Manami Matsumae Profile

Also Known As:
松前真奈美 (まつまえまなみ) / 後藤 真奈美 / Manami Goto / Manami Gotoh / Cha Cha / Chanchacorin / Chanchacorin Manami / Manami Ietel
Date of Birth:
December 25, 1964 (Kyoto)
Residence:
Tokyo
Game Works:
Resident Evil, Mega Man, Devil May Cry 4
Official Site:
N/A

History

Organisation Type Tenure Role
Capcom Game Developer 1987 – 1990 Composer, Sound Designer
Freelance N/A 1990 – Composer, Sound Designer
Koopa Soundworks Music Production 2013 – Artist

 

Biography

Manami Matsumae (née Gotoh) is a veteran game music composer best known for her works on the Mega Man and Derby Stallion series. Born on December 25, 1964 in Kyoto, Matsumae surprised her father with her perfect pitch — she was able to perfect imitate tunes using an Electone organ at the age of just four. As a result, she was given piano lessons throughout her childhood and went on to do a performance major in the instrument at the prestigious Osaka University of Arts. While there, she also received classical training in composition, focusing particularly on Bach harmony. As she approached graduation, Matsumae considered her career options. While she initially intended to become a piano teacher, she was intrigued to read an advertisement that Capcom were hiring game composers. Having already admired the music of Super Mario Bros. and Dragon Quest, she thought such work would be interesting and successfully applied for the position. Starting work in April 1987, Matsumae was initially trained in various aspects of video game sound creation by the sound team’s manager Yoshihiro Sakaguchi. She marked her debut by creating a classically-styled track on Ide Yosuke Meijin no Jissen Mahjong.

Matsumae was subsequently appointed to compose the music and create the sound effects for the entirety of the NES’ Mega Man, the first entry in a legendary franchise. The designers of the Blue Bomber made her envisage a cool character similar to Astro Boy. As a result, she filled the score with stylish and memorable melodies, just like composers did for heroic animations. Matsumae found the work exceptionally difficult, given the NES only featured three sound channels, but felt a definite sense of accomplishment on completing each track. She found revisiting Bach’s three-voiced compositions from The Well-Tempered Clavier especially inspiring and also took relieving breaks from composition to create sound effects. After this, she helped to port Legendary Wings to the NES and penned a boss theme for 1943 Kai on Arcades, before writing a light pop-flavoured soundtrack for the TurboGrafx-16 platformer SonSon II. Transferred thereafter to Capcom’s highly successful arcade division, Matsumae was replaced by Takashi Tateishi on Mega Man 2 and Yasuaki Fujita on Mega Man 3. She nevertheless secretly penned the chorus of Airman’s theme for the sequel, at request from her bench partner Tateishi, and left a legacy for her colleagues with her music for the original.

At the arcade division, Matsumae initially reflected the intense action and ancient setting of 1989’s Dynasty Wars (aka The Devouring of Heaven and Earth) with a rich, hard-edged soundtrack. By contrast, her scores for the modern military shooters U.N. Squadron (aka Area 88) and Carrier Air Wing (aka U.S. Navy) focused on courageous funk- and rock-based tracks reminiscent of Top Gun. Given arcade hardware had more flexible specifications than the NES, Matsumae was able to produce thicker, longer tracks on such titles — even offering pitch-bends to give a sense of improvisation. While at the division, she also contributed to two quiz titles and Ashita Tenki Ni Naare. The artist was also extensively involved in Capcom’s album releases, offering well-received arrangements of Strider, Sweet Home and several of her own works, under the pseudonym Chanchacolin. During the making of ’G.S.M. Capcom’ arcade music compilations, she worked alongside her future husband, Pony Canyon contractor Kimitaka Matsumae. Closing her time at the company, Matsumae was responsible for all the music and sound effects of Mercs (aka Wolf of the Battlefield II) and Magic Sword; the artist matched the ambitious visuals and fast-paced gameplay of both titles with meaty, vibrant soundtracks.

