Special Thanks to Our Japanese Partners:
(The following names are written according to Japanese writing conventions, and are shown in no particular order.)
Musician Contractor: Tsutomu Satomi (SHANGRI-LA Inc.) 里見 勉, Aki Haruyama (SHANGRI-LA Inc.) 春山 あき
Coordinator: Ma Xuetong (Sony Group Corporation) 馬 雪潼, Tomoki Murata (Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.) 村田 知樹, Ryu Haku (Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.) 劉 博
Music Business Affairs: Kana Tsuji (Sony Music Publishing (Japan) Inc.) 辻 佳奈, Ichiro Murakami (Sony Music Publishing (Japan) Inc.) 村上 伊知郎
Recording Assistants: Keisuke Anan (Soundcity) 阿南 恵介, Li Chenan (Soundcity) 李 晨安, Ayumu Musha (Joint1) 武舎 歩, Ryuho Ichikawa (Joint1) 市川 竜帆, Kenta Murakami (Onkio Haus) 村上 健太, Hiroyuki Tanaka (SHANGRI-LA Inc.) 田中 宏幸
Special Thanks: Yi Fengyu 伊豊宇, Huang Ming 黄銘, Yohei Horiuchi (Joint1) 堀内 陽平, Sumiyo Takahashi (Joint1) 髙橋 純代, Tomonobu Kikuchi (RightTracks) 菊地 智敦, Yasuhisa inoue (RightTracks) 井上 泰久, Keniji Kato (RightTracks) 加藤 賢二, Masaaki Kasuya (Soundcity) 粕谷 雅明, Takuro Susaki (Kodo) 洲﨑 拓郎, Akiko Umegaki (Kodo) 梅垣 晶子, Tsuyako Komada 駒田 艶子, SCI Inc. 株式会社SCI
Genshin Impact's Inazuma OST is composed by Yu-Peng Chen@HOYO-MiX, recorded by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra with special guest top Japanese folk musicians, and co-produced by the HOYO-MiX team and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. This video tells the story of the Inazuma OST's creative philosophy, and documents the one and a half month of remote collaboration across cultures and languages between the Chinese and Japanese teams.
Zoe Cai, Music Director: HOYO-MiX's specialty is making music that is both suitable for the relevant product and refreshing to listen to — it has been our goal since the beginning. Like the music of Liyue, the music of Inazuma is a harmonious fusion consisting of elements from traditional instruments as well as orchestral music. One significant difference is the influence of traditional Japanese music; many of the melodies are based on historic Japanese melodies. Inazuma's traditional Japanese instruments and orchestral music performed by the traditional Japanese folk musicians and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Traditional Japanese instruments, such as the shakuhachi, the koto, the shamisen, the taiko drum, among others are present throughout all of Inazuma's music. These instruments closely follow the traditions of classic Japanese music while also adding a modern touch. To honor the heritage of these music elements, we also performed variations on some familiar pieces. For example, the battle theme of Inazuma that everyone is familiar with and the theme of the Electro Archon, which pays homage to "Sakura, Sakura." This will make listeners experience familiarity and novelty all at once.
Yu-Peng Chen, Composer: Special thanks to Sony Music, we invited Japan's renowned Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra along with the famous conductor, Kurita Hirofumi; Miyano Sachiko, who is in charge of music production; and some of the best folk performers and singers in Japan. On this particular occasion, we liaised with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra remotely through online communication. The recording process took about one and half months — four months in total, if preliminary communication is also accounted for. This is a remote, online collaboration. I believe the most challenging part of the process was the increase in time and energy needed to communicate.
Yu-Peng Chen, Composer: I also understand that the active performance of the musicians and the conductor will certainly be affected, but I think it is only during these difficult times that we will truly be able to deepen our trust in each other. For instance, at the end of the collaboration, I try my very best not to meddle with the final product because of the trust I have put in Japanese music producer Miyano-san, for her valuable perspective in the live music scene. She would take the initiative to offer advice on how to improve the music. And then the conductor, Kurita Hirofumi, would conduct according to the content of the score. If there was something that he was not sure about, he would ask Miyano-san. In this case, the efficiency of our collaboration improved a lot. When the orchestra takes a break, I would listen to the recording of what they just played. If there is room for improvement, we would wait until the next day to bring up what needs to be improved. Through this mutual collaboration, I believe I have learned a lot.
