Compose Yourself: The Mystery of Yoshiki

Perhaps it’s his storied background as one of Japan’s greatest rockstars or maybe his outlandish style that makes Yoshiki the unorthodox classical musician he is. Yet a deeper look into the musical depth of this heralded Japanese national treasure reveals an incredibly underrated composer.

Mainly known as the drummer and head of Japan’s biggest rock band, X Japan, Yoshiki has established himself as one of the country’s greatest living legends. Despite being a consistent arena-filler in his homeland even 30 years after the founding of X Japan, Yoshiki remains relatively unknown in the Western hemisphere in both traditional and pop-classical music.

However, his resume in classical music is near impeccable and almost equally impressive as his rockstar legacy. In his native homeland, Yoshiki has composed and performed orchestral pieces and piano concertos for the country’s biggest national celebrations including the 10th Anniversary Commemoration of the Japanese Emperor’s reign and the theme for the World Expo in Japan.

Yoshiki’s side-project, Yoshiki Presents Eternal Melody, remains one of Japan’s top-selling classical albums – easily rivaling sales of the most worldwide-renowned traditional and crossover classical artists in the region.


Yoshiki has already composed music for some of Hollywood’s biggest events including the Golden Globes. He is definitely on par with the commercial talents and success of New Age composer, Karl Jenkins.

His symphonic style of sound is most notable for the use of soaring strings, poignant piano notes, and expansive sweeping movements large in scope. Yoshiki’s majestic compositions are a merge between a John Williams’ movie score and the memorable melodic lines of video game composer Nobuo Uematsu. A recurring trend you will find is a sense of limitless beauty, a push to go higher; bigger.

To understand his music is to understand a man whose journey has taken him to the upper echelons of national fame with remaining grounded through his triumphs that he can translate the simplicity of ordinary life in his composing.

Returning to his classical foundations, Yoshiki is releasing a long awaited album entitled Yoshiki Classical later this month with collaborations including legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Quartet San Francisco. The new album continues Yoshiki’s trademark style of overarching landscape arrangements.

Beyond his classical achievements, Yoshiki has earned his way into the pop-culture lure. Comic book legend Stan Lee created the music superhero comic series Blood Red Dragon based on Yoshiki himself! Madame Tussaud created and unveiled the Yoshiki wax figure. And, the most unique tribute to Yoshiki is his dedicated Hello Kitty product line aptly titled, Yoshikitty.

Hear more of Yoshiki’s works including the first single “Miracle” off his upcoming album in Alto Riot’s Soundcloud set below:

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