Godzilla: 50th Anniversary – music by Akira Ifukube

“Subtle” isn’t normally a word used in connection with Godzilla. However, Akira Ifukube’s soundtrack to the original Godzilla movie is deceptively subtle.

Most soundtracks have themes for characters and scenes that echo the main theme. But in Godzilla, nearly every piece of music is the main theme. With shifts in tempo or style, or emphasis on different types or individual instruments, the theme is reformed in many ways, each of them sounding completely unique and original. It’s a testament to Ifukube’s skill that he was able to stretch the theme into so many nearly unrecognizable shapes.

The main theme itself is a brisk and tense thriller, primarily using woodwinds with some brass for emphasis. When he appears in Tokyo Bay and moves on shore, the music becomes slow, dark and ominous using deep, throaty sounding muted trumpets to represent Godzilla and an almost disconsonant piano to highlight the people’s helplessness.

Ifukube often weaves two or more variations into the same piece of music. Among the most interesting are those hiding in a happy military march and tucked away in an island festival. There are even strains of the theme heard in a harmonica played by a sailor on a merchant vessel. The “Prayer For Peace,” which remains one of the most haunting pieces of music I’ve ever heard, brings the theme to a funeral dirge. When we see Godzilla on the ocean floor, the theme shifts to help us realize that the King of the Monsters is a victim as well.

4 out of 4The latest trend on the internet is to create original works in “mashups” of different source material. Akira Ifukube did it the old fashioned way- using only one source and without using “loops.” Godzilla: 50th Anniversary is an excellent achievement that is not only good to listen to, but can also be used as a study guide for budding composers.

Order this CD

  1. Godzilla Approaches (Sound Effects) (0:49)
  2. Godzilla Main Title (1:31)
  3. Ship Music / Sinking Of Eikou-Maru (1:06)
  4. Sinking Of Bingou-Maru (0:23)
  5. Anxieties On Ootojima Island (0:50)
  6. Ootojima Temple Festival (1:21)
  7. Stormy Ootojima Island (1:53)
  8. Theme For Ootojima Island (0:34)
  9. Japanese Army March I (0:42)
  10. Horror Of The Water Tank (0:42)
  11. Godzilla Comes Ashore (1:52)
  12. Godzilla’s Rampage (2:25)
  13. Desperate Broadcast (1:12)
  14. Godzilla Comes To Tokyo Bay (1:25)
  15. Intercept Godzilla (1:27)
  16. Tragic Sight Of The Imperial Capitol (2:18)
  17. Oxygen Destroyer (3:11)
  18. Prayer For Peace (2:48)
  19. Japanese Army March II (0:21)
  20. Godzilla At The Ocean Floor (6:20)
  21. Ending (1:41)
  22. Godzilla Leaving (Sound Effects) (1:04)

    Bonus Tracks

  23. Main Title (film version) (2:03)
  24. First Landing (film version) (3:37)
  25. Tokyo In Flames (film version) (2:17)
  26. Last Assault (film version) (2:21)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 46:28

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