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I can think of at least two things wrong with that description.
February 6, 2014 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Called "Japan's Beethoven", composer Mamoru Samuragochi is known for his Hiroshima Symphony and various video games soundtracks, many of which were composed after he became deaf at age 35. But in a surprise confession this week, he revealed that a ghostwriter was actually responsible for his work over the last two decades. The ghostwriter, music teacher Takashi Niigaki, has revealed even more damning allegations.
posted by kmz (41 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
At the rate this story is going, he'll turn out to be an 8-year-old girl from Albuquerque.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:38 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


That's not good news, but it shouldn't detract from how fun it is to say "Samuragochi."
posted by Mister_A at 10:51 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The 43-year-old said he had called time on the deception after learning that Winter Olympics medal hopeful, figure skater Daisuke Takahashi had chosen to dance to a piece that would be credited to Samuragochi.

"I was afraid that even Takahashi, who will perform in the Olympics for Japan, would be used to enforce the lies made by Samuragochi and me," he said.


Strange that this was the last straw, when he also has songs that were held up as tributes to the victims of Hiroshima bombing and also the 2011 tsunami. But in my recollection figure skating is a pretty Big Deal in Japan. It seemed like the only event I heard about during the 2006 Olympics.
posted by Hoopo at 10:56 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I saw this in my morning RSS feeds and was wondering: how do you get away with a deception like this? The composition end of the deception, that is. On the end where Samuragochi gets the creidt, how do people not know he's not composing? Are people close to him in on it?

And on the other end, how does the ghostwriter excuse the time it takes to write all this music? "Oh I was just doing school-related stuff?" You'd think someone would have walked in on him while he was composing and figured it out. Maybe they did and maybe people around Niigaki have helped with the cover too.

And I guess the "fake" deafness is to cover for the fact he doesn't know his own music? It just seems like someone should have popped this bubble before now.
posted by immlass at 11:00 AM on February 6


That's not good news, but it shouldn't detract from how fun it is to say "Samuragochi."

Japanese is just an incredibly beautiful language. I wish I had enough of a facility with languages to learn it, but I could barely scrape by in French and German classes; I doubt I'd get anywhere with something so completely unrelated to English.

Also this is just an unbelievable level of deception. How do these people manage to get away with it? There was the article about the Korean 'scientist' recently who faked so much work. And while obviously the latter is far more damaging to society as a whole, the principle behind them remains the same.

What really gets me, though, is how little money Niigaki made off this. I wonder what his thought process was when he watched sales for Hiroshima go through the roof, with someone else getting all the money and credit. What stopped him from saying then "Hey now. World? Here's the truth"?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:01 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


So he realized he was skating on thin ice, eh?
posted by yoink at 11:07 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Japanese is just an incredibly beautiful language. I wish I had enough of a facility with languages to learn it, but I could barely scrape by in French and German classes; I doubt I'd get anywhere with something so completely unrelated to English.

Unless one just sucks at languages, Japanese is not an incredibly difficult language to start learning.*

I assume this is something like John Williams coming out and admitting that he's not scored anything from Star Wars to Jurassic Park. That close enough parallel?

It's pretty astonishing that the fellow got away with it for so long. If his conspirator hadn't broken, would it have ever come to light? Also, I assume there's going to be negative repercussions for the professor?

*I graduated undergrad before I had a chance to leap into the wonderful world of Kanji, but the two alpabets, hiragana and katakana are generally easy to grasp and fun to write and read in.
posted by Atreides at 11:17 AM on February 6


Japanese is just an incredibly beautiful language.

To be fair "utsukushii" may be the ugliest word for "beautiful" that human language has created....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:20 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


@Feckless, Japanese is incredibly easy to speak sound wise as there are 42 sounds a a couple rules that NEVER EVER CHANGE. It is amazing. And also, no subject verb agreement. (but you conjugate adjectives like verbs.)

I can't imagine that keeping a secret like is easy.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:26 AM on February 6


To be fair "utsukushii" may be the ugliest word for "beautiful" that human language has created....

Opinions shall differ!
posted by Atreides at 11:27 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Who's your utsukushii
Ah your little turtle dove
Who's your utsukushii
Who do you love?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:32 AM on February 6


I knew I was right to be suspicious after hearing his Air Chrysalis symphony.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:40 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


$70,000 is really not a lot of money to ghost write the entire works of an internationally famous composer for two decades.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:59 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I haven't finished Murukami's IQ84 but the ghostwriting subplot is uncannily similar to Niigaki's ghostwriting for Samuragochi.
posted by mistersquid at 12:03 PM on February 6


from the final link:

"I've never felt he was deaf ever since we met," he said. "We carry on normal conversations. I don't think he is (handicapped).

