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Lachlan Skipworth

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Music (Composition) Sydney Conservatorium of Music University of Sydney 2010

I declare that the research presented here is my own original work and has not been submitted to any other institution for the award of a degree.

Signed: …………………………………………………………………………… Date: ……………………………………………………………………………….


0. Abstract In cross-cultural musical fusion the incorporation of a musical “other� into a compositional style requires sensitivity in maintaining the integrity of the original source and creativity in its presentation within a new context. This thesis, presented in a portfolio of compositions and written exegesis, illustrates the influence of honkyoku, the traditional repertoire of the shakuhachi, the Japanese end-blown flute in the development of a personal musical language. The exegesis argues that my compositional work relies both upon my background in performing shakuhachi and an understanding of the aesthetic concepts underlying the honkyoku repertoire. This response is explained via a detailed analysis of my work aida for vocal sextet. The techniques devised to recreate two facets of honkyoku, meri and ma, show how by seeking to integrate this aesthetic into my musical language, I have begun to create a uniquely personal musical style which blends Japanese and Western influence. The portfolio of compositions is accompanied by a CD of public performances of all of the works presented.



1. INTRODUCTION................................................................................................7 2. BACKGROUND. ...............................................................................................10 2.1. SHAKUHACHI AND THE HONKYOKU REPERTOIRE..............................................10 2.2. AN OVERVIEW OF THE PORTFOLIO OF COMPOSITIONS. ......................................13 2.3. THE CALLIGRAPHY OF AIDA MITSUO. .............................................................14 3. JAPANESE AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES AS SEEN IN SHAKUHACHI HONKYOKU AND THE CALLIGRAPHY OF AIDA MITSUO.........................17 3.1. WABI-SABI. .....................................................................................................17 3.1.1. Imperfection. ..........................................................................................18 3.1.2. Incompleteness. ......................................................................................19 3.1.3. Impermanence. .......................................................................................20 3.2. DUALITY........................................................................................................21 3.3. MA AND RELATIVE SPACE. ..............................................................................21 3.4. MA AS A SEQUENTIAL PROGRESSION THROUGH TIME OR SPACE.........................22 4. MERI AND MA: TWO IMPORTANT FEATURES OF SHAKUHACHI HONKYOKU AND HOW THEY HAVE BEEN RECREATED IN AIDA...........25 4.1.1. Meri – technical explanation. .................................................................25 4.1.2. Meri - from aesthetic understanding to recreation and synthesis.............27 4.2.1. Ma – the performer’s considerations. .....................................................29 4.2.2. Ma - issues of incorporating free time.....................................................32 4.3. MA AS A SEQUENTIAL PROGRESSION................................................................37 4.3.1. Melody. ..................................................................................................38 4.3.2. Harmony. ...............................................................................................39 4.3.3. Timbre....................................................................................................41 4.3.4. Time. ......................................................................................................42 4.3.5. Text. .......................................................................................................43 4.3.6. Coda.......................................................................................................44 5. A CLOSER EXAMINATION OF THE WORKS IN THE PORTFOLIO IN RELATION TO THE TECHNIQUES DEVISED FOR AIDA. ...........................46 6. CONCLUSION. .................................................................................................52 APPENDIX 1. A SIMULTANEOUS SEQUENTIAL ANALYSIS OF THE MUSICAL ELEMENTS OF AIDA. ......................................................................53 APPENDIX 2. A SIMPLIFIED REDUCTION OF THE HARMONIC TRAJECTORY IN AIDA. .....................................................................................55 APPENDIX 3. KANJI CHARACTERS FOR JAPANESE TERMS. ..................56 BIBLIOGRAPHY..................................................................................................57



During the final stages of the preparation of this thesis and portfolio, I received the sad news that one of my shakuhachi teachers, Yokoyama Katsuya passed away. Yokoyama-sensei was a pioneer in bringing the shakuhachi to a western audience, famously premiering Takemitsu’s November Steps in New York in 1967. During the year and a half I spent as his student, his advice had a resounding effect not only on my shakuhachi playing, but also on my ideas about composition and approach to life in general. I am deeply grateful to have met such an inspirational figure, and it is my hope that some of Yokoyama-sensei’s spirit can be glimpsed in the writings in this paper and the accompanying portfolio of compositions. I also extend my gratitude to Anne Boyd, whose support, encouragement, and thoughtful advice has been excellent throughout. In appreciation of this, one of the compositions in the portfolio, light rain, is dedicated to her.




Lachlan Skipworth

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Music (Composition) Sydney Conservatorium of Music University of Sydney 2010


1. Introduction.

In this exciting age of mass communication, there is a far greater exposure to music of other cultures than ever before. Within unfamiliar musical traditions we find concepts and aesthetics entirely unlike our own, and these can be a valuable source of creative inspiration. Incorporating the influence of a musical “other” into one’s work is not a new phenomenon, however today we are able to delve far deeper than ever before due to the wealth of readily available information. With these new possibilities however, comes a corresponding set of responsibilities. The composer must be both receptive to the subtleties of different concepts they wish to use and innovative in their presentation of them in the creative product. To maintain the integrity of this “other”, both experience and understanding of the underlying philosophies are required to successfully assimilate the new concepts. The discussion in this paper of my vocal work aida will show how I have sensitively incorporated elements from a nonwestern tradition into my compositional style. The creative inspiration behind the works in this portfolio is the music of the shakuhachi, and in particular the honkyoku, 1 its traditional repertoire of solo pieces. I began playing shakuhachi in 2004, and much of my experience and knowledge stems from two and a half years of intense study in Japan, from 2005 to 2007. During my time of immersion in this ancient music, I came across two concepts in particular that I felt were quite alien to the western art music tradition. These are meri and ma, and relate to pitch and time respectively. Meri, the system of head movements allowed by the unique mouthpiece design of the shakuhachi, results in the pitches being uneven in dynamic and timbral qualities across the range of the instrument. Ma is a Japanese awareness of time or space as a relative concept unmeasured in an absolute sense. Returning to Australia, I sought to integrate these concepts in my compositions. However my experience of these, and the ability to recreate them physically in a performance sense, did not necessarily translate into the realms of composition. A 1

This paper will use the Hepburn system for the romanisation of Japanese kanji characters. A full list of

these kanji can be found in Appendix 3.


number of problems arose, as would be expected in trying to convey these concepts that were in some ways opposed to certain ideals of western classical music. The design of the western flute, for example, has been refined towards a goal of creating a uniform tone across its range without any perceptible irregularities. In contrast, the music of the honkyoku emphasises and exploits the unevenness resulting from the meri technique on shakuhachi. In addition, time in western art music is measured by counted beats, the speed of which is suggested in a tempo marking made by the composer. Honkyoku rarely have a counted beat as such, and the length of each note or phrase is variable within stylistically informed parameters. In order to bridge these barriers, it was necessary for me to view the honkyoku in the broader context of Japanese aesthetics. The Japanese ideals of beauty are readily identifiable in honkyoku, such as the music’s understated simplicity and the inclusion of “rough” sounds in contrast to smoother more refined tones. Examining meri and ma from an aesthetic viewpoint allowed an understanding from a different perspective, removed from that of the shakuhachi performer. Observation of creative responses to these ideals in other Japanese art forms suggested ways in which they could be adapted to a compositional approach. Chapter two of this paper begins by giving an introduction to the shakuhachi and its traditional honkyoku repertoire, giving the reader sufficient background to understand the elements that will be discussed in later chapters. Following this is an overview of the portfolio, showing why aida stands out as the most suitable work to be used as a demonstration of the portfolio as a whole. Additional to this will be a short discussion about the calligraphy of Aida Mitsuo, 2 the author of the text for aida. Chapter three gives an explanation of a number of important Japanese aesthetics and draws on honkyoku and Aida’s calligraphy as examples. Chapter four begins with an in-depth look at meri and ma, discussing first how they are conceived within the honkyoku tradition. Then I will show how the incorporation of these two concepts into my work was informed by the underlying aesthetic principles outlined in chapter three. Finally, an analysis of aida will reveal how I have arrived at a formal structure based on the sequential nature of considering space according to ma. It will be concluded that


In this paper, Japanese names will appear with the family name first, followed by the given name.


without both experience within and a strong understanding of the shakuhachi tradition combined with an appreciation of Japanese aesthetics, a successful integration of these ideas into my work would have been impossible.


2. Background. This Chapter will give a background to the important topics to be discussed in this paper. These include the shakuhachi, the honkyoku pieces, and the calligraphy of Aida Mitsuo. It will also include an overview to the portfolio of compositions and the relevance of each piece to the topic of this paper.

2.1. Shakuhachi and the honkyoku repertoire. The following section will give an introduction to the shakuhachi in order to prepare the reader for the analysis of my work to follow. The points discussed will be the instrument’s construction, its history, the traditional repertoire and the manner in which it is taught. I will also give a background to the school with which I have studied. Many kinds of end-blown bamboo flutes exist throughout Asia and the world, but the shakuhachi has developed in a way that makes it quite unique from its international counterparts. Throughout its history in Japan, it existed in a number of different styles and names before the current version became prominent in the Edo period (16031868). The shakuhachi since this time has had only 5 finger holes, four on the front and one on the back. Most distinctive is the design of the mouthpiece. It consists of a flat edge created by a single cut diagonally down from the end of the bamboo. This style of mouthpiece allows a far greater degree of freedom than other end-blown flutes. The pitch can be bent up a semitone or down more than a tone by using what is referred to as the meri technique. This inflection is made by changing the angle of the head to open and close the opening at the end of the flute just below the blowing edge. As will be outlined more fully in chapter 4, use of the meri technique also affects the dynamics and tone colour of the notes being played. When the freedom afforded by this technique is used in conjunction with half-closing and percussive pops of the large open finger holes, a vast array of startling extended techniques are possible.