After a prolific and successful three years at Capcom, Matsumae left the company in January 1990 to pursue roles as a freelance composer and married shortly thereafter. Shoftly thereafter, she was invited to write music for ASCII’s simulation title Best Horse Racing: Derby Stallion by Hiroyuki Sonobe. Already an expert in NES composition, thanks to her Mega Man roles, she wrote simple but elegant compositions and sound effects for the title. After seeing the screens, Matsumae decided to fill the soundtrack with classical and pastoral tunes. After the original game was well-received, Matsumae maintained a similar approach on the larger-scale sequel Derby Stallion: National Edition, filled with dazzling waltzes and marches. Also for the NES, she wrote soundtracks for the sports games Best Play Pro Baseball Special, Honoo no Doukyuuji: Dodge Danpei, and Sanrio Cup: Pon Pon Volley. Having developed an industry reputation for being able to convey so much with so little, she was also invited to write ten tracks for Konami’s Esper Dream 2 alongside Shigemasa Matsuo; marking her first work on an RPG, she carefully matched her music to a range of scenes in the game.

With the NES phasing out, the switched her attention to the Game Boy, another technologically limiting console. She established a long-running relationship with SunSoft with the soundtrack to the light-hearted platformer Trip World; even with just a 4-bit, 4-channel sound chip to work with, she phrased her compositions to create plenty of mood and also wrote inspired drum lines to drive her tracks forward. Also for the console, she wrote the soundtracks for the well-received licensed video games Looney Tunes, Batman: Return of the Joker, and Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions, blending familiar stylings and themes from the franchises with her own streamlined, melody-driven approaches. Facilitated by her husband, she was also asked to score handheld editions of several established franchises on behalf of Dice, offering: cool jazz stylings on the casino simulation Vegas Stakes, fun quirky stage tunes for the puzzler Adventures of Lolo, and dark sinister soundscapes on the Megami Tensei spinoff Another Bible. Alongside her husband, she also composed the diverse orchestral score for the critically acclaimed Japan-only G-O-D: Awake the Voice Commands on the Super Nintendo.

Between such roles, Matsumae continued to score new titles for the Derby Stallion series. She wrote the music of the four iterations of the series for the SNES and Derby Stallion EX for the PC-9801. Given the soundtracks for the original games was so well-received by Sonobe and fans alike, the music for these titles maintained a similar direction; nevertheless, the relatively flexible SPC chip enabled her to increase the number of voices and enhance the tone colours. With the series’ popularity enduring in Japan, Matsumae went on to pen soundtracks for the two PlayStation versions of the game, recording with full orchestra for an album release. In other roles, the artist reunited with SunSoft on the puzzle title The Shanghai, made a brief return to arcade scoring on the fantasy shooter Pilot Kids,and, in one of her fondest projects to date, handled most aspects of the sound production for Fun! Fun! Pingu. Around the same time, she wrote arrangements for the Akumajo Dracula MIDI Collection and Street Fighter Tribute Album that stayed faithful to the intention of the originals. She also continued to take roles on portable games, having scored Derby Stallion and Best Play Pro Baseball for the Game Boy Advance in 2002.

Matsumae has been less active in the years since. She has admitted that she has found it tough to find new assignments and has often felt sidelined in favour of younger composers. Returning to prominence in 2007, she was invited to score the Wii’s Dragon Quest Swords by Koichi Sugiyama, becoming the second person to ever compose for the series. At his request, she maintained the series’ classically-oriented orchestral style throughout the score, while placing an emphasis on strong, memorable melodies. Matsumae was also delighted to be invited to contribute to Mega Man 9’s arranged album and Mega Man 10’s original score, both of which brought together composers from across the series’ history; whereas she penned a jazzy electronica spin on the former’s Dr. Wily Stage 2, she produced a more classic-styled track for the latter’s Nitro Man Stage. Most recently, she wrote the theme song and incidental tracks to portray Manaka Takane on the dating simulator Love Plus and Love Plus +. In the past year, she has also recently signed as an artist for independent music studio Koopa Soundworks. Through this company, she is penning a special chiptune track for the album World 1-2 EP and is supplementing the Jake Kaufman’s soundtrack to indie game Shovel Knight with two tracks.

References:

– Various Game & Album Credits

Group Interview with Game Music Online (English, November 2010)
Individual Interview with Game Music Online (English, November 2010)
Interview with Koopa Soundworks (English, February 2013)

© Biography by Chris Greening (April 2013). Last updated on April 13, 2013. Do not republish without formal permission.

Posted on April 13, 2013 by Chris Greening. Last modified on March 21, 2014.

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About the Author

Chris Greening

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewing hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!



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