"At first he acted to me also as if he had suffered hearing loss, but he stopped doing so eventually.

"He told me, after the music for the video games was unveiled, that he would continue to play the role (of a deaf person)."

He also added Samuragochi would listen to recordings of his music and offer critiques.


I'm trying to imagine who'd be best to make the eventual movie. Obviously, somebody from Japan, except I'm kind of ignorant in that regard. So what the hell? David Cronenberg -- his first comedy.
posted by philip-random at 12:04 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


But Japanese has the word tokidoki . Seriously most awesome word ever.
Tokidoiki ni utaitai is my favorite sentance. (sometimes, I want to sing!)
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:04 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine who'd be best to make the eventual movie. Obviously, somebody from Japan, except I'm kind of ignorant in that regard.

Takashi Miike. Which genre does he work in? ALL OF THEM.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:06 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Mamoru Samuragochi, 50, shot to fame in the mid-1990s with classical compositions that provided the soundtracks to video games including Resident Evil, despite having had a degenerative condition that affected his hearing.
Just a correction, Samaguch never composed music for Resident Evil. There's like, a dozen composers that have worked on all three variations of the first game, and he's not one of them. He just worked on Bio Hazard Symphony Op. 91 Crime and Punishment, which was a very blah symphonic album inspired by the first game.

I'm pretty sure he did compose music for Onimusha: Warlords, though, which is another Capcom game.
posted by Redfield at 12:08 PM on February 6


GenjiandProust: To be fair "utsukushii" may be the ugliest word for "beautiful" that human language has created....
No; that would be "pulchritude".
posted by yz at 12:14 PM on February 6 [18 favorites]


The thing I don't get about these kinds of stories is that they (inevitably) lead to deprecation of the compositions themselves. But why? If the music was powerful, moving, original etc. when you thought it was composed by person A, the revelation that it was composed by person B shouldn't change any of that. I don't understand why the story isn't "Japan's greatest living composer revealed to be B, not A!"

(This is leaving aside whether one thinks the music is good or not, which is matter for a different discussion).
posted by yoink at 12:21 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I mean, he's credited in Onimusha as the composer, I didn't mean to say I'm sure he composed the music for it and not a ghostwriter.
posted by Redfield at 12:22 PM on February 6


To be fair "utsukushii" may be the ugliest word for "beautiful" that human language has created....

pulchritudinous gives it some strong competition.

(I love saying utsukushii, btw, and it's one of the few Japanese words I know)
posted by Auden at 12:33 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


... oops, I see yz had the same thought
posted by Auden at 12:35 PM on February 6


But why? If the music was powerful, moving, original etc. when you thought it was composed by person A, the revelation that it was composed by person B shouldn't change any of that. I don't understand why the story isn't "Japan's greatest living composer revealed to be B, not A!"

Because quite obviously, a reputation (as f.ex. "greatest composer") is only loosely connected to the quality of the work. Otherwise reputations wouldn't wax and wane over time.

In this case there were also other factors at play. There's the myth making about the performer, which is a huge factor in the building of a reputation, or brand, if you will. Take the same piece of art and have it done by this special person vs that person, and you'll see it at work.

This guy being deaf was a big part of the Beethoven-like marketing. It's idiotic, but there you have it. The other thing is that people tend to pull for the underdog, especially if they seem to have been shortchanged by life or fate in other ways. For comparison, see Susan Boyle.

It's all a crock of shit, of course. There are a million puffed up reputations out there, and the word "genius" is thrown about so often, it has no meaning left.

Your best course of action, remains, as always, to rely on your own taste and experiences, and not worry about reputations, what's popular and what's on some approved list.

That said, stories like this are always highly comical. There is an old tradition of stuff like this happening in art all the time. Given how subjective aesthetic criteria can be, and how susceptible to psychological manipulation, it would be surprising if it were otherwise, which is why the recent trend has been to submit prank/faux scientific papers to various distinguished journals as yet another way to expose the inherent emptiness of a lot of the "reputation" process.

