Classical music and classical inspired soundtracks in anime
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Dec 26, 2018 3:56 PM
It’s more or less common to hear classical pieces in anime, mainly things as Bach's Air and similars (clearly the most eloquent example is Mars of Destruction, which uses Chopin, Beethoven, Wagner, Rossini and Erik Satie). Also some soundtracks are written in styles more or less inspired in classical music, or use practices of it. That last one is a more difficult and wide subject, because it’s hard to say, for example, up to which point a piece written for a string quartet or orchestra has classical elements, so it is up to each one.
Therefore, in this thread we’ll name and discuss cases that we find interesting and well done. I’ll try to avoid things as LOGH or Nodame Cantabile, in which classical music plays a major role, although I might name some moments of them.
The uses of classical pieces in anime that I most liked (at least as far as I remember) are:
1. The Polovtsian Dances in Hibike Euphonium, which you surely already know. It’s a beautiful piece that fits very well in the anime, and obviously it's an arrangement for wind orchestra (and harp and percussion).
2. Other beautiful and well-known case is Puccini’s Un bel di vedremo from Madame Butterfly in Memories.
3. And as I’ve mentioned in the Score Tracks thread, Yuki Kajiura’s version of the Meistersinger’s overture and the Boogiepop's whistle of the melody. It’s hard to classify because it’s not just an arrangement but a rewrite of the piece, with many new and totally different sections. Later I’ll listen to the original overture and this version to give more details.
This is all for the moment, the next part about soundtracks inspired by classical styles will require me to listen in depth to them, so it will take me some time.
Modified by Pyschoneurosis, Dec 26, 2018 4:01 PM
Dec 26, 2018 4:57 PM
Wow, so fast. Thank you for doing this! :)
Ahhhhhhh I love Nodame Cantabile so much. The romance, but also watching Chiaki crush his way through the music world, like a cartoonishly OP shounen action hero. :D
Lol, Mars of Destruction! Gag from https://myanimelist.net/anime/18495/Kitakubu_Katsudou_Kiroku
^ I've noticed Franz Schubert's Erlking/Erlkönig in more than one anime, maybe three so far? I'm guessing most Japanese high school students have to study that piece for general education, even if they're not musicians.
Puccini’s Madame Butterfly is the only opera I've watched in full, though I went for the movie version. A trained singer on Last.fm told me that instead of opera movies (of which there are several), I should just look up videos of stage performances and watch those, but right after that I started watching anime again... so I still haven't done that.
The two classical pieces brought up most often in relation to film scores are Gustav Holst's "Mars, The Bringer of War" from The Planets, and Carl Orff's "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana. _NTx wrote:
Zimmer, Sawano, and 95% of soundtrack composers studied Carl Orff and borrowed ideas from him. His entire Carmina Burana is basically a guide of how to "compose" epic choral music. Listen to Sawano's XLTT for example. That entire piece is (kinda) O' Fortuna 2.0. The way it starts with the choir, the strings at 1:16 imitating O' Fortuna's background instruments, the repetitive elements of the piece, and so on.
This was after I thought I heard similarity between these tracks:
Hiroyuki Sawano's Blue Exorcist - 第三楽章 : éXORCiST / The Third Movement: éXORCiST:
Hans Zimmer's Angels & Demons - 160 BPM: https://youtu.be/TcC-yd3v4jE?t=4m35s
Dec 26, 2018 5:34 PM
I also really love Nodame Cantabile! The last months I've been rewatching some of my favorite anime, so surely I'll get back to Nodame one of these days. Also I'll read the sequel which I have pending (which only exists in manga), where Chiaki directs Mozart's opera The Magic Flute! And speaking of opera, in the /classical/ thead from /mu/ you can find a link with many famous opera recordings. I haven't seen any full one neither, but I'll probably start with Der Freischütz or some Puccini one.
Beside Holst and Carl Orlff, the modern soundtracks (and modern music in general, including popular music) are very influenced by the music of late 19th and more or less early 20th century composers, as the Debussy, Mahler, Stravinsky or even Schoenberg, altough sometimes their influence is not so evident as with Carmina Burana for example. (Also nice gag, literally Mars of Destruction producer's mental process).
Now I want to talk about All About Lily Chou Chou and Hideaki Anno's Love & Pop, two japanese films, both with some piano classical music, cool aesthetic and teenage conflicts. I'll think about whether to dedicate a thread or do it in an existing one.
Dec 27, 2018 5:43 AM
Joined: May 2014
I'll make a more elaborate post at a later date, for now I can say that the best example of classical music usage in anime that I can think of is the fantastic Princess Tutu! (seriously, give the show a chance). It's actually almost all classical music, specially arranged by Kaoru Wada and re-recorded for the occasion, but it's its usage in the show what elevates way beyond any other similar attempt I've witnessed so far; since they let the music take control of the emotional pulse of every scene (or at least the climaxes) and work in an almost operatic sense (look out for Junichi Sato's works to see some great directing and sound directing).
