Remembering Iwata

Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo Co., Ltd., poses after Nintendo's E3 presentation of their new Nintendo 3DS at the E3 Media & Business Summit in Los AngelesSatoru Iwata died on July 11th of 2015 and that made me pretty sad. The former CEO of Nintendo, and programer for such classic franchises as Super Smash Brothers, Pokémon, and Kirby, was a person who started with a love of coding and turned it into smiles on the faces of millions of people all over the planet. His influence on my life has been profound.

I decided to write a piece of music in his memory. My goals were to capture the easy going joy he brought to his games, with his belief that the best games are ones that everyone can enjoy. There’s a lot of arguing in art music and jazz about if it’s good or bad for the music to “dumb down” in an attempt to appeal to the greater listening public. I’ll try to go Iwata’s route, the that says the smartest design is one that anyone can appreciate. Fingers crossed, let’s hope I manage.

So my composition, named Iwata in his honour, is something I’m setting for the jazz band EMS that’s co-lead by my good friend Marie Goudy. It’s a 12 piece band, 3 saxes, 5 brass, and 4 rhythm. The goal for my arrangement is to communicate as clearly as possible the mood of the piece I’m attempting to achieve. I’m going for a breezy, optimistic, and light hearted samba. I’m tying my best to look at every note and phrase and ask if they help or hinder communicating that feeling to the listener. I don’t believe I need to compromise on harmonic or melodic language, or simplify texture or meter, rather I’m trying to use the fullest pallet possible to accomplish that goal. We’ll see how it goes, the listener is the ultimate judge after all.

The arrangement is going well so far. The simple song it’s based upon is going to debut on the 2nd of October during the launch party for In a Flash. You’ll have a chance to hear the 12 tet arrangement on the 19th of October at 9:30 pm at the Rex Hotel in Toronto. I hope you’ll take the time to check the music out, and remember the contribution of a man who left the world a happier place. Rest In Peace Satoru Iwata, we never met but I’m going to miss you.