Tōru Takemitsu (武満 徹 ,Takemitsu Tōru, October 8, 1930 – February 20, 1996) was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory. Though largely self-taught, Takemitsu is recognized for his skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre, drawing from a wide range of influences, including jazz, popular music, avant-garde procedures and traditional Japanese music, in a harmonic idiom largely derived from the music of Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen. He was the recipient of numerous awards, commissions and honours; he composed over one hundred film scores and about one hundred and thirty concert works for ensembles of various sizes and combinations.(Source)

The following is a documentary on Takemitsu’s soundtrack work, featuring prominent Japanese directors. Warning: some footage may be disturbing.

“He watches my film and bounces his musical ideas off it. This way the music can fully enhance the scene, but also his placement of the music gives life to things that were not expressed in images alone. Through this collision of picture and music, the film evolves to a higher realm.” Hiroshi Teshigahara

“”How did you learn to write music?” people often ask me. I don’t really understand it myself. I never had a real musical education. I taught myself. My music is deeply influenced by Nature and Japanese gardens. From gardens, I’ve learned to treasure the Japanese sense of timing and color. Each element is precious… every rock and tree, and, somehow, we see reflected in all of them… the entire universe.” Toru Takemitsu

Related Posts: Japanese Music


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