Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Godzilla (Ifukube, 1954)

     Although he has actually scored films of many different types (besides also composing classical concert works), Akira Ifukube is best-known for the scores he wrote for the Godzilla (ゴジラfilm series.  His first Godzilla film was also the first in the series (in 1954), and his last was "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah" (1995), in which Godzilla actually "dies".  In the first film, in addition to providing solemn elegies, military marches and foreboding "rampage" cues, Ifukube also provided some of the sound design for the film, specifically Godzilla's foot steps (kettledrum beaten with a knotted rope) and roars (resin-covered leather glove rubbed over contrabass strings and reverberated).  Even today, the beauty and horror of this film's visuals and music is very effective, with Godzilla's howls being nothing less than horrific and unsettling (the roars on track 9 could probably peel paint at the proper volume, while the Oxygen Destroyer theme on track 10 is nothing to sneeze at either!).

    This first film also lays out the first appearance of the "Godzilla March" (in the Main Title), also sometimes known as the "Godzilla theme".  This march is supported by a constant bass pulse, and begins with a 3-part phrase built from 3-note figures.  The phrase then modulates upwards and develops.  Following a repeat of these first 2 parts (usually with thicker orchestration), a coda wraps things up with a "tail" characterized by syncopated accents.

    The other iconic motif is the "Godzilla Fury" theme (or just the "Godzilla theme"), which appears in a slightly embryonic form in "Fury of Godzilla".  This slow theme has a kind of lurching quality to it, as if an ancient force from a primordial universe was pulling itself out of the depths towards mankind's modern world.  This theme would rear up in its full appearance 8 years later in 1962's "Kong Kong vs Godzilla" ("Godzilla's Resurrection").

     Other motifs such as the odd scalar figure in the beginning of in "Uneasiness on Odo Island" would also crop up in future films, making this a fascinating look at where it all started..

