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Know Your MAGFest Moguls: Yuzo Koshiro

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Crowned “arguably the greatest game-music composer of the 16-bit age” as recently as 2006 by the now-tragically deceased publication Nintendo Power, Yuzo Koshiro was born in the city of Hino in Tokyo, Japan, on December 12, 19671.  At the age of three, Koshiro’s mother started teaching him piano, and he went on to study with Mamoru Fujisawa – better known as Joe Hisaishi, composer for many Hayao Miyazaki films, including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away – for three years when he was eight.  A multi-instrumentalist, Koshiro picked up the violin when he was five and later learned to play cello and guitar as well2, 3.

As a schoolboy, Koshiro would cut his classes and head to the arcades, where he would spend his time feeding Namco, Konami, and Sega machines2.  Although he really wanted to be a game programmer, he had a knack for creating music, and so he made mockups of the music that he heard in the games he played on a PC-8801 soundboard3.  Having been influenced by the sounds of Gradius, Space Harrier, and Tower of Druaga, one of his goals was to bring the high quality of arcade game music to the PC since, to that point, there wasn’t much in the way of great, inspirational PC game music4.  It was by sticking with that vision and producing high quality music on that soundboard that he caught the attention of those that worked at the game company Nihon Falcom.

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During summer vacation, at the age of eighteen, Koshiro spotted a job listing for an opening within Falcom in a PC magazine2.  Since the company was close by, he applied and scored the job.  In fact, Falcom loved the music demos that he sent so much that they even used some of those demo tunes in his first game project, Xanadu Scenario II (1985).  The rest of the soundtrack was pieced together similarly—instead of writing music off a visual, Koshiro wrote music that he liked and then applied that music to parts of the game that seemed a fit, giving the music an “unexpected quality” which, to him, “created the game’s unique worldview”3.  On composing this music, he states in an interview with Square Enix Music Online:

“… I was a mere beginner, so I composed blindly, as if in a trance. I didn’t have a special approach; I just wanted to create PC game music with the kind of drive that I liked in arcade game music, and that was my main motivation.”

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Nerdache Cakes Theme

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Creative Commons License

The works below are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2012 Gregory Weaver.

It’s really interesting when gigs just sort of fall into your lap.  For instance, the other night I was at a going away dinner party for my friend who is moving to Washington.  I was the first one at the restaurant, and the couple that came in after me and I were able to chat for a good while before anyone else showed up.  Turns out I didn’t know anyone else who came so I stuck to talking to them for the evening.  More importantly, it turns out that they’re to be wed in the spring and they still needed to hire a group to play music at their reception.  Bam, wedding gig GETS on complete happenstance.

Relevant to the blog, last month my girlfriend was on Tumblr and saw a post by this baker she follows, Ant Roman.  Ant bakes unbelievably incredible-looking goods under the guise of Nerdache Cakes.  I’ll wait here while you pick up your slack jaw, call your friends, and possibly order something.

Ant had put out a want ad for a composer to write theme music for her upcoming series of instructional videos on YouTube.  Naturally, I jumped on that chance right away.  A chance to write theme music for a show that’s likely to be viewed by thousands?  Heck yes I’m gonna do it!

Luckily I was the first one to contact Ant.  I sent her my SoundCloud page and she responded by granting me a spot on her team.  In case you explore her various social media platforms and were wondering, she’s just as hilarious on e-mail as she is on any of those pages.

Her request was for chip music.  Aside from having listened to uber amounts of the stuff in my childhood and rocking out to Inverse Phase and Anamanaguchi in my adulthood, I had no experience in creating the stuff.  But, I said I would do it because, really, I have always wanted to have an excuse to write chiptunes.

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Codas: Link Round-up (through Jan. 31)

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I’m a little behind on posting because of an extremely busy week at work.  This time I have a healthy amount of links to things unrelated to VGM, but they’re certainly worth looking at, nonetheless.

– I can’t help but have the first one be my interview with Darren Korb!  It’s the post under this one.

– SoundRader interviews To the Moon composers Laura Shigihara and Kan Gao.

Paul McCartney to write VGM?  To be completely honest?  Weird.

fl0w/Journey composer Austin Wintory‘s new site has launched.

– Megabeep reviews an indie pop group that uses chiptunes‘ CD.  Read here, listen here.

– This guy has all of the PS2 games sealed.  Sweet… and expensive holy cow!

Arkham City creators to make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game?!?  Please be true.

– Ever wanted to know what it’s like to eat Tyrant ribs?

– Japanese pop culture icons done up Street Fighter IV style.

Look for a more regular post later this week!

Codas: Link Round-up (through Jan. 18)

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I’d like to share with you all some cool VGM-related things (mostly) that you might check out on the internet from time to time.  Watch for an update such as this every fortnight or so (though, if there are an inordinate amount of awesome sites that I find in a given week you’ll see an update sooner, of course!).

(links are solely in order of when I checked them out, earliest to latest)

GamesRadar shows off a YouTube video of a monstrous instrument aptly name the gAtari.

Megabeep reviews chiptune artist C-Jeff’s latest work, Preschtale.  The work is pretty heavy–I dig it.  Listen to the whole thing from beginning to end and you will not be disappointed.

Urbanech0es showcases some Chrono Trigger remixes by The Bad Dudes called “Chronotorious”.

–  Kenley Kristofferson talks about the VGM from Cloud.  I can’t wait to delve into more works by the composer, Vincent Diamante.

–  Despite whether you know Tim Follin by name or not, you’ve likely heard some of his work.  Steve Lakawicz of Classical Gaming does a quick overview of his musical career in his first post about Follin; he then follows up with a couple of YouTube videos that see Follin interviewed.

– I have officially joined up with OCRemix!  My username is Muuurgh.  You will know my posts by the [Score.] logo in the signature, heh.  I don’t intend to remix anything at this point in time, but there’s certainly an interest to work on some projects like that.

– Speaking of [Score.] logo, how’s that header looking?  Thanks, Natalie Parisi!  Check out her mysteries/puzzles blog, Clavis Cryptica.

– Jazz orchestrator Maria Schneider is gearing up for a 2012 Artist Commission project through ArtistShare.  If you’ve never heard her, as a music lover you should do yourself a favor.  Am I willing to shell out $150 to help commission her work and study the score of whatever she writes?  Yes.  But I need a couple of private lesson gigs first ^ ^

Enjoy!

Mega Man 10 Rap Remix Album

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I stumbled upon this album via the VGMpire podcast. I’m not much for rap, but if I did listen to it, I’d certainly prefer to be jamming to beats overtop some Mega Man chiptunes.

Check it out if it’s your thing–just click that photo.