Fafner in the Azure Composer Interview: Tsuneyoshi Saito | ‘An Orchestral Chain Reaction’

In that sense, you are saying that the communication between the orchestra and yourself was tight?

Saito: That’s right. The way to get them closer to my vision is certainly through dialogue. Although there was a Polish interpreter, I used a mixture of Italian, English and French to communicate directly with them since many of the musical terms are in Italian. And the only words that I did not know, I requested the interpreter to translate. Many performers were Polish, but most of them studied or performed in many different European countries, so were able to understand each other with my mixed languages.

They could understand you when you just use basic phrases?

Saito: By placing words such as “motto ~” (more) or “mezzo ~” (little less) before adjectives, they mostly understood what I was trying to say (laughs).

So you’re saying that, although the musicians are from different countries, communications can be developed between them.

Saito: If it was pop music, I don’t think it would be that easy, but for me I just needed to tell them “molto brilliante‘ (more loud & brilliant). So it was rather easy.

How long did it take for the recording?

Nakanishi: Actually it took two days.

Saito: It was a very hectic schedule. However, I think we pretty much accomplished what we had planned.

Though we did do a little overtime at the end of the session…Perhaps because I was making arrangements that would be more enjoyable and favourable for the performers, they wanted to keep going until they were satisfied. Such a request usually comes from the conductor, but it wasn’t so much so here. Therefore, we ending up doing a little overtime, the manager of the orchestra said that all the performers were happy to work with us, and since it was my first time doing a project with them, he said, “We’d like to give you another hour.”

That is something you don’t normally here – that all of the orchestra members volunteered to stay for an extra hour.

Saito: Something like that certainly never happens, and if I did that in Japan, I’d hear a storm of booing. And I would never be able to work with them again. So, I was really moved by the Warsaw Phil’s generosity.

Recapitulation: With Regards to Creating the Image for the Music

Okay. Let’s change the topic. I’d like to ask about the composition requests for each track by Director Habara and Audio Director Mima.

Saito: When I received the list of composition requests, I recognised the request seems one-sided. Generally for anime OSTs, I would receive a request to write a line of sentimental expression. I didn’t see any happy or comical pieces for Fafner. Rather, I got requests for melancholic and dark pieces. Therefore, my compositions were completed with heavy impressions which are not common among a typical anime OST.

Instead of focusing on a scene-to-scene basis, you tried creating a complete musical image.

Saito: I asked myself “Would it be okay to only write depressing pieces?” When I went to ask the director, he said it’s perfectly fine (laughs).

Although Fafner is a mecha anime consisting of main characters who are children, it is not drawn to as a simple heroic mecha project.

Saito: Even though the main character was a child, I did not wish to compose only ‘childish’ music to match. Truthfully, I prefer writing more dramatic music.

I’d like to ask you about the story behind some of the pieces. First, talk about ‘M4’, Kazuki’s theme as well as Ryugu Island’s theme.

Saito: This is the piece for the Kazuki that I wished him to be, which I conceptualised from the scenario instead of as the main character’s theme song. The recorded piece that was done in Warsaw was a fragment of Kazuki’s image that came from the final episode. There are two sides of Kazuki, and I wanted to express the very peaceful side of him.

Also there are tracks that played during the show as themes of Norn: ‘M17-18’.

Saito: Since these tracks are often played on screen, I anticipated having lyrics for them, and I considered the lyrics to smoothly ride above the music when I created the melodies. They were sort of like images talking to the audience.

Nakanishi: My request was to go beyond the scat of Space Battleship Yamato (laughs).

Then, regarding ‘M7’, which was played in its entirety to bring out the cinematic drama of Shouko’s death in episode six. Was that originally written based on the premise of Shouko’s destiny?

(Editor’s note: these M#’s correspond to track titles that were published by Geneon; but they are not in track no. order. For example, ‘M7’ is track 23 ‘-Shoko-‘, which is linked on the previous page.)

Saito: Yes, I write it for that scene. Although I was asked at first to make it a small composition, I turned it into an extra dramatic one (laughs). My concept for this piece was performing a three minute piano concerto – consisting of an exposition, development and a candenza. I wrote it in a direction from the original request. So, I was worried that I would be disappointed if this piece was not used for the scene of Shouko’s death. But it was used perfectly.

Nakanishi: Mr. Mina inserted it with care. Director Habara also assiduously developed that scene after listening to Mr. Saito’s music.

Saito: In an ideal soundtrack, every aspect, such as the scenes, the dialogue, and the music, should work together instead of being established and reliant on one aspect alone. In that sense, the scene was really great.

I have so many other questions that I would like to ask, but I’ll end it with this: is there anything you’d like your audience to consider at a certain point when they listen to this CD?

Saito: Since it is an anime OST, I’d be happy if the music rides on the anime like an vivid impression. After people listen to my music, I expect them to say “man…that was a great scene”, instead of just “this is a good song”. Even though I’m a composer, I think it’d be nice if my music gets played effectively during more vivid scenes, even for a short duration, instead of my music just being played over a long, boring stretch. I hope my music will not stand alone. I like to create music that would be the foundation for the whole anime.

Thank you very much for today!

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