Muramasa -The Demon Blade- Original Soundtrack Liner Notes
Hitoshi Sakimoto - Sound Producer
Hello, this is Sakimoto. The truth is, the plan for Muramasa was started while Odin Sphere was in the middle of development. Joji Kamitani is really such an aggressive person, I thought, getting carried away with a Japanese world while working with European mythology. To be honest, at the initial planning stage, I was sure that the game was going to have a mock-Japanese feel, so I thought it would be interesting to insert Japanese instruments into techno music. But as I continued talking with Kamitani-san and the project progressed, I realized that he wanted to create an authentic Japanese-style world of gods and spirits, so, as if dragged along by Kamitani-san, we started a journey to discover our roots as Japanese, to discover what "Japanese" means.
As for myself, I first connected "Japanese" to sounds as I looked into the "ways" and "methods" that our ancestors had left behind, transforming their feelings of "wabi-sabi" [Editor's Note: Wabi-sabi is a specifically Japanese aesthetic particularly related to the transience of things.] from real-life experience into concrete words and sounds. As a result, I found the beauty and form of a single sound from a Japanese instrument, the deep resonance and tranquility that the stories their melodies follow bring to mind. I confirmed that the sounds and powers of language that had been left behind by our ancestors were living within myself, and felt honestly happy.
And in this game, people's wild passions quietly absorb the mountains and forests, depicting those scenes as if only time had touched them. But at the same time, we came to know these "Japanese" sounds so intimately and wanted to express them. So while trying as much as we could to preserve those beautiful sounds, we extended the traditional scales, didn't worry too much about the accompaniment, and removed a number of problems by using digital methods. This may be problematic for us as Japanese, but as we are rooted in that beautiful tradition, I feel it is something we must do.
As we are Japanese, we naturally have a mindset to see spirits and gods as meeting in the ordinary, and have a specific outlook on human life, on the long turns of time. As I am a Japanese, it is not often that I have the opportunity to relax and think about the foundations of my own way of thinking. If all of you are able to receive our experiments, there would be nothing better than for all of you to listen to this soundtrack and think "Japan is great!" I am grateful to Kamitani-san for giving me this opportunity, but above all I am grateful to all of you who have this game and this soundtrack.
To all of you who love games, music, and Japan...
Masaaki Kaneko - Sound Director
"An ancient pond / Kaneko jumps / the splash of water" [Editor's Note: A reference to the most famous Haiku of Matsuo Basho. The original has a frog instead of Kaneko.]
And with that, hello, everyone. This is Kaneko. As of now, the game's scale has widened and from the perspective of the sound, Muramasa's music, sound effects, and voices have all combined into a single complete package, and I am confident that the game as a whole has come together.
Music used in games often, unfortunately, comes to serve no purpose outside of background. For Muramasa, we aimed to use the music more actively, expressing the "Japanese" quality that we Japanese cannot help but express, and create an "original experience." There are a lot of so-called Japanese style pieces in the world, and I believe the power of the pieces themselves, the power they produce, and their presentations are more important. With that single solution, we were able to get the stage music and battle music to flow together. Without resorting to the simple means of muting the one track and changing to the other, we were able to express the main character's feelings and mental state in battle and while moving about quite well, I believe.
I am grateful to all of the composers who took up these difficult problems and rose to the challenge. In order to show my respect, I tried to express the game's meanings and locations in the track titles.
And above all, I am grateful to all of you who bought these CDs!
Masaharu Iwata - Composer
Good job everyone. This is Iwata. As this project is a Japanese-styled game, the music also had to have that same style. As I was starting composition, I tried asking myself again, "What is the Japanese style?" and came to realize that my own understanding of it is quite strange. I don't know very well what kind of elements are usually used in Japanese-style things, okay? I'm kind of a beginner when it comes to being Japanese, okay? So I should have tried listening to gagaku [Gagaku is the courtly music of Japan, using traditional instruments and forms] and watching kabuki, but I felt that that would be going a little too far. So I heard Rakugo [Editor's Note: A kind of one-man comedy show] and watched sumo matches on TV. Oh, this is great, I like being a spectator (laughs). I got more and more worked up about it, until I tried listening to a children's song. Hearing the various songs again, I felt nostalgic, as if when I was a child, after playing with friends, looking up into the sky when the sun had already set and it had become night. I came to the realization that I liked these songs with their slightly sad mood, and from that I was led to my own "Japanese" qualities. Maybe I should throw out all of these troublesome arguments, and just believe my own DNA? Now that's really messed up! (Laughs) If there's anyone who responds to this, I'll be quite happy.