(Tracks below from the Godzilla Perfect Box 1, Disc 1)
Trk Dur Title Sequence
1 2:11 Godzilla Approaches
(Sound FX)
Main Title
Logo, Credits:
0:00: Giant footsteps, roars.
0:36: Godzilla March (patterns beginning with descending 3-note figures.modulating and with additional high layers joining), ending on syncopated accents.
1:21: Repeat with ending variation.
2 1:10 Ship Music/
Sinking of Eikou-Maru
0:00: Sailors play music on the deck of the Eikou-maru.
Source music - guitar/harmonica.
0:21: The boat is attacked and sinks in a flaming ruin, as an SOS is radioed out.
Low, strummed piano strings, churning string/brass figures, rising, ending in tremolo winds/strings over slow, falling brass figure.
3 0:24 Sinking of Bingou-maru
The Bingou-Maru explodes and goes down in flames at the same location.
Low, strummed piano strings, tremolo winds/strings over slow falling brass figure (shortened M3).
4 0:51 Uneasiness on
Odo (Otojima) Island
0:00: Newspaper headlines about the mysterious naval disasters.
Slow, halting, atonal piano scales.
0:10: Uneasy villagers on the shore of Odo island see a raft floating in.
Falling figure in winds/tremolo strings.
5 1:20 Ritual Music of
Odo Island
Source music for Otojima Temple Festival.  A village elder tells of the legendary creature Godzilla.  Since the villagers can no longer sacrifice a girl to the creature, they do a ritual dance of exorcism instead.
Ethnic flutes, gongs, tom toms, harp, oboe, etc.
6 1:54 Storm on
Odo Island
During a storm, a hut begins shaking and collapses, as the villagers run around in a panic.  More huts are mysteriously destroyed.
Falling bass figure in brass over tremolo bass, giant footsteps, rising/falling scalar patterns in strings, trumpet, etc.,  then a low falling brass figure hinting at the Godzilla Fury motif, soon rejoined by scalar figures.          
7 0:41 Frigate March 1
(Japanese Army March I)
A research vessel is launched to investigate the odd disasters.  Professor Serizawa watches Emiko depart with Prof. Yamane's ship (also used for when depth charges from a frigate squadron are employed to kill Godzilla).
Self Defense Force March: Brass march with intro, 2 choruses, ending cadence.
8 0:34 Odo Island Theme
Prof. Yamane's team surveys the damage on Odo Island.
Mournful low brass figure over sustained strings.
9 0:54 Godzilla Appears
on Odo Island
The villagers rush up a hill as a sighting of Godzilla is reported.  Godzilla peeks up over the hilltop, scaring Emiko, and then retreats back into the sea.
Giant footsteps, Godzilla roars, no music.
10 0:42 Horror in the
Water Tank
After Serizawa puts something in his aquarium, Emiko reacts with horror at what she sees.
Sul ponticello heavy violin bowing, low sustained piano strike.
11 1:49 Shinagawa
Godzilla appears in the bay and soldiers open fire; people panic.
Falling figure in low winds, rhythmic low piano pounding with brief Godzilla Fury motif, churning, rising figures over slow pounding footsteps, Godzilla Fury motif returning, churning trumpet figure, finally ending in a brass/timpani cadence.
12 1:27 Attack Godzilla!
Armed forces get into position, as Godzilla is sighted at sea heading towards Tokyo and Yokohama (also when Godzilla attacks a second time using his atomic breath, and fire engines rush to put out the flames).
Godzilla March with recap at 0:43 with more gong.
13 1:55 Godzilla Comes Ashore
As Yamane and Emiko escape up to a hill, Godzilla comes ashore and destroys a train.  He moves inland and destroys a trestle bridge, and then leaves (also when Godzilla comes ashore a second time, this time with artillery and a high voltage fence waiting for him).
Falling figure in low winds as in T11, rhythmic low piano pounding with slowly rising Godzilla Fury motif in low brass/winds, and then joined by more brass and timpani in "B" section.
14 2:27 Fury of Godzilla
(Godzilla’s Rampage)
After destroying the electric fence on his second raid, Godzilla uses his atomic breath to lay waste to the city.
Godzilla Fury theme on low brass over pounding piano/gong, soon joined by trumpets in its "B" section, with recap/coda starting from 1:36.
15 1:14 Deadly Broadcast
Reporters broadcast from a tower and take flash photos, attracting Godzilla's attention.  Godzilla knocks down the tower.
Rhythmic strings with accents on brass and low hammered piano. 
16 1:27 Godzilla Comes
to Tokyo Bay
Godzilla heads back towards Tokyo Bay, still destroying bridges.
Plodding, low falling piano/bass clarinet figure, soon joined by 2nd wind figure, some Godzilla theme motif elements (rising tail).
17 1:32 Repel Godzilla!
Planes attack Godzilla with missiles; he returns to the sea.
Godzilla March from Main Title.
18 2:19 Devastated Tokyo
The city lies in ruins, devastated, and many people are seen in hospitals.  Emiko decides to tell her boyfriend Ogata about Serizawa's terrible secret weapon.
Devastation theme: elegiac theme on sad strings/muted brass/winds, somewhat similar to Prayer for Peace; at 0:53, B theme with high winds and crying sounds, with recap from 1:31.
19 3:14 Oxygen Destroyer
Emiko has a flashback to when Serizawa demonstrated the Oxygen Destroyer, and all of the aquarium fish turned to skeletons.  Serizawa tells Emiko to keep it a secret until he can find a good use for its awful power.
Sul ponticello heavy violin bowing, low sustained piano strike, low piano pulses joined by sad cello solo, basically M13 extended with a cello solo.
20 3:03 Prayer for Peace Serizawa tells Ogata that the secret of the Oxygen Destroyer is too dangerous as long as he lives.  Meanwhile a "Prayer for Peace" is broadcast on the radio.  The camera pans over the ruined buildings and injured people, as well as a girls choir singing.
Dialogue, then fade in of girls choir Prayer for Peace theme over solemn strings/brass.
21 0:22 Frigate March II
(Japanese Army March II)
Another ship is sent out to locate Godzilla under the sea.
Self Defense Force March reprise: 1 chorus.
22 6:24 Godzilla Under the Sea
Serizawa and Ogata are lowered into the water with the Oxygen Destroyer.  Godzilla stirs.  Ogata returns to the surface as Serizawa detonates the Oxygen Destroyer.  Serizawa wishes Emiko and Ogata well before he cuts off his own lifeline.  Godzilla dies.
0:00: Devastation theme: elegiac harmony on sad strings, muted brass/winds
0:57: B theme
1:57: B theme with high winds added
2:44: brief noble variation with tremolo strings
4:06: recap with low piano joining
4:26: low, pounding piano rhythm featured over sad strings, eventually incorporating hint of Godzilla Fury motif
23 1:43 Ending
Emiko and Ogata mourn Serizawa's sacrifice.  Yamane theorizes that another Godzilla may appear if nuclear testing continues.  The crew salute.
Prayer for Peace on sad strings, winds, muted brass, with female choir joining in.
24 2:10 Bonus Tracks:
Main Title Footsteps & Roars
M2 EFX without music.
25 1:51 Storm on Odo Island M7·T1 with Efx and dialogue.
26 1:13 Pleasure Boat Music Source music: A pleasure cruise runs into Godzilla after the depth charges fail to kill him.
27 0:53 Radio Music Source music: Dr. Serizawa listens to the radio after getting rid of a reporter.  Emiko asks him what he's really working on.

     In 1963, Ifukube would return to Godzilla with "King Kong vs. Godzilla"...

Other Akira Ifukube Godzilla Films Analysed:
King Kong vs Godzilla
Mothra vs Godzilla
Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster

Invasion of Astro Monster
Destroy All Monsters

iTunes Listing
Godzilla Perfect Box 1 at Screen Archives
Filmtracks Review
Akira Ifukube Wiki
Akira Ifukube Museum
Godzilla Monster Music
Toho Kingdom Soundtracks

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