Towards the end, there were a few pieces that really moved me. They handled the emotions very well and delicately and it was a huge surprise because there were two pieces, one of which began with marimbas. The way I composed it was so difficult, I did not dare let the marimbas perform so I thought about having two versions. Nevertheless, they insisted on performing anyway. Then I thought to myself, "They practiced very hard for this" and after they practiced many times, I could tell that they really put in the effort. He must have practiced a lot to play it perfectly without a mistake. It is a very difficult marimba part I was very worried about it at first, mainly about how I should go about it. Actually, I should have asked him if we could have asked them not to play and then play the version without those instruments for the time being. Right, I should have said that, instead of just saying that I did not want to include that instrument — that might have hurt their feelings Right, I'll keep that in mind next time.
Hirofumi Kurita, Conductor: When three days' worth of recording was completed without a hitch, I sighed in relief. This time, we used a lot of traditional Japanese instruments. The score shows how well the instruments were used. The end result was in line with the composer's vision — all that we have to do is bring that original vision to life as perfectly as we can and try to put what each of us wants to express into each note. From this point of view, I think the recording result was a resounding success because Mr. Chen, a Chinese person, composed Japanese-style pieces. I think it's something that most Japanese people would consider out of the ordinary. The Japanese-style melodies sound Japanese, but not entirely Japanese and have a timeless, transcendental beauty to it and that actually provides a great listening experience.
Japanese musicians are known to be sticklers for detail. For example, all the musicians handle the notations with great precision. It's very impressive. What impressed me the most was the sheer number of musicians. There was hardly any extra noise during the recordin; they took care not to make any sound other than the music from their instruments While recording a very quiet piece. If I didn't know any better, I'd think that everyone was holding their breath just so they could make the music clean and clear.
Yu-Peng Chen, Composer: I learned that battle music from previous regions is a hit with players. For Inazuma's battle music, I spent a long time thinking about how to compose it. This time I composed one more than usual, so I think there are now four different battle themes for the open world in total. Different combinations of instruments play different rhythms. For example, one song only uses traditional Japanese folk instruments like that of the Taiko drum, the Shamisen, and the Shakuhachi. But in terms of musical form, I adopted the rhythmic style of modern electronic music. There's a build up and a drop. Another combat piece is also based on traditional Japanese folk instruments together with orchestral parts and vocal elements. There's also a battle piece that revolves around the passionate rhythm of the Taiko drum. In addition, the long melodical lines of Inazuma's theme song are handled by the strings. Let's try to create a sense of perseverance while simultaneously conveying a feeling of sadness and melancholy.
Kasumi Watanabe, Koto & 25-string Koto player: There are two schools for the koto: Ikuta-ryu and Yamada-ryu. I play in the Ikuta-ryu style, and thus I play the koto with square picks and when playing, you have to lean a little to the left — that is pretty much the difference between Ikuta-ryu and Yamada-ryu. For Yamada-ryu, you are upright in front of the koto and you use rounded picks. This time, there were a lot of pieces that included changes based on varying melodies, but there is still something that ties everything together. The music (in this performance) relied heavily on pentatonic scales that are characteristic of traditional Japanese instruments. It is full of grandeur — it was as if one could feel the (imposing) nature of the music. That 25-string koto in the back will be having its 30th birthday this year. Playing this instrument regularly is my life's work and there are so many pieces in this performance whose expressions only the koto can convey. That really made me feel that my persistence was worth it.
Mamino Yorita, Koden Shakuhachi Performer: I was unsure if I could correctly utilize the unique sound of the classic Japanese shakuhachi. The shakuhachi part gives the impression of mysterious sounds that emerge from nature during an intense fight as well as the notion of the surreal, powerful, earthly, and so on. The piece tells a story that is full of ups and downs. The vibrato from the shakuhachi comes from a special technique called "tremolo" where the player shakes their head while playing. During the performance, I employed a lot of tremolo techniques to adjust the intensity of the vibrato because there is a lot of tremolo parts in this piece, with each tremolo part being different. I hope everyone can try to feel these differences.
