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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 92 | volume XVI | September-October, 2013



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 92September-October, 2013

Takemitsu’s Music of Terror

p. 1
Tijana Petkovska

Being a child of the nineties I was raised with an assortment of horror films, horror stories, horror pop culture in general, and I thought that I was accustomed to seeing and hearing terror. But I was wrong. Familiar with Japanese horror films, especially of the J-horror theatre variety, I have always heard the name Kobayashi, a man said to have inspired that whole direction in later Japanese horror cinema. Coming now in contact with one of his films, Kwaidan[1], has been an experience like no other, an experience that has taught me quite a few things, not only about showing fear with visual means, but trough the soundtrack closely intertwined with them.
    It is not that many Western films haven’t struck a cord of fear that lingers in the auditory memory long after the viewing itself, but in Kwaidan I find one of the most perfect solutions for a horror movie soundtrack. From Psycho[2] to The Shining[3] malevolent sounds have made it’s way into occidental horror cinema, creating a pattern of over-dramatic music supposed to invite a feeling of dread into the very hearts of us. I believe though, that instead of merely inviting or hinting of horror these soundtracks become pushy and too direct, as if installing that emotion and all it’s variations on to us. Where in Kwaidan the musique concrete is so delicately frightening that one cannot but admire it’s composer. Beside its goose-bumps-inducing character, the specific aesthetic of the soundtrack marvelously correlates to the visual aspect of the film and the story. I believe that there are different types of horror films dealing with radically different aspects of fear and the reasons behind this kind of emotion. If humans are incomprehensively complex creatures, so are their emotions, cerebrations and the connection between the two. Kwaidan is a film that researches and explores such archetypical and primary fears, which no one can avoid having. Trough the correlation with myth and folklore, ascending onto the plain of fantasy, in Kwaidan, both Kobayashi, the director, and Takemitsu, the creator of the soundtrack, treat the kind of horror one experiences when dealing with the unknown. And what is most unknown to us, beside ourselves? Death, the great beyond, the soul as (or if) it traverses to another realm is a problem that mystifies all thinking creatures and it is weaved into human history, folklore, myth, philosophy, psychology and above


1. Kobayashi, Masaki.  Kwaidan.  Japan: 1965;
2. Hitchcock, Alfred.  Psycho.  USA: 1960;
3. Kubrick, Stanley.  The Shining.  USA: 1980.

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