|[Only the part in the diary that
is relevent to the Laputa recording was
translated, and the translation of some of the technical
terms about music may not be exactly accurate. The diary
seems to be written by a person who works for Hisaishi.]
- March 2, 1999
- Meeting for the American
version Laputa recording, which will
start tomorrow. The important point [of the new
recording] is to express America-ness, without
losing the exquisite balance of the Miyazaki
movie and Hisaishi music. For the past several
days, Hisaishi-San has been absorbed listening to
Hollywood movie soundtracks, studying the
"point" to hit for Americans.
- March 3
- Recording of the American
version Laputa. We've started the
first piece. Do you remember the music at the
beginning of the movie? Yes, the piece which was
used in the scene where Dola clan attacked
Goliath.[1,sic] In the American version, this piece
became really powerful. The following sessions
should be interesting.
- March 4
- Continues the recording of the
American version Laputa. We are
still working on the first piece. That means...
yes, the piece has been considerably extended.
And it is really great, as it suits [the scene]
very well. It was interesting to see the film
with a different sense.
- March 8
- Laputa recording.
Today, we worked on second and other pieces. The
opening piece is already longer, and the depth[?]
of sound is more than twice of the original! That
also means we have more pieces of music than we
originally expected. Hisaishi-San already has a
complete image in his head, and ideas come to him
one after another. Today, he easily finished
three pieces. What a great guy!
- March 9
- Continues the recording.
Before we started, we checked the finished part
again. As anime is made of a vast number of cels,
when we put music to it, we have to cue the
timing down to a single "frame," which
is shorter than second. It is a time-consuming
work, so how you use time is important. With his
long-time experience in movie music, Hisaishi-San
does know the points. All of the staff members
were impressed with his efficient way of working.
- March 11
- Laputa recording.
Although we had a one day off, Hisaishi-San works
on Laputa without missing a beat. He
is now completely at home with 3st. [Studio 3?]
of Wonderstaion, and keeps working in good mood.
Currently, what concerns Hisaishi-San most is to
create the sounds that can be accepted in a
multi-ethnic country like the United States,
while valuing the original material as well.
- March 15
- This is the "Laputa
week" as we work in the studio from Monday
to Friday. We have a very regular schedule for Laputa
work, as we get in the studio around noon and
finish around 10 pm. Hisahishi-San actually
proposed such a schedule. He was concerned for
the staff, as it is unhealthy and tiring to be in
a dark studio for 10 hours a day. (Thank you,
Hisaishi-San!! From all the staff members.)
Thanks to it, the work is proceeding very well.
Today, we finished the scenes from the one where
Pazu plays the trumpet to the scene where the
Dola clan come to find Sheeta. And the music in
these scenes is splendid! I really want the fans
to listen to it as soon as possible.
- March 16
- Today, we worked on the scene
where the miners' boss has a contest with the
pirates. This become such a fun piece, that when
it was put together with the screen image, it
made us laugh so hard. Engineers and staff
members were trying to suppress their laughs
while working. It made me re-realize the fact
that "you never get bored with good music
and good images, even if you hear and see it many
- March 17
- Although we did a big piece
yesterday, we did another big piece today. Today,
we worked on the chase scene with the Dola clan.
The piece was considerably rearranged and made
really powerful for the United States version. I
was amazed at how the piece has changed. The work
is progressing well.
- March 18
- Today, we worked on the scene
where Pazu and Sheeta fall into the mineshaft.
Two pieces have been newly composed, and they
give a fresh feeling. It seems that Hisaishi-San
is indeed conscious of Hollywood. There are a lot
of pieces of music.
- March 19
- Today, Pazu and Sheeta were
finally caught. There are many cues from here to
the scene where Sheeta is rescued, so it is hard
to fit the music. Many of the pieces used here
still have the old sequences, so we can rely on
as they were changed to have a completely new
feeling, we had a lot of work.
