit odd that you would still have to go to the game company and say, “I would like to be allowed to used this song.” Why is it that I have to ask for permission from the game company to use my own song for my own performance? Besides that, it is absolutely strange that royalties would have to be paid out to do so. Nowadays there are more game music concerts but it is tricky to navigate the many legal aspects of rights. For a game company, these events would be a definite plus as they act as promotion. For the composer to be able to perform their own songs would certainly be a plus as well, but why is it despite all the positives that would come from moving forward it seems so difficult?
Sano: Where was it? Recently there was a company that allowed free use of their music?
Mitsuyoshi: Ah, that would be Falcom.
Sano: That was rather interesting.
Sakamoto: If Mr. Koshiro was here today I would have wanted to ask him that… Somehow we got to this topic.
Mitsuda: Composers want their music to be heard. I wonder what it would be like to not use it again and allow it to become obsolete. That is why they would want people to use it as they see fit. To see how the music is used on video sites would make anyone feel happy.
Mitsuyoshi: It would be a lot of exposure.
Mitsuda: Exactly. There’s a want for people to understand that feeling. It seems this discussion has gotten rather serious. (laughter)
Sano: On the other hand I had to wonder if it was just out of randomness that he posed this question.
[The anguish of the freelance game music composer.]
Sakamoto: Originally I was a freelance game music composer and when I first got started I had no connections in the industry and certainly had no experience with any big titles. On top of that, no companies would really approach me. Those days were pretty rough. I was rather sensitive to the fact that despite doing the exact same thing my treatment was far different from others. For example, if there was someone who just had a major CD debut the previous month or someone who is ex-music industry decides to work on some songs for a game, I’d be the first to buy it. For a newcomer it was common to receive a few thousand to tens of thousands of yen for each song. Compare to the music industry, well, perhaps it isn’t a good comparison, but they would have royalties and plenty of exposure and that rather left me uneasy. I hoped to find a solution to all of that.
Sano: In regards to a solution, you basically want the same kind of terms as the other guys.
Sakamoto: Why was it not the same I thought. It’s not like what I’ve done lately and everything I’ve made up until this time was all unenjoyable. Even if I received royalties on everything and made a decent profit, there would still be issues. It’s not just the matter of the money but although the comparison is a bit difficult, assuming I were to do the same thing as a non-freelance composer I wonder why the treatment and terms are different. It seems the matter is only about the standing and background of the composer.
Sano: As for me, I didn’t follow a normal path in my opinion. When taking on projects, the point was it wasn’t about the quality of the sound or the tune. After it gets sent out I would have to negotiate with the guy who approves everything. For example if some bigwig decides they want to work for me, the money factor can change.
Sakamoto: I know what you mean. It’s a tie-in for the sales promotion of the product. Thus there’s a possibility for discussion in regards to rights and royalties. Even if it isn’t a big name it would be all right if they would appreciate your own product but if the people in charge have no good business sense, no matter what the composer might do the project might come undone which a lot of freelance composers can probably relate to. For a project with a lot of potential to be in a product which fails for that kind of reason is unfortunate and certainly is bad for the industry. That is why I say that in the case that they have no ability to market their product it is a problem that the industry places these different kind of terms on the composer.
Sano: But when the order is requested that is why there is usually some sort of a drafted plan sent. That’s something that some people do rely on.
Mitsuda: As for American films, imagine if composers get a budget of 100,000,000. When you hire an orchestra to work with you are left to decide on what to do. In exchange, you relinquish all rights. That’s why when a CD comes out they don’t get a single bit of royalty.
Hosoe: In that case it is possible.
Mitsuda: Exactly. Which one should it be? In the game industry things are a bit stricter but if you were to retain the rights I think it would be okay to take less pay for the job. It is possible to operate on a smaller budget. Thus you retain the rights and can make money off the CD sales. It is not like a game company would say it would be okay to use their game. A system like that wouldn’t be too bad. Either way is good. If you get 100,000,000 then you sell the rights. If the budget is slim then the composer should be able to keep the rights. In that case, either choice is good. This is certainly a difficult problem.
Sano: Mr. Mitsuda, are you someone who had cases where the conditions made you say, “no way, I can’t do that!”?
