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Quotes from Joe Hisaishi

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Minhun Kang

The joy of discovering sound in a maze! What greater joy could there be for a musician? There are moments in composing when the music I’ve created turns into conviction.

There are moments in the process of making a song when it feels like my vision suddenly clears. I can’t predict when these moments will come, but there’s a moment when I think “this is good” and feel “I’ve surpassed it!”

It can also be described as a moment of conviction.

From the moment I start composing to this moment of conviction is the most torturous. Until then, it’s a continuous process of questioning and answering myself.

“Will this work?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. There’s nothing odd about it.”

“But I don’t feel it in my heart…”

“There’s nothing theoretically wrong with it. It’s enough. The melody is also fine, isn’t it?”

This is still the stage of not being convinced. Trying to convince myself theoretically is futile. Even creating 20 pieces of film music may not be enough to feel satisfied. In such painful situations, I try listening to music I used to love or drink to change my mood, struggling desperately. However, I haven’t yet found a decisively effective method.

My recent conclusion is that I have no choice but to keep thinking. I have to think and think until I drive myself to the brink. I devote all my passion and time to be ready to welcome that moment of sudden inspiration, that ray of light in my mind. Until then, I repeatedly endure the agony.

Once the door opens, everything goes smoothly. No matter how many pieces I have to create or how short on time I am, I can focus and charge ahead. Once the door opens, everything becomes clear. Sometimes it leads to a completely different work, and sometimes only slight changes are needed. Even minor modifications can transform it into a completely different piece. Only then does it finally become my work.

I am the first audience of my music. Therefore, I cannot present a piece that doesn’t excite me. If it’s not a work that I love and am moved by, it’s impossible to move the hearts of others. The first and foremost audience is myself.

When I create a satisfying piece, I get excited and thrilled, calling people around me to say, “Hey, listen to this!” and share it with them. Works that I don’t share are those that I do not purely enjoy or deeply convince myself of. I believe this is the same for others as well.

If you love it, naturally, you’ll want to share it with others.

-Joe Hisaishi, from “Can You Create Emotion?”-