The shakuhachi has been played in various contexts since it first appeared as a part of the court music ensemble, called gagaku. The first kind of shakuhachi was modelled on a similar flute imported from China, and “it flourished during the Heian Period [794-1185].”3 The music for which the shakuhachi is most well known today, however, and that which is most relevant to this paper, is the repertoire of honkyoku pieces. These pieces were composed anonymously by a group of wandering monks called komuso, who created to the fuke sect of Zen Buddhism. These komuso used the honkyoku pieces in the spiritual context of suizen, or “blowing meditation”.4 The breath of the player is central to the honkyoku pieces. By focussing on breathing, one could achieve the state of inward concentration required for the meditative practice of suizen. Furthermore, simply making and maintaining a sound on the instrument requires great concentration in itself. The resulting music consists largely of long tones, the length of which is flexible, interspersed by various stylised ornamental figures. Each phrase is stretched out to expend the entire breath of the player, which gives the music a floating and timeless quality. As the breath could change on any given day according a number of factors, the note lengths are not measured as an absolute value such as seconds or a number of beats. Rather, a relative concept called ma is used to measure time. In the honkyoku pieces, ma involves the unmeasured yet well proportioned arrangement of the ornamental figures and long tones within the flexible length of each phrase. This concept will be explained further in chapter 4.2.1. The variability of time is made possible due to the way the music is taught. As established by Lee, honkyoku “have been transmitted primarily through an oral tradition. ” 5 This occurs on two levels, through the modelling of the teacher and the discussion of concepts with the student. When studying a piece, the teacher demonstrates a phrase, and the student listens then plays it together with the teacher.


Malm, William P. Japanese Music and Musical Instruments (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1959), 152. Lee, Riley. "Yearning for the Bell : A Study of Transmission in the Shakuhachi Honkyoku Tradition." (Ph.D. diss., University of Sydney, 1994). Chapter 3 gives a historical background of the komuso, the fuke sect and suizen. Throughout the paper, Lee uses a more specific term, koten honkyoku to describe these pieces. In this paper, the term “honkyoku” will be used to describe the fuke pieces, in particular those of the school in which I studied, as will be discussed later in this section. 5 Lee, "Yearning for the Bell", 210. 4


The student then plays it alone, and is critiqued by the teacher. This occurs first phrase by phrase, then the entire piece is put together. By imitating the teacher in this way, the student learns a preliminary understanding of the style. Copying the teacher exactly is not the goal in most schools however, and students should eventually find their own interpretation. During the lesson, analogies with nature and discussions about the religious philosophy behind the music allow the student to develop a deeper understanding of ma. Through this process of oral transmission, the honkyoku pieces continue to vary from generation to generation, a process that will “continue to occur as [it has] always occurred.” 6 Mention must be made of the fact that notation of some kind does in fact exist within most shakuhachi honkyoku schools, however its existence acts to preserve the structure of each piece rather than fixing its interpretation. As if acknowledging the stylistic subtleties of the music, only fingerings and relative note lengths are indicated, as the exact rhythms of the ornaments would be far too refined to notate precisely. The notation, therefore, becomes an aid to memorization, which plays an important part of the tradition. Ideally, all performances of honkyoku are from memory. In addition, before “graduating” from one piece to the next, a piece must be played from memory to a standard that is deemed satisfactory. Given this de-emphasis on notation within the tradition, one’s teacher becomes the most important source of musical examples and background understanding. In light of this, I must give a brief background to my learning of shakuhachi and my teachers. Since May 2005, I have studied the honkyoku of the chikushinkai school, one of many lineages currently being transmitted in Japan. My principal teacher is Kakizakai Kaoru, and I was also fortunate enough to have lessons with his teacher, the founder of this lineage of playing, Yokoyama Katsuya. Yokoyama is renowned for his performances of a style of honkyoku learned from his teacher, now often referred to as dokyoku. These pieces stand out for their wild and captivating ferocity in addition to the more tranquil mood found in the honkyoku of other schools. His ornamental figures show this swift and fierce mood, and the pieces often build to a whirring climax in the upper register. He insists on playing to the dynamic extremes


Lee, "Yearning for the Bell", 424.


of the instrument, from strong, loud fortissimo to fragile and soft pianissimo. His concept of ma is of particular interest to this paper. He often uses the term zettai no ma, meaning “absolute ma” to describe it during lessons. Once in my lesson he used the analogy of a river, noting that the water is not flowing at the same speed the whole way. There are ponds where the water is calm and still, but there are also churning rapids, and these together are what makes the river beautiful. In Yokoyama’s teaching, the combination of still ma and swift ma are what creates an interesting performance. This concept of ma seems to set it apart from other shakuhachi schools, and the pieces of his display a particular quality that makes them identifiable as such. I studied and memorized 15 honkyoku during my time in Japan, often taking three lessons per week. This was an excellent opportunity to internalise my understanding of the repertoire of Yokoyama’s school. It was from this understanding that I began to incorporate elements of honkyoku into my own compositions.

2.2. An overview of the portfolio of compositions. This exegesis will discuss one work from the portfolio in detail, aida for vocal sextet. This work was chosen because it best represents the arrival at my own technique of incorporating elements of shakuhachi honkyoku into my compositions. Specifically, aida shows an appreciation of ma, the concept of relative time, and of meri, the system of head movements that give an uneven distribution of dynamics and tone colour across the range of the shakuhachi. Attempts to compose music that allowed ma led to an exploration of notation techniques to allow flexibility of time as found in honkyoku. The use of free rhythmic notation in the place we go, later refined in only the ocean knows, reflect this. Tengu Mountain uses a similar free rhythmic notation under which a pulsed ostinato is repeated a flexible number of times. Masks and to look upon the tiger also have a rhythmic pulse underlying the music, and have employed frequently changing meters to avoid regularity. Finally, in light rain and aida, I settled on a method of fully notating rhythms, yet maintaining the existence of ma.


Meri is a shakuhachi specific technique, so is treated differently in works including shakuhachi as opposed to those which do not. Of the pieces that use shakuhachi, the place we go and only the ocean knows place it in a different key to honkyoku pieces to avoid using an overly similar sound world. Tengu Mountain calls for three shakuhachi of slightly different lengths, ensuring a contrast in character due to the different demands of the meri technique for each. light rain sets the instrument in a key which is closer to that of the honkyoku, sometimes using several different methods of playing the same pitch as often found in honkyoku. Of the works without shakuhachi, a number of techniques are used to emulate meri, along with other more shakuhachi specific techniques. In CloseUp, tenutos are used in the clarinet part to create an uneven dynamic level on certain notes. The frequent use of grace notes also recalls the fast ornamental figures of honkyoku. This too occurs in Masks and to look upon the tiger, with these pieces also incorporating woodwind multiphonics to create a contrast in tone colours. The natural harmonics in the strings of light rain reinforce the tonal centre around D, thus augmenting contrast in the meri notes of the shakuhachi. In aida, the wide expressive capabilities of the human voice are fashioned into a system used to replicate meri as found on the shakuhachi. This will be discussed further in Chapter 4.1.2.

2.3. The calligraphy of Aida Mitsuo. The vocal work analysed in this exegesis uses a text by the Japanese calligrapher Aida Mitsuo. Aida was a devout Buddhist, and often included themes of Buddhism in his works. I have chosen a text which calls for a contemplation of the self and one’s own identity. The calligraphy and the Romanised Japanese for the work are seen in Figure 1 below:


Figure 1: calligraphy by Aida Mitsuo.

jibun ga jibun ni naranai de dare ga jibun ni naru [?]

This phrase asks us to consider who we are, and who we will become if we try to be someone we are not. A literal translation, although failing to capture the depth of the


text, could be “As for oneself, if you do not become yourself, who will become you [?]”.7 Implied in this is a faith that we have a place to be in the world, and we should put our energy into finding that place rather than trying to be something or someone who we are not. The text is in an informal register of Japanese, one that would be used for family and close friends. This makes it seem like the question is being posed by someone who we know well. In this case, using informal language to raise such an important topic actually adds to its weight. The appearance of the text on the page is also of importance, as it reinforces the message. Aida’s writing style here is deliberately free and almost childlike. It would appear that he has chosen this style of writing to complement the informal language he uses (or vice-versa). This and other elements, such as its spacing on the page will be discussed in relation to Japanese aesthetics in the following section. Finally, the title for my vocal work, aida, (pronounced “eye-dah”) is significant as it is an alternative pronunciation for the character for ma discussed in this paper. At the same time, it is homophonic with the poet’s family name.


While there is no use of the Japanese question indicators “ka” or “no”, the use of “dare”, (English “who”) makes it a question in this informal register. The question mark is my addition.


3. Japanese aesthetic principles as seen in shakuhachi honkyoku and the calligraphy of Aida Mitsuo.

To successfully incorporate elements of honkyoku music into my own compositions presented certain challenges, despite my being able to play the music in a stylistically correct manner. My solutions to these problems grew from an understanding and appreciation of Japanese aesthetic ideals on a broader level. This chapter will describe a number of these concepts that were important in formulating my approach to composition. As it is difficult to directly translate many Japanese aesthetic principles into English, each will be supplemented by examples. These will be taken from the honkyoku pieces and Aida Mitsuo’s work of calligraphy, as they both display traits indicative of these aesthetics.

3.1. Wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is perhaps the most important aesthetic principle found in Japanese art. Being based in Buddhist philosophy, Koren describes it as “a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”.8 Definitions more precise than this are problematic, perhaps because “to fully explain the concept might, in fact, diminish it.”9 Therefore, this section will concentrate on elucidating some elements of wabisabi that are relevant to the later discussion of the portfolio.


Koren, Leonard. Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers (Point Reyes, Calif.: Imperfect Pub., 2008), 7. 9 Koren. Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers,18.


