Joe Hisaishi and His Limitless Imagination

If you know the movies Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, you probably recognize the style of their original scores. These films were composed by Joe Hisaishi, one of the most prominent artists in Japan. He incorporates classical melodies with jazz to flush out his special characteristic that soothes the soul. He has worked on over twenty feature films, all in which have a unique taste from one another.

Joe Hisaishi was born in Nakano, Japan. When he was four years old, he took violin lessons at the Violin School Suzuki Shinichi. His father would take him to watch hundreds of movies every year. Growing up, Hisaishi was always surrounded by music. He majored in music composition at the Kunitachi College of Music and collaborated with different artists. His ideas are influenced by Japanese popular music and electronic music. Often his melodies can be recognized with Claude Debussy’s way of storytelling. It evokes a lot of emotion that can bring goosebumps to the skin.

Hisaishi’s music can be described like water. It can create a tsunami or trickle down like the showering rain. Hisaishi’s music can take on so many shapes and styles and never fails to bring recognizable feelings to the audience. A music piece like “One Summer’s Day” brings nostalgia to people’s minds as they are rooting for Chihiro to find her parents. Studio Ghibli’s movies are geared towards children, but they also establish depth in their lesson plans. In Howl’s Moving Castle’s “Merry-Go-Round of Life,” the melody is similar to a waltz one may hear at a ball.

The animated films of Studio Ghibli are so unique as they can make nothingness meaningful. In the times that Chihiro of Spirited Away would eat her bun and stare at the ocean, the music tells its own story. The film allows you to breathe and seep in these peaceful moments. The twinkling piano keys help the audience empathize with what the characters are feeling. Many young people today continue to share their love for his music by playing variants of his music sheet on the piano and strings.

There is no doubt that Joe Hisaishi paints a strong sensation to any form of medium, whether it is film or television. In all rough patches, he presents a gentle touch that makes the melodies seem so unforgettable.

“You don’t get music in your daily life, do you? Even in a movie, it’s unnatural to have music. I always feel it’s unnatural. But I want to make it not unnatural, to construct reality in another sense.” – Joe Hisaishi.


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