A signature instrumental piece from the Hayao Miyazaki animated film Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), the composition ‘Merry-Go-Round of Life‘ begins with a gentle piano melody and gradually builds with the addition of strings and other instruments.
Joe Hisaishi, whose team shared this piano visualization on his YouTube channel, has been a renowned Japanese composer with Studio Ghibli for almost four decades. While the video takes a contemporary approach to visualizing notes, the keys vibrate with drawn outlines that are familiar to Miyazaki’s nostalgia-driven movies.
The poignant composition’s swells of delight and wonder are combined with minor chords, acknowledging the passage of time and inevitable change. From The Spool:
“Miyazaki’s fables typically take the viewpoint of a child, but Howl’s Moving Castle is one of his few vehicles to explore old age. The 18-year-old protagonist magically trapped inside the body of a 90-year-old woman gave the then 60-year-old director a chance to have his main character complain of an aching back…
“One of the central ideas in fairy tales is metamorphosis: handsome princes secreted away in the body of frogs, geese who transmute eggs into gold. Howl’s Moving Castle has enough metamorphoses to make Ovid’s head spin — most of the major characters are under some kind of form-shifting spell. The trope of the prince imprisoned in another body occurs here, but many of the characters’ transformations are more mysterious and psychological…”
Hisaishi has composed the music for nearly all of Ghibli’s films, including some of its most iconic works such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke. His deep understanding of the studio’s themes and style has made his music inseparable from Ghibli’s storytelling.
Watch more piano visualizations on TKSST, including:
• Chopin, Étude, opus 25 no. 1, A-flat major
• Classical piano music comes alive with light visualizations
• Andy Fillebrown’s Audiosculptures: Flight of the Bumblebee
Bonus: Ghibli’s Gentoro at the Toyama Glass Art Museum.
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