Musique concrète for the Film Ginrin (1956) – the first Film Music by Tôru Takemitsu (1930–1996): Representation of his Identity as a Postwar Avant-Garde Composer and Implication of Commercial Interference by Makoto Mikawa
In 2005, the avant-garde Public Relations film Ginrin (Silver Wheels, 1956) was discovered. Since its location had been unknown almost for a half century, it was regarded as a non-existent or lost film. Originally, the Japanese Bicycle Industry Association (Nihon Jitensha Kôgyôkai) organized this Public Relations film project as an advertisement for bicycles aimed at foreign countries. While the film company Shin-Riken Motion Picture (Shin-Riken Eiga) primarily conducted the planning and production of industry film, the young film director Toshio Matsumoto (b. 1932) created Ginrin as an artistic piece to which he applied a European “avant-garde method of film.” Among genres of avant-garde film, he chose a surrealistic approach to Ginrin. For the implementation of this concept, Matsumoto made contact with the interdisciplinary artistic group “Experimental Workshop” (Jikken-Kôbô), in which up-and-coming young artists, composers, musicians, poets, and lighting technicians worked together to create new forms and styles of artistic work. This group emerged in 1951 and their interdisciplinary-multimedia work lasted until 1957. The postwar avant-garde composer Tôru Takemitsu (1930–1996) was the co-founder of this Workshop and composed several pieces for its experimental artistic events. On the occasion of Matsumoto’s visit to the Experimental Workshop, Takemitsu agreed to compose music for the film. Among more than one hundred films, for which he composed music throughout his career as a composer, Ginrin was the first.
From January to March 1956 Takemitsu worked on the music for Ginrin; however, he also composed music for the entertainment film Crazed Fruit (Kurutta kajitsu, 1956) in the same year. The latter film dealt with two brothers who “compete for the amorous favors of a young woman during a seaside summer of gambling, boating, and drinking.” These two compositions were characteristically different from one another: while Takemitsu produced tape music for Ginrin with a method similar to musique concrète, for Crazed Fruit he used “Hawaii-sound,” which consisted of a steel-guitar, a Ukulele, and a Jazz band instrumentation. On the surface, this conspicuous difference might result simply from the different purposes of these film productions. However, both films reflected the composer’s specific musical experiences and thoughts individually, and even partly the sociopolitical and sociocultural situation of postwar Japan. Based on these facts, this paper contextualizes the development of his identity as a postwar avant-garde composer by examining the music of Ginrin.
Musical Background of Takemitsu
Born in 1930, Takemitsu was shocked by a French chanson heard during wartime, despite the military government strictly banning Western culture, especially that of the United States and United Kingdom. The chanson, which a young Japanese soldier secretly played with a vinyl record for younger students, was Parlez-moi d’amour sung by Lucienne Boyer. The young Takemitsu was so impressed by the musical harmony that he decided then and there to become a composer or performer of Western music. “Only after the end of the war, [therefore,] he could concentrate on listening to Western music.” Judith Ann Herd characterizes Takemitsu’s cultural background at that time:
Mr. Takemitsu was a child of prewar Japan that banned influences from the West, but also a child of postwar Japan in which Western influences governed the whole culture.
Due to the US-occupation after end of the war, American culture was influential; for this reason, it was quite natural that Takemitsu became familiar with American music, more specifically, Jazz music. In addition, European music, especially that of Olivier Messiaen and Claude Debussy, also influenced his compositional development. Nevertheless, already in the early phase of his career as a composer Takemitsu was convinced that he needed to develop his own musical language. In the consciousness that he had no musical education, nor was capable of writing music on music paper, “he began to compose with his instinct.”
