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 Posted:   Feb 24, 2011 - 10:14 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

MUSASHI
Symphonic Morricone
#37



This series is inspired by a controversy thread where someone posited the idea that besides THE MISSION and some Sergio Leone westerns Ennio Morricone hasn't written anything great. Rather than making my usual comment that most of Morricone's great scores are from Italy and trying to get Americans to listen to them is like getting them to see movies with subtitles, I decided to take another tact. Since I am at an age where I will only be able to make my case a finite number of times I decided to turn this into a series presenting each great score one at a time, sort of like recordman.

After a couple oddball picks I thought I would go back to a full symphonic score. And after some 60s and 70s era hits I thought I'd choose something that would inspire a 75 year old Morricone to new heights. This was the first time the NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Network) picked a non-Japanese composer for any project let alone one of their most ambitious projects ever:





The character of Musashi Miyamoto, a real life 17th century samurai, has been used a number of times in Japanese cinema, most notably in the Oscar-winning Hiroshi Inagaki's
SAMURAI starring Toshiro Mifune. But this 50 hour epic "mini-series" was unprecedented. Exactly how much music Morricone wrote total I don't know. There is a volume two to the soundtrack (which I actually prefer to the first volume overall) which means we do have a couple hours.
The producers chose Morricone coming from this perspective. Musashi was the most famous independent samurai, he worked for no one clan and was the ultimate loner. When Sergio Leone made his first Italian western, based on a samurai movie, YOJIMBO, he was taking an American idea with an American lead, Clint Eastwood, placed over a Japanese story adding a very unique musical style. Who better to ask than the guy who came up with one unconventional music approach for coming up with another? They approached him hoping he would write some themes for them. But by the time they got to Rome they found he had read the novel and already talked to their creative staff. Here I’ll let Morricone tell it, he told them:

Gentlemen, you may think this kind of vigorous music will be suitable for the great hero of this story. But I do prefer such tunes that fit his high spiritual mind and will move the heart of the viewers. Those will be milder melodies, at least, different from the taste of those Italian westerns.

I want to compose not only the main title, but all the music regarding the drama, otherwise it would not make sense to me.

The reason why I accepted the the composition of MUSASHI is that I was fascinated by the story, a great heroic epic. Musashi is growing to be a samurai with passion, uneasiness, love, affection, fear, etc. These are the elements we can share beyond times and places, which appeals to me as well. I realize this is music for Japanese historic drama. However I composed it my own way, that is, in occidental music. There are some oriental motifs involved in the melodies, but it is not so easy to find them, because they are only suggestive and are camouflaged to a certain extent. Anyway, I can assure you that this is one of my best compositions, as I could work within the Japanese staff and choose the best ones. I am quite grateful to the many Japanese who accepted my music so favorably.


… translated by Kunio Makabe for MSV Morricone Society Newsletter 96/97.






#1 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74811&forumID=1&archive=0
#2 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74838&forumID=1&archive=0
#3 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74871&forumID=1&archive=0
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#37 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=76624&forumID=1&archive=0

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 24, 2011 - 7:00 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

I see these are crawling up in price, too.

http://www.amazon.com/Musashi-S-T-Ennio-Morricone/dp/B00007KL3J

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dpopular&field-keywords=musashi+encore

 
 Posted:   Feb 24, 2011 - 7:23 PM   
 By:   Josh   (Member)

I found a used copy of the Japanese CD release at a local shop a couple of months ago for $7 and snapped it up, but I've only listened to it once so far. I think I'll give it another spin right now.

Coincidentally, I'm reading Eiji Yoshikawa's epic novel MUSASHI right now (I literally saw this thread while taking a break in-between chapters), and although I haven't finished it yet, it's already my favorite novel of all time: http://www.amazon.com/Musashi-Eiji-Yoshikawa/dp/4770019572/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298603824&sr=1-1

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 24, 2011 - 8:04 PM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

This is a stunning score. One of his major late works.

 
 Posted:   Feb 25, 2011 - 9:02 AM   
 By:   wayoutwest   (Member)

Not really feeling this one.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 25, 2011 - 9:02 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

This is a stunning score. One of his major late works.

Yes, he is not as inspired in many of his later scores but this one seems to have hit a chord with him.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 26, 2011 - 12:17 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

There is a volume two to the soundtrack (which I actually prefer to the first volume overall)

I may agree with you on this. The track "Hiren" appears twice on the second volume, once in a broque, flute-led version, and then with the strings. This second track then segues into suspense mode, binging more than a touch of "Svegliati e Uccidi" with it - which I liked, alot.

A highlight of the first disc for me is "Mushashi e la Vendetta", which features that pulsating action music that Morricone does brilliantly, with a touch of "Shogun" here and there (which aalso emerges in the suspense music) - impossible not to like this track, in my humble etc.

The main theme is counter-intuitive to what you'd expect for a Japanese series about samurai, but on disc works marvellously, bringing with it an ultimate sense of triumph and peace.

