Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Ryuji Iuchi: Equipment Used to Compose Music for Shenmue I & II

Composer Ryuji Iuchi was one of the core musical contributors for Shenmue I and II, creating over one hundred pieces himself including the iconic Shenhua's theme song, and he is also credited for his contributions in the credits of Shenmue III.

Ryuji Iuchi (screenshot from the video in the Shenmue III Kickstarter Update #21)
In his latest website post, Ryuji answers one of the many questions he has received from Shenmue fans: what equipment he used when creating the pieces for Shenmue.

Our translation of Ruji Iuchi's post starts from here (images were not included originally, and have been added for illustration).

I get a lot of questions about my past work through DMs or my blog's contact page, but it hasn't been possible to answer each one individually.

However, since my blog isn't updated very often (lol), I expect many people are probably wondering about some of the most frequently-asked questions and to that end, I decided to answer them in this blog.

I had been thinking of starting something on YouTube, maybe something like a chat-style vlog, but the environment isn't set up yet, so I'll stick to written words this time...

The question I'll answer this time is: "What equipment did you use when you made music for Shenmue?"

It was quite a while ago, so my memory is a little faint in places, but I'll answer as far as I can remember.

There were several composers in my team, so this is purely the equipment that I personally used myself.

Since the topic is about the equipment I used, this may not turn out to be a very long answer! I'll also include notes about how each was mainly used.


YAMAHA 01V Digital Mixing Console (1998)

A mixer. Several of my songs use a distorted rhythm. I distort them by putting them through the mixer's effector.

Roland JV-2080 (JV-1080)

Roland JV-2080 64-Voice Synthesizer Module (1996), an improved version of the JV-1080/
This was my primary sound source. For pads and bells I used the internal sounds, while for melodies or an ethnic style, as well as for orchestral percussion, I used expansion cards.


File:Korg TR-Rack.jpg
Korg TR-Rack sound module (1998)
I remember using this for the piano in Continent and Sea [note from Switch: also commonly known to Shenmue fans as Earth and Sea]. This was my go-to when I wanted to use that distinctive Korg sound.

Ensoniq MR-Rack

Ensoniq MR-Rack Sound Module
Ensoniq MR-Rack sound module (1996)
I also remember using this sound source for things like piano, bells and pads.

Roland SC-88VL (two of them!)

Roland SoundCanvas MIDI Sound Generator SC-88VL (1995)
After starting to commute in to SEGA, one of my very first songs was a demo of Shenhua's theme song. From around that time, I consistently used a lot of ethnic-style percussion from this sound generator throughout my own songs for the Shenmue project. Admittedly it's not the same as playing or using an actual musical instrument lol, but in the end how it sounds is what's important. The [sound] set was called Ethnic, or something like that. I also used this for simple bells. These were my main sound generators at the very beginning (or should I say, these two units were everything I had).


YAMAHA DX7II-D Digital Programmable Algorithm Synthesizer (1987)
My main keyboard at the start. I remember being provided with an 88-key one later on. I didn't use it as a sound source.

Emagic Logic

Digital audio workstation and MIDI sequencer software application, Emagic Logic (shown here: v2.0, 1995).

A sequencer. I used the Mac version. Later I moved to Cubase SX.

That's about what I can remember for now. If I think of anything else, I'll quietly update this post, lol.

During these times when we should not go out, this is something I enjoy doing and I also hope it can help dispel any moment of boredom you may find yourself facing.

See you!

Source: Ryuji Iuchi's Blog (Japanese)

Shenhua's theme song (vocal, performed by the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra)
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