In the chaotic period shortly after end of the war, the young Takemitsu sold cigarettes and chocolates on the streets illegally, which he bought from American soldiers. One day Takemitsu got to know one of them and the US soldier took Takemitsu to the bar for Americans, in which there was a grand piano. He taught himself piano during the day in the bar and worked at night as a helper, including playing American vinyl records. Also, the US soldier often took Takemitsu to the film theater that Japanese were not allowed to enter. While he could watch a few new American films weekly, he began to compose without a composition teacher. Getting to know his contemporary composers, artists, poets, and music critics, Takemitsu learned pieces by elder Japanese composers and also music of Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Federico Mompou, and so forth. This resulted largely from his participation in the interdisciplinary group Jikken-Kôbô, which became crucial in leading him to multimedia composition. What is especially worth noting is that this Workshop had produced tape music experimentally, before Takemitsu’s contemporary, Toshirô Mayuzumi (1929–1997), introduced Parisian musique concrète in Japan. In a 1990 interview, Takemitsu explained:
Having attended a concert of Pierre Schaeffer in France and then come back to Japan, Mr. Mayuzumi and his fellows composed musique concrète pieces. Our work was not actually musique concrète, but we had done a similar composition in the Jikken-Kobo before they started [concrète composition]. We Jikken-Kobo composed many pieces by wire recording at the Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo [Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation], the predecessor of Sony.
Takemitsu became preoccupied with this new compositional method. It enabled him not only to compose music with his “instinct,” but also to develop his own musical language by transforming a noise into a sound. For him, sound exploration in electroacoustic composition was exploration of his musical identity, so to speak. In this regard, the description of Kôji Sano below is useful as a brief summary:
[Takemitsu] thought of sketching by means of tape recording because he had a difficulty in expressing his musical ideas on paper due to the fact that he had no piano, nor had he had formal musical education. While this situation motivated the use of tape music, what is more surprising is that Takemitsu already had considered a problem of musical sound and noise before the ideas of musique concrète . . . became known [in Japan].
That is, Takemitsu became involved in electroacoustic composition without knowing the original musique concrète pieces and the theoretical and aesthetic concepts.
Multimedia Composition as a Starting Point of Takemitsu’s Career as a Composer
Before Takemitsu knew musique concrète and its compositional-aesthetic concept, he had become familiar with surrealism through the poet, art critic, and founder of Jikken-Kôbô Shûzô Takiguchi (1903–1979), one of the earliest Japanese surrealists. Already in the prewar period, he translated Le Surréalisme et la peinture (The Surrealism and Painting) by André Breton (1986–1966) into Japanese and published theoretical work on Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968). (In the postwar period he made personal contact with these artists). Heavily influenced by Takiguchi’s work, Takemitsu had an idea of application of surrealistic techniques such as collage, papier collé, and montage to musical composition. For him, composition with a tape recording device appeared the best method for embodying this idea. In 1955 Takemitsu composed tape music for a performance of experimental ballet theater, which the Experimental Workshop organized. In the program of this event, he was responsible for the third part, Eve of the Future, an avant-garde ballet performance based on the novel L’Ève Future by Auguste Villier de l’Isle Adam (1838–1889). Although Takemitsu composed the electroacoustic music for the ballet together with Mayuzumi, it was not only his first official commission for tape composition, but also his first participation in multimedia artistic work – collaboration of electroacoustic composition and theater. In the program for the performance, Takemitsu expressed his own idea of musique concrète: “Through reversing the magnetic tape and changing the tape speed, a composer can get a completely new sound.”
After the experimental ballet project, he composed his first “solo” musique concrète for a radio play of Shin Nippon Hôsô (New Japan Broadcasting), the second commercial broadcasting company in Japan. For the radio play, Hono-o (Fire), whose text was written by the writer Yasushi Inoue (1907–1991), Takemitsu used a variety of recorded sounds and combined them with electronic sounds that were produced with an oscillator. This compositional approach represented his enthusiasm for electroacoustic composition: “Every sound that exists in this world is a material for forming music and thus one can unlimitedly expand the sound palette.” Shortly after the first radio broadcasting of this music, Takemitsu revised it to be his first “pure” electroacoustic piece, which he titled Static Relief (1955).