3.1.1. Imperfection. The preference for imperfection is captured in the term shibui as described in the following quote from Chang: Shibui is not strong, obvious; not stylish, correct; not complicated, obtrusive; nor ostentatious. Shibui compresses the power of tranquillity, understatement and total integrity of craft, materials and design. 10

In addition to this, objects often have a rough or asymmetrical aspect, giving them a quiet alluring quality. Shibui can be seen as growing from the Japanese appreciation of nature, where many of the qualities mentioned above can be found. Simplicity and quietude manifest in the long tones and silences of the honkyoku pieces. The use of pitch inflections and a wide range of tone colours produce contrasts that give it its continued interest. In particular an extreme burst of breathy tone, referred to as mura iki, is occasionally used. One translation of this term in English is “breath sea sound”, an example of how the music often depicts a natural phenomenon. Aida Mitsuo’s work of calligraphy also displays elements of shibui. Its appearance is certainly not strong, stylish or correct. His writing style could be said to be incorrect in a formal sense, as it has an almost childlike appearance when compared to traditional Japanese calligraphy, or shodo. His use of language gives an air of understatement, achieved by using a very informal register of Japanese.


Chang, Ching-Yu. "Japanese Spatial Conception, a Critical Analysis of Its Elements in the Culture and Traditions of Japan and in Its Post-War Era." (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1982),15.


3.1.2. Incompleteness. Another important facet of wabi-sabi is incompleteness, which is seen as a method of stimulating the mind or imagination when engaging with art. By leaving an artwork partially incomplete, one is required to consider the final unseen piece. Incomplete elements often occur together with the shibui traits mentioned in the previous section. In shakuhachi honkyoku and indeed much Japanese music, this feeling of incompleteness is seen in the musical mode. The Japanese pentatonic scale, referred to here as the miyako bushi scale,11 is shown below in a transposition in which it regularly occurs on the standard length shakuhachi. Figure 2: The Japanese miyako bushi scale.

In other contexts, this set of pitches is often written using G as the home note rather than the D as shown above. In the honkyoku pieces especially, there are arguments to support either G or D as the home note. The lack of strong cadences resolving to either pitch creates a tonal ambiguity, incompleteness in a harmonic sense. Aida’s text is a question, a form of incompleteness requiring the observer to ponder his or her own answer. The question, used here in combination with the shibui traits, gives an excellent example of how the two aesthetics are linked. The resulting questioning of one’s own identity is a topic far more serious than the unassuming appearance and friendly language would suggest.


known also as the hira joshi, or in scale.


3.1.3. Impermanence. The third fundamental concept underlying wabi-sabi is the idea of impermanence, or mujo in Japanese. In addition to this there exists another term mono no aware which refers to the quiet sadness that is felt in acceptance of things passing. In the eyes of the Japanese, it is the constant state of flux that gives the natural world its beauty. Therefore, nature is rarely curtailed to fit into a prescribed scheme or dimension. Instead, it is allowed to run its course without interruption, as can be seen in much Japanese architectural design. Buildings are designed around the landscape instead of altering the surroundings to make room for them. In urging the reader to question one’s identity, Aida’s text surely promotes a consideration of our own impermanence in this world. Heine goes beyond this and suggests that in Japanese culture, even death is considered as “coexistent with or even having a priority over life”.12 He supports this by noting the lingering ideals of suicide within Japanese society today. The just and honorable suicide is seen as aesthetically pleasing and emotionally satisfying because it clarifies the meaning of the deceased's 13 life and generates a sensitivity to the inevitable passing of all beings.

According to shakuhachi folklore, the first honkyoku was played by a monk in grievance of the passing of his master. The master did not play shakuhachi, but always carried with him a bell, the sound of which symbolised enlightenment to his disciples. Distraught at the loss of his master, the monk cut a piece of bamboo and played the first honkyoku, aiming to capture sound of the bell within his piece. Such imagery continues in the repertoire which has survived until today, as seen in the title of the piece Reibo, which means “yearning for the bell”.14 Impermanence is an inherent part of the process of oral transmission through which honkyoku pieces are taught. Therefore it can be said that the honkyoku pieces themselves embody the ideals of mujo.


Heine, Steven. "From Rice Cultivation to Mind Contemplation: The Meaning of Impermanence in Japanese Religion." History of Religions 30, no. 4 (1991), 374. 13 Heine. "From Rice Cultivation to Mind Contemplation", 375. 14 Lee, Riley. Yearning for the Bell [Sound Recording] : Breath-Sight (Glebe, NSW: Tall Poppies, 1992). CD Liner notes.


3.2. Duality. Another important principle is duality, a concept that is prominent in Taoism. LaoTsu teaches that only consideration of both sides can reveal truth. A well-known lesson of his uses an example of a clay bowl. Despite the clay being far more noticeable than air, the bowl is considered useful for the empty space inside. One is useless in this context without the other. Chang writes: Polarity, the contradistinction of opposites, is one of the basic principles of eastern life. It is essential for a person to maintain a balance between two extremes. This dynamic balance, 15 called “tao”, formed the unity underlying the “yin” and “yang”.

Honkyoku displays this principle in a number of ways. As discussed in relation to shibui, rough colours contrast with the fragile, and strong loud expression recedes to reveal soft and subtle nuances. The meri technique is needed to make certain pitches on the instrument, and this results in a scale that is not uniform in dynamics or tone colour. Instead, these contrasts are exploited, as will be shown in section 4.1. Sound itself is contrasted with silence, which is given utmost attention by shakuhachi players. In calligraphy, the empty space is of equal importance to the black ink. This raises the issue of space, which is the next concept to be discussed.

3.3. Ma and relative space. Space is a very important consideration in Japanese art forms. Important to this paper is the word ma, which is used to describe space and time as a relative concept rather than an absolute. Ma in music, according to Galliano, “describes neither space nor time, but the tension in the silence and in the space surrounding sounds and objects.”16 Noted Japanese composer Takemitsu Toru claims that this balance is “a relationship beyond any objective measurement.”17 In honkyoku, these ma spaces occur in the silences when the player takes a breath. 15

Chang. "Japanese Spatial Conception", 93. Galliano, Luciana. Yogaku : A History of Japanese Music in the 20th Century (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1995), 14. 17 Takemitsu, Toru. Confronting Silence : Selected Writings (Berkeley, Calif.: Fallen Leaf Press, 1995), 51 16


Given that the player’s breath can vary from performance to performance, continual judgements are made to leave the appropriate amount of silence between each phrase. Similarly, there is ma within the flexible length of each phrase as the ornamental gestures must occur at an appropriate moment. Therefore in honkyoku, good ma occurs when there is a stylistically informed balance between the gestures within a phrase and the silences between phrases. The way in which a player judges this will be discussed in section 4.2.1. Calligraphy contains ma in a spatial sense, pertaining to the arrangement of characters on the page. As silences are important to the music, unused space is an essential consideration to the calligrapher. Aida’s work arranges the text into a loosely rectangular area while leaving space above and below. He seems to have judged the size of characters and number of characters per line to make this rectangle and therefore allow for the space. Other works of Aida, and indeed other forms of Japanese calligraphy, often consist of only a single character. When this is the case, the focus moves closer on to the individual lines of each character and the spaces between these lines.

3.4. Ma as a sequential progression through time or space. Many aspects of Japanese society have a strong sequential element to them. In Buddhism, we see the “stages of enlightenment” through which one must pass to achieve Nirvana. The same is seen in the guilds of many traditional crafts with members being required to obtain a series of licenses to legitimise their study. In the traditional martial art Karate, these stages are famously marked by a series of coloured belts. The creative process itself is often sequential, and when ma is a consideration in spatial judgements, the end product often reflects this. A calligrapher, for example, begins by making a single stroke on the page. Given the nature of the brushes used, no two strokes will ever be exactly the same. Therefore, the following strokes are placed relative to this first stroke to create a whole character with balanced proportions. The same occurs when characters are placed together on the page to create first words, then sentences and the whole text. The end product here shows ma in an expanding fashion as a product of the sequential creative process.


Likewise, a performance of honkyoku, could be seen as a sequential experience, the player travelling through a set of notes and phrases, making spatial judgements along the way. While the calligrapher frames brush strokes and characters in the space of the page, the shakuhachi player places notes and phrases in the void of silence. It is difficult, however, to draw lasting conclusions about sequential elements of honkyoku from a compositional perspective. This is because they were composed anonymously, have only been notated relatively recently, and have been in a constant state of change due to the oral nature of their transmission. Nevertheless, Malm asserts that there are “discernable formal principles at work in every composition”,18 though the formalisation of this fell outside the scope of his book, as it does this paper. There are other examples of where sequential experience is a necessary part of the appreciation of Japanese art. The Japanese tea ceremony begins far before the sipping of the tea. The approach to the teahouse through the sculpted garden is itself a stage of the process in which we are reminded of our place within nature. After washing one’s hands and removing one’s shoes, the waiting room serves as a place for one to cleanse oneself further. This is allowed by the simple design of the room and its removal from the noise of the outside world. Only after one has passed through these stages does the humble act of boiling the water and drinking the tea become such a spiritual experience. According to Chang,19 a similar sequential experience is found on the approach to the Shinto20 shrine in Ise, Japan. The paths wind around numerous corners and at all times the shrine is obscured from view. The path is designed with the sequential experience of these twists and turns as an essential part of the journey. Similar to the simple tea drinking at the end of the tea ceremony, the shrine at the end of this pilgrimage is one of understated construction and design. This keeps true to the principle of shibui as outlined at the beginning of this chapter. From the examples given in this chapter, we see that Japanese aesthetic concepts often occur in conjunction with one another. The properties of wabi-sabi can readily be seen in honkyoku and Aida’s calligraphy. The explanation and examples given here


Malm. Japanese Music and Musical Instruments, 161. Chang. "Japanese Spatial Conception", 227. 20 Shintoism is one of the major religions in Japan. 19


will be referred to in the following chapter to show how an appreciation of these informed my development of techniques to incorporate elements of shakuhachi honkyoku into my work aida.


