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Finding Tenmon: Exploring the Music to the Anime
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Location: Romania

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:32 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Great job! You're pretty lucky to be able to share this with people that have no idea how the movies are (spread the Shinkai love! Smile )
Can't wait for the next part, the music in 5 cm is one of the few that has made me teary.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good Stuff Gleowine!

You're a woman, I'm a calf ... you're a window, I'm a knife ... we come together making chance into starlight ... - Jeff Buckley

ここにいるよ. - Voices of a Distant Star
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm late! Embarassed

Something good always happens when I return! I look forward to ploughing through  Very Happy  Wink  Surprised
"A word after a word after a word is power." --Margaret Atwood
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Ekusun Tsukinoe

Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finding Tenmon: Exploring the Music to the Anime of Makoto Shinkai (PART 3)


Upon first glance, we might sense a considerable lack of music in this work, when comparing it with the three previous features. But in fact, the percentage of music to anime is nearly the same as that for "The Place Promised in Our Early Days," about 46%. It should also be noted that of that total, only about 78% was actually composed or arranged by Mr. Tenmon (at this point, mention should also be made of Mr. Toshio Okazawa who is listed in the closing credits as providing additional music arrangement). Our perception of a possible downscaling in music may be due more to how and where it is distributed throughout each of the anime's three stories. To be sure, we find in each that same measured pace first observed in "Voices of a Distant Star," where full use is made of sound effects in places where the music is silent. For this reason, and to avoid having to note "no music" wherever we find none, an attempt will be made to point out those other elements of the soundtrack, as well.

(Again, to organize the notes better, the scenes in each story are divided up and given appropriate titles.)


Introduction: Just Like Snowflakes
No sounds accompany Takaki and Akari's initial dialogue, except the breeze that loosens the cherry blossoms, the birds in the trees, and later the crossing signal and the passing train that comes between the boy and the girl.

1a. Letters
At the appearance of the title, we hear the prelude to Mr. Tenmon's piano arrangement of Masayoshi Yamazaki's song "One More Time, One More Chance." The key is D major, and as Akari narrates and Takaki goes about his day-to-day activities, the piano solos the first simple musical phrase of the song. It has a harp-like quality to it, and quietly transitions into an added postlude set against visuals in the evening light.

1b. Transferring
The previous prelude begins anew with the start of a new day, only this time in an extended version with added synthesizer. The song's first phrase enters as before, then the second phrase, followed by the turning on of the athletic field's flood lights at dusk. Finally, the last part accompanies the bird on its flight through the evening sky, even bolstering Akari's anticipation of Takaki's visit. As we see her sitting on the train platform reading, a new postlude finishes out the scene. It consists of an unusual chord pattern of C-major to D-major to C-major and finally a B-major 7th-chord. This type of non-traditional progression and unexpected cadence occurs regularly throughout the anime, giving in each case a sense of open-endedness to the scenes.

2a. Departure
The scene opens with the sound of rain, as Takaki prepares to depart on the first train. Then, while he gazes out the train window and we are shown a flashback of his earlier days with Akari, a theme we'll call "Sharing" begins, soloed on piano in D major. This music seems to represent the closeness of their friendship. Following a transition theme, the "Sharing" theme returns, but in E major. This recap backs up Takaki's narrative about how they first met and grew to be friends. It ends on an A-major 7th-chord.

2b. Behind Schedule
There is no music for the entire scene, as Takaki begins changing trains. We hear mostly sounds associated with train travel: bustling stations, reverberating anouncements, rumbling cars on tracks, etc. Some more flashbacks are shown: the last phone call from Akari, their farewell after graduation, and his writing of the letter to give to Akari. Later, our ears are inundated with the roar and howl of the blustery weather that always seems to be conspiring against Takaki, delaying connections and even mercilessly ripping the letter to Akari from his hands.

2c. Motionless
As the last train comes to a full stop in the middle of a snowstorm, we hear only the wind and the idling engine. Then, about halfway into the scene, as Takaki has visions of Akari alone, a slower, sadder version of the "Sharing" theme is played by piano and synthesizer in B-flat major. The drop in both key and tempo seems to mirror the heaviness and desperation weighing on Takaki's heart. The theme ends dolefully on a G-minor chord, with the train still motionless in the background.

3a. Arrival
Takaki disembarks at the last station amid the quietness of a light snowfall. Inside the station, we see the change on his face reflecting journey's end and then are shown what he has spied: Akari sitting alone with head bowed. At that instant, the final part of "One More Time" begins playing lightly on harp and strings in C major. A transition section of alternating B-flat major and C major chords leads into the "Sharing" theme once more, the two friends being shown sharing a quiet meal in the station. The use of harp instead of piano enhances the lightness of the mood. As they later exit the station and walk the snow-covered road, tremolos in the strings reflecting the shimmering landscape bring the music to an end on an E-flat major 7th-chord.