- March 23
- We still have a lot of studio
work this week. Today, we worked on up to the
scene where Sheeta was rescued from the Tidis
fort. As many pieces now have a faster tempo, the
sense of speed has increased. But that means more
pieces have to be newly created. Unlike the old
days, computers make it possible to do the cue
fitting fairly accurately. So [with this new
technology] we could do many [different] trials,
by changing the timing frame by frame to find the
best cue. The time has progressed.
- March 24
- Today, we worked on the scene
where the Tiger Moth leaves to find Laputa. How
do you set music to the interactions among
characters on the Tiger Moth? This is the
opportunity to show Hisaishi-San's talent. He
said that he has been thinking how he could make
an American audience accept this scene, which is
far more subdued compared to the action scenes.
And his long-thought plan was a huge success! I
really want people to see this scene.
- March 25
- Today, we worked on the scene
where the Tiger Moth was attacked by the Goliath.
This piece has become a lot longer, as it
continued on to the piece [where they see] the
Dragon Nest. A lot of acoustic strings have been
added, and it became really powerful. And when we
finished this piece, a Disney producer visited
us. He looked fairly pleased with what we had
done so far. We exchanged many opinions at the
following meeting. We had thought that we had
already added a lot of pieces, but the producer
said that he wanted to add more. That's just like
- March 26
- Do you remember the theme of
"Taijyu" [Huge Tree]? Today, we put a
new life to this magnificent theme. Now have more
advanced computers and keyboards compared to the
time when the original was made, so we added a
lot more sounds to the new "Taijyu"
theme. On the other hand, we had some problems in
recreating the sound we used in the original...
After we finished the work, we talked over beer,
about such things as the memories of Laputa
and the remaining works.
- March 27, 28
- Hisaishi-San and the employees
of Wondergroup are going to Izu for the company
- March 29
- Although the weather could've
been better, we all enjoyed the trip and got
refreshed. Actually, Hisaishi-San planned this
trip for his employees. What a great guy to have
such a concern for us, even though he himself is
so busy! At the party, we all enjoyed ourselves
and drank to early in the morning. Next day,
Hisaishi-San went to golf. As he loves any
sports, I heard that he got fairly low score,
although he hasn't played for a year... Anyway,
it was a fun two days, and we now work on Laputa
with renewed feeling. We made some adjustments
and additions to the theme of "Taijyu"
we had done the other day. In it, there is a
great piece that uses counterpoint. But the
climax is still coming. There will be more great
pieces for sure.
- March 30
- Starting today we are going to
start work on the climax scenes, one after
another. Pazu and Sheeta try to free Dola clan,
who were caught by the military. As the sounds
were put to even their slightest movement, it
naturally has irregular rhythm. While staff
members were having hard time taking the rhythm,
Hisaishi-San finished this piece right away.
Actually, Hisaishi-San is very good at rhythms.
But will the orchestra who has to play this piece
- March 31
- We are now at the scene where
Sheeta and Muska go into the center of Laputa. To
express the mysterious feeling, there was no
music in the original. But the request from the
American side was exactly the opposite. They
wanted some dramatic music to express this
mysterious feeling. This really emphasized to the
staff members the difference between Japanese and
American feelings, but Hisaishi-San seems to have
expected it from the beginning. As if to say
"Leave it to me!" he finished writing
up to the scene where Muska reveals his true
identity at one stretch. Although the piece
sounds fairly dynamic, it suits the scenes very
well, so fans, please check it out!
- April 2
- The last climax! It's the
scene where Laputa collapses as Pazu and Sheeta
say the forbidden spell. While a children's choir
sang the theme acappella in the original, the
piece now has the orchestra sounds. It now has a
solemn feeling as if it's a requiem. Maybe it's
the magic of the music, but Muska, who is such a
dislikable character, now looks somehow tragic.
After this, we put a piece to the scene where
Pazu and Sheeta meet the Dola clan again. We have
finished the production of American version of
the Laputa soundtrack for now, which took more
than a month. Hisaishi-San was a bit tired, but
he seemed fairly happy about this production of
the American version of Laputa.