Mitsuda: No, that isn’t true. In short, it is always a problem working with a client to make something. If they say that they want to make a magnificent game but with a small budget they expect you to do it with orchestration, you would say “that is impossible.” And with that premise when asked where the money would come from to make such a title it appears that a lot of people in that particular game company would have no idea. That is why I think if the production side doesn’t do anything then you can’t just write music and just deliver the goods that way.
Mitsuyoshi: You can’t do the things you want then.
Mitsuda: That is why it would be great if the bubble that Mr. Sano was talking about was back again. (laughter)
Sano: Right?! But as Mr. Sakamoto said before about doing the exact same thing but not getting the same money or treatment, going back to what I was talking about before about the guy who approves things, I thought that they were doing that on the behalf of the music industry folks. Thus I have come up with a new keyword. This is a good one.
Everyone: Let’s hear it!
[Power of approval.]
Sano: In Japanese society, it must be “the power of approval.”
Everyone: P, power of approval?
Sano: Could this be?! The power of the seal!! I want to put out a book on this! You don’t need the power of persuasion. Laying down the groundwork? You don’t need that at all. The thing you need most…
Everyone: Power of approval! (laughter)
Sano: Right now Mr. Sakamoto is waiting on this question. Why you ask? Mr. Sakamoto doesn’t have any good connections with people who have this power. It would be good if that was stronger. Things would change instantly!
Sakamoto: I get it! Actually a client came by to check up on things so my situation is rather delicate right now. (laughter)
Sano: (in regards to the client) By the way, do they have the power of approval?
-: It’s a bit weak…
Sano: Ah, in that case, my apologies! When it becomes more potent please contact me…
Everyone: (raucous laughter)
Sano: But Mr. Sakamoto, I was just thinking but for Echochrome, the string quartet is an easy to understand keyword attached to it. Wasn’t it quickly introduced? It’s easy to get things done if someone with the power of approval is there. A person like that probably doesn’t read up on things though. (laughter) It won’t even work on an A4 sheet of paper. It’s only 1 word. Catch copy. “String quartet? I don’t get it but that works for me!”
Sakamoto: I get it! I really understand! …But I apologize if I am being composed right now. As it was before, both the client and Famitsu consider my position to be of an amazing state of affairs! Here things are getting interesting! (laughter)
Sano: In other words, the power of approval. It’s that.
Sakamoto: Thus, we have finally reached the final question. At this time the trains will stop running but don’t worry, fellow composers! I will cover your taxi fees!
Everyone: No, no, that’s all right!|
Question 19: Right now what is something that is necessary in the game music industry?
Itou: …Is this question about taxi fares?
Sano: Umm, what the game industry needs is covered taxi fares. (laughter) I don’t know why but the phrase “taxi fare” seems to have powerful feel to it.
Mitsuda: Today, before I came here my staff came up to me and said, “Mr. Mitsuda, it’s close by, so please take a bicycle over.” They said, “please don’t go by taxi.” (laughter)
Nakamura: It’s gotta be taxi fares. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Mmm, no that’s not it! Everyone’s answer is not exactly what I was hoping for! How about something more inspiring…
Sano: Something important besides taxi fares? Is there such a thing… I really think it would be good if we had covered taxi fares. (laughter)
Hosoe: Must be a rich game company.
Sano: If they would cover my taxi fares… well, that’s not bad. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Why don’t we go one by one? What do you think, Mr. Hidenori?
Hidenori: Well, when someone at that moment mentioned taxi fares, I honestly couldn’t think of anything else. (laughter) But as for the answer to the question of “wanting to be a game creator,” wouldn’t it be good to learn a little bit about economics?
Sano: If they had to study economics, I don’t think they will keep going. (laughter)
Nakamura: In regards to the structure of the game music industry or being a part of the music industry there is a principle behind that. Right now besides the people writing game music, there are now more people who are involved in making commercials and thus there isn’t really quite the barrier between the two groups. A challenge may be for the game music industry would be to consider a similar borderless kind of system.
Sano: Mr. Sakamoto, have you thought about working on things besides games?
Sakamoto: Not really. I really like games after all.
Sano: What if you received an offer to work on, say, music for animation?
Sakamoto: Hmm, I never thought about something like that. It’s not that I don’t have the interest.
Hidenori: Everybody here likes games then.
Sakamoto: Does everyone regularly play games?
Mitsuda: I do. However, besides the Dragon Quest series, I haven’t really touched anything else.
Sakamoto: That’s surprising!