4. Meri and Ma: Two important features of shakuhachi honkyoku and how they have been recreated in aida. Two characteristics of honkyoku that I wished to recreate in my works were the unique sound resulting from the meri technique, and a realisation of the ma timing. In this chapter, I will discuss these separately, describing first how a player conceives each concept.21 From here, I will show how I used an understanding of the aesthetics outlined in the previous chapter to inform my incorporation of these elements into my work. Examples from my vocal work aida will be used to support this.

4.1.1. Meri – technical explanation. An explanation of the meri technique requires consideration of the construction of the shakuhachi. On a standard length flute, the pitches D, F, G, A, C and an upper D are produced when the five finger holes are opened in ascending order. This minor pentatonic scale is the most readily produced on the instrument, yet it is more common for honkyoku to be in other scales that use notes falling between the notes of this scale. To make these pitches, the player uses the meri technique, which involves the player adjusting the angle of their head, causing the chin to partially close the hole at the top of the instrument below the blowing edge. The effect of closing and opening this top hole, sometimes in combination with shading the finger holes, allows the pitch of a note to be changed by as much as a tone lower and a semitone higher (more is possible, but rarely practical). As well as changing the pitch, this movement also affects the volume and tone colour of each note. Unlike western musical instruments, which are designed to produce a consistent tone across the range of the instrument, the lack of consistency caused by using meri is encouraged, and has been incorporated to become a major feature of honkyoku. The following quote from Riley Lee gives a broad overview of the nature of meri, and its opposite movement, kari: 21

Much of this understanding comes from discussions and explanations during my lessons with Kakizakai and Yokoyama.


The yin-yang symbolism of meri/kari can be readily appreciated on a number of levels. Notes that are played with the kari technique are in fact loud, outward, bright, and 'masculine' in tone quality and dynamics, while notes played with the meri technique are soft, inward, earthy and 'feminine'22

Meri notes are quieter as the closing of the end hole limits the projection of sound.23 Below is another diagram of the “miyako bushi” scale, this time with the two meri notes marked in grey: Figure 3: miyako bushi scale, with meri notes marked in grey.

By marking the meri notes in grey, we see that two of the notes, E! and A! are dynamically less prominent than the others. While there are far more possibilities than could be represented here in staff notation,24 this gives us a basic understanding of the uneven nature of the scale due to the meri technique. It is interesting to note how my teachers approach the unevenness philosophically. The polarity between the types of notes is not lost upon them, and exploiting the different tone colour of meri notes is important. The imagery used to convey this, however, seemed somewhat contradictory to the physical limitations inherent in the physics of the technique. In situations where a meri note precedes a normal position note with the same fingering, both Kakizakai and Yokoyama asked for the meri note to be stronger and louder. This goes against the physics inherent in the meri technique, and both teachers acknowledged this, clarifying that these meri notes should be played with a “deep” feeling. Nevertheless, one must endeavour to make the meri notes distinct from the others, be it through loudness or being somehow “deep”.


Lee. "Yearning for the Bell", 269. This is not to say that kari and notes in the normal playing position cannot be played quietly, rather that meri notes cannot be played loudly. 24 The C pitch in this scale, for example, can in fact be played in normal position or as two different meri notes with alternate fingerings. 23


The explanation so far has given an outline to meri on the shakuhachi, and further discussion is unnecessary for this paper. Suffice to say, I felt that meri gave the music an ear-catching trait and wanted to recreate this in my works. The first obstacle to recreating this in my works was that meri, being an instrument specific technique, is not possible to recreate exactly on other instruments.25 Identifying the underlying aesthetic principles clarified the nature of meri, allowing for a more informed transferral of this idea into my compositions.

4.1.2. Meri - from aesthetic understanding to recreation and synthesis. From the explanation of meri above, we see present the influence of two of the aesthetic principles in particular. Shibui, the rougher untamed quality is seen in the unevenness of the scale that includes both meri and non-meri notes. This also creates a duality between these two kinds of notes, as noted in the quote above from Lee. Important to understanding and therefore recreating this was not merely the identification of opposites. Rather, the key lay in being sensitive to the “tao”, or “dynamic balance” between them. On searching for this balance, I was interested in how the unevenness of the scale seemed to reinforce the relationships between the notes within the scale. If the grey meri notes in Figure 3 above are quieter, we can conclude that the notes D, G and C stand out dynamically. As mentioned in section 3.2, there is a certain ambiguity in this scale as to which note is the home pitch. If we take G as the tonic in this instance, the tonic, dominant and subdominant26 are G, D and C respectively; the same notes that are dynamically more pronounced by the meri system. Therefore, in this scale we could conclude that the dynamic variance of the meri technique is in fact reinforcing the harmonic stability of certain pitches within the scale. Alternatively, we could say that the harmonic element of the pitches was in fact the element that brought a


The western flute is capable of pitch slides, but its transverse playing position and keys make it awkward to use in the way shakuhachi is used. 26 It must be noted that an analysis of this scale according to western harmonic terms is not appropriate to honkyoku. Nevertheless, the existence of the upper and lower fifths approximates the concept of tonic, dominant, and sub-dominant, which are found in western music. Furthermore, these are all labels for the simple mathematical ratios between the frequencies of these pitches. The basic physics inherent in these relationships occurs in all sound, so the link between dynamics, timbre and harmonic function is still a valid one.


balance to the meri technique. Harmonic balance, therefore, was the key to synthesising the effect of the meri technique in a different context. In aida, a stable pitch centre is created from the outset with the use of a B! drone in the accompaniment figures. From this central pitch, I have created a system for the melodic material which emphasises the contrast between harmonically “stable” and “unstable” notes through dynamic and timbral difference. Melodically, I fused the elements of pitch, dynamics and timbre to create a dualistic relationship similar to how this occurs due to the meri technique. As the human voice is not subject to the same physics as the shakuhachi, these three elements are not dependent on each other. The “outside” notes are marked dynamically louder than the “inside” note. In the example below, the A!s and the C! are louder than the B!s and F before or after them.

Figure 4: Baritone melody at bar 18 of aida. (CD track 1, 1:26)

It was more difficult to create the difference in tone colour between each pitch. I have achieved this in aida through my use of the different vowel sounds. Only four vowels are used in this piece,27 and I have utilised them for their colouristic qualities in the melodic material. The “a” vowel is the most open in timbre, so is assigned the harmonically stable B! as seen in the example above. The vowel “i” on the other hand, is a more closed sound, so I have placed it on the more dissonant notes, here the A! and C!. It must be noted that the classical vocalist aspires towards an evenness of tone quality across the different vowels as called for by the conventions of that genre.


There are only 5 vowel sounds in Japanese. Written simply as “a”, “i”, “u”, “e”, and “o” in this paper, they use the sounds in the words “bar”, “hit”, “tune”, “bed”, and “more” respectively.


Fortunately, they are able to greatly emphasise the difference of colour if asked. In rehearsals for this piece I made the performers aware of this idea and asked for a quite nasal quality to be used when singing “i” and “e”. By linking pitch, dynamic and timbre together in a way that emphasises a duality between “inside” and “outside” pitches, I have successfully recreated the elements of meri in the melodic material of my work aida. Within chords, the effects of meri as mentioned above are lost due to multiple notes occurring at the same time. The music of the accompaniment figures incorporates the idea of duality found in meri, utilising the differences in character of vowel sounds and consonants and searching for balance between them. This was done by considering the range of sounds available from the text in regards to their percussive qualities. The consonants “j”, “b”, “d” and “g” are all harder than “n” and “r”, which in turn have more of an attack than the pure vowels themselves. Furthermore, all of these sounds, vowels included, are stronger than the sustained “n” sound as it is made with the mouth closed. Throughout the work, contrasts between these colours act as a spark to maintain the interest of the ear. In bar 15, for example the “i” vowel is used in contrast to the “n” sound which had been heard until then, and is quite noticeable. From bar 28, hard consonants begin to occur as emphasis to down beats. While this does not in any way resemble the meri technique, the idea itself is an example of how a different technique can be created through an understanding of aesthetic concepts.

4.2.1. Ma – the performer’s considerations. As explained in section 3.3, Ma is a word used in Japanese to describe space or time, literally meaning “interval”. It is a consideration of space as a relative concept rather than a measured absolute. Time in honkyoku, not counted in beats like most music, is quite flexible. The single most important factor that bounds this variability of time is the length of the performer’s breath. Breath itself is changeable, and a performer’s capabilities will be different on any given day. Within this flexibility, the emphasis lies on proportions between note lengths, ornaments and silence. In order to understand how a player thinks of ma, the method of teaching must be examined.


Being an oral tradition, much of the learning of honkyoku occurs through playing along with one’s teacher. Through this, it is possible for the student to gain a physical understanding of ma on an intuitive level. This understanding is limited in that the student's lung capacity and playing style can never be exactly the same as the teacher's. In order to teach this sense of ma in a way that will allow for an individual interpretation in the future, teachers also frequently discuss ma during the lesson. Based on such discussions during my lessons with Kakizakai, I will proceed to a brief comparison of two pieces for this lineage that will be used to give the reader some insight into the player's concept of ma in honkyoku. I will refer to two wellknown honkyoku pieces, Koku, or “empty sky”, and Hon Shirabe, or “original searching”, both of which are shown below in Figure 5. A comparison of the first phrase of each piece and how to make the right ma will outline the important points of how a player judges ma. Koku begins simply with one sustained note preceded by a short grace note. It was very difficult to satisfy Kakizakai with how I played the phrase. Some days it was too short due to my lack of breath, while on other days when I had more control it was too long. Admitting that he too had trouble satisfying his teacher, Kakizakai advised me that the goal is to achieve beauty simply through the dynamic shape of the note. The difficulty, according to Kakizakai, lies in placing the dynamic peak at a proportionately appropriate time during the note. In doing this, the player must be continually aware of how much air they have available to create the total length of the note. In the liner notes for his CD Koten Shakuhachi,28 Kakizakai describes this as one of the most difficult phrases of the repertoire. He compares it to writing the number one in Japanese calligraphy. It is simply one stroke, and to make something so unadorned have beauty is very difficult. Thus, it reflects the characteristics of shibui as mentioned in section 3.1.1.