- April 3
- Rechecking the
not-yet-finished Laputa American
version. Basically we add sounds or extend time.
This is an important process, as we can evaluate
(the music) more objectively after a while. We
can see Hisaishi-San's position towards creation,
that is, not saying OK till he is really
convinced. And today, after a bit of changes, the
American version Laputa is finally
finished. Great work, Hisaishi-San! Please relax
now! I wish I could say that. Actually, we still
have to write the scores for 55 pieces of music
for the orchestra recording in Seattle! Neither
Hisaishi-San nor his staff seem to be able to
take a rest for a while.
- April 5
- We have coordinated the
schedule for the orchestra recording of Laputa.
For this recording, Seattle (a city in the United
States) was chosen. The Seattle Symphony, which
enjoys an established reputation for performing
the Disney film music, will perform. Hisaishi-San
wants to create the American version of Laputa
with a real American sound. Currently, we are
planning to go to Seattle in early May.
Hisaishi-San and the staff members are all
looking forward to it. Fans, if you know anything
about Seattle (such as good restaurants), please
let us know!
- April 7
- A meeting at the office. We
recheck the recording schedule in Seattle. The
American version of Laputa has 55
pieces of music! To record them within a limited
time, we need an elaborate time table. From the
number of sessions per day to which instruments
are to be used, the staff worked frantically,
with Hisaishi-San's opinions and advice. I hope
that we can finish the recording safely, without
an accident as the one we had in Italy.
- April 9
- Today, we recorded the piano
part of Laputa. The piano solo is,
of course, performed by Hisaishi-San. These days
we can get any instrumental sound from a
computer, but Hisaishi-San says "If you want
sounds that are alive,then the live sounds of the
instruments are the best!" Indeed, when you
compare them, the live sounds are better. We
finished the recording after 3 hours. Now, we
start the hellish work of writing the score (55
- April 10
- From today, we start the
hellish work of writing the score. Considering
the number of the pieces, it seems to be a very
tight schedule. It will be really hard work.
- April 11
- Spent all day writing the
score. Today, he worked on the piece for the
scene where the pirates and the miners' boss had
a contest. As the piece became thicker, it uses
more instruments, so the volume of the music
sheets to be written is enormous. Without a break
or meal, Hisaishi-San devoted himself to writing
and didn't even step out of the room.
- April 14
- It was windy in Tokyo
yesterday, but today, it is very fine, and a bit
hot. Everyone yearns to go out somewhere, and of
course, Hisaishi-San feels the same. But the
recording of the American version of
"Laputa" is getting nearer, and writing
the score is heating up. From day till midnight,
he keeps writing with little break. 55 pieces for
an orchestra is really an enormous amount. For a
while, it seems that we will spend our days this
- April 15
- Writing the score. Today, he
worked on the scene where Dola and her men chase
Pazu and Sheeta. Among the pieces for the
American "Laputa", this is one of the
thickest pieces of music with a full orchestra,
so it is a great deal of work to write the score
for it. At the same time as writing notes on
music sheets, we have to coordinate the
distribution of instruments and registers while
rechecking the scene. We started right after
noontime, and when we realized it was already
dark outside. Hisaishi-San just kept writing
without taking a break.
- April 16
- Hisaishi-San says his throat
hurts a little bit. Maybe he caught a cold
because he has had such tough days recently. But
he still concentrates on writing the score
without taking a break. The finished score is
made into the score sheets for each part by a
phototypesetter, and then they are divided by the
staff into sheets for the orchestra and the
master copy (thereserve for emergency). But just
copying such music (and is has 55 pieces!) keeps
the staff very busy.
- April 17
- Still writing the score. As
Hisaishi-San just keeps writing, his arms and
shoulders now hurt. He went to get massaged for
an hour or so, but even the masseur was surprised
at how hard his shoulders were. He finished three
pieces today. Tomorrow, he will take a rest.
