Ryuichi Sakamoto: Integrating Electronics & Environmental Activism through Music & Film
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
Have you heard of Ryuichi Sakamoto? I hadn't, until today. Now I can't get enough of his talent. RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA | MUBI is new documentary about this award-winning composer/conductor/performer/record producer. View Trailer, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl-pKw5n0mI. Since the late 1970s, when he was a founding member of the electronic-pop trio Yellow Magic Orchestra, he has composed and produced music for dance floors, concert halls, films, video games, cellphone ringtones, and acts of ecological awareness and political resistance (Source: Ben Ratliff, July 13, 2018, NY Times). Now in his 70s, recovering from cancer, Ryuichi Sakamoto is still creating music with a message.
View a sampling of films for which Sakamoto created musical scores. Source: How To Listen To Film Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9RjnF6UAjE
Listen to the following samplings of his music:
Endless Flight / Bibo No Aozora - Ryuichi Sakamoto, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyemDVqBNG8
Ryuichi Sakampto, The Last Emperor, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcGY0dStHuA
Wuthering Heights - Ryuichi Sakamoto - Main Theme ( HQ), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oUcmForp_E
Film and Drawing:
"Life, Life" by Ryuichi Sakamoto fest. David Sylvian, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2rckVxl0MY
Film and Environment:
Minamata Official Trailer, 2021, Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP3pKTssw_E .
Conduct a discussion after viewing each film. Following are a few questions to think about:
What can you learn about lifelong creativity and meaning from Ryuichi Sakamoto?
How do Sakamoto's musical themes tell us about a character or narraive journey?
How are Sakamoto's musical themes repeated in films, connecting us to a character, setting, emotion or idea?
Listen to Sakamoto's musical themes in orchestral performances, albums and video games. Discuss how the following samples connect you to a character, setting, emotion or idea.
Ballet Mécanique (バレエ・メカニック) - Ryuichi Sakamoto (坂本龍一) from Playing the Orchestra 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGW3zyk4GD4
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Blu (Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWI5aVKvkCg
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Left Handed Dream (Full Album, 1981), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjEV0kk6qZM
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO Broadway Boogie Woogie (Media Bahn Live 1986), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0901OdhOpJc
坂本龍一 [Ryuichi Sakamoto] - Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto (1978) Full Album, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGo7n6CMCcE
PlayStation 2 Gameplay, 2003 Soundtrack, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRkPkkYtUYM
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISBGU_FbZ7Y (this is perhaps his most famous musical score [EARWORM])