Anime Trending had the incredible opportunity to talk to Undead Murder Farce music composer Yuma Yamaguchi through email as the TV anime series was broadcasting this past July 2023.
Could you talk about how you were approached to work on the soundtrack for Undead Murder Farce?
Yuma Yamaguchi: I was contacted by a music producer from FUJIPACIFIC MUSIC. I worked with FUJIPACIFIC MUSIC, FUJI TV, and Lapin Track for “I’m Kodama Kawashiri” in 2022. So as a result of that experience, I was asked by them.
As a pianist, how did you incorporate your expertise to fit Undead Murder Farce’s style and theme through the soundtrack?
Some of the pieces were written from strong pianistic inspirations. The main theme’s chord structures were something jazz pianists, or post-classical pianists use. I expanded the idea to a contemporary orchestra piece. The piece, “MAKURA” has improvisation parts on the piano, and “United Front” has a unique piano riff/arpeggio which I could have never written had I not been a pianist.
What was your impression of the story and the anime’s personality, and how did that influence your composition?
At the very beginning of our first meeting, the director, Mamoru Hatakeyama and the director of audiography, Kazuhiro Wakabayashi told me that the most of the scenes in this Anime are at night, and they want mostly serious/dark pieces. After I read the plot, I completely agreed with them, so I wrote so many serious, dark, and heavy pieces which is not so common in anime soundtracks. I’ve actually enjoyed it so much.
Can you tell us about the creation of the track that plays near the end of episode one, during the scene that culminates in Aya and Tsugaru’s kiss?
The piece, “Immaturity” was written as Aya Rindo’s theme. She has been facing her fate which is she cannot die. Through her long past life, she has seen so much life and death. I wanted to express her detachment, secret, and a little bit of sadness. Musically, I tried to write very simple melodies. The main melody played by strings is expressing her majesty, and the middle part which features a flute duo is inspired by her mysterious life.
What was your favorite track to compose?
That’s a really difficult question. I had so much freedom to compose for this soundtrack, but if I have to pick one, I choose “Act of God”. Originally, I was asked to write a more operatic or classical choral piece for the scene of Banquet’s appearance. However, after I started writing the piece, I felt it’s too much of a stereotype to write an operatic piece for a battle scene. So, I got the idea for the song from Bulgarian voices, and made an original language up in order to keep the song stateless. I also spent a lot of time to making the sound of the synth bass which is another important part of this piece.
Music is very important to creating tension. Is there a difference in composing music for creating tension in mysteries like Undead Murder Farce versus other genres and how is it different?
For the soundtrack of Undead Murder Farce, I felt all the tracks had specific meaning for each of the scenes. When I write music for other genres, I often get asked to write more background music which they can play in many different scenes. It was quite challenging for me to deeply understand the meaning of each of the tracks and how they will be used in the anime.
Undead Murder Farce moved from Japan to Germany to Great Britain. Did you incorporate elements from different countries into the music?
I wrote a few pieces inspired by the places in the anime. For example, the director of audiography requested that he wanted to feel the industrialization from the the piece, “England”. However, Undead Murder Farce has so many unique characters, that gave me inspiration, so I ended up composing music to fit those characters more than for the places in the anime.
When composing music, do you know what the scenes will look like? If not, how do you go about composing for it If you do, what do you focus on first when composing around the scene?
I only watched rough storyboard before I started composing. However, the directors and I had discussed a lot about the 30 pieces before I started writing them, so I had a really clear view of where I wanted to go with my writing. As I mentioned earlier, this anime has so many unique characters, so I wrote music to fit them.
For instance, “Immortality” written as an Aya Rindo’s theme, “ONIGOROSHI” for Tsugaru Shinuchi, and “TACHIKAGE”, the name came from Shizuku Hasei’s weapon. Also, I composed music specifically for the scenes “MAKURA” and “KOKKEIBANASHI” inspired by Aya and Tsugaru’s comedy conversation.
What makes the music for Undead Murder Farce different from the other music you’ve composed?
This anime needed so many serious, heavy, and dark tracks compared to usual soundtracks. I had to write within this genre, but also be sensitive about the different darkness more than any of my past soundtrack works.
What would you like the viewers to pay attention to in the soundtrack when they watch Undead Murder Farce?
For this soundtrack, all the tracks have specific meanings and purposes for the scenes and characters, so I’ll be so happy if you can find the scenes which became more impressive by music. To be honest, Mr. Hatakeyama and Mr. Wakabayashi only requested a few small revisions, so I had a lot of freedom musically. So, I ended up writing a lot of musically dense tracks in many different genres like classical, jazz, IDM, contemporary, and minimal. Hope people enjoy the variety!
The soundtrack is now streaming on various platforms including Spotify. Crunchyroll is streaming the anime series.