Kakizakai, Kaoru. Koten Shakuhachi Vol. 1 [Sound Recording] (Tokyo: Japan Victor Foundation, 2003). CD liner notes.


Figure 5: Two examples from shakuhachi honkyoku.29

The opening phrase of Hon Shirabe shows a similar phrase in which the consideration of ma can be made more obvious. It is almost the same as the Koku phrase an octave lower, with the long note rearticulated by an ornamental figure at some point during the middle. Once again, the general dynamic shape of the phrase takes the form of a crescendo and a decrescendo. In Koku, it was difficult to make this shape explicit, as there was no ornamental figure to highlight where the loudest point was. In Hon Shirabe, the addition of the ornament complements the dynamic shape and is in turn given relevance by it. The ornament, occurring at the loudest point, highlights this point in a way that was impossible in the Koku example. At the same time, the dynamics allow the ornament to feel naturally placed within the phrase, making it more than simply a random event. To play with a good sense of ma, therefore, it is not so important when the ornament occurs, but that it is “prepared� by a dynamic shape. Importantly though, within this flexibility of length, the ornaments themselves suggest metrical rhythms on a minute level. These rhythms are not notated, nor were they spoken of during the lesson. For example, the rhythmically notated ornamental figure30 in the first phrase of Hon Shirabe, occurs within the two long Gs which are of flexible length. The musical gesture of this ornament gives a glimpse of a rhythm, which soon disappears during the long note as it is not reinforced by further rhythmic material.


These honkyoku are not normally notated in western notation. Seen here are simple transcriptions made by the author. 30 The notation of it here represents only my perception of what was played by my teachers. I can assume that it is an acceptable interpretation due to the fact that I was not corrected on my performance of the ornament.


The account of the ma time of honkyoku in this section has revealed a number of important points. Long notes of variable length are interspersed by silences without any reference to a pulse. The note lengths are given a dynamic contour as a means of highlighting their relative proportions, within each phrase. Despite the lack of a constant pulse, short glimpses of rhythm can be found in the ornamental figures. The rhythms suggested by these rapid movements exist only momentarily, and any feeling of a pulse soon dissipates. Although the music can appear timeless on the surface, this is most definitely not the case. The relationships between events within the music are of utmost importance to the shakuhachi player.

4.2.2. Ma - issues of incorporating free time. The challenges in trying to recreate this in a composition came for the most part from finding a way to notate the music in a way that would allow for this flexibility. To subjugate it to an overly precise system of western notation would mean losing the freedom. On the other hand, to simply notate time in an indeterminate manner prohibits the composer’s intention from being conveyed in the score. Before I discuss my solution to this issue, I will outline two experiences that informed my final approach. They involve notational issues that arose during the premiere performances of two other works from my portfolio. The first of these two works is the piece for shakuhachi, marimba and vibraphone, called the place we go. On the score, the pitches of the shakuhachi part are given, but the rhythm is quite freely notated as shown in Figure 6 below. Noteheads without tails are spatially arranged on the page to suggest relative durations. Further distinction is made between long and short notes using solid or hollow noteheads. The vibraphone and marimba parts are notated with the freely scored shakuhachi solo part above, so they could follow the flexible interpretation of the shakuhachi player. The shakuhachi part itself is prepared in traditional notation to allow for a number of instrument specific techniques that are difficult to notate in western notation. The result is a system of notation that allows for the flexibility of time, but does not include the small rhythmic elements found in honkyoku.


Figure 6: Excerpt from the place we go, bar 7. (CD track 7, 1:55)

I learned a number of things during the rehearsals and performance of this piece. Firstly, the use of traditional notation for the shakuhachi part is problematic in that it potentially limits performance opportunities to players within my school. The player in this case was from another school, and chose to read from the score as its western notation was easier for him to read than my traditionally notated part. This meant that several important aspects such as fingerings and stylistic ornamental nuances were missing from his initial interpretation. Secondly, the use of the freely notated western score led to an overall interpretation of the score that was quite different to my intentions. It was through this experience that I realised the importance of notating the small rhythms of the ornamental figures where they expressed my desired interpretation. In only the ocean knows, I moved one step closer to my final approach. Bars of counted time are interspersed between sections of flexible time, as can be seen in Figure 7. To make this possible on an ensemble scale, I have used the infinity symbol “! � to indicate where the players are to wait for the conductor’s next cue, either continuing what they are doing or resting. By incorporating these short sections of counted time, the construction of the music reflects more closely that of the honkyoku, allowing a closer approximation of ma.


Figure 7: Excerpt from only the ocean knows, bar 22. (Track 2, 5:50)

Despite being pleased with the performance, I felt that the notation system still failed to indicate the concept of ma adequately. The satisfying result was possible only because I conducted the piece. The rehearsals themselves resembled teaching in an oral tradition in some ways. I sang musical examples and explained concepts to “teach� the soloist and ensemble my interpretation. This meant that the notation still relied on my experience of ma from honkyoku to be conveyed correctly. Based on my experience of the place we go and only the ocean knows, I felt I needed to pursue a system of rhythmic notation that ensures my pieces are interpreted in a way that at least approximates my intentions. It seemed contradictory, however, to seek to notate exactly a concept which intentionally allows flexibility. Once again, my answer to this dilemma was found in viewing ma in relation to the Japanese aesthetics. Ma in shakuhachi honkyoku shows elements of two of the principles from chapter three. Firstly, the variability of time could be seen as a form of impermanence. The music is in a constant state of change as it is taught from one generation to the next. 34

In other non-musical contexts, however, impermanence manifests in different ways. A Japanese garden, for example, is fixed in its spacing arrangements, but exploits impermanence through highlighting different seasons. Calligraphy too, is admired for its proportions, despite being a fixed medium in which to work. It is impossible to write a character the same way twice, but a finished work is fixed in its spatial proportions. These examples showed me that a work could be fixed in its spatial arrangement, while still exhibiting properties of ma. The second aesthetic concept that can be used to gain a different perspective of the ma is the idea of a duality. This exists in the contrast between the seemingly free time and the short rhythmic gestures. Whilst the glimpses of rhythm can be easily notated in western notation, I was still searching for a way to include the pulseless sections. The challenge lay in creating an impression of uncounted time while still having an underlying pulse. While simply removing all references to a pulse in the free sections will achieve this, it is still possible that the listener could, in their mind, continue the pulse from the ornaments through the free time sections. In order to clearly distinguish between these two dualistic concepts of time, I needed to actively disrupt and nullify the sense of time created by the rhythmic gestures while moving into sections of free time. In this way, the pulse could still continue underneath the music without being heard. This allowed me to use a fixed notation system including the sense of both counted and uncounted time, thus superseding the free notation as used in previous works.


Figure 8: Excerpt from aida, Bar 40. (Track 1, 3:11)

In the example above, a perceptible rhythm begins in the Baritone part on the syllable “na” in bar 42. Then the Alto, Soprano II and Tenor all join to reinforce this in rhythmic unison. This is at its most noticeable at the first beat of bar 44, where the four inner voices land on the “ni” syllable. After this, the pulse is quickly disrupted by grace notes and different subdivisions of the beat between the parts. Due to this the Soprano I melody that begins in this bar is not heard in relation to the preceding rhythms. This allows it to keep the timeless quality found in the honkyoku pieces despite being notated in a fixed rhythm. The pulse is still going, however, so the sense of movement can be restored at any moment to propel the work forward. Note how the Baritone entry mentioned above comes after two minim beats in which no rhythmic material has occurred. It is in moments such as these that ma can still exist, and as mentioned in the performance notes, this will be heightened by slight fluctuations in the tempo throughout the piece. Therefore this method of notation is precise enough to convey my intended interpretation while still allowing for flexibility in line with the aesthetic ideals of ma.


4.3. Ma as a sequential progression.

The final method of viewing this work is in relation to ma as a sequential experience in Japanese art. As discussed in chapter 3.4, a calligrapher begins with a single stroke and adds to this in an ever-expanding fashion to form characters, words and sentences. Linear progression occurs in the Japanese tea ceremony, beginning with the path leading to the teahouse, the waiting room, and finally the drinking of the tea itself. Sequential progression occurs in both expanding and linear levels simultaneously in aida. The following analysis will identify sequential development as it occurs throughout the piece. To make this as clear as possible, I will first discuss an important concept that was considered during the compositional process. Similar to the calligraphy analogy, I began with the idea of a single phrase as the nucleus to the whole work. All the musical material stems from this “nucleus phrase” which develops sequentially throughout the work. The phrase itself can be seen at the beginning of the work in the Baritone, being a simple long B! with a preceding auxiliary A!. The dynamic swell and the louder A! are used to replicate the meri technique, as outlined in section 4.1. This phrase has also an “answer phrase” which is initially a single B! in the Alto part. From this point onwards, the musical material of the work is developed in a sequential manner. This development occurs naturally by the consideration of the preceding material rather than in adherence to any strict plan more than a general idea of the shape of piece. Given the sequential nature of its construction, the best method of analysis is one that observes this sequential development. Before doing so, however, let us look briefly at the overall structure of the work. An initial observation shows the work to be in archform. The music begins slowly and quietly and reaches a climax at bar 63, and a coda in which the original mood is restored ends the piece. It could be further divided into four sections as part of this arch structure. Section “A”, is from the beginning to bar 29 characterised by the Baritone melody, which is taken up momentarily by the Tenor. Section “B” features a melody in the first Soprano and lasts until bar 50. Section “C” features a duet between the two sopranos and encompasses the climax of the work in bar 62. The coda, or “D” section is from bar 66 until the end, restoring the 37

calm mood of the opening. While this analysis gives some useful information, the sequential development of the phrases will give a better understanding of how the sequential elements work. Central to this development are the “nucleus phrase”, and its corresponding “answer phrase”. These two phrases, heard in the Baritone and Alto at the beginning of the work resemble the opening phrase of Koku (discussed in section 4.2.1) in their dynamic shape. As they develop further, this shape will be more clearly accentuated similarly to how the ornament in Hon Shirabe highlighted the dynamic peak. I will now proceed to a discussion of the work highlighting the sequential development of pitch, harmony, timbre, time, and text. To show this clearly, I have chosen to examine each of the musical elements in isolation in the sections below. To consider them all simultaneously in one linear pass would lessen the clarity of the analysis. I have, however, included such an analysis in table form in Appendix 1.

