#13 August 2002 WEB OF ETERNITY edited by Cary Loren PAGE 11 of 13


>From: Bookbeat@aol.com
>To: dodici12_@hotmail.com
>Subject: Re: question/request
>Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 23:40:23 EDT

Dear Sam,

Thank you for looking into this-- I remember being interviewed in Tokyo (as part of the Destroy All Monsters art collective, in 1996) and we were discussing the workers and designers of the great Japanese monster films-the writers tended to agree that the majority of people working on the films were considered "artists" -- but in a  'outsider/beatnik' type sense. The science fiction soundtrack (especially the Japanese monster films) were a strong influence on us not only us, but probably a generation of artists-- and I would like to look
into the social life/stylesof some of the creators -- IFUKUBE was partly Ainu --or raised by this inside subculture of native, aboriginal Japanese and was probably considered or treated "outsider" by main-stream standards. Perhaps the prejudice and treatment he received helped send him to the edge creatively.

I would like to address the subject of bohemian culture and the Japanese monster film. I was also amazed with the soundtrack of "Attack of the Mushroom People" -- but don't know much about the composer --

I look forward to your notes and further discussion.

>Best regards,
>Cary Loren

Akira Ikufube, composer
Akira Ikufube, composer

Hi Cary,

You raise some interesting points, but everything that I have read on the subject would seem to contradict the notion that Akira Ifukube (and other "Godzilla" creators) worked outside the mainstream. Ifukube, though known in the West mainly for his genre film scores, is also one of Japan's most respected classical artists. Masaru Sato, another figure closely associated with "Godzilla" music, was one of Japan's most prolific and versatile film composers. Rather than being outsiders, they were as much a part of their country's film industry as American counterparts Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith or John Williams were (and are) part of theirs.

It is true that Ifukube was raised in an area of Japan that had a large Ainu population, but he was not part-Ainu. In fact, he was the descendant of a respected family with a proud tradition that lasted over 1300 years - each generation's firstborn son would become a Shinto priest. Ifukube's father, Toshizo, was the first to break with that tradition by taking his family out of Tottori and moving to the northern Island of Hokkaido.

Toshizo's third son, Akira, was born in Kushiro, Hokkaido in 1914. Since his infancy he had been exposed to the music and dance of the Ainu, the original native people of Japan, who had been persecuted for centuries and slowly driven up north. Toshizo, unhampered by the still-common prejudices against this tribe, often socialized with the Ainu, frequently inviting them to his house. Though young Akira did not plan on becoming a composer, he was greatly inspired by the music he heard around him. Not only was he greatly influenced by the improvisational style and traditional motifs of the Ainu (an influence evident in many of his later classical compositions and film scores), but by the sixth grade he also became enthralled with the Western classical music he heard on the radio.

Ifukube taught himself violin and attended junior high school in Sapporo, where he was further exposed to the music of European composers. He was especially inspired by the works of Igor Stravinsky and Manuel de Falla, citing them as the main reason he decided to become a composer. He also greatly admired the work of George Copeland, with whom he briefly corresponded in 1934. Copland encouraged him to compose his first work, the solo piano "Bon Odori Suite", which Ifukube dedicated to Copeland.

Ifukube then turned his attention toward his studies of forestry at The University of Sapporo, where he completed a thesis on the acoustics of wood. In 1936 he won first prize for his "Bon Odori Suite" in a contest promoted by Russian composer Alexander Tcherepnin, with whom he later studied modern western composition. Tcherepnin suggested that he try writing a symphonic piece, resulting in "Japanese Rhapsody", Ifukube's first orchestral work. Completed in 1937, it brought him great recognition, winning awards and admirers throughout Europe.

After college, Ifukube worked as a forestry officer and lumber processor. Although he did not serve in the armed forces during World War II, he was appointed by the Imperial Army toward the end of the war to conduct a study on the vibratory strength and elasticity of wood. Unfortunately, this process involved the extensive use of X-rays, and because of the wartime shortage of lead, these experiments were performed without the benefit of a
protective suit. Ifukube was later hospitalized for radiation exposure, unable to work again for over a year.

Still struggling as a classical composer, and in need of a steadier income, Ifukube decided to try his hand at film scoring. On the recommendation of his friend Fumio Hayasaka (chief composer at the time for legendary director Akira Kurosawa), Ifukube scored his first film, "The End of the Silver Mountains", for Toho Studios in 1947, beginning a distinguished career that included the scores for more than 250 films over a nearly 50-year period. His groundbreaking music for 1954's "Godzilla" and many of its sequels, as well as other sci-fi/fantasy films such as "Rodan", "The Mysterians", the "Majin" series and others, brought him even greater worldwide fame and recognition. Though primarily known in the West for his monster scores, Ifukube was equally adept at composing music for crime dramas, samurai films, war films, romances and even comedies.

As prolific as he was, Ifukube was always frustrated by the strict
limitations imposed on him by tight shooting schedules. He was usually only given a few days to compose and record a score, and small budgets rarely afforded him the luxury of a large orchestra. Because of these restrictions, Ifukube was often forced to borrow and rearrange motifs from his own classical work (as well as his other film scores) in order to meet deadlines.