A couple of remarks @Pyschoneurosis:
>Akito Matsuda wrote a 4 movements, 20 minutes concert work for wind orchestra for the Hibike-related film Liz and the Blue Bird. It's more mature and complete than the concert piece he wrote for the TV series, so it's well worth checking out.
> That excerpt from Madama Butterfly is pretty much the only part from the opera that was left untouched in the film (if I'm not mistaken, there are also some excerpts from Tosca), (most of) the rest of the score is rearranged from the opera by Kanno to fit the short film better, and there are even some neat additions like the Orff-like chorus before the final climax. (Not super familiar with the original music, so take this with a grain of salt) Now that I'm at it, here's one of the few original pieces from that, this gorgeous thing for sax and choir that remains one of Kanno's most unique compositions IMO.
>The Boogiepop version of the Meistersinger’s overture isn't arranged by Kajiura (whom I would barely consider orchestral or symphonic composer, but more like some kind of new-age musician who has very occasionally written a bit for orchestral ensembles, kinda like 90s Zimmer if he ever actually orchestrated any of his work, which I'm not very sure of), but by Yoshihisa Hirano. If you've listened to his Death Note, Break Blade, Real Drive or something along those lines you'll instantly recognize his trademark orchestrational and compositional style there (his almost atonal writing while somehow keeping the music melodic and approachable on a superficial level, his inventive use of percussion, etc.). Also, thanks for the piece, I knew it existed but I hadn't been able to find it and didn't think about youtube for some reason. I'm not really familiar with the original piece either, so I'll give it a listen asap.
Two more things: Nodame is great, and it actually introduced me to a few new pieces (and finally made my delve deeper into Ravel compositions for example), but it barely uses classical music outside of the performances. Similar things can be said about Your Lie in April (which uses new classical recordings, but in turn I dislike the rest of the OST). As for Carmina Burata's influence in film music, I would start with Kanno's "Dance of Curse" (which borrows the timpani and trombone ostinato directly) or a myriad of other composers that did it later (notably James Horner); but I wouldn't really compare Zimmer or Sawano's action choral works, which seem more influenced by previous film music IMO (and in Sawano's case, he's been exclusively using sampled choirs since Unicorn/Exorcist for whatever reason, pretty sure that not a budgetary one).
And finally here's an arrangement of Beethoven's Tempest piano sonata by Michiru Oshima for the anime Zetsuen no Tempest:
Modified by BrainPowerdKino, Dec 27, 2018 6:15 AM
Dec 27, 2018 3:08 PM
The greentext structure is easier to write, so I'll incorporate it.
>For some reason I didn't know that film, taking in to account how much I like Hibike. Probably I'll watch if after re-watching the two seasons.
>I didn't remember that, probaly because when I saw the film years ago I did no pay atention to that kind of details -and I didn't know the original aria-. And that sax and choir piece is simply amazing, I did not remember that renaissance sound it has. Yoko Kanno amazing as always. It reminds me to Gavin Bryars's Super Flumina (which you can hear in spotify), a 4 a capella piece in a style inspired in renaissance music but in modern and personal style. In that case is not jazz but shocking dissonant harmony. Other similarity is that both pieces are homophonic.
>My mistake, I had not read the album scans to check it. His arrangement is pretty interesting, but to my taste it is too eccentric and exaggerated, and although it benefits some passages, and some of the ones he adds are really good I prefer the lighter Wagner version, although I never heard the two in detail; later I will do it for this thread.
>regarding Nodame and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (which I haven't seen), though the classical pieces are perfomances, they're used for narrative purposes too.
I will make a more elaborated reply later too, I'm currently listening to the Spice and Wolf soundtrack. Although its main influence is eurpean, celtic or some other ethnic music (I don't much know about it) popular dance music, it also has pieces in renaissance polyphonic style.
Modified by Pyschoneurosis, Dec 27, 2018 3:20 PM
Jan 11, 2019 2:27 PM
I listened to the original Meistersinger overture ("Prelude" on Spotify) four or five times, I still need more to better appreciate the differences though.
Princess Tutu is very good. I am a fan of Junichi Sato, although there's a lot I've yet to see.
Yeah, naturally my favorite classical music period is the Romantic - Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, etc. There's a lot that's "accessible" from the first listen to anyone who grew up on film music, apart from the pieces everyone already knows because they're often used in movies/tv.
I found Gauche the Cellist while looking for old music anime to use in the group page collage. I see it's in velego's PTW.
Also discovered this 1-hour 1982 film: https://myanimelist.net/anime/1049/Cello_Hiki_no_Gauche_1982
(Source material: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gauche_the_Cellist )
People seem to discover it via the Ghibli "Producer" credit, but the studio was Oh! Production, with Isao Takahata directing. One of the two alternative versions listed is a 1963 puppet animation.
I watched it, good stuff. Felt like a story from Aesop's Fables or the Book of Virtues. I would have liked to see one of the cellist's animal aides be a cicada. Cicada sounds may be the most widely used "instrument" in anime ;)
Here's a nicely written review: http://travellingbirdy.com/gauche-the-cellist-japanese-anime/
Set in 1920s rural Japan, Gauche the Cellist (Sero Hiki no Gōshu) revolves around one event in the life of its titular character. Gauche is part of an orchestra, which is hurriedly preparing for a performance of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony coming up in 10 days. The conductor is a grumpy perfectionist who puts Gauche on the spot constantly for not being in tune or for not keeping time.