A two-disc set of many colours. Like all Morricone's TV scores, highly recommended.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 26, 2011 - 8:31 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

"Mushashi e la Vendetta" is definitely a favorite too. He was inspired this time out.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 26, 2011 - 12:38 PM   
 By:   Squiddybop   (Member)

The NHK Taiga dramas usually bring out the best in any composer scoring them, and Morricone was no exception. Musashi is probably my favorite score by him in at least the past ten years. I actually wrote a little about it in an old thread I made focusing on all the amazing music that's been composed for these shows.

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=49724&forumID=1&archive=0

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 27, 2011 - 8:17 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

The NHK Taiga dramas usually bring out the best in any composer scoring them, and Morricone was no exception. Musashi is probably my favorite score by him in at least the past ten years. I actually wrote a little about it in an old thread I made focusing on all the amazing music that's been composed for these shows.

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=49724&forumID=1&archive=0


Thanks Squiddybop! I remember when you first turned me on to these and went straight out to get the 2 CD introduction to these dramas which I highly recommend, assuming it's still out there.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 27, 2011 - 11:16 AM   
 By:   Squiddybop   (Member)

Thanks Squiddybop! I remember when you first turned me on to these and went straight out to get the 2 CD introduction to these dramas which I highly recommend, assuming it's still out there.

It's still available, and still worth every penny!

http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=POCN-1123

In addition, another compilation was released just last month containing every Taiga theme up to last year's Ryomaden.

http://www.hmv.co.jp/en/product/detail/3947539

I'd hoped this new release might finally contain the broadcast version of the Musashi theme, but it doesn't sound like it from the audio sample. I'd still recommend the 1996 Pony Canyon release over the newer compilations, since it's the only place to get more of Reijiro Koroku's wonderful score to Hideyoshi.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2011 - 1:14 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

I enjoy both volumes but do find I have to think about playing (either of) them ... the score doesn't shout out at me to be played (as many of his others do).

I shall give one or both a play tomorrow whilst painting!

 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2011 - 9:15 AM   
 By:   orbital   (Member)

What's the difference between the Japanese (Victor) and Spanish (Discmedi) release of this score? If there is any (sound-/presentation-wise?). Which one is "the one to go" ...?

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 9, 2011 - 10:22 AM   
 By:   Timmer   (Member)

Absolutely gorgeous music!

 
 Posted:   Aug 6, 2011 - 8:01 PM   
 By:   nuts_score   (Member)

Thank you so much for these threads. I had never heard a lot of these but have since acquired Musashi and Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. I love them both!

I cannot believe someone would make such a claim as what inspired this thread. In my own personal opinion, Ennio is the best composer for film we've had and his legacy will live on like the greatest classical composers of history.

 
 Posted:   Aug 6, 2011 - 9:05 PM   
 By:   DavidCoscina   (Member)

I'm afraid nothing compares to Ikuma Dans Samurai Trilogy scores for me. That main theme was heroic and gorgeous!

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 6, 2011 - 9:36 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Thank you so much for these threads. I had never heard a lot of these but have since acquired Musashi and Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. I love them both!

I cannot believe someone would make such a claim as what inspired this thread. In my own personal opinion, Ennio is the best composer for film we've had and his legacy will live on like the greatest classical composers of history.


Thanks Nutscore! It is a lonely lot being a Morricone fan in America. I heard many a disparaging remark about him but that one stuck in my craw for a long time until I did those threads. I tried to find the exact quote but never could. Though there were plenty that came close. Here is one I found just now.

kingtolkien
Morricone is overrated. Most ordinary people say how great and prolific he is and know just 10 of his scores at the most. Even his western scores have a few catchy themes but the rest is quite boring!


It is one of many. But that series I did helped me get over it. It reinforced why I have a love for his music. And frankly I've never seen another such tribute to a composer on here ever, although I certainly would like to.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2011 - 6:02 AM   
 By:   DavidCoscina   (Member)

There are many many scores of Morricone that are just wonderful. Once Upon a Time in the West is one of my faves. The Thing is one of the best horror scores of all time in my books. But for me, this particular sound for Musashi just doesn't appeal. I prefer Japanese composers who have tackled the subject matter even if they are channeling European composers as part of their sound.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2011 - 6:22 AM   
 By:   orbital   (Member)

Since this thread is up again, someone who could share his opinion on this? Much appreciated.

What's the difference between the Japanese (Victor) and Spanish (Discmedi) release of this score? If there is any (sound-/presentation-wise?). Which one is "the one to go" ...?

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2011 - 10:59 AM   
 By:   nuts_score   (Member)

There are many many scores of Morricone that are just wonderful. Once Upon a Time in the West is one of my faves. The Thing is one of the best horror scores of all time in my books. But for me, this particular sound for Musashi just doesn't appeal. I prefer Japanese composers who have tackled the subject matter even if they are channeling European composers as part of their sound.

To each their own (I think this is a lovely, adventurous sounding score) but I would incline to agree with you that the European influence on Japanese composers has lead to some simply sublime music.

 
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