Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Musical Composition Techniques of Maurice Ravel and Toru Takemitsu To Digital Cinema
Dr. Wen-Shing Ho
2nd Author
3rd Author
Doctor of Science
Number of Pages
Waseda University, Tokyo Japan
Thesis Supervisor
Kohei Ando
Supervisor e-mail
kohei AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Takashi Kawai
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Global Information and Telecommunication Studies/Screen Image
Languages Familiar to Author
English and Mandarin
URL where full thesis can be found
Cinematic Language, Musical Notation, Digital Cinema, Jazz Improvisation,French Impressionist composer , Film Music, Toru Takemitsu, Takao Dancer, Thief, Water
Abstract: 200-500 words
In this dissertation, I aim to expand existing cinematic expression by applying musical notation, tonal systems, and the forms and structures of musical composition techniques to the conception and direction of digital cinema. My objective is to apply the construction and techniques of Maurice Ravel and Toru Takemitsu’s music composition to the practice of digital cinema, to push the boundaries of story telling, rhythm and mise-en-scene structure in current cinematic conventions. Painter Paul Klee and animator John Whitney derived their inspiration from music and its construction. Their visual and video artworks such as “Ancient Harmony” or “Digital Harmony” could be appreciated as the visualization of music. The film pioneer Seigei Eisenstein pioneered montage theory in silent films practice through films such as “Battleship Potemkin” and remarked that what connects music and narrative has to be the rhythm. Although we share a common engagement with music and visuals, my research is neither a visualization of Toru Takemitsu and Maurice Ravel’s music, nor a revision of the montage theory, but with a focus to apply the music composition techniques in digital cinema production. How narrative is constructed in filmmaking closely resembles how music is written. But in music, the 11th-century invention of musical notation allowed composers to edit their musical ideas on parchment, producing sophisticated emotional effects when played. It greatly contributes to the ability to identify and visualize a system of patterned relationships: pitch and melody, major and minor scales, polyphony and counterpoint, meter and tempo, sonata form and symphony, motif and sequence, theme, variation and improvisation. However, there is no such a visual display method to express emotion and narrative in cinema that can be used as a composer does notation. As a result, my research is focused on other ways to conceptualize and apply the techniques of musical composition to filmmaking. Digital editing application layouts mirror how music is written. I suggest that the application of notation to digital editing allows one to structure and organize reality into a cinematic experience visually. The music of the early 20th century French Impressionist composer Maurice Ravel and the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu reflect the confluence of East and West in their original use of polytonal motifs, the pentatonic scale and the jazz idiom; their compositions elucidate the relationship between music, poetry, imagery and nature; and they were avant-garde and cinematic. Toru Takemitsu invented his composition technique by confronting the sound of silence, the concept of Ma, sometimes referred to as negative space, in Eastern music. Maurice Ravel is considered one of the greatest French Impressionist composers; his work is permeated with rhythm and melodies reflecting the choreographic aspects of Spanish dance. This dissertation has the purpose to offer and assess my experimental films WATER (14 minutes), THIEF (45 minutes) and TAKAO DANCER (100 minutes) in order to initiate the cinematic language through the application of Toru Takemitsu and Maurice Ravel's composition techniques, reconciled with methods of contemporary digital cinema.