Mitsuda: When I joined the staff of Square, I was told to first off to go and play Final Fantasy IV. I played it for about a month but I wasn’t able to beat it. Because of that I thought, “maybe I am not suited for this industry.” (laughter)
Hidenori: That was your first barrier then. (laughter)
Sano: You thought about that soon after you joined the company. That’s rather dangerous.
Mitsuda: In other words I do like games but I am really bad at them.
Sakamoto: Do you play games, Mr. Kouda?
Kouda: I haven’t played anything lately… When I first got a job, I was part of Capcom’s arcade fighting game team. I especially liked Street Fighter 2. On the back of the Super Famicom cartridge was a phone number for a tip line and I would often listen to the tape on repeat. I figured if I changed the last few digits I could have handled the calls.
Sakamoto: Amazing! So that’s the approach that Mr. Kouda uses. It’s a heated discussion is it not… but, huh? It seems we’ve deviated from the question… (laughter) Mr. Kouda, what is something you think the game music industry definitely needs?
Kouda: I think it was said before but certainly it would be, “the smell of money.”
Sano: Ah! I get it!
Kouda: It’s common with games but you would want game music itself to have the smell of money as well.
Sano: That’s something that hasn’t happened before has it. Rather it gives off the smell of corpses. (laughter) That isn’t a good thing!
Sakamoto: What about you, Mr. Itou?
Itou: When ascending the ranks while doing this job, whether it’s the particular techniques used in game music, the loop timing, and other characteristics, you learn to find out different aspects of the music such as when listening to another composer’s music. Anyways I wanted to go back to the talk about taxi fares. Since I’ve been working, the conditions of “being cheap” or “not getting comped taxi fares” is not something that is usually considered but there have been times when the other staffers make something truly amazing which changes the situation completely. You want to be able to come back to that feeling of wanting to do this job which is very important.
Sano: Don’t say stuff that is good like that. What do you think, Mr. Mitsuyoshi?
Mitsuyoshi: I want to be able to say this without beating around the bush… What the game music industry needs is “love.” This is something that isn’t just important to this industry but is also important to the world. But within the game music industry, I think there is love amongst the people who are here. So in terms of other things… money?
Mitsuyoshi: I’m not talking about too much here! I kind of feel that there is gap in the love of the work between my generation and the current generation of youngsters in the game industry. Before I would say that they “lack love!” But, I feel I should teach those that don’t understand that you need love to do this job. Somehow this has become rather unfocused. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Is this something that is mental?
Mitsuyoshi: Indeed. It’s rather difficult. It’s not something that can be forced upon people.
Sakamoto: Is this something different from the “passion” that Mr. Itou spoke of?
Mitsuyoshi: There are some similarities but I wonder how much young people really understand. And also, money! If there is money there are a lot of things you can do. Of course for everyone here to just have money isn’t all that. (laughter) If you have it, it is important to know how to use it.
Nakamura: I said something similar in regards to whether or not to work within the game music industry. Even if you are fortunate and someone who listens to your music has faith in game music, the methods are still hazy. To the question of “who is a game music composer?” I would say it is someone who can be easily molded that way. Everybody has their own way of doing things. It’s not like I’m making some declaration here though. A bigger challenge for someone who is deciding on whether or not to join the game music industry, it would be necessary for aspiring composers to understand the important aspects. If you want to get involved it is what I said before, that you have to understand techniques such as how to make a loopnig song and to understand the theory behind the characteristics of the game. These kinds of technical matters for those that want to get involved is something that they should investigate thoroughly. These are things you need to affix in your mind if you want to get into the industry.
Sakamoto: I agree, I agree. What about you, Mr. Hosoe?
Hosoe: To keep it compact: money.
Sakamoto: That’s a bit too simple. (laughter)
Hosoe: For starters, if you are in the game industry and you can’t really make a profit it would be hard to believe that anyone would look at this industry and think that they want to work here. You have to do something to build the foundation.
Sakamoto: What about you, Mr. Sano?
Sano: Can I go from a different direction? This is something easy to write down! What you might really need is “20th century heroes.” Young heroes. Someone about 23 years old writes an amazingly great song who’s also rather cool. Idols and voice actresses flock towards him. (laughter) That way the world would think, “would you not say that game composers are… pretty cool?” People who don’t know anything about games would then think, “so game music isn’t automatically churned out!”
