During March and April, Revo wrote three colums for a music section of the Asahi shimbun called “Ongakujin File”. In these columns, Revo wrote about the three basic elements of music (Rythm, Melody and Harmony) relating them with its usage in what he calls “Story Production”, that is, the way he uses music to tell stories.

Translation by Kurobara.
Revision & Correction by Returnfire, Meishu and Sanhorafan1234.
Columns originally published on February 26th, March 12th and March 26th 2010.

Sound Creator • Revo (1) The power of syncopation

Nice to meet you everyone, my name is Revo and I’m a writer and composer. One of my main characteristics is the fact that I make music in order to tell stories.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Applying that to music, it is no exaggeration to state that hearing something once is worth reading it a thousand times. Even so I believe there’s a challenge in the meaning of that, and that’s why the first column of this series will be about one of the three great elements that form the structure of music from my point of view as a music producer, which is rhythm.

Everyone, do you know what “syncopation” is? To explain it briefly, I would define it as such: The technique of changing the straight beat of a quadruple time (One, two, three, four / one…) for this other (One, two, three, four O / ne, two, three, four…) The “four” becomes shorter in order to accelerate the “one”, so it follows that the “one” becomes longer to maintain the structure of the quadruple time, doesn’t it? Now, doesn’t the “one” in this case seem to transmit the sensation of having twice the strength?

That IS the power of syncopation. As a story producer, this allows (the composer) to increase the feeling of speed with a simple variation, and also, with gradual control, it allows to depict a situation in which the tension is rising.

There is also an approach for the introduction to a change of rhythm, without keeping the quadruple time. It’s in one of my own compositions, although it may be arrogant: in the beginning of the song Arasoi no Keifu, I used this kind of rhythm change for the “Reconquista” (known in the world’s history as the process of retaking the territory of the Iberian Peninsula) where the same part is repeated several times.

Since in the <One, two, three, four O / ne two, three four O /…>* the four advances being always shorter, the sensation of strong progress to the front appears. This is Story Production. Don’t you imagine the portrayal of soldiers who continue to advance towards the front of a battlefield?

Well, I think in the next column I’ll write about “Melody”. So…everyone, it will be the week after next, in the same place!

>> Revo. Leader of the artist band Sound Horizon. He expresses a fantasy world. His major debut was in 2004.


Originally published in February 26th’s Asahi Newspaper (Evening edition)
Text by Revo. Translation from Japanese by Kurobara. Style/grammar correction by Meishu.

Sound Creator • Revo (2) The History that Melody Tells Of

Last time I mentioned the song called “Arasoi no Keifu”, which is in fact from “Seisen no Iberia”, a Maxi CD that has the history of the Iberian Peninsula as its theme. If we read through history carefully, we see that a lot of blood has been shed in the name of God until nowadays. And what are people supposed to learn from history? That is what this single talks about.

This is changing the subject, but what does “God” mean for so many Japanese people in this day and age? I’m afraid to say that there might not be something like an absolute being that rules over everybody. Instead of that, there is a “sense of appearance in society’s eyes” that plays the role of God in a way, isn’t there? No one can deny that thoughts like, “Everybody has it, then I will too”, or “Everybody is doing that, then I will too” have become a norm.

Has everyone come across the scene of a fire before? Among the astonishing crowd, there are always curious onlookers who eagerly take photos and send them with their mobiles to other people. That’s a rather cold sight. Sadly enough, it’s also the same with traffic accidents. But in those cases, the majority is not always correct. If Christ had lived in the present time, maybe he would have said, “Thou shalt not take photos of your neighbors’ misfortune to send them to others,” wouldn’t he…?

Getting back on topic, this time I’ve decided to write about “melody” in the story production. Even melodies have history and culture, and everywhere at all times, different nations and cultural spheres have created a wide range of varicolored musical scales.

In the middle of the song “Shinryaku-suru mono Sareru mono” from “Seisen no Iberia”, mentioned above, there is a scene in which the Christian troops and the Islamic troops sing together in a chorus, but with each side following their own beliefs. Of course, this contrast is adopted in the lyrics, but only one motif is used, arranged in alternating Spanish (do-re-mi-fa-sol) and Arabic (si-re-mi-fa-sol#) styled musical scales (which is actually called modulation). That is also story production. Don’t you think that the historical confrontation and the cultural contrast are even more vivid?

Well, the next column will be finally the last one, in which I will write about “Harmony”. So everyone, (that’ll be) the week after next in the same place!

>> Revo. Leader of the artist band Sound Horizon. He expresses a fantasy world. His major debut was in 2004.

Originally published in March 12th’s Asahi Newspaper (Evening edition)
Text by Revo. Translation from Japanese by Kurobara. Style/grammar correction by Returnfire.

Sound Creator • Revo (3) Harmony on Emotions and Scenes

In contrast with the single that I talked about on the last two columns, which depicted a vision of monotheist worlds, the album that I’ll talk about this time, called Moira (meaning “Fate” in Greek) is based on the depiction of a polytheist world.

Japan also has a polytheist religion, so maybe Japanese people would be more familiarized with it. In general, primitive religions started as a natural deification of humans’ fears. With this definition, It can be said that we (nowadays’ people) who have forgotten the concept of fear towards things, have killed the gods, can’t it? Because the fact of throwing cigarette butts, if it had happened during the ancient times, would have probably caused thunderstorms sent by Gods…

Cutting with the preface right here, let’s now talk about the Story Production of “Harmony”. In the middle of the song “Shiseru Otome, sono Te ni wa Suigetsu” from Moira, there is a chorus sung by six muses, and it becomes the introductive piece to the scene in which an older brother and his younger sister experience a tragic farewell, leading finally to a reunion.

When there are no less than six people (singing), the resultant consonance can happen to be quite complex. Depending on the situation, each voice is assigned in order to match the sound you wish, and occasionally you even dare to emphasize it by duplicating it. Those women are not human. Inside the story, they occasionally sing to speak for the emotions of a character, or to enhance the power of a scene, no doubt they are muses (lit. poetry goddesses)

Then, the role that the women play in this scene is the brilliantly clear moonlight. With a merciless melody, they illuminate a hurrying young men and a waiting girl. The stillness of the forest and the coolness of flowing water are left to the Sound Effects, for that could not be in no way expressed with voice. That is Story Production. If Beethoven had been born in this era, don’t you think that he would have used Sound Effects in his music?

Well, this column is the third that I write. Due to the conditions of length, I wrote focusing on the three elements of music, but apart from those, the usage of lyrics and instruments can be also regarded by the Story Production. Those techniques bear many difficulties, but that’s why they’re so interesting, and from now on I will continue investigating about them. In which case, I only wish that someday, somewhere, (we will meet) again!

Originally published in March 26th’s Asahi Newspaper (Evening edition)
Text by Revo. Translation from Japanese by Kurobara. Style/grammar correction by Sanhorafan1234.