In Static Releif, Takemitsu embodied the idea of applying a surrealistic method to musical composition by making a collage and montage of the recorded concrete sounds for the first time. This work, however, was not merely an experiment of sound composition, but based on his musical-aesthetic thought. The poet and contemporary of Takemitsu, Shuntarô Tanikawa (b. 1931) neatly describes the characteristics of the piece and the composer’s thoughts on the composition:
Static Relief – it is an argument, an antithesis, and a wound, rather than a musical piece. It was produced not in the name of art, but in the name of life. . . . He separates himself from music that almost loses its essential significance in the systematized and dried out corpus. Nevertheless, he also breaks himself out with the music he dreams of. For what?: He says, “I have to live.” In this way, he reaches a tone. The tone is not artistic reality, but reality of life. . . . “My musical materials (such as voices of animals and women, bird-singing, etc.) furiously invoke irrational things in me. The individual sounds transform themselves into terms for the movement of my feelings. I exist far from reality. I distance myself from reality. After the boiling negotiation with reality, I place myself in unreality.” Indeed, “the boiling negotiation with reality” is all he wants. Furthermore, although he himself made this statement, it is the most difficult thing he can obtain.
As this statement implies, there was a twofold denial by the composer: negation of conventional ideas of art and of self. Focusing on the “irrational things,” Takemitsu explored his own sound-landscape.
Film Music and Identity
During Takemitsu’s composition of Static Relief, the film shooting of Ginrin began in the studio of the production company. Only after the shooting did he see the film first time, although it was still in the editing process. Impressed by Matsumoto’s original surrealistic approach to the film, Takemitsu suggested musicque concrète for the whole film. However, he did not have any specific model or sound image in mind, but only had a vague plan of application of surrealistic methods to the electroacoustic composition. In contrast to Static Relief, Takemitsu used only seven different recorded sounds of birdsong for Ginrin. This suggests the composer’s intention of focusing on the limited sound sources to discover an unheard-of sound rather than collecting various sound characteristics. With such an approach, he might intend to create musical unity or consistency in terms of sound color. Indeed, this compositional plan corresponded to the structure of the film, which dealt with a single object – a bicycle.
In 2010 conversation, Matsumoto explained the artistic concept of Ginrin and the immanent aesthetic conflict:
During the shooting, the most important point in the case of Ginrin was the abstraction or unrealistic presentation of a real thing [i.e., a bicycle]. Despite the work on creating the imaginary picture, the sense of reality that forms the object had to be lively represented; otherwise, it would generate no attractiveness, nor filmic reality. This made me reconsider what the attractiveness of the film would be.
The underlying issue was the antithetical idea: The imagination, which resulted from the “abstraction or unrealistic presentation” of a concrete compositional material, against the reality, which emerged as the final form of the work on creating an imaginary picture. This idea could be theoretically comparable to Takemitsu’s compositional concept in Ginrin, but he did not need to imply the original sound source in the final form of the composition. Rather, he aimed to produce a completely new sound.
According to Matsumoto, who watched Takemitsu’s compositional process in the recording studio, the composer modified each sound of birdsong by changes of the tape speed and then manually deformed it with a modulator. Kôji Kawasaki assumes that the modulation dealt mainly with the reverberation and distortion effects and that Takemitsu synthesized the modulated materials. The composer also prepared a graphic sketch for the composition of Ginrin music, but it was not a thoroughly illustrated plan like, for example, the graphic score of Elektronische Studie II by Karlheinz Stockhausen or Pièce électronique Nr. 3 by György Ligeti. Instead, Takemitsu’s drawing was a rough outline of the sound-landscape, as he intended to discover his original sound by listening during the modification and modulation process. Matsumoto describes Takemitsu’s method of tape composition as “very sensuous and improvisatory decision-making.” In this respect, Herd’s claim is convincing: “Takemitsu’s music is so unique that it does not fit a highly mathematical analysis; therefore, one must carefully examine the physical, psychological, and aesthetic characteristics that form his thought.”
What is confusing, however, is that the music for Crazed Fruit seems to be at an opposite pole to that of Ginrin in almost all aspects: for example, entertainment film versus industry film, film script based on a novel versus no concrete story, and Hawaii- and Jazz music versus electroacoustic concrète music. Scenes of Crazed Fruit show many Westernized, more specifically, Americanized cultural elements such as the clothing, haircut, swimwear, furniture, modern popular dance, and so forth throughout the film. Such contents, representing the postwar new generation and lifestyle, probably inspired Takemitsu to use Hawaii and jazz music, even though he did not watch most of the scenes. As discussed above, American music was one of the most familiar genres to him.
