[Concert Experience] Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert

My thoughts on the concert presented by Mr. Joe Hisaishi. Thanks so much for all of the management that went into making this possible. It was truly an experience to remember and be inspired by!

[Concert Experience-Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert]

May 27th, 2018. I will fondly remember of this day from now on. I didn’t know what to expect. Even though around the same time, there was a multitude of concerts for Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, I couldn’t bring myself to buy concert tickets, even though I believe that they would have been phenomenal concerts in their own right. However, it was enticing to see Mr. Joe Hisaishi come to the United States and I decided not to miss the opportunity.

A decision that I am happy to have made.

Coming to the concert, I didn’t expect much. I expected myself to quietly enjoy the performance and reminisce the music of all the childhood movies that I have watched when I was very young. I even surprised myself for I was weeping at the end of “The Legend of Ashitaka” from the movie “Princess Mononoke”. Before coming into the concert, I watched Castle in the Sky and “Princess Mononoke” because those were the films that I have never watched before. Thus, I had not nostalgic bias for me to be emotion over the music. Driving back to my motel, I tried to formulate my thoughts to understand why.

I believe Mr. Joe Hisaishi has shown me the possibility to make music, even film music to stand on its own feet and make the audience feel emotions. For the longest time as a film and video game composer I have felt and have been told that sometimes music is only a support role as the subject material we create. But on that day I completely experienced the opposite. While I understand that “Princess Mononoke” is an outstanding masterpiece of craft, when I listened to the music none of the images of the film came to my mind. Instead I was just overwhelmed with the theme that kept coming back. In this case, that day I felt the music was on equal footing with the movie, if not greater.

Listening to Mr. Joe Hisaishi’s music is like a wheel. It starts simple and clean, but as it rolls down the road through the dirt, mud, and water, the idea becomes more complex. Each time the theme comes back, I can still see it clearly, but it has taken such an emotional journey I can’t just help but feel humble and in awe. Attending this concert was awe inspiring but also humbling. I am thoroughly encouraged to to make music that not necessarily emulates his style, but hopefully to even have on taste of emotional impact that I felt that day.

Thank you for the concert Mr. Joe Hisaishi. I wish to visit another one of your concerts and again witness the blood, sweat, and tears you have put into your works.

Side Note:

When Mai Fujisawa (his daughter) sang the music from “Spirited Away” she had a voice that was sharp and piercing, but also very motherly in delivery. This was another moment where I felt really emotional. I truly felt lucky to have heard such a unique voice live.

~LL

[Movie/Music Review] Black Panther

In short, this film encapsulates African culture and creates a engaging story, integrating with a modern style. This film successfully creates a story that is not preachy, but it delivers a powerful message to all people.

The music was filled with wonderful colors, mixed with beautiful percussion instrumentations and a soundtrack that is fitting, but also very unique.  I noticed that the instrumentation changes depending on who sits on the throne of Wakanda. When the King T’challa is in command of Wakanda, the music is more traditional with percussion that harkens back to traditional African culture. But when Warmonger sits on the throne the music turns into a more modern sound with synthetic drums and hard hitting beats. I really appreciate how the composer and music director make each scene meaningful with each music that they choose.

I am very glad to to have seen this film and I hope to see Marvel make films that are more than just the spectacle superhero flair but also encapsulates characters and their unique relationships.

~LL

[Movie/Music Review] Phantom Thread

Although, the movie ended not being my cup of tea, I appreciated the artistic risk that the Phantom Thread was amongst all of the flashy blockbuster superhero and multibillion dollar franchises inundated in the movie industry.  I love how it illustrates the life an artist obsessed with his craft and how his life is affected by it. However, I wished I could see more the art of dress making instead of mostly focusing on his romance life. As a fellow artist I feel like I could have seen something more. Daniel Day Lewis claims that this is his last movie, and he has certainly acted spectacularly; however, I wish that this won’t be the last.

That’s pretty much I have to say about the movie. As for the music, I love the approach of a minimalistic orchestration approach of only piano and strings. The theme is very strong and is played many times, so it is easily recognizable when it happens again. The playful jazz harmonies are soothing and suited the mood of the film very well.

A few criticisms I have about the music is that it is very safe. While the main theme is pleasant, it is just that. Many of the emotional points of tension about Woodstock’s various relationships should have been addressed with the score to show the warped mind of an artist. Although I do not condone using stock music (for example, using Ravel’s String Quartet and other pieces). I believe a more variety in the soundtrack should have been used. Miscellaneous include a mixing issue in which the piano sometimes had too much reverb and often covered the quiet dialogue in the film.

I will be honest and say, despite the ravings of all of the critics about the move, I was okay with the film. Despite all of this, I am very happy to see a different kind of film that is not just a simple superhero film. I hope to see more of these in the future.

~LL

I will be attending GDC

After deciding for hours on end. I have finally decided to attend GDC. Although, it’s quite pricey, I believe it will be worth to effort to connect with acquaintances and hopefully make a more solid friendship with all of the people I have met last time. Hope to meet some of you there!

~LL

Musical Journey I [January 14, 2018]

Hello all. I decided to start a series of blog posts titled “Musical Journey”. After graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) I figured it would be good to share a musicians journey on how to make a living and also most importantly, a life with music. I’ll be sharing what has been going on in my life.

Currently, I am involved in two small companies and working remotely. These include the Azzy Project with Celtic Dragon Studio. We have made some progress and have featured out game in a convention in Ireland. I hope the project kickstarts and we can start seeing success soon.

Although I love composing music (in fact I actually prefer to do that), I have been hired as a Sound FX artists for Fenrir Studios for their Darkstorm Project. Although I have acquired much Sound FX knowledge with the professors at SFCM (especially the wonderful Dren Mcdonald), this will be my first time doing Sound FX for real, instead of just class exercises. Hopefully, my work turns out satisfactory. I look forward to improving through this project.

As a musician, we always have the inevitable day job. Although I would love to just hole up in my studio and compose all day, it’s important to make a steady living. I’ll be teaching in the Santa Clara area for piano with a few fellow musicians who are world class. Although I have confidence as a piano teacher, I am looking forward to learning more in not just maintaining my piano skills, but also teaching children a skill they can take pride in, whether or not they choose to use it as a career or hobby.

Well, that conclude Musical Journey I. I hope you all have enjoyed reading this post. If there are other topics you wish for me to discuss I am glad to share with you all. Until next time!

~LL