Greetings from beyond The Veil!
I’d like to tell you about a symphonic composer, who has certainly gained the majority of his fame in the Western Hemisphere for writing the scores of many Japanese monster movies. He is considered to be one of the four “fathers” of Godzilla, along with producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya and director Ishiro Honda. I speak of course of Akira Ifukube. The reason I called him “The Man Who Taught Kaiju to Roar” in the headline, is because it was Ifukube who created Godzilla’s roar, by rubbing a resin covered leather glove over the lowest string of a contrabass, as opposed to having an effects team edit the sounds from actual animals together. He also did the same for several other monsters, utilizing various musical instruments, as opposed to traditional sound effects methods.
His themes are very recognizable. In fact, his main theme for Honda’s Gojira (1954) has become so ingrained in pop culture, that the entire cast of Saturday Night Live hummed it during Matthew Broderick’s monologue in 1998, when he hosted the show to promote the American remake in which he appeared.
Ifukube composed the scores for many genres of effects films. be it monster movies, like GOJIRA, space operas like Honda’s UCHÛ DAISENSÔ (1959) aka BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE (1960) or fantasy films like Hiroshi Inagaki’s NIPPON TANJÔ (1959) (The Birth of Japan) aka THE THREE TREASURES. He also wrote the scores for Daiei Films’ popular DAI MAJIN trilogy of movies. His final score was in 1995 for Takao Okawara’s GOJIRA TAI DESUTROIA (GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH), the final film of the Godzilla Heisei Era.
It was on this date in 2006, February 5, that Akira Ifukube passed away at the age of 92.
May 31 marks the 100th anniversary of Akira Ifukube’s birth. I certainly hope the celebration is forthcoming in this part of the world. No doubt there will be in Japan