Right after the war, . . . I listened constantly to American music over the Armed Forces Radio. I also went very, very frequently to the library of the Civil Information and Education branch of the U.S. Occupation government. There I also sought out American music. Through hearing the music of Roy Harris, Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, Roger Sessions, and such great American composers, I was introduced to an unknown world, and I gradually began to develop a sense of my own musical taste. For me, after having tasted the bitter, miserable experiences of the war years, this music seemed full of hope.
Takemitsu’s experiences in such a specific sociocultural context heavily influenced the early development of his composition. His musical experiences in the American bar, for instance, became the first basis of his compositional skills by self-study of chord progressions of jazz music. At the time of composing music for Ginrin and Crazed Fruit, he still hated “Japaneseness” in any form of music and art, which he often asserted in interviews. Reflection of his interest in traditional Japanese music, theater, and culture only appeared in the work after 1957, the year he got a “reversed” culture shock on the occasion of his first encounter with the traditional Japanese puppet theater Bunraku.
Due to this background, integration of jazz and Hawaii-music was not especially new or avant-garde for Takemitsu, although such an approach to the music for Crazed Fruit was one of the earliest examples in Japanese film music. He used jazz as a synecdoche for the assimilation of American music in postwar Japanese culture:
Jazz signifies all American-influenced postwar popular music in Japan: not the music of Coltrane but an Occupation shorthand for the big band, countrified crooning, Hawaiian rhythm etc. that soldiers brought with them and played on Forces Radio and in GI hangouts in Tokyo.
In the composition of Crazed Fruit music, however, Takemitsu did not imitate existing American jazz pieces. Instead, he created a unique “Japanese-American” sound by mixing jazz and Hawaii-music idioms. This represents the accumulation of his cultural and musical experiences until the mid-1950s. John Berra’s characterization of Crazed Fruit as a “commentary on Westernization” also fits the substance of the film music.
In contrast, such characterization is hardly applicable to the music for Ginrin. Rather, Takemitsu focused exclusively on creating his own characteristic sound and sound space. This attitude remained as one of the primary characteristics of his composition in the later works, which was “the world of internal and liberated silence that is uniquely effective within freedom of movement and stringency.” In this regard, Takemitsu’s sound exploration in tape music played a significant role. The compositional method enabled him “to transform the individual sounds into words of [his] emotional movement and to produce an inexplicable [sound] shape.” For this reason, he was convinced that tape music, more specifically electroacoustic concrète-composition, could best present his musical ideas and himself. In consideration of the music for Ginrin, the idea of compositional innovation with technological devices contributed to a large extent to forming his identity as a postwar avant-garde composer. It was almost irreconcilable with the representation of his identity in the music for Crazed Fruit, which conspicuously reflected the sociopolitical and sociocultural states the composer himself experienced. This difference, however, did not mean a changeover of identity, but was a clear example of distinct sides of a single identity. (He continued to apply electroacoustic music or jazz music to some films after Ginrin and Crazed Fruit).
Despite Takemitsu’s diligent work on the music for Ginrin, his original composition did not appear in its entirety in the film’s final form because of an economic-political intervention. The management of the film company regarded both the music by Takemitsu and the film by Matsumoto as too avant-garde and inappropriate for a promotional film. Based on “expert opinion,” the management came to the conclusion that “the music needed to be improved and more effective [as a Public Relations film].” Facing the unexpected and urgent demand, Takemitsu asked Mayuzumi for a complementary composition, as he knew Mayuzumi already had composed music for several films. So Mayuzumi helped by composing a kind of easy listening orchestral music which was inserted in some parts of Takemitsu’s original. As a result, the insertion impaired the originality of Takemitsu’s musical concept. The management intervention resulted also in the insertion of more than 9 scenes into Matsumoto’s original, without asking the director this change. With these “improvements” the film production of Ginrin came to an end.
Even after the “improvements,” the film company understood neither the music nor the film. Ginrin was nevertheless delivered to the Bicycle Industry Association. But after the screening, it was not rediscovered until 2005. For this reason, Takemitsu never saw the final version of Ginrin. He did not explicitly express his disappointment or complain about his almost insulting treatment by the film company. One possible reasons was that it was more important to him that he received an official contract of composition and focused on the work. This provided him not only a valuable opportunity for creating a piece that was supposed to be presented publicly; he also needed financial earnings urgently. Moreover, he may already have been contracted to compose music for Crazed Fruit and a few other films (these were Shu to Midori [Red and Green] and Tsuyu no Atosaki [Before and After the Rains] in 1956). At the same time, he composed pieces for radio play and theater, two of which were concrète tape music.