To honor this comical event, I'm going to play Beethoven Was Deaf... no, this time he wasn't, Steven!
posted by VikingSword at 12:43 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


All right, I guess I'm wrong. He's credited in the DualShock version of the Director's Cut. Somebody on VGMdb also noticed that the credited conductor for both Resident Evil: Director's Cut Dual Shock and Onimusha: Warlords is Takashi Niigaki (the ghost composer). Kind of interesting.
posted by Redfield at 12:44 PM on February 6


Auden: ... oops, I see yz had the same thought
Yes, but your "pulchritudinous" is even worse than "pulchritude" and is of course the part of speech actually called for here. I incorrectly provided the noun.

posted by yz at 12:57 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Niwa ni wa niwa niwatori ga imasu.
(There are two chickens in the garden.)
posted by SPrintF at 1:01 PM on February 6 [16 favorites]


I lose this MetaFilter game every goddamned time.
posted by yz at 1:04 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I lose this MetaFilter game every goddamned time.

Buck up. Just remember, you are pulchritudinous, in every single way...
posted by yoink at 1:13 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


The thing I don't get about these kinds of stories is that they (inevitably) lead to deprecation of the compositions themselves. But why?

Where were you when Milli Vanilla needed you?
posted by Hoopo at 1:16 PM on February 6


Niwa ni wa niwa niwatori ga imasu.
(There are two chickens in the garden.)


That is just a fantastic sentence.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:16 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Where were you when Milli Vanilla needed you?

Expressing exactly the same puzzlement, actually. Not that I gave a toss about their music, but it just baffled me that people who had been lapping up their albums one day tossed them in the trash the next. Why did they care that the guys doing the lip-syncing on the concert tours and the videos weren't the guys singing on the album? If they liked listening to the albums before why wouldn't they continue to do so? Just...weird.
posted by yoink at 1:20 PM on February 6


Because of the lie, I'd suspect. One consumes art in its context, some of which includes the artist. cf Banksy's paintings selling in Central Park.

That and they weren't really all that good to begin with.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:22 PM on February 6


That and they weren't really all that good to begin with.

Well, sure, as I say, I thought the music was dreck before the "revelation" came. But clearly many people did not. They thought it was incredibly catchy, fun music that they enjoyed listening to. Why wouldn't it remain catchy, fun music that you enjoy listening to even when you realize that the people you thought were singing it were actually just hired dancers.

It's not as if anyone had ever thought that the Milli Vanilli guys were the "voice of their generation" or something and made powerful connections between their attitudes and opinions expressed in TV interviews and the music they produced. "Oh no, these two people I know nothing about didn't perform this music, these other people I know nothing about did! My life is a LIE!" just seems an incomprehensible position to me.
posted by yoink at 1:29 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Takashi Miike. Which genre does he work in? ALL OF THEM.


Miike should direct, but it should be structured like Audition.




What's in the sack? WHAT'S IN THE SACK?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:41 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


banzai is a great word.
so's bonsai for that matter.
posted by philip-random at 1:55 PM on February 6


Anyone interested in the beauty of spoken Japanese, by the way, might be interested in Jason Moran's "Thief Without Loot." Moran is a jazz pianist who has built a number of pieces around recordings of people speaking in different languages. "Thief Without Loot" is based on a recording of a Japanese woman speaking.
posted by yoink at 2:07 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


From the damning allegations link, "I told him a few times that we should stop doing this, but he never gave in. Also he said he would commit suicide if I stopped composing for him."

I wonder if he mentioned what would happen if he were exposed as a fraud on the front page of papers all around the world. Obviously I can't be sure that what Niigaki is saying is true, but I hope so, because I like it when emotional abusers get their comeuppins.
posted by Metro Gnome at 7:38 PM on February 6



Niwa ni wa niwa niwatori ga imasu.
(There are two chickens in the garden.)


すもももももももものうち
sumomo mo momo mo momo no uchi

Japanese plums and peaches are both kinds of peaches.

母は歯は丈夫だ
ははははは丈夫だ

The mother's teeth are healthy.

益々升増す
ますますますます
masumasumasumasu

There are increasingly many measuring boxes.
posted by 23 at 8:19 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I saw this in my morning RSS feeds and was wondering: how do you get away with a deception like this?

Practice, practice, practice.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:44 PM on February 6


This has made the morning news sites here wonderful. Also, what the articles say and the impression they give are slightly different. Samuragochi didn't up and confess this, it all started with the previously unknown ghost writer sending a fax to the media out of the blue blowing the whistle.
posted by Bugbread at 4:27 AM on February 7


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