Culture research news Return to previous page
Article Released Tue-13th-March-2012 16:22 GMT
Contact: Waseda University Institution: Waseda University
 Atrophy of video music

By Yoshihiro Kanno, Composer and Professor at Waseda University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Intermedia Art and Science

Yoshihiro Kanno album
Copyright : Yoshihiro Kanno
In the silent film era there was a narrator and musician who would narrate a play and perform music in the movie theatre. After that, movies with soundtracks called talkies appeared, and until this day, “sound” was attached to images.

So, have you ever felt that music played casually in movies and TV dramas of today have increased? The role of music in these visual works must be extremely low-key. If the music is conspicuous, the work is a failure. There is a saying, “It is the power of the image that fills your eyes with tears, but it is the power of music that makes those tears fall at the end.” It is a perfect way to put it, but to bring out that single tear at the end, it must be released in an unremarkable manner.

By the way, in recent times, just as it seems more tears are going to fall the music suddenly disappears. This isn’t because the aim is for the modern dry expression and not to induce tears. It isn’t even aimed at the expression that casts things aside and says “If you’ve come this far you should know.”

The cause of this phenomenon is the “song selection” system for budget cuts. For proper video works, a composer will compose an original piece for only that film after detailed discussions with the director about expression. And because a top-class performer will record the music, it costs an extremely large amount of money. When I was in charge of music for the NHK long-running drama “Homuratatsu”, I composed and recorded 10-15 songs every week. In the end there were more than 400 works. In this case, as long as you weren’t an extremely poor writer, the song wouldn’t finish before the tears started to flow. However, when there is only a small budget, there is the method where about 80 songs are composed as “fate music”, “fights”, “emotional scenes” and “meeting music”, and the selection man will choose the music from those to suit a scene and add it in. Naturally, the length isn’t quite right. In the current long-running drama “Taira no Kiyomori”, there is, for the first time in a while, music that is worth listening to, but unfortunately the music just slides by and disappears. Because the music is edited well, it fits into the full scale. Editing like this to match the length is my weak point.

Music is an art of time and is made up of feelings. Editing this is like, take something that is made as “a bud appears, leaves appear, and flowers bloom” for example, where the bud appears, a flower suddenly blooms, and after the flower blooms a bud appears again. It is different to saying that it is surreal and fine. Normalizing the editing of feelings is a serious business. Doing it for budget and time cuts the musical emotions to shreds. However, this is not usually noticed. But the listener is not that stupid. I can’t help but feel that the audience has turned their backs and started to walk away without even noticing.


Copyright Notice

All of the articles, images, photographs and other content displayed above are owned by Waseda University. Permission to reproduce any content is subject to the following Terms of Use.

Terms of Use

- Content may not be used in a manner that may harm the honor or reputation of Waseda University.

- When reproducing any content, you must request permission by notifying the Office of Information and Public Relations of Waseda University through e-mail ( and indicate the title of the media and intended date of reproduction. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

- Please cite clearly the source of content at the end of each article using the following format (Source: ResearchSEA yyyy/mm/dd).

- Content may not be altered or modified in any way. Manipulation of photographs is strictly forbidden. Use of quotations as protected under copyright law is limited to summarization or quotation of the main point.

- Use of content is protected under the copyright law. Any claims or disputes, privacy issues, or other matters related to copyrighted content not owned or controlled by Waseda University becomes the sole responsibility of the user.

Associated links

Keywords associated to this article: Waseda, Japan, culture, music, video, atrophy
Create Account...