Because the location of the film Ginrin had long been unknown and thus its musical and filmic contents were unclear, Creazed Fruit appeared as Takemitsu’s first film music in some literature. Despite the “collaboration” with Mayuzumi, the electroacoustic music for Ginrin demonstrates the archetype of Takemitsu’s compositional style – composition of sound-landscape that is often described as “Takemitsu-tones.” That is, the tape music illuminates his aesthetic of sound-landscape that “grasps a sound as an autonomous existence.” This consistently remained in his later compositions for film, orchestra, instrumental, and electroacoustic music. Therefore, the rediscovery of the film Ginrin provides us a significant opportunity for reconsideration of Takemitsu’s musical and aesthetic identity. For this reason, it is to be hoped that this film will be easily accessible as soon as possible.
 Kôji Kawasaki, “Takemitsu Tôru no Denshi-Ongaku: dai 10 kai – Eiga ‘Ginrin’ no Myujikku-Konkurêto (Zenpen) [Electroacoustic Music of Tôru Takemitsu: No. 10 – Musique concrète for the film Ginrin (first part)],” Artes (August 2014): 46. The Author’s citation from the statement of Toshio Matsumoto in the brochure Film “Ginrin”, 1956, 3. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.
 Synopsis of Crazed Fruit (Kurutta Kajitsu) on the back cover of the DVD, U.S.A. 2005, The Criterion Collections, ISBN 0-78002-767-1.
 On the other hand, German and Italian music was allowed due to the Tripartite Pact that was signed in September 1940. See Tôru Takemitsu and Mitsuo Aki, Takemitsu Tôru Mizukara o kataru, Tokyo: Seidosha, 2010, 33.
 Takemitsu long believed that the singer was Josephine Baker. See ibid., 33-34.
 Olaf Müller, “Spaziergänge: Takemitsu im Werk der anderen,” in Traum Fenster Garten: Die Film-Musiken von Takemitsu Tôru, ed. Klaus Volkmer, München: KinoKonTexte, 1996, 45.
 Judith Ann Herd, “Takemitsu Tôru to Nihon no Dentô-Ongaku,” in Takemitsu Tôru: Oto no Kawa no Yukue, ed. Seiji Chôki and Ryûichi Higuchi, Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2000, 93.
 Müller, 45.
 Takemitsu and Aki, 113-114. Mayuzumi studied at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1951 to 1952 as a scholarship holder.
 Kôji Sano: “Joron—Nihongo de kataru Ongaku eno Kiseki,” in Takemitsu Tôru: Oto no Kawa no Yukue, ed. Seiji Chôki und Ryûichi Higuchi, Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2000, 11.
 Takemitsu got to know Takiguchi in 1950.
 See Shûzo Takiguchi, Chô genjitsu shugi to Kaiga, Tokyo: Kôseikaku Shoten, 1930. For the first edition of the French original, see André Breton, Le surréalisme et la peinture, Paris: NRF (Nouvelle Revue française), 1928.
 The scenic design by the artist, photographer, and member of Jikken-Kôbô, Shûzo Kitadai (1921–2001), exhibited an idiosyncratic visual space by installing futuristic metallic objects: more specifically, “two mobiles in the shape of humanoid mechanical devices, with beaming eyes and heads resembling a satellite or radar disk.” See Miwako Tezuka, “Jikken Kôbô (Experimental Workshop): Avant-Garde Experiments in Japanese Art of the 1950s,” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 2005, 164.
 Kôji Kawasaki, “Mayuzumi Toshirô no Denshi-Ongaku,” in Mayuzumi Toshirô no Denshi-Ongaku, ed. Kôji Kawasaki, Kyoto: Engine books, 2011, 34. The original source that Kawasaki refers to is Tôru Takemitsu, “Myûjikku Konkurêto ni tsuite [About musique concrète]”, in the Program brochure Butai “Barê Jikken Gekijô [Stage Art: “Experimental Ballet Theater], 1955, 8.