Even so, Ifukube took his film work very seriously, always delivering the best job he could, even under the most trying conditions. Because if his creative instincts, innovative arrangements and uncompromising perfectionism, he earned the trust of many of Japan's top directors and producers and quickly became one of Japan's most in-demand film composers. His unique artistry even extended to sound effects - he was responsible for Godzilla's famous roar, produced by rubbing a resin-covered leather glove along the loosened strings of a contrabass. He also created the sound of the monster's footsteps by striking a crude amplifier box that he found in the studio.

Though more widely known for his film music, Ifukube's preferred form of expression has always been his classical work. He has accumulated an impressive body of material that has been performed and recorded extensively over the years. In 1974 he was hired as a professor at the Tokyo College of Music, and later became the president of its Institute of Ethnomusicology. He also published a 1000-page book on music theory titled, "Orchestration". Since 1975 he has done little soundtrack work, with the notable exception of four films in the revived "Godzilla" series in the '90's. Since then he has concentrated mainly on teaching and overseeing recordings of his classical compositions. He has also been decorated by the Japanese government with the Order of Culture and the Order of the Sacred Treasure. This May he will be celebrating his 88th birthday.

Masaru Sato, the other composer most frequently associated with Godzilla's "classic" period, has a somewhat different story. While Ifukube was mainly a classical composer and teacher, Sato's entire career revolved around film music. His scores for "Godzilla Raids Again", "Half Human", "The H-Man", "Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster", "The Lost World of Sinbad", "Son of Godzilla", "Tidal Wave" and "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" are but a small fraction of the over 300 film scores he has composed. He was also responsible for the acclaimed scores of some of Akira Kurosawa's most famous films.

Like Ifukube, he was born in Hokkaido, in 1928. He studied at the National Music Academy, and went right into film composition and orchestration after he graduated, under the tutelage of Kurosawa's principal composer, Fumio Hayasaka. Upon Hayasaka's death in 1955, Sato inherited his master's job as composer for Kurosawa's films. Earlier that same year, he contributed his first sci-fi score to "Godzilla Raids Again", with only occasional forays into the genre over the course of his career. Like Ifukube, Sato composed the soundtracks for a broad range of work, including samurai films, comedies, crime dramas, romances and action thrillers. But unlike Ifukube, many of Sato's scores showed an obvious jazz influence, and he professed a great admiration for such Western composers as Quincy Jones and Henry Mancini. His versatility has also invited comparisons to the work of the prolific Jerry Goldsmith. Sato died in 1999.

As you can see, the high-profile careers of both of these musical talents clearly disqualify them from being categorized as "outsider" artists. Other Japanese composers such as Yuji Koseki ("Mothra"), Sadao Bekku ("Attack of the Mushroom People") and Ikuma Dan ("The Last War") actually composed few genre scores, and were known for more conventional film and classical work. The scores of more recent "Godzilla" and "Gamera" films, by composers such as Reijiro Koroku, Takayuki Hattori and Ko Otani, seem to be even more rooted in the mainstream, sounding stylistically very similar to many of todays's state-of-the-art Hollywood efforts.

Aside from composers, I would be hard-pressed to associate ANY creator of Japanese monster films with "bohemian" or "beatnik" culture. The director most associated with the classic "Godzilla" films, Ishiro Honda, had a long and distinguished career at Toho, directing not only monster pictures but many other types of films as well, even collaborating with Kurosawa toward the end of his life. Godzilla's other legendary creator, special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya, was one of Japan's most influential film artists. Both of these men were true innovators, yet they were able to work their "magic" within the confines of the Japanese film industry, commanding the utmost respect of their peers (not to mention impressive box-office success).

I hope this essay has been helpful, though I haven't been able to come up with any solid information to support your theory. Does this mean that the "outsider" connection has no factual basis? Please keep in mind that my information is limited to what we have access to in the West. Most of the major creators of Japanese sci-fi films have been repeatedly interviewed for English-speaking publications, but that doesn't mean there are not Japanese or European texts on the subject that might be more revealing. Admittedly, I neither speak Japanese nor read music, so it's possible that there may be another side to this question. If so, I would be very interested to learn about it.

My primary sources of information included the excellent out-of-print book, "Age of the Gods", by Guy Mariner Tucker (Daikaiju Publishing, 1996), "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla", by Ed Godziszewski (self-published? 1995/out-of-print), "Monsters are Attacking Tokyo!" by Stuart Galbraith IV (Feral House, 1998), "Japan's Favorite Mon-Star" by Steve Ryfle (ECW Press, 1998) and the Canadian fanzine "G-Fan" (issues 18 and 41, Daikaiju
Enterprises, Ltd.), as well as Larry Tuczynski's great "Godzilla and Other Monster Music" website and "The Akira Ifukube Informational Page" website by Duncan Leaf.

Sam Scali



#13 August 2002 WEB OF ETERNITY edited by Cary Loren PAGE 11 of 13

End is Here I was a Jack Smith love slave Infinite Black Darkness, Infinite White Darkness Buried Alive Rock and Revolution, photos by Leni Sinclair Aesthetics of UFOs by Mike Kelley Wallace Berman Angus MacLise Father Yod  Ira Cohen Akira Ikufube Swampy Lagoon Index Ray Johnson