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The International Shakuhachi Society

Sounds from Japan

Sounds from Japan

Yokoyama Katsuya
Ongaku no Tomo Sha Corp. - OMC 1921

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1   Kyôsôteki Nijûsô 協奏的二重奏 09'02 Yokoyama Katsuya

Koto and Shakuhachi contain, at the core of their tone quality and playing technique, the fundamental elements of the Japanese ear for music. When I wrote this music, I tried not to indulge myself in the Japanese elements. It might have destroyed the world peculiar to Koto and Shakuhachi, or might have created some new world. I hoped, of course, to give birth to something new. The two instruments stimulate each other to produce new themes one after another, until they quietly return to the first theme to end the music. This work was composed at the request of Japan Broadcasting Corporation in 1969, and first performed by Reibo Aoki and Tadao Sawai in the same year. (Yoshiro Irino)
2   Sue no Chigiri 末の契 14'00 Yokoyama Katsuya

The poem written by Jiroemon Takahide Mitsui alias Meikyo Korakuen of Kyoto, was composed by Matsuura Kengyo for "Sangen tune" and further, Yaezaki Kengyo changed it into Koto tune. This is said to be the best of Matsuura Kengyo's works. This poem expresses the sentiment of love on the plea of the boat drifting on the waves. The melody is graceful, natural and classical. This time, it is played only by Shakuhachi and Koto. (Mikiko Haga)
3   Midare Rinzetsu 07'29 Yokoyama Katsuya

This tune was composed by Yatsuhashi Kengyo (Kengyo is one of the ranks of Buddhist priests) who is said to have established the Koto tune, died at the age of 72 in 1685. Meanwhile, in Western world, two great masters Bach and Handel were born in the same year. This tune, like "Rokudan" and "Hachidan", which can be categorized as "Dan-mono" or "Shirabe-mono", is Koto solo music without words. Generally, Dan-mono consists of several Dans and each Dan is fixed at a total of 52 beats. The tempo gradually gets up speed Dan by Dan and calms down at the final phrase of the last Dan. But this Midare is an exception of "Dan-mono", because the number of beats of each Dan is not fixed and the tempo suddenly calms down midway, for which it is named "Midare" (disorder). When we listen to this tune, we are impressed by the composer's passion for Koto. (Mikiko Haga)
4   Nocturne for Koto and Shakuhachi 10'58 Yokoyama Katsuya

For me, the tone of the Koto is much like the pulse of life, and that of the Shakuhachi like the wind. In composing this music, I tried to present these two instruments not only as vehicles of melody and rhythm, but also as something to depict nature, while expressing our inner life through their sounds' dynamics and shade. Though employing the traditional Japanese mode, insempo (as compared to the Phrygian mode), I attempted to make some alterations to give it a more modern feeling. First performed with Koto and Shakuhachi played by Chieko Mori and myself in July 1985, the piece has since undergone some revision. (lchiro Seki)
5   Shingetsu 心月 05'49 Yokoyama Katsuya

This is a Shakuhachi honkyoku. "Kofuke-sect", named after Fuke Zenshi, one of Zen priests of Tang era of China, which makes it priests' duty to blow Shakuhachi, is one of the Buddhist sects peculiar to Japan. Shakuhachi players called Fuke-sect followers or Komuso who came from the Samurai clan used to go on a walking tour throughout the country blowing Shakuhachi in the search of reaching the stage of deliverance of soul. This is the song of their hearts and has been handed down by such Buddhists. The composer and the date of composition are unknown, therefore. Shingetsu is characterized by long phrase. Whenever I play this tune, I wish I could breathe twice as long as usual. This is a small but great tune. (Katsuya Yokoyama)
6   Maboroshi wo Oute 幻を追うて 11'51 Yokoyama Katsuya

This tune was composed by Kazuko Chikushi at the end of 1945, based on the Japanese poems by Takeko Kujo. It is said that Kazuko Chikushi, who had sympathy with these Waka poems of Takeko Kujo as a female, couldn't help shedding tears, while she was composing it. This tune is filled with the notes that express the pure heartedness, agony and yearning hidden in the female's mind. (Katsuya Yokoyama)

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018