Archive for the ‘Film composers’ Category

Takemitsu Tôru


The composer Tôru Takemitsu (1930 – 1996) took composing for film as seriously as composing for the concert hall – and he was very successful in both fields. Takemitsu created more than 100 film scores, e.g. for directors Akira Kurosawa, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Nagisa Ôshima or Mitsuo Yanagimachi.

The pianist and academic Noriko Ohtake succinctly sums up Takemitsu’s approach to film music:

Composing for film scores satisfies Takemitsu’s goal to become anonymous and let music speak for itself. While the composer’s name is not always visible to the cinema-goer, his music plays its role in supporting the totality of a film. Takemitsu feels that music in film has social meaning for two basic reasons. First, films obviously reach a wider audience than classical music concerts. Also in working with collaborators, Takemitsu avoids limiting his own means of expression, since perceptive directors tend to bring out hidden aspects of his talent.

My favourite is Hiroshi Teshigahara’s film The Woman in the Dunes (1964 D; H. Teshigahara), where music and sound design seamlessly blend into each other.

This links to my own approach to composing for documentary film: I feel my way into the world of the film; I try to understand the director’s intention; I listen carefully to the location sounds and sonic atmospheres and generally treat music as just another sound in the soundtrack. Takemitsu’s music leaves much space for other filmic elements to be and to expand.

In 2002 the Journal Contemporary Music Review dedicated a special issue to Takemitsu.


  • Contemporary Music Review, Vol. 21, issue 4 (London, 2002).
  • Ohtake, Noriko. Creative Sources for the Music of Toru Takemitsu. Ashgate, Aldershot, 1993.
  • Richie, Donald, “Notes on the Film Music of Takemitsu Tōru”, Contemporary Music Review, vol. 21, iss. 4, 5–16 (London, 2002).
  • Takemitsu, Tôru, Yoshiko Kakudo, and Glenn Glasow. Confronting Silence : Selected Writings. Fallen Leaf, Berkeley, Calif., 1995. (specifically on film music: “Conversation on Seeing” p. 36 – 45)