DUBAI: Michiru Yamane is a Japanese video game composer and pianist who is known for her music for Konami’s Castlevania video games series as well other games during her work at the Japanese gaming company.
Yamane began working as a composer for Konami in 1988. As a member of the Konami Kukeiha Club, she collaborated with other musicians on many Konami video games. Her breakthrough work came with the Castlevania games Bloodlines (1994) and Symphony of the Night (1997).
In an exclusive interview with Arab News Japan, Yamane shared her inspiration for video games, he said: “My favorite video games are Parodius, Gradius, the Suikoden series, Space Invaders, Tetris, Galaga, Super Mario Bros. 3, ICO, the Resident Evil series, and Vagrant Story.”
Yamane started composing music when she was eight years old. She said she started transcribing what was playing onto sheet music at that age, presenting the compositions in music class and entering contests.
“My first project was for a game for the Nintendo Family Computer (Nintendo Entertainment System in the west) called Lisa’s Fairy Legend. It was the name of the sixth CD single of Risa Tachibana, a real pop idol. Since the single was a tie-in product, it was also used as the theme song for Lisa’s Fairy Legend released by Konami in 1988,” she said.
“It was soon after I had joined the company, as a part of the new employee training, that I wrote a few songs for the game. So, that was the first project I worked on,” she added.
Yamane is known for her music for Konami’s Sparkster video games series, she shared with Arab News Japan the story of doing the music for the video game series, she said: “Sparkster was a job I worked together on with several other composers like Akira Yamaoka (known for Silent Hill series). I remember being very busy around that time. I don’t really remember well what sort of music we created for that game.”
Yamane is also known for her music for Konami’s Castlevania video games series, she shared with Arab News Japan: “Castlevania is one of Konami’s most popular game franchises, and its music has been composed by successive generations of composers, many of whom left behind their own famous songs. The first time I composed music for that famous game series was for Castlevania: Bloodlines, released in 1994. As the composer for a series with so many famous songs, I felt a lot of pressure, but I remember enjoying it because I knew my work was valuable.”
“The next title I composed for in the series was Castlevania: Symphony of Night. I worked together on it with the illustrator, Ayami Kojima, for the first time. Her beautiful illustrations and the world of the game gave me more than ample inspiration to create the music.”
“Additionally, my most memorable experience was working with the producer, Koji Igarashi, and also with many talented directors, graphic designers, and programmers to create such an outstanding game and release it to the world,” she added.
Speaking of her favorite memories from working on the Castlevania video game series, Michiru Yamane said: “My favorite memory from working on the Castlevania video game series was working on the ending theme song for Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with Russell Watson, a British singer, who sang the ending theme for us. I fell in love with his voice and wrote an original song for the closing credits.”
The composer said she felt the Castlevania series is “most representative” of her work.
“Even after all these years, I’m overjoyed to know that many of the series and works I’ve been a part of, not least of all Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, continue to be enjoyed by fans all over the world,” she added.
Yamane is known for her music for Bloodstained video game series, she shared with Arab News Japan the story of doing the music for the video game series, she said: “I think it was around 2016. I had started helping Mr. Igarashi, whom I had worked with for a long time on the Castlevania series, with a new action game he was going to make through crowdfunding. I composed around 20 songs; this will be the last up-tempo action game job of my career.”
“When the project began, my cat I had lived with for 9 years died and I was grieving the death of my pet. I spent many days suffering in sadness. Despite that I continued to work, and began to take an interest in the spiritual world. Thus, gradually I got better. During that time, I learned that the tuning of ‘A = 432 Hz,’ which is 8 Hz lower frequency than the international reference tone of ‘A = 440 Hz,’ was supposed to have a healing effect on one’s body and soul, restoring the damaged mind and body. Moreover, I experienced this healing process firsthand. Since then, I have tuned all of my work in ‘A = 432 Hz.’ I have changed my entire environment to ‘A = 432 Hz,’ including the piano I compose on and the sound source for the music production software on my computer where I type up my compositions. I’m still working in that environment,” she added.
About the challenges that she faced during her projects, Yamane said:” Towards the end of the project, I decided to replace the string parts of the title track and a number of other in-game tracks with live performances instead of computer-generated sounds. My music was created in 432 Hz tuning, so I had to record the performance in 432 Hz.”
“At the recording studio for the stringed instruments, I asked the performers, especially the violinists, to cooperate in performing not at their usual tuning of 440 Hz but at a lower tuning level. Fortunately, they agreed to perform at a different tuning than usual. However, I think this was an inconvenience for the performers, who had been trained from a young age to play in 440 Hz, especially for the violinists whose strings lose their tension at an upper register,” she added.
Regarding her upcoming projects, she said: “I’m currently composing three songs for a new Spanish game.”
“In terms of my life’s work, I’m making efforts towards letting as many people as possible know about the fundamental properties of A = 432 Hz tuning in healing music. I’m mainly doing this through the production of CDs and live performances with the Soul Sound Lyre, a harp-like instrument specifically made for healing,” she added.