Mamuro Samuragouchi: Songs of Silence

Video-game music maestro Samuragoch can't hear his own work

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    At first, Samuragoch retained some hearing, though he was plagued by chronic headaches and a persistent ringing in his ears. Then, in 1999, while composing the score for Onimusha, he lost his hearing completely. "We were six weeks away from performing the symphony for a press event, and I still had three movements to write," he says. "I had the music written in my head, just not on paper yet." Producers at Capcom sent him early versions of the video in the hospital. Because he couldn't hear the dialogue, the producers added subtitles timed exactly to the characters' voices so that Samuragoch could compose the score around the dialogue.

    Today Samuragoch works in a tiny, dark room in his Yokohama apartment. "The saddest thing for me is not to be able to hear an orchestra perform my work," he says. "But then I think, I am composing not for myself but to make other people happy." As he turns up the volume on an MD player for a visitor, tears fill his eyes as he strains to hear the rhythmic beat of the taiko drums: percussive noises are the only ones he can detect anymore.

    Curiously, Samuragoch believes his hearing loss has made him a better composer. "I am not distracted," he says. "I listen to myself. If you trust your inner sense of sound, you create something that is truer. It is like communicating from the heart. Losing my hearing was a gift from God."

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