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Rika Muranaka

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Name  Rika Muranaka

Role  Composer
Rika Muranaka httpsuploadsdisquscdncomimages0cee79a529df8
Similar People  Aoife Ni Fhearraigh, Carla White, Norihiko Hibino, Tony Haynes, Cynthia Harrell

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Rika Muranaka is a Japanese composer and music producer renown for her songs in Konami’s world-famous video game series, Metal Gear Solid.

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Some of her most notable works include "The Best Is Yet to Come" (Metal Gear Solid), "Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday" (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty), and "Don't Be Afraid" (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater). She also composed the song "I Am the Wind" for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the song "Esperándote" for the original Silent Hill.

Rika Muranaka An interview with Metal Gear Solid composer Rika Muranaka

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Music career

During her teens, Rika Muranaka left her native Tokyo to study jazz piano with Alan Swain, a jazz pianist and author, in Chicago. She started to write music at the age of 16, but at first was doing it only for herself.

After graduating from Chicago’s Northeastern Illinois University, Rika Muranaka returned to Japan and was offered a deal with Columbia Records, a major record company in Japan, in 1992, which resulted in the release of 4 albums. Her debut CD Slice of Life, released in 1992, featured vocalists Dwight Dukes, Cynthia Harrell and Stephanie B and was result of collaboration with Michael Caruso, a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She continued writing music and composed music for commercials, advertising, the Japanese government and demos for multimedia companies in Japan; she “was on TV, doing everything from jingles to writing music for artists.” Rika Muranaka had even worked developing pre-programmed beats and sounds for Casio electronic keyboards and produced music for educational textbooks and materials.

Fascinated by the game industry, Rika Muranaka started to work for Konami in the 1990s, though at the time it was a rare occurrence for game companies to hire professional music composers. Her motivation to write music for the game industry was “to change the standard for music in the industry” because “everyone thought that video game music was simple and not so good”. Her first projects at Konami involved songs for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the classic horror game Silent Hill, where she collaborated with Akira Yamaoka, a Japanese video game composer.

Her work at Konami lead to an almost 20-year working relationship with Hideo Kojima on the Metal Gear Solid game series. The company was small at the time and the team creating the game was very small consisting from only about 20 people and they did not expect Metal Gear Solid to become so successful. Reflecting on her work dynamics on Metal Gear Solid series, Rika Muranaka states that she had to be a “mind reader” as she did not know the story line or where the music was intended to be used and had to imagine what Hideo Kojima had envisioned. She was only told by Hideo Kojima that she needed to create, e.g., 5 patterns for action, 5 patterns for sneaking and 5 patterns for ambient music. She also revealed that when working on Metal Gear Solid Hideo Kojima did not wish to hear any songs in English or any other language he would understand. When she suggested writing a song in Gaelic, Hideo responded: “What the hell is Gaelic?”

While working on Metal Gear Solid 2, Rika Muranaka brought in British film composer Harry Gregson-Williams into the game industry to work on the game series. She believes by doing so she has contributed to setting the trend of attracting film producers to the music composition in game industry.

During the years of her work at Konami she had not only composed music and written lyrics for some of the most popular songs that featured in the games, but also produced and edited music, arranged budget, hired the musicians and orchestra needed to produce the music for Metal Gear Solid game series. She involved jazz musicians, such as Gerald Albright, Kevin Eubanks and Hubert Laws, in creating music for the game series.

Despite being fond of writing for games, Rika Muranaka gradually developed passion to writing music for films, television and animation. She describes the process of creating music for game and film industry as different. She explains that “in games, the music has to fit within a game, meaning you have to make a transition every 30 seconds and it has to be loopable so they can cut or stretch the audio to sync to the game visuals. For film, you actually have a trailer or something to work with, meaning you can use a time code to fit the music perfectly within a scene so you have an advantage of having a scene front of you to write with.”

After terminating her work relationship with Konami, Rika Muranaka transitioned to working on her own projects, such as a reality show Hollywood Dream and her own business RnD Entertainment, both being a collaboration with Grammy and American Music Award winning music producer Damien “E-Love” Matthias, and composing and producing music for films.

References

Rika Muranaka Wikipedia


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