3b. Under the Cherry Tree
No sounds occur except their voices and snow-crunching footfalls. Then, at the instant they kiss, the piano restarts the prelude to "One More Time," but this time in B-flat major. We hear yet a newer arrangement of the complete song. The drop in the key again gives us that sense of heaviness in Takaki's heart at the ephemeral nature of the shared moment.

Closing: Saying Goodbye
As the sun appears, the music transposes upward to C major for the final part of the song. Here full orchestra joins the piano, the rhythmic chords in the strings pulsing like the two young hearts. Then, as Akari stands watching the train slowly disappear and retrieves her letter to Takaki from the satchel, we are ushered out with an airy postlude on piano alone, consisting of yet another unusual chord pattern ending on an A-flat major 7th-chord at the fade-out following the closing credits. By "unusual" is meant that non-traditional chord progressions are again being employed. Perhaps this alternative style for ending the music is Mr. Tenmon's way of echoing what Takaki voices near the close: "After we'd kissed, it seemed like the whole world had completely changed."


Introduction: Another Planet
This other-worldly vision of Takaki's contains only the swirling sounds of the air currents and strains of the bow as it cocks and releases the arrow.

1a. First Attempt
At the arrow's striking the target, the title is shown without music. Then, as Kanae's sister pulls alongside of the girl's scooter, we hear an excerpt from Lindberg's song "Kimi no ichiban ni" coming from the van's stereo. This is the first use of background music as sound effect for a scene. Birds twitter and caw, as Kanae greets Takaki at the archery range on her way to class.

1b. Career Choices
There are the usual shufflings and mumblings during the classroom segment where the career counseling forms are handed out. While the girls discuss possible career choices over lunch, the school intercom plays an excerpt from Emile Waldteufel's "The Skaters." Both the scene and the school day end with the tolling of the clock-tower bell.

1c. Rough Time
Here we have sounds of the surf below the clift where Kanae sits brooding, with another shot of the arrow transporting us into the next scene.

2a. Second Attempt
The thuds of arrows striking their targets continue. Then, we are left with just the music of cicadas filling the air, as Kanae "unexpectedly" encounters Takaki in the parking lot. We hear the hum of the scooters, as they ride the highway. When Kanae begins her flashback to when she first fell in love with Takaki, mandolin and guitar are heard playing the "Crush" theme in C major. The plain folksy style of the melody evokes a sense of the innocent yet sincere emotions she feels for him. The intervening cadences keep landing on minor rather than major chords, suggesting the suppressed nature of her feelings. The theme ends with a traditional cadence on C-major, as the two of them arrive at Kanae's house.

2b. Career Choices
The teacher's discussion with Kanae about her future is accompanied by the chirping of cicadas from outside.

2c. Surf Trouble
Here we are up-close with the surf's roaring and crashing, as Kanae continually struggles with the waves.

3a. Third Attempt
No Takaki and no music other than that of a chorus of crickets. During Kanae's brief stop at the convenience store, a few bars of Yuki Mizusawa's "Anata no tame no Sekai" is heard in the background. Finally, after finding and joining Takaki on the grassy hill, they sit and talk amid the swirling of the breeze.

3b. Career Choices
In response to her queries about his future plans, Takaki says, "I just do what I can. That's all I can do." This simple statement seems to inspire a change in Kanae's attitude toward her own future. The breeze's swirling rises to a higher pitch as it sucks up Kanae's paper plane, her "career choice," into the clouds high above.

3c. Lonely Journey
Just the rumble of the railcar's wheels on the tracks, as it tows the cargo hold containing the payload for the impending launch. Then during their ride in the rain, a theme we'll call "Journey" is played one time only on piano in C major. The style is typical of Mr. Tenmon, almost reminiscent of the early themes used in "Voices of a Distant Star." During the talk between Kanae's mother and sister regarding her future, she herself seems content with Takaki's earlier response as being not unlike her own thinking. Later, during Takaki's vision on the beach, the music transposes first to B-flat major then to D major, seeming to set up a kind of uncertainty on his own part about what the future holds for himself and the "mysterious girl" standing with him.

Interlude: Message to Nobody
A brief transition between scenes, as Takaki types then deletes a message on his cell phone. The music being played lightly on piano in C major is a fragment of the "Sharing" theme from Story #1.

4a. Career Choices
For Kanae, things seem to be going in a more positive direction. The whole of this scene is accompanied by what we'll call the "Confidence" theme, played by piano and strings in C major. First, a majestic prelude is heard, while she stands on the grassy hill shared earlier with Takaki, observing the changing direction of the wind. The main theme enters with one of the most interesting melodies of all. It starts in the piano's mid-range, as she is preparing her board and responding to her sister with words simliar to those spoken by Takaki: "I'll start by doing each and everything I can." The rhythm is irregular and occasionally syncopated, gravitating toward middle-C.

