Howl’s Moving Castle

THURSDAY, October 29, 2020 – 8:19 AM

(One of my students, Jasmine, is responsible for my interest in this. It started out as a children’s book, which I’m reading right now, then went viral as a movie. It perhaps has less success here than elsewhere because the man responsible for the movie was both anti-war and against the Iraq War. But politics is not what this site is about, so you can draw your own conclusions. However, as a result of said politics the movie was far more successful and popular in other countries. Regardless, it is now considered on of the finest animated films ever made. I did not know any of this three weeks ago.)

Howl’s Moving Castle – Merry go round of Life

This is the main theme as in the movie. It’s OK. It sounds processed, fake instruments. I can’t get excited about it. I suppose if I loved the movie, I might listen with affection.

Piano solo

OK, this is a lot better than anything I could do without a lot of work, but my main objection to piano solos is that they lose the complexity and tone color of more instruments. So this is nice, but I’m also bored after a minute too. It sounds overblown, a bit tinkly. For old timers perhaps it’s a bit like Liberace. I hated Liberace. So I’m still not impressed. It’s still a catchy tune, OK piano, but no more. Enough already…

Getting better

I’m starting to like this better. More instruments. Something is more charming about this, but to me it still sounds a bit kitschy. It feels awfully heaving, and it sounds processed in a studio. There are too many strings, the piano is too heavy. You can tell the composer had good ideas, but he has the touch of a truck driver. No subtlety. The strings sound heavy too, like they were paid for studio work. Those string slides just sound cheap, forced, clumsy. I see why this is popular, but I’m bored.

But this got my attention

The pianist has touch. He rearranged the intro, and it took me perhaps an hour to get the exact notes he plays, because they are just right. Beautifully arranged. The strings have soul. They play with feeling, style and they are convincing. It’s really just about the same music, but there are countless small details, and it just works. but what IS this?

It’s now a piano trio…

I wonder how many listeners know that this takes us right back to the old masters? Because for them piano trios were enormously popular, not only for audiences, but for them personally, and their friends. If anything this shows you that the genius is not in theme – although the theme is terribly important – but what the composer and players do with that theme. This cover is in all ways far superior everything else I heard and totally caught my interest. It’s so nice to see an old, famous form rebooted and done so well.

7 thoughts on “Howl’s Moving Castle

  1. I never got into Studio Ghibli movies as a kid, but I love the soundtracks. My two favorite arrangements for this piece are wind trio and cello quintet. I think oboe and clarinet fit so well for how light and fantasy-like the theme is, but I wish the audio quality of this performance was better to hear the bassoon I like the cello quintet because I love the contrast when lower pitched instruments play these light, surreal pieces

  2. I’m so glad you like this piece. It’d been stuck in my head for roughly 4 months when I asked if we could play it in lessons. This is my favorite orchestral song and even before we started doing lessons again, I’d been wanting to show this to you since I watched the movie in February.

  3. The first version sounded heavy and klunky. The piano trio is more to my liking. It sounded lighter and more musical. The violin and cello added to the enjoyment.

  4. To be honest, I don’t like saying which of anything I like better. I enjoyed all three, but most of all, I’d like to see the movie. I liked what I learned from Guillermo just now. I am also interested in more than the music with something like this. The arts work together – and the arts working together – is itself an art.

  5. This comment is more of my general perspective on music as an art form and how it can change other art forms into a experience that is larger than life. Studio Ghibli is the animation studio that is responsible for this movie and it’s soundtrack and a studio that for, the life of me, I have never been able to fully shake from my mind. No movie has ever changed me so wholeheartedly as much as Spirited Away. Movies like Howls Moving Castle are art at it’s finest and at least 50% of it has to do with the orchestral score. Almost every song is amazing and the orchestra really plays their heart out. I always felt that orchestrated soundtracks could bring a work of art into a whole new league, (for an example of this listen to the Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack and the Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword soundtrack). Music and other forms of art when working in tandem can become some of the most affecting things I have ever experienced. An album know as “Everywhere at The End of Time” is an album that is meant to simulate the effects of dementia and how it would sound in music form. Yet the art and the music together are the only way to get the full story, (a story that shook me to my core and even made me cry). No form of art is better than another due to it’s subjectivity. Yet all art when combined into one product, can become something life changing for some people. All you need is some passion and some skill and you can change the world. (Sorry about this super long tangent 😅)

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