4.3.1. Melody. Pitch will first be discussed in a melodic sense. The opening “nucleus phrase” consists of a B! preceded by a lower auxiliary note, an A!. In its basic form seen here it is a simple rising major second. These two notes are used exclusively for the first 15 bars of the piece, exploring the relationship between their resolved and unresolved qualities. The F which enters at bar 17 does little to disturb this polarity, and it is not until the C! in bar 20 that the melodic material reaches another level of complexity. The C! is repeated once more before the Tenor takes over the melody. Immediately, the two-note figure of the “nucleus phrase” is changed in character, as the B! and F are a perfect 5th apart rather than the major 2nd seen at the beginning. In the same way that C! was used as a semitone above the B! in the Baritone, G! is introduced as an unstable neighbour to the Tenor’s F. The two note rising figure then occurs in the Soprano I in bar 29, using the same pitches as the Tenor but inverted to make a perfect 4th. Later in bar 36 this rising perfect 4th is transposed to begin on B!, introducing E! into the melodic figures. This


figure is developed in a number of ways until bar 49. Firstly, the upper E! is resolved back down to the B! by a simple downward leap. Secondly, an F natural occurs a tone above the E!, a reminder of the major second in the initial phrase. The final version uses all of these pitches as well as a new lower G!, resulting from the largest melodic leap of the piece, a downward major 7th. At bar 50, a melodic question and answer duet begins in the two soprano parts. From bar 52, the basis for this is once again the B! to E! rising perfect fourth figure. The range is extended again through F natural, up to G!, then finally to the highest note of the piece, an A! in bar 64. From here the pitch material mostly reflects what has come before, for example the use of auxiliary C! and A! around the B! centre and the rising 4th in bar 72. The seemingly new intervallic construction heard in the Tenor melody in bar 70-71 and the Alto in 74-75 results from the continuing simulation of meri as the text appears without fragmentation.

4.3.2. Harmony. The discussion of pitch above is best followed by a discussion of pitch in relation to harmony. The clearest way to view the harmonic language in this piece is in terms of a duality between “resolved” and “unresolved” sounds. This is created through the use of drones and cluster chords respectively. The piece uses a 6-note scale, comprising the pitches B!, C!, E!, F, G! and A!. Figure 9: Pitch sets.

At the beginning, however, only pitch subset A as shown above is heard. From 32, the A! is replaced by a G!, giving the pitch subset B. It is not until bar 50 when the A! 39

returns somewhat poignantly in the Soprano II that the full palette of the 6-note scale is used to create the harmonic development leading to the climax. The opening section is based around the note B!, setting this up as the “home” pitch which continues despite change in mode in bar 32. In this piece, the drones and cluster chords in the “answer phrases” create the harmonic interest, which will now be outlined. This is best supplemented by reference to the score. A simplified reduction of the harmonic trajectory of the piece is also given in appendix 2. The opening of the work simply sets up the drone on a B!, which is sometimes reinforced by the addition of an octave. The first appearance of the cluster occurs in a very simple manner, the move to an A! in the Alto part in bar 11. This resolves to the B! drone again when the A! ends. A three-note cluster occurs in bar 18 with the lower F added in the Tenor. The cluster in bar 20 stands out because of the addition of two more pitches, the lower E! in the Bass and the upper C! in the Baritone melody. This chord gets its dissonant quality from the tritone between the F and the C! and could be described as an F half-diminished seventh chord, built on the 7th scale degree, the E!. More similar cluster chords occur until bar 31, each time resolving back to the B! drone pitch. From bar 32, the drone gains more weight by the addition of the 5th, the octave and the 5th above that octave. Until bar 48, this drone itself begins to incorporate more dissonant elements, beginning with the introduction of the C!, a minor ninth above the Bass B! in the Alto part in bar 36. The Bass slowly rises one scale degree at a time then goes off on its own melodic tangent, leaving the middle four parts to continue the harmonic role. The rising Bass part puts upward pressure on these middle parts, and when the Soprano II moves to a G! in bar 44, the drone has essentially turned into a cluster chord in itself. In contrast to this more dissonant harmony, the melodic material in this section highlights only the stable notes of the mode, B!, E! and F. The harmony continues to be influenced by the effect of rising pitches, which will also lead to an increase in volume as the singers move further into their upper range. When the Bass moves down a step to an A! in bar 55, the purpose is only to prolong the drive towards the climax in bar 61. The unresolved climax chord consists only of


the two notes C! and F, the same that made the dissonance mentioned above in bar 20. With the addition of the Soprano I’s A! to this tritone, the result is a diminished 7th chord. After trailing off into a general pause, this is resolved melodically by the Alto after the pause. From here, the harmony briefly touches on previous chords as the piece winds down. The final chord, however, is of great importance to the understanding of this piece, which will be discussed shortly in section 4.3.6.

4.3.3. Timbre. As shown in the discussion of meri, the melodic material of the work is linked to the timbre through the use of different vowel sounds. In the accompaniment, colour is used in a way that emphasises the contrast between the sounds of the text. Again, this occurs sequentially from the initial “nucleus phrase”. For the first 14 bars, the “answer phrase” uses only the “n” sound in the top three voices. Apart from subtle octave displacement, the first noticeable timbre change occurs in bar 15 with the “i” vowel. This sound immediately stands out as it is louder and far more resonant. From here, the colour moves back and forth between the “n” and various vowels, using the sudden change to mark where the top of the crescendo occurs. This is similar to the function of the ornament in the first phrase of Hon Shirabe discussed in section 4.2.1. In bar 18 the “i” vowel is subjected to an ornamental repetition using the syllable “yi”. It is an ornament in a colouristic sense rather than a pitch sense, as the change in mouth shape used to create the “y” sound will change the timbre but not the pitch. This idea becomes more prominent and is used on different vowels to further accentuate the contrast with the smooth “n” sound. A similar technique appears in bar 22 with the alternation between the two vowels “i” and “u”. From bar 28, consonants are introduced to expand the palette of sounds further and further reinforce the high point of the phrase. This is done by placing the harder consonants such as “ga”, “bu” and “ji” on the down-beat. To extend upon the ornamental function of the “yi” syllable shown above, bar 35 sees the use of short grace notes on neighbouring pitches. From 43 these are contrasted


with portamento slides which become more prominent in the accompaniment. In Bar 53, the “n” sound disappears and singers use their full voice leading up to the climax in bar 62. Following this, the texture becomes more opaque, allowing the Alto melody to come through. The final section of the work references techniques and colours that occurred earlier in the piece.

4.3.4. Time. Time develops sequentially in a number of ways. The most explicit of these is the tempo markings, with the minim beginning at 42 beats per minute, increasing to 46 at bar 18, 50 at bar 52 and accelerating a little more before the climax at bar 62. After this, it returns to the original marking of 42. As the “nucleus phrase” is developed it expands in length. By bar 18, for example, it has grown to a length of 11 minims from the opening 4, and also includes a short break for breath. The alternation between counted time and perceived lack of time goes through its own development. At the opening of the work, the rhythmic gestures are limited to the pitch changes in the Baritone melody. They are notated in changing note values so as to avoid them being heard in relation to a steady beat. With the introduction of open vowel sounds in the answering phrases, these take on a rhythmic element too. This is continually blurred as the pulse disappears into indiscernible subdivisions. The pulse becomes more prominent from bar 27 with the introduction of consonants to reinforce the feeling of a beat. Now with the accompaniment phrases taking on this more pronounced rhythmic character, the melody in the Soprano I line becomes very simple rhythmically to contrast against this. A greater awareness of time is created by the duet between the two sopranos from bar 50. This is heightened as the space between them becomes closer towards the climax. A similar duet in occurs in the accompaniment phrases. In bar 54 the Alto and Tenor extend the length of their phrase so it begins to overlap with the Baritone and Bass. This means that from this point there is a constant pulse, the timeless feeling no longer occurs. The main reason for this is to propel the work forward in a way that


leads to the climax at bar 62, after which the voices once again stagger into an undiscernible pulse. This returns the music to the mood at the beginning.

4.3.5. Text. The use of text in this work relates mostly to the subject of the text itself, being the search for, or cultivation of one’s own identity. It was very important that the message itself be used to inform the compositional process and structure of the work. I decided to use the component sounds of the text as a basis from which the true “identity” of the text would emerge. As shown in the section about the sequential progression of colour, the soft sounds are used to begin the work, with harder consonants being introduced slowly. As this is happening, fragments of text slowly begin to emerge. The text underlies even the opening melodies of the work, with the vowel sounds “i” and “a” suggesting the vowel sounds of opening of the text, “jibun ga”. The word “jibun”, similarly suggested in the in the tenor entry in bar 22, is the Japanese word for “self”. This word is again the basis as the answering phrases sing “ji-u-(yu)-ga” in bar 27-28. The text fragments that occur from this point on begin to string multiple words together. An example of this are the words “jibun ni nara nai”, found in bar 46, which is 8 syllables long out of the total 19. When the answering phrases split from bar 54, the text is almost heard in its entirety in the overlapping fragments in the 4 lower parts. The interrogative question word “dare ga” is repeated as the music reaches the climactic moment from 62. The coda section of the work follows this, and for the only time in the piece, we hear all 19 syllables of the text in order. The identity of the text has been established as a result of the sequential growth from the beginning.