Sakamoto: Automatic you say… are there people who think that way? (laughter)
Sano: They’re out there. By the way, my granny sure thinks that’s the case.
Hosoe: The doujin world seems to have a lot of these 20th century heroes.
Sano: That’s right. We should go and produce something like that!
Sakamoto: Now, I’d like to pose the same question to Mr. Mitsuda.
Mitsuda: Taking in everything everyone has said, I think it would be the ability to produce something. That I think is something that’s important in the game music industry. Each and every one of the composers can produce something on their own as can even the young ones and certainly for the sake of making money they can work as well. That’s why I think in the end the ability to produce is very important.
Hosoe: That way there would be an influx of producers.
Mitsuda: That is true. But in regards to producers of music, they certainly exist in the music industry. Of course they are the suspicious looking people with a Louis Vuitton handbag and the sweater tied around their neck (laughter) but of course they certainly have a strong air of charisma around them. That’s what drives young people to join up as that is how they are taught. Thus I think the game music industry needs charismatic producers as composers who don’t have that kind of ability to produce have a difficult time.
Hosoe: A capable director would be good too.
Mitsuda: That’s true. Producers and directors are rather vital. Lately I’ve hung out a lot with people who are entertainers and the one thing I can say is different between them and people in the game industry is the ability to produce. They are rather intense.
Sakamoto: I understand… (stares out into space)
Mitsuyoshi: Huh? Mr. Sakamoto, are you becoming unfocused? (laughter)
Sakamoto: Ah, my apologies, I was listening a bit too deeply. I think the thing we need out in the industry, at this exact moment, is what we are doing right now. What we are doing right now getting everyone’s opinions on the matter is something that is not only important to Japan but is important to the world as well and something we should share with those who are interested. It is these precious thoughts that were submitted to our site and the thoughts of regular people, game industry folks, and game music industry folks that we should look towards and think about.
Mitsuda: The time Mr. Sakamoto and everyone spent to make this meeting possible certainly shows an ability to produce. I think that is amazing.
Sakamoto: Ah! Right now, did… you just praise me? This is something truly rare and I am rather flattered!
Sakamoto: Well it’s about time we wrapped up this round-table discussion. What did you guys think… of this?
Sano: I have this feeling that we were clearly drunk. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Any thoughts like, “I will never do this again!?” Is that all right?
Mitsuda: What are you talking about?
Sano: The way I am talking, I’m sure that’s not the case…
Sano: I’m actually feeling pretty good. Besides, when I was a student I was often told, “Sano, shut up! In any case, stop talking!” That’s why I was happy to talk so much. That’s a mark of maturity. (laughter) That is the way to longevity. That is why to the people who have not seen their future, such as the young who might be reading Famitsu, the working life can be abnormally interesting! The game industry is particularly hoping you consider it. We don’t have a lot of young people here anyway. (laughter)
Sakamoto: Well then, I must thank everyone again for coming. Now then, the hard-working interviewer, Mr. Yamamoto will announce the first MVC (Most Valuable Composer)!
-: Well then, here we go! First Game Composers Round-Table Discussion’s MVC is…
(Drumroll from the TV in the meeting area)
Itou: Ah! A timpani roll!
Mitsuyoshi: You’re well-prepared!
-: The MVC is…………… Takayuki Nakamura!
Mitsuyoshi: What?! Boo!
Sakamoto: Congratulations! By the way, what was the criteria that singled Mr. Nakamura out?
-: Mr. Nakamura was chosen for his many valuable yet outspoken opinions.
Nakamura: Whoa, thank you! But, the most interesting was Mr. Sano, was he not?
-: To me, Mr. Sano is already on a rather high pedestal in my mind…
Sano: No, no, no, since Mr. Nakamura was chosen it is clear he is the totally most interesting one here!
Everyone: Congratulations! (clap clap clap)
Sakamoto: Everyone, thank you for your hard work!
[Thanks again to Sakamoto-san at Noisycroak for hosting this event and allowing us to publish it here in English. Thanks to the composers for participating, and to Chris Ling for attending and translating for us.]Tags: Features, Hideki Sakamoto, Interviews, Japan, Keisuke Itou, Masato Kouda, Mitsuda, Nobuyoshi Sano, Noisycroak, Panel, Shinji Hosoe, Shoji Hidenori, Takayuki Nakamura, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi