“Bitwig Studio has a unique ability to respond to the emotions and sensitivities of musicians and music creators.”
Prolific composer, producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Tada Akifumi has been a star in the world of anime and games for nearly thirty years. Along the way, he has created much-loved music for projects such as Nintendo's Bomberman 64, several Pokémon movies, One Piece, and many others. Recently, when Tada was asked by Japan's popular DTM (Desktop Music) Station to review Bitwig Studio he decided to put the software through its paces by remixing a song by singer and songwriter Sara Terunuma, who is studying vocals and composition at MESAR in Tokyo. She released her first two albums in 2017, as well as playing her first solo shows
Right after their studio session, we were fortunate to catch up with Tada for a quick Q&A about his work.
How did you approach the remix of Sara Terunuma's "Romance Nowadays" using Bitwig Studio?
First, I chose this composition of hers because its music video impressed me very much. And Sara is a good vocalist who sings very soulfully. The song is based on a chord progression with a characteristic two-bar pattern and riff. I was convinced it was a good match for the innovative workflow of Bitwig Studio and presented a good opportunity to explain the basics of the program to listeners. Bitwig has a unique ability to respond to the emotions and sensitivities of musicians and music creators. Using it is like having a very helpful conversation with an experienced musician—who happens to be named Bitwig!
The original arrangement consisted of two acoustic guitars and vocals. I wanted to reconstruct it within my own soundscape, in a style that combined electronic music and classical music. I began by recording a new backing phrase of acoustic guitars—it was quite cool!
Next, I added a rhythm track, along with bass and synth tracks. Each addition was made carefully, with respect for the feeling of the original arrangement.
Finally, I played and recorded additional tracks of violin, viola, cello, and trombone.
Overall, my goal was for the song to have a dramatic flow characterized by a contrast between bass sounds and high notes.
How did you get started as a composer and producer?
I started out playing classical piano as a child. Later, I took up brass instruments when I joined a brass band—that's how I began to develop as a multi-instrumentalist. My interest in film scoring began after a wonderful encounter with film music in my junior high school days. I became absorbed with writing my own scores by hand, practicing diligently on the instruments that interested me, and asking many questions of any experts I could find.My first opportunity as a professional musician came when I was hired to play synthesizer for a stage adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix series. I chose not to pursue music in college. Instead I enrolled in the university's department of English Literature, and I studied conducting under a private teacher. Music college and music teachers may be important for learning music, but personally I was very motivated by my great love of music. And as the old proverb says, 'What one likes, one will do well.
What's next for you? Can you tell us about upcoming projects and your future plans?
I recently joined a project for the animation film Shiki Ori Ori, which is the next production from the company that made Your Name and 5 Centimeters per Second. I'm doing the work of a sound producer, coordinating the total balance of songs and music tracks made by several sound creators, and I direct recordings.
As for the future, I will be busy with sound supervision, composition, arrangement, and conducting for orchestra recordings, mainly for animation films and TV programs. I will also be using Bitwig Studio, particularly when I'm composing or arranging works for other musicians/artists. So stay tuned!
Tada Akifumi's remix of Sara Terunuma is available to download for free as a Bitwig project.