4b. Surf Triumph
As she heads for the water, the melody takes off into a higher range, and the rhythm turns to a regular pattern. With each new phrase, the melody takes on more and more higher notes. The rhythm becomes steady and sure with the building of the wave; then, at the instant of Kanae's realization that she is successfully riding the wave, the music transposes upward suddenly to D major and continues its climb into the highest register of both keyboard and strings. There is a clear resolution on a D chord; but then, instead of the usual third of the chord being F-sharp, we hear the tinge of an F-natural near the end, changing the chord into D-minor.

4c. Final Attempt
The scene begins with the tones of the school intercom. We again see the three girls at lunch, with the intercom now playing an excerpt from Wolfgang Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony. Then, once more the sounds of the archery range. After school, amid a rousing chorus of crickets, Kanae is again awaiting her chance to share her feelings with Takaki. However, her newly found determination, like the final chord of the "Confidence" theme, seems tinged with doubt. And later at the convenience store, we hear yet another excerpt from Lindberg's "Kimi no ichiban ni," the lyrics this time seeming to harmonize with Kanae's dilemma.

The air surrounding the wordless walk home is saturated with the lonely incantations of cicadas. The ocean breeze enters, as well. Then, at the height of Kanae's emotional outpouring, the cicadas' music ceases abruptly, so that we see the rocket lifting off and soaring into the sky, the deafening sound of its engines saturating the air. Shots of places from the course of the story are shown, with the rocket continually climbing in the background. Finally, its disappearance into the upper atmosphere permits the breeze to rush in and fill the remaining silent void, while Kanae muses on the rocket's desperate flight into space.

Closing: Something Far Beyond
As they walk the last leg of the wordless trip home, and Kanae finally realizes that Takaki was never looking at her, we hear the "Crush" theme once more, played lightly on piano in D-flat major, one-half step higher than before. When the scene changes to Takaki's vision on the grassy hill, the piano's sound becomes fuller as it enters an interlude with chords alternating between B-flat minor and G-flat major. It then returns to the "Crush" theme, this time stepping up to E-flat major, for Kanae's final words, including the line, "But I still won't be able to stop loving him." After the showing of the closing credits, the music ends on an E-flat major 9th-chord.


Introduction: A Strong Feeling
The scene opens with the swirling breeze, the chirps and cooings of birds, and the clicking of the computer's keyboard. Later, we hear the familiar dinging of the crossing signal and feel the roar of the passing train, mentally taking us back to the end of the first scene from "Cherry Blossom."

1. Risa Calls
As Takaki leaves the bustling sounds of the train station, outdoor speakers are heard playing "Jingle Bells." His walk through the city streets is cluttered mainly with traffic noise, until his cell phone starts buzzing. And continues buzzing, unanswered.

2. A Dream about the Past
Birds are heard around the train platform where Akari and her parents are standing. Soon after on the train, we sense the rumbling and clacking of the passenger cars on the tracks, while Akari first reads a book then stares out the window. Brief moments of silence from past scenes intervene, followed by the train sounds receding.

3. Risa E-mails
Traffic noise comes from below Takaki's apartment. The ring-tone of his cell phone is heard, to which he responds hurriedly. On the other end, office chatter surrounds the area of Risa's desk. As Takaki leaves the apartment building, there is the deafening click of the door-lock engaging, then the crash of the keys onto the elevator floor. Outside, more sounds of traffic, as well as crows cawing from powerlines, while Takaki walks the streets, alone.

4. A Dream of Long Ago
More congested traffic noise, sounds from the office and train station, all seeming to recur here as though in an endless pattern. Finally, Takaki enters the convenience store, and his head is turned at hearing the opening lines of the song "One More Time, One More Chance" through the store speakers. The sound is subdued but just audible enough for us to hear its poignant lyrics. More traffic noise and train sounds, and then nothing but the voices of Takaki and Akari set against the continuing strains of the song. As it nears the end of the first verse, we hear them share in speaking the closing line: "We both believed without a doubt that someday, we'd watch the cherry blossoms fall again, together."

Closing: One More Time
Now, at the appearance of the main title, the song is brought up to full volume for its final rendition. However, instead of the usual method of fitting music to anime, Mr. Shinkai has chosen to key the timing of certain images from the story to the rhythm of the music, even providing extra images to correspond with certain words and phases from Mr. Tamazaki's lyrics. As the song reaches its climax with the return to the train crossing, we see the two characters one last time. And with the trains having passed, the lone guitar provides a closing tag amid the falling of the cherry blossoms.

