Muun muassa Megadethin klassisesta kokoonpanosta sekä soolourastaan tunnettu kitaristi Marty Friedman on saanut Japanin hallitukselta merkittävän toimeksiannon. Yhdysvaltalainen, sittemmin Japanista paikkansa löytänyt kitaravirtuoosi sai vuonna 2016 maan hallitukselta japanilaisen kulttuuriperinnön suurlähettilään arvonimen. Nyt hän on saanut tehtäväkseen säveltää tunnuskappaleen maan kulttuuriperinnölle.
Friedmanille kyseessä on suuri kunnia. Hänet valittiin tehtävään paitsi monien japanilaisten säveltäjien joukosta, myös ulkomaalaistaustaisena. Hän sai kappaleen säveltämiseen aikaa viisi päivää ja mukaan Tokion Filharmonisen orkesterin. Sovituksiin hän sai apua hyvältä ystävältään Akira Sasakilta. Alla Friedmanin päivitys aiheesta sekä itse lopputulos:
”A little while back I was appointed an Ambassador of Japan Heritage by the Japanese government. As a foreigner that was really surprising to me, but when they requested me to compose an official ’Japan Heritage Theme Song’ to be used at events and Japan Heritage related functions, it was a mind blowing feeling. On top of that I had the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra to do the recording with. Of all the possible composers in Japan that could have been asked to do this, It was an honor to be singled out to do this and the responsibility attached to this request was not lost on me.
Of course, as with most thrilling propositions, there is a challenge. In this case I was asked to complete the song within 5 days. (!) Sometimes my own songs which are arranged for a 4 piece rock band can take several months of rewrites and edits, so the thought of writing, arranging, recording and producing a song for a 70 piece orchestra–to be scrutinized by the government–in 5 days was a daunting task to say the least.
I had one secret weapon at hand, as I delegated the task of orchestral arrangements to my good friend Akira Sasaki who is a specialist in that field. Aside from preparing sheet music for around 70 people, there are countless decisions that need to be made that require real expertise to get an orchestra to do what is needed for every single part of the song. The orchestral arranger must instinctively know the melodic range of each instrument as well as each instrument`s ’sweet spots’. It is common for inexperienced people to write for orchestral instruments without knowing these foundational things, and wind up asking them to play impossible or unnatural phrases, which ends up in an impractical and poorly executed performance. Should this part be played by 2 violas or 4? Is this low note within the range of a French horn? How many violins and cellos should be playing this pizzicato phrase in unison to get the point across without being overbearing? Is this part even playable by this instrument? Which instrument is best to play this line? Which interval of harmony complements the main melody the most? I was glad to have a seasoned pro like Akira on board to take care of some of those decisions and that burden so I could concentrate on the actual musical content and performances.
The whole time I was very aware of the fact that if the committee which put this together for me didn`t like even a single part of this music, the whole thing could be scrapped, so I vowed not to sleep, doing demo after demo, rewrite after rewrite, for the 5 days prior to recording my guitar with the orchestra. When it was done I was happy with it and so were the staff, so overall it was a joy to be challenged that way.
This video performance was done in LA for the fine folks at EMG TV. Oddly, I remember a lot about the day this video was taped. That day I had flown into LA from Tokyo. My flight was quite delayed so I arrived at MI Hollywood just in time to be a little late to start my guitar seminar there at their new auditorium. Despite being a bit spaced out, I jumped into it and enjoyed the seminar a lot, due to so many good people in the audience with fun questions and an overall good vibe. Once the seminar ended, I met up with the EMG folks in a studio in the same building where we were to film this video.
I was starting to fade in and out due to jet lag, but still excited to play. Once things got set up to film though, little equipment problems started to happen. First the video, then the recording software, then lighting, etc. It was nothing serious, truly nobody`s fault, but time was ticking and we just couldn`t get started. Sometimes these things happen, gremlins just take over. It`s important not to be a diva in these cases, as how you act in these situations is how you will be judged by industry people, and fans too. Still, the longer this went on the more I started to lose interest in caring about anything other than a nice clean bed in a hotel room. Everyone around me, including some top class gear experts, was hustling hard trying to fix things so I tried my best to hide my growing apathy for the whole thing and keep a good attitude.
After quite a lot of tweaking It came to the point where it looked like a no go, and we would just have to shut down. I was not unhappy about that, as the sooner we shut down, the sooner I could slam-click in the hotel. But as luck would have it, one of the guys there helping out, a fantastic EMG endorsing guitarist named Prashant Aswani (check him out!) offered us his studio across town to try to record the video at. Half blown away by how nice his offer was and half pissed off about not being able to go to the hotel, I took him up on his kind offer, and took the long drive to his studio.
I couldn`t remember the last time I ate, so we picked up some Thai food along the way. Once we got into the studio, there was no table there to eat on, so not wanting to eat off the floor, I put my carton of Thai curry on top of an amp head and ate off that. Actually eating off an amp head is not a bad way to enjoy food, but since this amp was an old Marshall I had to be careful not to spill curry in the air vent on top.
Prashant and the EMG people were so incredibly cool the whole time despite the frustrating gear situation, that it was impossible not to laugh as I fell in and out of consciousness from jet lag.
Sorry for the world`s longest back story, but hey we are all stuck at home so what the hell. Let`s just be thankful that technology has not developed smell-o-vision, because my airplane pajamas in this video must have been glorious…Enjoy!”