- April 19
- Today, we recorded two pieces.
For the opening scene where Tiger Moth flies the
night sky, we used "Kena" (or
"Quena"), a South American pipe. 
- April 20
- Started writing the score
again. As there are so many pieces (55 pieces),
we can see no end to it.
- April 21
- Still writing the score.
Although the basics have been already input into
the Mac, when it is converted into the score, it
comes out different. Hisaishi -San says, he had
to change it as it has been played in his head.
No wonder it takes time.
- April 22
- Still writing the score. When
will it end? In the plan, it will be finished on
27th, but the plan is just a plan.
- April 23
- And still writing the score.
When he finishes one piece, he marks the number
of the piece in the M table with pink magic
marker. It seems that we are beginning to see a
bit of pink.
- April 24
- Writing the score. The new
pencils for this project are now a lot shorter.
- April 25
- Hisaishi-San took a break from
writing the score today. It's not good for his
health if he just keeps going. But I'm sure that
he is doing some more work at home. Staff members
are busy checking the music sheets for each part,
or arranging the multi-tapes.
- April 26
- And writing the score. Now we
see the end to it. We only have two more pieces
- April 27
- Soon after he came to the
office, Hisaishi-San just finished the two
pieces. This was the end of the score writing.
Great work, Hisaishi-San! It had so many pieces,
Mr. Ittoku Miyake and Mr. Atsushi Nagao had also
helped us for several pieces. Thank you very
much. And further, today we had a recording of a
lute, which is a kind of medieval guitar. I
couldn't imagine that that piece of music would
use such an instrument! But it sounded great.
- April 28
- As he is leaving for the US
tomorrow, we are very busy doing the final
preparations. It will be recorded with the
Seattle Orchestra. The volume of the music sheets
is just enormous. I worry if only three staff
members can carry such an amount. And the printed
sheets for each part had arrived in the last
minute, so we had to check them at the same time.
We definitelyhave to stay up all night tonight.
At 3 o'clock in the night, Hisaishi-San brought
us very expensive boxed steak dinner. It was
really good. Thank you!
- April 29
- After all this, we finished
checking the sheets at 6:30 in the morning. We
had almost finished packing, but we decided to do
the rest in the afternoon, and retired. And when
we came back in the afternoon, the packing was
already finished. It seems that we will manage to
carry them. And we went to Narita (airport). And
trouble! The luggage was overweight. They
say that one luggage can only carry up to 32 kg,
but that our luggage (music sheets and
multi-tapes) weighed 57kg. Somehow, we managed to
put the surplus into other luggage bags. And they
left for Seattle on the 3:55 flight. Hisaishi-San
looked fine, although he didn't get much sleep.
We, who stay back in Japan, wish that the
recording will go smoothly.
- April 30 - May 9
- Recording and TD  in Seattle. We will publish the
Seattle Diary later, so please look forward to
- The production of
"Laputa" in Seattle for 10 days has
finished without a mishap, and Hisaishi-San has
returned. He looked a bit tired, but with his
usual smile, he said "Hello, home! Good to
see you guys", and started the meeting with
staff at the airport. It seems that he was
working on his next project using a notebook PC,
even during the 10 hour flight. Hisaishi-San is
such a powerful guy, going for 24 hours a day!
We, staff members, re-realized it. Anyway, he
went straight back to home. We hope he can rest
well, at least for tonight.
- June 1
- Today, [Hisaishi-San] went to
Studio Ghibli to report on the completion of the
American version of "Laputa", and to
listen to the soundtrack. I heard that they
listened to the revised "Laputa"
soundtrack with a state-of-the-art sound system,
together with Takeda-San and Mr. Alpert from
Tokuma International. I also heard that Mr.
Miyazaki was pleased [with the new music] as
Seattle Diary Coming Soon!
|Notes from the
||He probably meant the
airship, not Goliath
means the sound data for synthesizer.
||We have no idea what the
"accident in Italy" refers to
||For a picture and
information about the kena, see here