 Mainichi Hôsô (MBS, Mainichi Broadcasting System) since 1958.
 Kôji Kawasaki, “Takemitsu Tôru no Denshi-Ongaku, Dai 11 kai, Eiga ‘Ginrin’ no Myujikku Konkurêto (Kôhen) [Electroacoustic Music of Tôru Takemitsu, No. 11, Musique concrète für den Film ‚Ginrin‘ (last part)]”, Artes (October 2014): 99.
 See Tôru Takemitsu, Takemitsu Tôru Zenshû 5: Uta, Têpu-Ongaku, Butai, TV, Radio-Sakuhin [Complete Takemitsu Edition 5: Popular songs, tape-music, music for the theater and TV, addenda], ed. Takemitsu Tôru Zenshû Editing Team, Tokyo: Shôgakukan, 2004, 47. For the original source, see Tôru Takemitsu, “Takemitsu Tôru no Sekai (Taidan),” Ongaku-Geijutsu 25, No. 3 (1967): 23-30.
 Shuntarô Tanikawa, “Sakkyokuka Hômon: Takemitsu Tôru,” in Takemitsu Tôru Zenshû 5: Uta, Têpu-Ongaku, Butai, TV, Radio-Sakuhin, ed. Takemitsu Tôru Zenshû Editing Team, Tokyo: Shôgakukan, 2004, 49. The essay first appeared in the journal Shinfonî [Symphony] (June 1957).
 See Toshio Matsumoto, “Mijika ni sesshita Takemitsu no Sekai,” in Takemitsu Tôru Zenshû 3: Eiga-Ongaku, ed. Takemitsu Tôru Editing Team, Tokyo: Shôgakukan, 2003, 248.
 See Kawasaki, Artes (October 2014): 100.
 Akira Tochigi, “Matsumoto Toshio Kantoku ‘Ginrin’ (1956) no Dejitaru-Fukugen o kataru,” Bulletin of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo 15 (2011): 78. The article contains the author’s conversation with Matsumoto.
 See Matsumoto, “Mijika ni sesshita Takemitsu no Sekai,” in Takemitsu Tôru Zenshû 3, 248.
 See Kawasaki, Artes (October 2014): 100.
 See ibid., 89.
 Ibid. The author cites from Kôji Kawasaki, Nihon no Denshi Ongaku, Tokyo: Aiikusha, 2009, 303.
 Herd, 85.
 According to Takemitsu, the film shooting was not finished yet, when recording of the music began. See Takemitsu, Takemitsu Tôru Zenshû 3: Eiga-Ongaku 1.
 Tôru Takemitsu, “Contemporary Music in Japan,” Perspectives of New Music 27, No. 2 (1989): 200.
 See Hide Murakawa, “Musical Scores for Japanese Films created by Tôru Takemitsu and Fumio Hayasaka – Lecture by Masahiro Shinoda (July 14, 2008),” Jôsai International University Bulletin, Faculty of Media 17, No. 5 (March 2009): 14.
 For example, see Tôru Takemitsu and Karsten Witt, “My music is like a garden, and I am the gardener,” Soundtrack! 75, No. 57 (March 1996): 9.
 Michael John Raine, Youth, Body, and Subjectivity in the Japanese Cinema, 1955-60, Ph.D. diss., The University of Iowa, 2002, 122.
 John Berra, “Seishun eiga/Japanese Youth Cinema,” in Directory of World Cinema: Japan 2, ed. John Berra, Bristol and Chicago: Intellect, 2012, 285.
 Hidekazu Yoshida, “Blick auf die japanische Musik der Gegenwart,” Melos (February 1962): 48.
 Tôru Takemitsu, “Boku no Hôhô,” Mita Bungaku (October 1959): 38.
 Kawasaki, Artes (October 2014): 90.
 Ibid., 91.
 See Kazutomo Tanogashira, “1960-nendai no Takemitsu Tôru no Eiga-Ongaku kara: Chinmoku tono Kankei o megutte,” Ôsaka Geijutsu Daigaku Kiyô, Geijutsu 34 (2011-12): 37
 Ibid., 46.
 Ginrin was digitalized by National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, in 2009.