Through remote communication, we were able to make the recordings together with the Chinese producers. We play here, and they listen there. The first time we got feedback, we were able to go over the finer details while making the song. I think this way helped me appreciate the joy of creating something together and enjoy the performance more. When I normally play, I always put my hands together at the beginning and at the end: one is to thank the guests for coming to hear me play, the other is to be thankful for everything that happens during the performance.
Yutaka Oyama, Tsugaru Shamisen Player: There are many types of shamisen — the one I play is called the Tsugaru-jamisen, one of the bigger shamisens out there. When I received the score, I was not sure if I could play it. It looked difficult. I thought to myself, "Could I do it?" It was intimidating. Even with the adjustments, I still could not get the intended effect the composer was looking for. He confirmed the rhythm and tone and I was fearful that the intervals could not keep up with the rhythm. It was very difficult, although the prelude was not too bad.
What Mr. Chen is looking for is tone and feeling which, sometimes, is not what the Tsugaru-jamisen's expression of power is suited for. But there are also times when it fits perfectly. This recording was also the most challenging recording in my career. This was an opportunity to introduce traditional Japanese folk music to the world, which put a lot of pressure on me. I hope I can meet the expectations of the composer. Even though we are just getting started, I hope I can fully comprehend the intentions of the composer and through hard work, let my performance become part of his worldview.
Yu-Peng Chen, Composer: For Genshin Impact's music, the requirements for the shamisen players were tremendously high. It was incredibly demanding, so all four musicians spent a lot of time practicing. They spent a lot of time during recording going over their parts again and again, so it seems that the shamisen musicians have a lot a patience. Of course, the end result was nothing short of amazing.
The first piece took about six hours to record. At this rate, I wondered if it was going to take 18 more hours to record the remaining four pieces. But then everyone steadily got into the groove during the recording process after they figured out what Mr. Chen wanted to express from from the first piece. Then the second, third, and fourth pieces went by easily because each part is recorded separately. For example, since we could not record together with the symphony orchestra. It became very difficult to get the rhythm of each part right.
Yuta Sumiyoshi, Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble Performer: Although it's an iconic Japanese instrument, the sound it emits does not sound very Japanese. This made me feel a sense of novelty. How would I put it? In a sense, it feels like going back to one's roots. It's a very meaningful work from this point of view, it really makes us feel like the instruments we're playing came straight from the Silk Road. Mr. Chen's pieces, in this respect, give people a feeling of grandiosity. So when we are playing the Taiko drums, we are very aware of the sound of the beats that will create a feeling of transmission to the end.
Satoshi Chiba, Sony Music Publishing (Japan) Inc. Music Supervisor: The main client of this composition is in China and the project itself involves Japanese-themed music and many Japanese musicians. Final adjustments to the sound were made in the UK. It is, well and truly, a global effort and I am honored to be a part of it. Genshin Impact is an online game that was launched globally. The passion and enthusiasm of creators and producers around the world has reached every part of the world in a way that is profound. Players will be able to feel it in-game whether it's from heartwarming scenes or by exploring the open world — the music will always be an inseparable part of the game. Hopefully, the soundtrack will be an amazing experience for players.
Yu-Peng Chen, Composer: A musical collaboration is also, in equal parts, a cultural exchange especially when it comes to playing musical pieces in the moment. Everyone has their own personality and understanding, and I believe mutual trust and respect is essential. I must say, the end result is fantastic. Through this collaboration, I think it can be said that I'm very happy to be able to deepen the cultural exchange between China and Japan with music. I will be very happy if the soundtracks recorded this time can give Genshin Impact fans around the world a great experience.
Hirofumi Kurita, Conductor: Thank you very much.
Zoe Cai, Music Director: It is a cross-cultural exchange of traditions, but it is also not just restricted to tradition. I hope to convey to the players that "This is Genshin Impact."