Ensemble Concert

September 25, 2001, Kasseler Sparkasse, Kassel, Germany

September 26, 2001, Altonaer Museum, Hamburg, Germany

In Kassel as well as in Hamburg was one ensemble concert "Tradition and Modernity from Japan". The ensemble concert had court music-character with usual duration of concert. The first part before the break comprised traditional Japanese music and contemporary Japanese music after the break (traditional Japanese instruments with computer music).

The ensemble concerts were integral elements of the whole project "Human Supervision and Control in Engineering and Music".

The ensemble concert in Hamburg was arranged together with the conservatory of Hamburg (Prof. Eberhard Schmitz).

The performing musicans:

  • Genzan Miyoshi Shakuhachi
  • Akiko Miyoshi Koto
  • Tamani Tano Sho
  • Yoichi Nagashima Computer 

Traditional and Modern Music from Japan

"Hirajyo no Choshi" (Sho solo) - Traditional Gagaku
Choushi is a piece which exists for all modes of gagaku (the court music in Japan since 7th century) , usually played at the beginning of a performance. "Hyojyo" is the mode which is the equivalent of Dorian species on E (e f# g a b c# d ). According to ancient cosmology, "hyojyo" is associated with the direction west, the color white, the element metal, and the season autumn. The choshi introduces the characteristic of the mode to follow and tune the tonal atmosphere of the whole space. 
"Sho" is a wind instrument of the "gagaku" orchestra. The shape of the "sho" takes the image of a phoenix and the tone symbolizes the light of heaven in a tradition. The special features of this instrument are the sound character and the sound generating system. "Sho" makes a very rich, sound, the peak of frequency is over 60 kHz and it gives a fascinating sound character with complex overtones. On the other hand, the "sho" makes sound when both breathing in and out. It gives the sequence of physical information to music. (Tono and Nagashima approached this unique system into communicating with a multimedia performance).

"Tsuru no Sugomori" (Shakuhachi solo) - composed 500 years ago
This piece was composed about 500 years ago, the name of the composer is unknown. There are many versions of arrangements in Japan, and the "Nakao Tozan" version was performed. The theme is the whole life of the crane (Tsuru in Japanese), from birth of thecrane, growth with parents, departure of the child, and death of the crane parents. This story is a metaphor of human life, parental love and love, of the family.
The Shakuhachi was intorduced to Japan from China more than 1400 years ago. It is said that Shotokutaishi played it for the first time. The particular sound produced from the five holes seduces even the foreigners, and there are some professional foreign players. This is a wonderful musical instrument to know Japanese culture and to keep our health.

"Midare" (Koto solo) - composed 350 years ago
This piece was composed by Yatsuhashi Kengyo, and using the traditional tuning called "Hira-choshi". "Midare" belongs to the group "Shirebe-mono"(Dan-mono) which have 52 beats per block. There are many Dan-mono pieces with 6 blocks, 8 blocks, 9 blocks, etc, but this "Midare" specially breaks the rule, having free beats and blocks with the improvisation of the performer.
In the Nara Era(8th century), the Koto was brought from China as one of the instruments used in Gagaku. In the Edo Era, a remakable musician called Yatsuhashi Kengyo (maestro) established the Rokudan and Midare styles of Koto playing, these styles are still the basis of Japanese Koto playing until today. Incidentally, in the year Yatsuhashi died, Bach and Handel were born.

"Ichikotsu" (Shakuhachi and Koto) - Traditional
This piece, for Shakuhachi and Koto Duo, was composed by Yamamoto Houzan in 1966. There are three sections, and the whole tuning is based on D (Ichi-Kotsu). This is a duo piece, but the Koto part may be performed as a Koto solo piece. There are many traditional techniques of performances, such as Sukui-Tsume, Kakite in the Koto part. Section 1 (Adagio - Moderato) starts with Koto solo and introduction of this piece, then metamorphoses freely. Section 2 (Largo - Adagio) Starting with Shakuhachi solo using a specially diatonic scale, and continues to the main part of the piece. This is different from Japanese traditional feeling, but the character of the instruments enables the speciality. Section 3 (Moderato - Allegro) contains the same motif as the first section.

"Bio-Cosmic Storm II" (BioSensor and live Computer) - premiere 
This piece was composed and performed by the composer Yoichi Nagashima with a new original bio-sensor system produced by the composer. The sensor system, called "MiniBioMuse-III" is a 16-channels EMG sensor for both arms detecting the musical performance in real-time. The output information is live-processed and genarates sounds with Max/MSP and Kyma signal processing engines. The main theme of this piece and development is improvisation and reality of life (live). The graphical part of this piece helps the recognition between performance and sound, so this is one style of multimedia art.

"Visional Legend" (Sho, Graphics and live Computer)
Visional Legend" is a work of live computer music and live graphics with a Sho performer, composed by Yoichi Nagashima. This composition was inspired with the poem written by Shimpei Kusano and the Sho sounds were performed by Tamami Tono. The Sho sound was directly amplified and was real-time processed by a Kyma signal processing workstation with live control via MIDI. The Sho performer may control the "special breath sensor for SHO" produced by the composer, and the sensing information also modifies the live Sho sound part.
The background sound part was pre-processed with Kyma and Indy, and fixed to CD. All sound materials of this part are Sho sound performed by Tamami Tono and reading speech of the poem by Junya Sasaki (Baritone). The graphical part of this piece is created by two young collaborators, Masumi Ooyama and Misaki Kato. The source images and movies were live controlled with Image/ine software. The Sho performer may switch the graphics with the special Sho sensor. The algorithm of real-time composition and graphical control is realized as a MAX patch. The Sho performance is described in this score, but the most important policy is the "improvisation". The performer may have a Stop Watch to detect the position of the piece with this score, but playing points are not fixed exactly. She may perform with the improvisation spirit of her own, and she must listen to the sound in the whole performance.

"Getsuro" (Shakuhachi solo) - premiere
This piece, Shakuhachi sole, is composed and performed by Genzan Miyoshi as the world premiere. This music tells the calm feeling of Kyoto in autumn, and was performed partly with improvisation of the performer.

"tegoto" (Koto and live Computer) - premiere
This piece "tegoto" was composed by Yoichi Nagashima for Akiko Miyoshi  and was performed by her with 13-strings Koto and 17-strings Koto. This version for only 13-strings Koto is the revised version of this, and was premiered. There were no "recorded" sounds, so all sounds were played and processed in real-time. Some sounds were live-sampled by the composer beside the stage, algorithmically processed in the time-domain, and effected. The title "tegoto" means one style of Japanese traditional music with Koto, Shamisen, and Shakuhachi. The concept of this piece is the virtual "tegoto" conversation in computer music with the traditional instrument. Under the composer's request, the performer may play with full improvisation.

"Japanesque Germanium" (all 4 players) - premiere 
This piece was specially composed by Yoichi Nagashima for this ensemble's concert tour in Germany. There are some special scenes for Shakuhachi, Sho and Koto performer. The computer part was not fixed, and it was real-time composed with environmental parameters detected by sensors. Germanium is a kind of semiconductor, and its conjunction is the basis of the electronics technology. Of course, this naming means the friendship between Japanese culture and German culture in music.