4.3.6. Coda. Finally, it is important to discuss the significance of the ending of the piece. As has been shown in this chapter, the musical elements of the piece have all developed towards the climax in bar 62. The climax occurs on an unresolved chord and the highest pitch of the work in the Soprano I. After a general pause, the work concludes with a short coda. In concluding the work, the coda exhibits many of the concepts that have been discussed in this paper. The aesthetic qualities of shibui, which “compresses the power of tranquillity, understatement”31 can be seen readily in the Coda and particularly the final chord, seen below. Figure 10: Final chord of aida. (Track 1, 5:25)

Marked “p” in the score, it is not prominent in dynamics. The “u” vowel is neither fully open or closed, it lies in centre of the possible range of colours. It retains the normal hairpin dynamic shape of the opening “nucleus” phrase. Yet this final chord very subtly stands out from the surrounds, further reinforcing the shibui properties. 31

Chang. "Japanese Spatial Conception", 15.


Unlike the cluster-chord harmony that pervades most of the work, this chord has a very open voicing. The chord is grounded by its doubled root in the Baritone and Bass. Above this there is only the 5th in the Tenor and the 9th in the Alto. The chord consists of simple bare 5ths, and is not adorned with a third or a seventh. Setting the chord further apart is the fact that it resolves on an E!, despite the piece being for the most part firmly centred around B!. Not once in the work does this occur before this ending. This could be viewed as a perfect cadence from the B! prolonged throughout the work acting as a dominant chord to the E!. More important is the fact that it is a new, fresh harmony that makes the chord feel “alive�, despite its understated nature. This suggests a new direction, further growth that could occur in the work, leaving it incomplete. The Coda also has an important function to do with the theme of the text. After appearing only in fragmented form before the climax, it is heard here in its entirety, passed between the Alto and Tenor voices. This could be seen as a clue to understanding all of the musical material that came before. Rather than simply setting the text in a declamatory fashion, I have used the composition process as a way to come to my own understanding of the text’s theme of identity. My response dealt with the sounds from the text and found a musical context where each could be used for its individual sonic qualities. This included the different vowel sounds to simulate the meri technique and the use of consonants to adjust the rhythmic feel. Only after this process, through which a suitable place is found for each part of the text, do I feel that it is important to reveal the identity of the text. This approach is far more appropriate to the text, and shows not only my personal answer to its question, but also a musical answer.


5. A closer examination of the works in the portfolio in relation to the techniques devised for aida. Following on from the in-depth analysis of the work aida, this final chapter will briefly examine each of the other works composed during the period of candidature, from March 2008 to June 2010. This will be done chronologically by date of completion to outline more fully the progression of ideas that led to the techniques devised for aida. In addition, mention will be made of the influence on my work of rock music, something which has for the most part fallen outside the scope of this paper. Having grown up as a teenager listening to “alternative” radio stations and playing in rock bands, I have a natural affinity towards the sounds and rhythms found in this music. Needless to say, it is quite obvious which of the compositions show this most clearly. The first piece composed was the place we go, and the compositional challenge undertaken was to emulate effectively the sense of time used by a shakuhachi player in the honkyoku pieces. As discussed in chapter 4, the combination of traditional notation for the shakuhachi player and free rhythmic notation for the score was used. At the time of composition, I felt somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of using a Japanese mode in my compositions. The risk of sounding overly cliché was very real, so I simply delayed facing that problem until later works. The harmonic language in this piece is based largely on my rock band experience. For example, a common playing technique on the electric guitar is the “power chord”, which is simply one note with the perfect fifth added above. The harmonic language of the place we go often reflects the open quality of these power chords by using similarly open-voiced chords. The final chord, the major ninth chord on F shown below in Figure 11, has two perfect fifths on the bottom, (tonic – fifth – ninth), then another perfect fifth above this between the third and the seventh. Note the similarity between this and the final chord of aida.


Figure 11: Final chord of the place we go. (Track 7, 9:30)

For most of the piece the harmony moves slowly between chords with a similar open voicing and diatonic clusters. This is achieved by means of gradual stepwise movement, which can be seen clearly in the opening 3 pages of the work. In CloseUp, there are several hints of the direction I would take in the later works. The opening piano figure is very much taken from the “bouncing ball� rhythm that occurs in several shakuhachi honkyoku, such as Koku as discussed in chapter four. After the initial long tone, the subsequent phrase consists of this figure repeated several times in ever decreasing length. When playing this kind of figure in my shakuhachi lessons, the importance for my teacher was that I find a balanced ratio between note lengths, rather than an exact rhythm or in fact number of repeats. I have used feathered beams, as shown below, to reflect this concept in western notation. Figure 12: Piano introduction to CloseUp. (Track 5, opening)

The melodic perfect fifths and auxiliary notes in the clarinet evoke the sound world of the shakuhachi. Incorporating these auxiliary notes within a pulsed rhythmic context was an important step in deciding how to notate ornamental gestures which had to that point occurred naturally in my shakuhachi playing. The main observation I made


was that I was forced to differentiate for myself whether they worked best on the beat or before the beat. These were either written out in time or notated as grace notes, both of which can be seen in Figure 13. The E on the second dotted minim beat of bar 102 functions as an auxiliary to the F sharp, and falls on the beat so is written out. The grace note in this bar, similarly a lower auxiliary, is notated as a grace note because I wanted it to fall before the beat. In all subsequent works, I have used this approach. Figure 13: Grace notes from CloseUp. (Track 5, 5:47)

only the ocean knows shows the early stages of formalising an approach to the elements of melody, harmony and rhythm based on the honkyoku style. The harmonic language of the work is mostly built from one chord in CloseUp, which is essentially a B dominant 7th chord with a suspended 4th. This chord is shown below in the inversion it appears in each piece. Figure 14: Harmonic examples from CloseUp and only the ocean knows.

This is not, however, a chord found in Japanese music, and the melodic writing for shakuhachi is likewise non-traditional. This is because it is once again placed in a scale that is not found in honkyoku, necessitating the finding of a voice for the instrument in this new key. The answer was to further exploit the colouristic possibilities as called for by the meri technique, especially portamento. As discussed in chapter 4, the combination of free rhythmic notation interspersed with bars of notated rhythm allowed the ensemble to play rhythmic material together within the mainly pulseless framework. 48

Masks shows clearly the influence of rock music, in particular the style of “Math Rock� which features frequent changes between uncommon time signatures. Within this context, I was still working very much with the ideas of meri and ma. The use of the rougher tone quality of saxophone multiphonics and the string scraping on the guitar are an attempt to emulate to some degree the meri technique. Ma was central to the piece too, as the initial ideas were sketched in a form of shorthand that gave only relative rhythmic values, almost like shakuhachi notation. These were then given rhythmic values according to how I would interpret the ma as a honkyoku performer, and the time signature changes were created around this. This set a precedent for later works such as aida and light rain being fully notated rather than free scored. Like Masks, both these works began in a freely notated version before the final score was prepared. Tengu Mountain was written first for 3 shakuhachi with harp rather than the 2 koto in the version include in the portfolio. The use of three different length shakuhachi gives each one a different character as the demands of the meri technique are different on each to play in the same key. The piece was revised a number of times throughout the candidature as we performed it subsequent times. The initial score was once again far more flexible in a temporal sense, but during rehearsal I found that too much time was spent on not getting lost, rather than accuracy, intonation, and maintaining the sense of line. To counter this, I prescribed the number of repeats for the koto players, giving a second alternative in parenthesis for if the parts were not lining up correctly. This made the rehearsal time far more streamlined. light rain was written around the same time as aida, and therefore shows a number of similar traits. The use of different subdivisions of the beat, the question and answer between the main voice and the ensemble, and the overall shape all relate to the principals of ma as discussed in this thesis. In this work the shakuhachi sits in a key that is far more like the honkyoku pieces than any other work in the portfolio. It draws on the melodic material of honkyoku, but the use of an altered miyako bushi scale (see chapter 4) keeps it from entering this world exactly. The scale has an A natural rather than an A flat which would occur in a miyako bushi scale, leading to a harmonic language that is also not quite traditional.


The use of pedal tones is handled differently in this piece. In aida, the vowel sounds added colour to simulate the meri technique. In light rain the timbre of the natural harmonics is somewhat uniform, so far more octaves are used, made possible by the extended range of string instruments when compared to the human voice. A similar technique of rising parallel chords as found in aida occurs in light rain as the piece builds towards the climax. Here though, the climax actually resolves the tension created by the sustained drones, rather than leaving it unresolved as in aida. Below are the two chords leading up to the climax and the resolution chord. Figure 15: Harmonic resolution of light rain. (Track 3, 4:01)

In bar 65, the harmony is pared back to essentially a stark tritone between the A pedal and the Eb above. In bar 68 this is reconceptualized by adding a C and G in the cello, creating a strong C minor feel in what is essentially now a half-diminished chord on the A pedal. The resolution comes as an Eb Major seventh chord with the sharp eleventh degree (A natural). The cello plays the tonic and the fifth as a double stop while the upper strings play rapid rising arpeggios on third, seventh and eleventh. The piece winds down by alternating between this E flat chord and the D drone which began the piece. The final work of the portfolio, to look upon the tiger was an exercise in bringing the discoveries from aida and light rain into a fast rhythmic context. The sudden bursts of melody, harmony and colour throughout the piece reflect the continued consideration of meri and ma. The use of multiphonics in the clarinet and saxophone, for example, add an extra sense of colour and unexpectedness. This is something I intend to explore further in the future. Likewise, the occasional use of the A#, a seventh pitch added to the six note tonal language from aida and light rain, signals my desire to


expand this harmonic language in subsequent works. Ending the portfolio with such hints of future development is fitting in that it reflects one of the important Japanese aesthetic concepts discussed, that of incompleteness.


