Music Performances in Sound! Euphonium

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The performance, usually the live performance is one of the most important moments in all music anime. If it’s good, it makes the characters feel more real and alive. If it skips the performance, it makes us wonder why it is a music anime in the first place.

Many music anime such as Stop This Sound, which I recently watched, have so much dialogue during the performance. As they play their instruments, the characters watching them play would make remarks like, “It’s very good. I feel like all the seasons have changed” or “oh my God they all play the impossible notes in sync even though it’s… well, impossible!!!” The remarks, to me, breaks the flow of the performance. I want to listen to the performance and let me catch it first hand how awesome or awful they play and how good they’ve become. But I can’t because other characters interrupt me and describe how they play to me.

 

The anime would also not let us listen to their practice plays. It always goes off to something like “and then they practiced hard for the rest of the night” or something like that. This makes it difficult for me to know how bad they were and how good they’ve become. The only thing the anime let me listen to is their actual performance but I can’t compare their actual performance with anything that comes before it. So how am I going to tell if they’ve improved or not? The answer is, other characters’ remarks… Which is very annoying to me. 

I get it that many of the anime is adapted from the manga and since the manga don’t have any sound, they’d have to describe how their performances are with words. But this is anime, I think it’s much better if they change things a bit.

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Sound! Euphonium is so far the best I’ve experienced when it comes to performances. All their performances and rehearsals, even their little practice sessions don’t have any unnecessary explanation. No words are spoken at all during the performances. They convey all messages using visual presentation. But of course, visual presentation alone isn’t enough for the audience to accurately interpret the meaning. What we need is background information. 

With enough background information, we will know why certain characters glanced at each other or why the anime focuses on a specific character at a particular section of the song. Maybe a character had trouble playing the particular part so the camera focuses on her, maybe two characters fight to play the solo part, maybe a character plays in an ensemble for the first time. Just by focusing on certain characters at the right moment, given that we know the stories of the characters prior to the performances, we get to derive meaning out of it. Sound! Euphonium does this in all of their performances, even the small practice sessions making them feel full and action packed.

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The best example is the rehearsal from the movie Liz and The Blue Bird. No words are spoken at all but we understand everything because of the visual presentation of the blue bird, Mizore’s sudden improvement in her oboe plays/with her oboe and Nozomi’s reaction towards Mizore’s play. Before this rehearsal, we are already exposed to the story of the blue bird, thus we have enough information to interpret how it resembles the relationship between Mizore, the oboe player and Nozomi, the flute player. Accompanied with the very beautiful play, it’s just perfect.

It also helps that all Sound Euphonium performances are not just static, still images like other music anime tend to be, so we get to see the characters play as if they’re really playing in front of us. Their hand movements, their breathing, they facial expression, all are explicitly shown to us. We don’t need to fill any gap with our own imagination. Kyoto Animation has done this since K-On. It’s quite impressive.

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Music performances in Sound! Euphonium is the main reason why I like it so much. I began comparing performances of other music anime with Sound! Euphonium but usually end up disappointed. I wish more music anime would follow what Sound! Euphonium did. Then again, I haven’t watched many music anime to begin with so I might stumble upon a great one in the future.

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5 thoughts on “Music Performances in Sound! Euphonium

  1. This was an interesting read. I wonder if they don’t show all the rehearsals because they are worried about it getting repetitive if the audience listens to the same piece through multiple rehearsals and performances. Or, maybe they just don’t want to put the time into creating the music in different forms to show its progress. Definitely something interesting to think about.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I honestly think it has much to do with budget. Or like you said, they just aren’t as creative.

      In terms of repetitiveness, it is actually very useful if used correctly. In fact, Sound Euphonium utilizes the fact that their rehearsals are repetitive. We listen to the same song over and over again over a period of time. But the catch here is that we get to see, or in this case listen to the progress made by the characters. We get to see how bad they were in the beginning and how good they’ve become in the end. And because of its repetitive nature, by the time of their actual performance, we already memorized the song, or at least parts of the song. So we experience the performance with enough knowledge of the song and see the final product of all the struggles the characters go through, specifically the struggles of them trying to perfect their plays. It makes everything feels more real!

      Liked by 1 person

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