Manami Matsumae (松前 真奈美), was born on December 25th, 1964 as Manami Goto (後藤 真奈美). She was influenced by music at an early age because her father played acoustic guitar to her as a child to help her sleep. When she was able to accompany him simply playing by ear on organ, he decided she should take piano lessons. She attended the Osaka University of Arts, where she studied piano and graduated in 1987.
In her fourth year at university, Matsumae saw a notice from Capcom looking to hire composers, and, being a fan of early Famicom games, went for an interview. In April, 1987, at the age of 22, she was hired by Capcom to work on the audio team. After taking a couple months to get acquainted with the complex system of making audio for the Famicom, Matsumae was told in August that she was going to be the sole audio producer for Mega Man (NES), and they needed all the music and sound effects completed by November to meet the December release.
Matsumae stayed at Capcom until she left in January, 1990, at the age of 25, in order to become a freelance composer. She composed numerous soundtracks for ASCII, and HAL Laboratory, as well as various other indie companies. Matsumae can play keyboards (pianos, synthesizers, etc.), but no other instruments. She is married to Kimitaka Matsumae who is also a video game musician.
Matsumae said that, rather than use pop music of the day or music from other video games, she used images from the games she worked on as inspiration for her composition process. However, some of her favorite bands include Queen, Pat Metheny Group, Mezzoforte, Maurice Ravel, Muse, and Nikolai Kapustin.
In more recent years, Matsumae has approached independent game developers to compose music, and has said that her work on Shovel Knight was the most enjoyable experience, partially because of the nostalgia factor of working with retro sounds. Matsumae has explained that she prefers working with indie companies because there is more flexibility, and it's a more cozy environment.
At MAGFest 2016, Matsumae was asked her opinion of the 1994 Mega Man cartoon, especially her opinion of the title music, but Matsumae admitted that she had never seen the show or even knew of its existence.
While Matsumae is best known for her fast-tempo music from action games, she prefers to compose slower melodic music. She has suggested that, to deal with writer's block, she will take a day off and clear her head without thinking about composition.
At a Q&A panel at MAGFest 2016, Matsumae was asked if she had any advice for female composers trying to make it in a male-dominated field. While she prefaced her answer saying that she doesn't like to give advice, and isn't sure it would work, she suggested making sure companies sees your talent as a composer.
Despite a career spanning 30 years, Matsumae doesn't believe her approach to composition has changed music over the years. She still tries to make catchy music fitting the game. And although hardware improvements have greatly increased the number of channels a composer can work with, she tries to limit herself to 12-13 so as to not cause problems with too much freedom.
Manami used HAL Laboratory's sound driver by Hiroaki Suga.
Manami used a sound engine programmed by Yoshihiro Sakaguchi. This was a difficult task because she had to program the music in 6502 assembly. According to Manami, she first worked on Ide Yousuke Meijin no Jissen Mahjong, composing one song as an audition for the Capcom staff, who later decided to let her work on Mega Man because of her song.
During a Q&A panel at MAGFest 2016, Matsumae explained that, of all the hardware she wrote music for, she found the SNES chip to be the most cumbersome. Not because of the technology so much as that it only uses samples, and she doesn't like working with samples. She does, however, love the string samples often used with the SNES APU.
Mighty No. 9
Matsumae has explained that her composition of the title music had to be made early in the development process in order to be included in the trailer. So, she composed the song with only single drawing of the main character as inspiration. Of the finished soundtrack, her favorite song is the factory stage music.
The nickname "Manami Ietel", found in the credits of Mega Man I and II, comes from Matsumae's tendency to say to her superiors and elders, "Sore, ietemasune!" ("Exactly!" in Japanese). Without her knowledge, one of the programmers extrapolated the "iete" part of the phrase to "Ietel" for her nickname.
The nickname "Chanchacorin" comes from Matsumae's usage of Japanese honorific, "chan" rather than "san." Chan is popular in the Osaka dialect and is used when the speaker wants to express that they find the other person endearing (popular toward children or the elderly). Matsumae has explained that the designers were originally going to use the alias "chan chan," but settled on "chanchacorin".
With George Clinton. From her Facebook page, posted: 2015-04-02.
Performing a Mighty No.9 concert at MAG Fest. February 19th, 2016.
Band and crowd after Mighty No.9 concert at MAGFest 2016.
- facebook.com/manami.matsumae - Facebook page.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manami_Matsumae - Wikipedia.
- youtube.com/watch?v=ETPx7WD2Zlk - Interview about Mighty No. 9.
- mightyno9.com/en/20150130 - Work on Mighty No. 9.
- youtube.com/watch?v=el_JrtIdLBc - Another interview about Mighty No. 9.
- youtube.com/watch?v=Hk--bSR0pzg - More of the interview about the music of Mighty No. 9.
- youtube.com/watch?v=Y__usQbGA5M - Discussing working in the 1980s with Yoko Shimomura.
- persol-tech-s.co.jp/i-engineer/human/chanchacolin - Interview (Japanese).