The actors and the director are the most crucial part of creating a masterpiece of a movie, but without music in the background that will follow the actions of the characters, as a viewer, you simply cannot get the experience the writers and directors expected you to have. This is especially true in Asian cinematography and composers. The musical composition in cinematography has the power to start, stop or pause a scene. Of course, you cannot expect that a motion picture would be good just because the soundtracks in it are good, right? This why directors and producers have to deliver in all aspects.
The performance of the actors need to make the characters’ emotions and actions realistic, the image and visuals need to be as good as possible and the composer needs to create the mood. This mood will dictate how the viewers will feel during certain scenes of the motion picture.
Let’s imagine a popular scene without its soundtrack. We are doing this to give you an idea of just how much impact a good song may have in a movie.
Imagine Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movies, training and preparing to beat his terrifying opponent in his next championship match. Can you imagine those moments while Rocky is training without “Eye of the Tiger” song? You can’t. And if you try to remove it from those moments and just keep the sound of his grunts and yells while training, you won’t have that same epic experience you had previously.
If you want a different and more modern take as an example. Imagine the last moments in the Furious 7 from the Fast and Furious franchise where Brian (Paul Walker) and Dominic (Vin Diesel) go on their separate ways with the song “See You Again” is in the background. The emotional connection between these two characters is definitely shown by the sad and relatable song.
This last and final example is more relatable to this article because it is a Korean film. Parasite” is quite literally a masterpiece and no one can deny that. This was confirmed after it received several Oscars. Impressive, right? Well, this slow-paced movie would be very difficult to track if it wasn’t supported by the miraculous composing by Jung Jae-il.
So, now that you understand the reasons why it is so important to have good compositions in cinematography, here are some of the greatest Asian composers.
We simply cannot create a list of composers if we do not mention Shigeru Umebayashi who has created dozens of scores that have given life to films. His music career first started when he was quite young and in his Japanese new wave band called EX. Once the band broke up in 1985, he quickly entered the cinema industry and started composing. His most known work has to be Yumeji’s Theme from the independent Japanese film Yumeji.
You can also hear his work in Hong Kong Paradise, Tekken, Ote, Zero Woman, The Christ of Nanjing, G4 Option Zero, 2000 A.D., 2046 and many more.
Another Japanese musical genius that has contributed a lot to the Japanese cinematography. He was born in 1914, but he first started working on compositions for motion pictures when he was 33 years old. It was in the movie called End of the Silver Mountains, although there isn’t a lot of information about it. Over his lifetime, he would become a legend in the Japanese picture industry and he would create over two hundred scores. His most notable work has to be from Gojira, more commonly known in the West as Godzilla.
A. R. Rahman
We simply cannot get into the greatest Asian composers without mentioning someone from the Indian film industry. Whether it is Kollywood, Bollywood or Tollywood, A. R. Rahman probably has had his work in it. He is well known in these parts of the world as the Mozart of Madras. Madras is the capital of Tamil Nadu.
His combination of electronic music and Indian classical music is why he has become so popular and his influence in movies cannot be compared.
He first started composing for smaller documentaries and advertisements, but after he started his own studio named Panchathan Record Inn, he started composing for Tamil movies in the 1990s. His first breakthrough was through the movie Roja and then with Bombay, Gentleman, and many others, he started climbing the ladder of success. If you are interested in hearing A. R. Rahman’s scores, you should check out masstamilan.
His success got so widespread that Hollywood started asking for his genius and he finally got a job for the movie Couples Retreat with Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, and Kristin Davis. His most well-known work is in Slumdog Millionaire which ultimately lead to him winning several Academy Awards.
Another Indian composer is a singer, songwriter, and lyricist too. Ilaiyaraaja is not only considered to be the greatest composer in the entire history of Indian music and film, but he is also the most prolific one in the entire world. He has composed several thousand songs, has made scores for thousands of different movies and has probably performed well over twenty thousand times on concerts and festivals.
If you are interested in some of his work in cinematography, we recommend that you check out his first work in Annakkili, My Dear Kuttichathan, Nayakan, Guru, Thevar Magan and many more.
He may be the youngest composer on this entire list, but that does not make him sub-par to any of these other legends. Harris Jayaraj has created amazing compositions for many Tamil movies and has been awarded dozens of awards. He first started making scores for movies in 2001 and since then he has worked on hundreds of others. His most notable work has to be his album for Sainikudu, his soundtracks for Pachaikili Muthucharam which was directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon.
Our personal favorites are his albums Minalle, Ayan, Aadhavan, Thuppakki and his latest releases Dev and Kaappaan.