6. Conclusion.

This paper has traced my integration of elements of the traditional shakuhachi honkyoku repertoire into my own compositions. In order to do this, I have shown that an understanding of honkyoku was required on two different levels. Firstly, the physical experience of playing the music allowed me to conceive my own music with similar expression. Secondly, to transfer this expression to my own compositions, I had to have an understanding of the broader aesthetic principles that underlie not only the honkyoku, but all traditional Japanese arts. By identifying the dualistic nature of the meri technique, I was able to view my physical understanding in a way that allowed me to recreate the system in my works. Similarly, playing shakuhachi with a sense of ma allowed me to recreate the spatial sense in my performance but did not suggest a method of notating this idea in my scores. By identifying the acceptance of impermanence inherent in this concept and viewing its manifestation in other art forms such as Japanese calligraphy, I developed a method to achieve this feeling in aida. Viewing these aesthetic concepts in other contexts also suggested to me the idea of an expanding structure used in aida. This paper, therefore, shows that successful integration of an unfamiliar musical style into one’s own is no small task. Even so, in today’s musical world, mere quotation or reference to a style is no longer enough to be relevant or for that matter, acceptable. Delving deeply and intelligently into a musical “other”, the composer willing to walk this path will reap dividends. This can be seen in my process of creating an authentic response to honkyoku, in which I have made important inroads into discovering a musical voice of my own.


Appendix 1. A simultaneous sequential analysis of the musical elements of aida.

Bar Number


1 2 3 4 5

Bar Alto Bar A+S2 Bar

6 7

S1 S1, S2 A Bar A Bar

8 10-11 11-12 12-13 13 14 15-16

S1, S2, B all S1, S2, A Bar


S2, A, T

18 19-20

Bar All

21 22




25-26 27-28




Noteworthy Development of Idea

Text Fragment

Nucleus phrase (N.P.) Answer phrase (A.P) N.P. ending on unresolved A!. A.P. now in two voices, S2 displaced by one minim. N.P. A! resolved. Use of dotted minim for slight rhythmic variation. A.P. in third voice with octave displacement. A.P. three voices in unison.

i, a n i, a n i, a

N.P. extended unresolved version, two A!s. A.P. in three voices, A! introduced in the alto. N.P. extended further, momentary rest for breath. Triplet used for further rhythmic variation. A.P. repeat of upper octave displacement, this time supported by lower octave in Bass. N.P. and A.P. come together on down beat. f dynamic reached in Baritone. A.P. introduction of open vowel sounds in contrast to the “n” sound. N.P. introduction of new pitch, F, which takes the “e” vowel. A.P. also uses the F pitch in tenor. Rhythmic gesture created by the “yi” syllable. This acts as an ornamental repetition of the “i” vowel without a pitch change. Staggered closure from vowel to “n” sound. N.P. note lengths becoming shorter in general. N.P. Baritone melody extended to again meet with the A.P. N.P. introduction of C! pitch, highest used so far. N.P. first use of a portamento slide. A.P. introduction of E! pitch, lowest used so far. A.P. further use of “yi” repetition with more complex subdivisions. N.P. grace note used for the first time. A.P. momentary retraction of range, only down to F. A.P. less complex staggering. A.P. introduction of alternating vowel sounds. N.P. heard in tenor, now with the first use of a perfect 5th melodic leap. F is the highest pitch so far, using “u” vowel. N.P. More grace notes, Momentary G! used to “trigger” the A.P. into open vowel sounds. A.P. most use of dissonance so far, lowest and highest pitches (both Eb), use of C!. Note the gradual return to B! as the central pitch. N.P. longer phrases, introduction of E! into melody. N.P. and A.P. again coincide. Highest pitch in G! and more elaborate ornament in the rolling figure (essentially a more complex trill). A.P. First use of consonants to reinforce the rhythm. A.P. mf loudest dynamic used so far in A.P. N.P. appears in S1, on the notes F and B! similar to the

i, a n i, a


n n


n, i i, a, e n, i

i, a, e

a, e, i n, i, u i, u, a, ji

i, yu ji-u-(yu)-ga (from “jibun ga”

u, a


S2, A, Bar, B




S2, A, Bar










S1, B




S1, B




S1, S2

51-52 52



A, T, Bar, B

Tenor’s phrase. (perfect 4th this time, however). A.P. rhythm from consonants to suggest fragments of the text. “naru” and “jibun”. Note the use the hard consonants “ji” and “bu” to emphasise the downbeat of bar 32. Grace notes introduced as a destabilising factor on the rhythm, an extension of the “yi” syllable from bar 17-18. Drone chord established as the open fifth of B! and F in two octaves. N.P. pitch slide from A! to B!. The A! not heard again until bar 50. Use of softer consonants “n” and “r” before downbeat of 36 and harder “d” on the downbeat. Text fragment “ni nara nai de” Slight change in drone chord to include the C! in the Alto. This does not resolve back to B! during the Decrescendo. Further complexity in the rhythms of the grace notes. N.P. rising perfect fourth figure again, this time to E!, which is the highest note so far, and takes the “e” syllable. Hard “g” consonant used on the downbeat. Drone change – Bass moves up to E!. N.P. Rising 4th resolved by falling back to original pitch. Use of “da” syllable, leading to “dare ga [?]” Use of pitch slides for the first time in A.P. This and the rising leaps make the downbeat prominent despite the weaker “n” consonant of “ni” Bass rises one more scale degree to F N.P. Rising fourth begins with F introduced. Highest pitch so far. Small melodic fragment in Bass in bar 45. Prolonged portamento in SII and Alto. Change of drone chord to B!, C!, F, G!. Bass no longer in A.P. S1 melody extends to lower G! by means of a major 7th leap, the largest melodic leap so far. The Bass further develops its melodic material in heterophony with the S1. Further extension of portamento slides. The return of the A! in the Soprano II signals an expansion of the mode to include all 6 notes. This A! is echoed by the Soprano I, marking the beginning of a call and response style duet between them. Bass rejoins A.P. Faster tempo. N.P. Rising perfect 4th returns as in the duet between sopranos. Later, the F natural and a G! (highest yet) are introduced. A.P. is extended in length in the Alto and Tenor so it begins to overlap with the Baritone and Bass. The effect of this is twofold: another call and response relationship is set up between these two groups. The overlapping means that now the time is all counted. The use of seemingly uncounted time of the previous section is nullified. This builds forward momentum. Faster harmonic development is occurring through this section with changes every 2 bars until bar 58. Slight drop in dynamics to allow a crescendo until the fff at the climactic moment in bar 62.


“naru jibun”

a, i “ni naranai de”

a, e “dare ga” “dare a” “jibun ga jibun ni” “dare ga” “jibun ni naranai” “dare”, u, i

“dare ga jibun ni” a, i

“nai de dare ga” “dare”, “ji”-u

“naranai de” “dare ga” “jibun ga jibun ni” “jibun ni naranai de” “nai da dare ga” “dare ga jibun ni naru”

S1, S2 62



S2, T 69-71



S1, S2, Bar A Bar, B


Call and response becomes closer rhythmically, now only a minim apart. Climax. Loudest dynamic marking in all parts. Prolongation of the C! to F tritone. Final call and response between the soprano parts. The highest note of the piece, A!, forming a unresolved diminished 7th chord in combination with the tritone in the accompaniment. N.P. variation used to resolve the music back to B!. Beginning of first and only use of all 19 syllables of the in order. This is the first time the Alto has been heard as a solo voice, making the tone colour quite revelatory. A.P. in a very basic form, similar to bar 15. Heard again in 69 with the Soprano I with the inclusion of A! and F. Rising minor 6th interval is new, however this is in keeping with the “i" vowel on a more dissonant note. A.P. similar to bar 19 versions in its use of “ye”.


Rising and falling 4th figure heard in the lower register of the Alto. Sparse two-voice texture to allow the Alto melody to project. C! in Bass as an unresolved chord to set up the ending. Final Cadence. Despite the piece being mostly centred around B!, the final cadence is onto a chord with E! as the root. The chord has a fifth, B!, and a ninth, F in the Alto. There is no third or seventh.

“dare ga”

“jibun ga jibun ni”

“naranai de”

Appendix 2. A simplified reduction of the harmonic trajectory in aida. Bar numbers are given for the occurrence of each chord. It must be noted that the horizontal aspect of this is not in proportion. The first bar below, for example, would take over a minute, whereas bars 58 to 62 would be only a matter of seconds.)


Appendix 3. Kanji characters for Japanese terms. Names: Aida Mitsuo ! Kakizakai Kaoru ! Takemitsu Toru!! Yokoyama Katsuya! ! Piece Names:

! ! ! !!

!"#$%! "#! $! %&!'! ()*+!

Hon Shirabe ! ! Koku!! ! ! Reibo!!! ! ! Other Terminology: ! Chikushinkai! !! Dokyoku!! ! Fuke ! ! ! Gagaku! ! ! Honkyoku!! ! Kari ! ! ! Komuso ! ! Ma! ! ! ! Meri ! ! ! Mono no aware!! Mujo!! ! ! Mura-iki!! ! Shakuhachi!! ! Shibui!!! ! Shodo!!! ! Suizen!! ! Wabi-sabi! ! ! !

! ! !

,./! 01!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

234! 56! 789! :;! ,6! ! <=! .>?! @! A=! BCDE! >F! GHI! JK! LM! N5! OP! QR!


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A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Music (Composition) Sydney Conservatorium of Music Uni...


A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Music (Composition) Sydney Conservatorium of Music Uni...