Known worldwide as Kitarō 喜多郎 aka Masanori Takahashi, he is lesser known as Deva Setu, having become a sannyasin during the seventies.
He is a composer and multi-instrumentalist and regarded as a pioneer of New Age music. After graduating from university, Kitarō moved to Tokyo to experience and become a part of the music scene, and it was there that he discovered the synthesizer. His first synthesizer was analog, and he recalls having “just loved the analog sound that it made compared to today’s digital sound.”
His parents were first opposed to the idea of their son having a musical career. In an effort to maneuver him towards their vision, they made arrangements for him to take a job at a local company. In return, he left home without telling them. He supported himself by taking on several part-time jobs such as cooking and civil service work, while composing songs at night.
In the early 1970s, he changed completely to keyboards. He joined the Japanese music group Far East Family Band which was formed in 1965, and toured with them around the world. While in Europe, he met the German electronica and former Tangerine Dream member Klaus Schulze who produced two albums for the band and gave Kitaro some tips for controlling synthesizers. In 1976, Kitarō left Far East Family Band and travelled through Asia – China, Laos, Thailand, and India.
He began his solo career in 1977; highlights include the Silk Road series, collaborations with Mickey Hart, Jon Anderson, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for his soundtrack for the movie Heaven & Earth.
Kitarō’s music has long been recognized for its messages of peace and spirituality. In the wake of 9/11, he began recording Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai, a series of peace-themed albums inspired by the Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage, the travel of Kūkai more than 1100 years ago and which garnered 11 Grammy nominations. The four volumes in the album series were released in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2011, respectively. The event of September 11 occurred while he was en route from Japan to Los Angeles. Kitarō’s flight was diverted to Honolulu for five days, during which time the conceptual endeavor, which he envisioned as an artistic means to help unify people globally, first took shape. Every track on the 4 volumes of Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai contains samples from ancient Japanese temple bells (Peace Bells) from 88 sacred temples on the island of Shikoku, Japan.
When asked about his music, he once said, “I never had education in music, I just learned to trust my ears and my feelings.” He credits ‘powers beyond himself’ for his music, saying, “This music is not from my mind. It is from heaven, going through my body and out my fingers through composing. Sometimes I wonder. I never practice. I don’t read or write music, but my fingers move. I wonder, ‘Whose song is this?’ I write my songs, but they are not my songs.”
This recent composition invokes Himalayan mountain peaks.