Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Where are they now? - Jun Chikuma

Jun Chikuma
Jun Chikuma - Composer of many Bomberman games

Does this track sound familiar to you?




It might sound a little bit different to the original 8-bit version but this is actually a most choicest cover of the Bomberman theme which had its first (very repetitive) incarnation in the original 1985 game. While I vaguely remember playing the original game on some old console at a family friend's place (I think it was called a Pegasus - a rip-off of the Famicom) the Bomberman game I spent the most time with was the 1990 version that came to DOS and was also known as Dyna Blaster. I always loved the different variations of the main theme you would listen to while playing Dyna Blaster and it was all thanks to a Japanese woman named Jun Chikuma (aka June Chikuma).

There's not much information out there on Chikuma's life (and I suspect if there is, it'll all be in Japanese). What we do know is that she spent the 1980s and 1990s composing music for many Hudson Soft games. Overall, she's composed music for over 30 games with around half of them being Bomberman titles!

In the early 90s, Chikuma became interested in studying the Arabic Nay, an ancient Middle Eastern flute. She received instruction on how to play the instrument and how to compose Tunisian music from Prof. Slaheddine El Manaa of l'Institut Superieur de Musique de Tunis. She also learned the Oud (an Arabian lute) and Egyptian music under Prof. Ali Sriti as well as the Qanun (a Middle Eastern zither) under Zakia Hannashi from the same Institute.

It seems she eventually stopped becoming a full-time game composer to pursue her passion in Middle Eastern music and at some point she became part of an Arabic music ensemble called "Le Club Bachraf". They released an album in 2000 and another in 2013.

Throughout the 2000s until now, Chikuma performed many concerts in the Middle East in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain. She also became a part-time lecturer of the Kokushikan University in 2006.

So does she still compose music for video games? Well she is still quite active with social media and while most of her posts are about Arabic music (she does have a website called "Arab-Music" after all) she does occasionally post stuff about video games and her soundcloud page has various remixes of game tunes she originally composed! I thoroughly recommend you check them out as it just goes to show how diverse she can be when it comes to her musical styles.

LINKS:
[ Arab-Music: June Chikuma's Official Website ]
[ Wikipedia: Jun Chikuma ]
[ MobyGames: Jun Chikuma ]
[ Soundcloud: June Chikuma ]

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