Mr. Tenmon "one more time" graces us with one last composition for solo piano. Played throughout in C major, it starts with the "Sharing" theme, then uses the "Crush" theme as bridge to a recap of the "Sharing" theme to end the music. These two themes seem to sum up the anime's music, as well as the story itself, with a fitting signature to Mr. Tenmon's contribution.


The cellular telephone technology that we take for granted these days actually began with a vision of assigning each and every individual a unique telephone number, one that would both follow and find that person anywhere in the world. This was at the start of the age of increased mobility, with "customization" being the new watchword of the day. However, whenever we see someone pressing one of those tiny devices to the ear and happily carrying on a lengthy conversation with who-knows-who from any possible locale, be it mountain or desert, city or country, highway or by-way, we often forget that theirs is but one among thousands floating around up there, somewhere amid the clutter of EM waves that continually permeates the atmosphere.

So, it is a surprise to see that, in spite of many other detailed references to modern society in his work, Mr. Shinkai often chooses (with one lonely exception) to introduce none of his main characters as talking with another through either a cell or land-line phone. Instead, the animator prefers to present them from the start simply as friends conversing face to face. That is how we first met She and Chobi, in the apartment; Mikako and Noboru were seen on a bike or at the bus stop; Sayuri, Hiroki and Takuya gathered either in the classroom or at the abandoned station; and we found Takaki and Akari either watching cherry blossoms fall on a quiet street or browsing the sunlit bookstacks at the school library.

It was also during such early moments that Mr. Tenmon's main musical themes were introduced, becoming the primary means of preserving and conveying memories of such shared times and places during those later scenes of separation and isolation. The composer even employed certain useful elements for this purpose: the intimacy of the solo piano or violin; the familiarity of the song form; the memorable quality of the melodies. But one element of which we might not have always been conscious was his skillful use of tonality, the designating of a single note as the central point to which and through which all other notes are connected. This was how we were able to determine the key of each theme, the tonality serving like a lamp to guide us to a firmer sense of place, as well as to light our way through the changes in the emotional landscape. So, if indeed no clearer window can be opened upon an artist's soul than through his work, then through these encapsulating elements a clear invitation must have been offered to us, not only to look in but to gather with both composer and animator in their own special shared space. And with invitation in hand, we do happily enter and join the ongoing conversation, even so far as sharing in that one thought that transcends both time and space: "I am here."
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Shortcut Anchor

Joined: 23 May 2008
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Although I'm surprised you didn't go into more detail on the 3rd storie's "One More Time..." montage. Not that I'm complaining.

Really well done, though. For me the music is such a huge part of watching Shinkai's work. I don't know what his animations would be without Tenmon's composing.

Thanks for sharing that with us.
There are certain moments where some people should just be left unknown.
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VNP 46b-512

Joined: 25 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent work as usual. The thing I love about reading your essays is that you write the whole layout of the story and inserting slots where the music are, all making me seem like seeing a familiar but new story.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic! Looks like the beauty of music can be put into words. I particularly liked the "Final Attempt" part. Thanks for sharing!
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gleowine wrote:
Actually, I was inspired by AT's essay to write something of my own. And since I have a background in music, I thought I'd tackle Tenmon's soundtrack. This is the result of several day's worth of clicking the remote's rewind button over and over.

The Place Promised is proving to be more of a challenge than the first two, but I'll keep plugging at it and get Part 2 ready soon.

Heh, you know that's the best part with regards to writing essays on animation. You keep rewinding the five second bit over and over again because there is so much information laid across the screen--the details of the streets, the little birds flying in the distance, the colours, the juxtaposition of music against the silence of the characters--clearly, a single, second, no, even umpteen viewings might not yield the same result as one repeated rewinding.

An exemplar is Five Centimetres Per Second's musical montage right at the end. If you were in a movie, could you catch anything?

All that is left is a blur.

You suddenly realise that you don't know the person who has been sitting next to you in class for four years but it is all over since she's gone.

That feeling is perhaps incommunicable except through music which is perhaps what Tenmon and Shinkai have realised.

The impossibility of communication.

That is what Tenmon's music means to me.

EDIT: Are you guys living in Europe? Because it seems as if I'm always online at a time when nobody's on. Man Rolling Eyes
"A word after a word after a word is power." --Margaret Atwood
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

some of us are and some of us aren't Smile

I usually get on in the evenings after work ..

You're a woman, I'm a calf ... you're a window, I'm a knife ... we come together making chance into starlight ... - Jeff Buckley

ここにいるよ. - Voices of a Distant Star
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great writing

I wasn't much of a fan of Tenmon, I thought Shinkai's works could do a bit better in the music department.

I thought his work on 'ef - a tale of memories' was pretty good though. Very different and unique.

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