Mitsuhiro Kaneda - Composer
When I received the initial materials, I was already captivated by the numerous exquisite pieces of artwork that had been created. Although it was basically a 2D action game with a thrilling tempo, it was "a Japanese-style ninja action game." "What is this?" To search for an answer to this unsettling question, I proceeded carefully with the creation of each individual piece. And then one day as the project was nearing its end, the sound director gave me a few words of advice. "The surface tension of the water flowing into the glass ready to overflow, the feeling of spilling. That's the Japanese feeling that a foreigner wouldn't understand but that the Japanese do!" "Now I get it! It's that kind of feeling, isn't it!" And then, resonance! Rejoicing! Happiness! Continuously! And then, distraction! When those feelings had passed, I was able to bring each piece to fruition. I would be happy if you would enjoy this kind of "Japanese" feeling.
Kimihiro Abe - Composer
Hello everyone. This is Abe. Have you tried Muramasa? There are numerous images that take your breath away... when I was giving it a test run, I forgot to keep moving and stared at the visuals. To create colorful Japanese style music for this amazingly beautiful game, I couldn't simply use Japanese tone colors, so I added many elements of gagaku and so forth and tried to fill it with special qualities. More than the Japanese ambiance, the various instruments imitating the rolling of waves in otherworldly field themes, and the many layers of added percussion in the battle themes, like music from a wild ceremony, the switch between the two realized seamlessly so that all of you will be drawn deep into the world of Muramasa. I will be happy if Muramasa remains in your minds as an unforgettable experience.
Noriyuki Kamikura - Composer
Hello, this is Kamakura. Well, I want to talk about the tracks "Wintry Moon, Zephyrous Flower A" and "Wintry Moon, Zephyrous Flower B," both of which I composed. For these two pieces, the original demos were not quite to my taste. I talked with sound director Kaneko, and expressing the steepness of the snowy mountain, strengthening the piece to match the stage's latter part, and thus arrived at the present version. My parents were born in a mountainous region of Australia, and I am deeply connected to snow (or I am self-servingly convinced). I thought "I want to put snow's special essence into music..." or something, and immediately an image solidified in my mind and I remember not even taking half a day to compose the pieces (or so I am self-servingly convinced). And though I'm joking around a little writing this, I have come to like those two pieces out of my hazy [Editor's Note: This is the "Oboro" of Oboromuramasa] music. I've come to the end, and so I wish that everyone keeps on loving and enjoying the music of Muramasa for a long time. Thank you very much.
Azusa Chiba - Composer
Hello, this is Chiba, from Basiscape. This time I'll talk about writing music. The stage and normal battle pieces were composed in pairs. In actuality, "A Grand Countenance" was originally composed as a normal battle theme. Then it was upgraded to a boss battle theme. That's quite an upgrade. Huh? Well then, how was "A Grand Countenance"? That's...it's...crap! Huh? Well, how was the stage music I composed to pair with it? That's...it's...crap! As my stock of stage music had amounted to nothing, sound director Kaneko ordered me "Can't you just do something in 4/4?" Roger! The ones I made became "Fathomless Mountains, Ethereal Valley A" and "Fathomless Mountains, Ethereal Valley B". Congrats, congrats. One last thing for everyone who listened to these CDs: I would like to thank you.
Yoshimi Kudo - Composer
Hello. This is Kudo, from Basiscape. I want to look back upon the few pieces that I composed for this project. First, "Floral Birds, Lunar Winds" was composed at the beginning of the project, and with the image of Kisuke and Momohime cutting through hordes of demons, I crafted a "samurai movie feel". As for "Surpassing Mountains, Cloaking Earth," I felt that even though it was supposed to be a Japanese style piece, it would be more complete with more guitar. Within the midst of its heavy melody, the drums ceaselessly pound away. Despite being near opposites, the music matches quite well with the various images of night, and personally, I like it a lot. The long-promised Muramasa soundtrack has arrived, and I only wish that all of you enjoy it.
Liner Notes Translated by Ben Schweitzer. Do not republish without written permission.