I adored the movie. It is enchanting in its portrayal of Gauche, a proud musician who eventually is humbled by creatures smaller than him. Where he thinks he is teaching, he is being taught. Where he thinks he is wasting his time by entertaining the animals’ requests, he is unwittingly gaining more mastery over his music. And the music! We are treated to some beautiful pieces from Beethoven and Schumann, woven in artfully into the film’s tapestry. Schumann’s Traumerei, one of my favourite pieces, flows out mellifluously for a few moments as does The Merry Master of a Coach Station. The music is a tangible presence, almost another character on its own, which enhances the story.
There is perfect harmony in this peaceful world where nature and man are one, a fact that is brought out through the fine enmeshing of art and music.
P.S. A small curiosity, the 1941 short Ari-chan must have one of the earliest anime depictions of a classical music performance, even if the music itself is original (the score is credited to Tadashi Hattori).
Jan 17, 2019 10:07 PM
Joined: May 2014
So I guess we can use this thread to share some of the inspiration or "borrowings" soundtrack producers take for their scores :P
Vivaldi's Four Seasons is somehow a recurrent borrowing.
Summer >>> Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Winter >>> High School DxD, Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight
Fugue No.2 in C minor >>> Digimon Adventure
"Jesus bleibet meine Freude" >>> Tsubasa Chronicles
Piano Concerto No.1 >>> Shokugeki no Soma
Dance of the Knights, from Romeo and Juliet >>>Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Tabula Rasa I >>> Trinity Seven
Modified by _NTx, Jan 17, 2019 10:29 PM
Jan 23, 2019 2:07 PM
That was great :D Though of those the only anime I've seen so far is one cour each of DxD, Food Wars, and Revue Starlight.
Vivaldi's Four Seasons itself is very popular in media - I'm sort of perpetually sick of Spring, though not as badly as comedian Rob Paravonian is of Pachelbel's Canon in D: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM
Having seen that was somewhat detrimental to my experience of the anime Kanon. Here's a low quality video of the scene in the anime where Canon in D plays and a character namedrops Pachelbel: https://youtu.be/awRAvqATufs?t=6
That Rachmaninoff is so good. According to Lastfm, for some reason I've listened to his piano concertos #2 and #3 but not #1, got to fix that immediately. Ooh, here's a recording by Jean-Yves Thibaudet :P (pianist on Dario Marianelli's Pride & Prejudice, a favorite from when I was in college) https://open.spotify.com/album/737EGGdpsuhucAnOvODnlO
May 22, 2019 11:25 AM
From the Go Sakabe thread, talking about Date A Live III:
(...)And what's up with that Wedding March parody after that scene lol
Wedding March by Go Sakabe
Wagner is rave dancing in his grave.
(Here's a picture of it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WahnfriedBayreuth11.JPG )
May 23, 2019 7:40 PM
May 23, 2019 10:14 PM
Yeah, I thought those were the same piece of music. :D "At weddings in many Western countries, this piece is commonly used as a recessional, though frequently stripped of its episodes in this context. It is frequently teamed with the "Bridal Chorus" from Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_March_(Mendelssohn) There's no way around MAL thinking URLs can't have parentheses.
So, correct grave:
Modified by nDroae, May 24, 2019 9:16 AM
Jun 30, 2019 5:20 PM
There's so much I want to write in this group, but it takes so much time to get it done!
Osamu Tezuka's 1963 Astro Boy / Tetsuwan Atom(u) / Mighty Atom is widely considered to be the most important seminal medium-defining work in anime. I first heard of it ten years ago, when the CG movie came out - I never saw that version, but decided I wanted to see the original. Problem is it's hard to find in Japanese; aside from seedless torrents, I've only been able to find a few scattered episodes, including the first two.
I watched the first today and, no big surprise, Beethoven's Fifth was used for the first minute of the Frankenstein-style scene in which the titular robot is brought to life by Dr. Tenma. It's wordless, with machinery animation timed to the music, and the scientist appearing to play his control instruments like a musical instrument.
Watch the scene here: https://youtu.be/zNBii4izG6U?t=325
Alternate link (lower quality, badly exposed): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkvymYw0618
Here's an official Nozomi upload of the vintage dubbed version (probably region locked to US/Canada only), which interestingly is edited differently - the sound effects are louder, and they entirely replace the music at one point where both were present in the original mix. Note where the edit awkwardly cuts the music back in at 5:47. https://youtu.be/XpwbNYFvZy4?t=320
I tried a couple of quick searches for comments on it, but found this instead:
Celebrate Beethoven's amazing life with Astro Boy at your side! Astro Boy is ready to show you how Beethoven created some of the most beautiful music in history while struggling with his own personal highs and lows. Watch the story behind this genius and his amazing musical work come to life right before your eyes.
Modified by nDroae, Jun 30, 2019 5:36 PM