Saturday, February 22, 2014

Silk Road Junction 101 at HSU: Program and Notes

Part One: Japan and the Middle East
( Songs in the first part are performed on koto and tabla unless otherwise noted.)

 Kazoe Uta Hensōkyoku (Variations on Counting Song)
Arranged by Kikushiro Masaaki. Koto solo. A Japanese song that celebrates the New Year. This arrangement includes many ornaments, chords, and left hand techniques, demonstrating the range of sounds characteristic of the koto.

 Haru no Sugata (Arrival of Spring)
 composed by Eto Kimio.  Koto solo.This work for koto solo is a little gem that celebrates the coming of spring. There are many special techniques for the left hand including pitch bends, plucking with the left hand, and vibrato.

  Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)
 Traditional Japanese, arranged by Miyagi Michio. Perhaps the most famous Japanese song, Sakura celebrates the fleeting beauty of the delicate cherry blossoms that bloom for a short time in spring. Japanese cherish cherry blossoms and often arrange “cherry viewing” parties called hanami. This arrangement showcases the many techniques and tone colors that the koto can produce.

 Mugon Kashū: Gypsy no Uta (Song Without Words: Gypsy Song)
 By Yuize Shin’ichi. In the summer of 1955, kotoist Yuize Shin’ichi took a trip around Europe. During that time, he enjoyed listening to the folk songs of many nations. He used three of them to create the suite “Songs Without Words.” The final movement, “Gypsy Song,” is based on the Israeli folk song, “Zum Gali Gali.”

 Sasurai Warabe Uta Shū (Songs of Wandering)
By Tsutomu Sakamoto. Koto with daf. Sakamoto Tsutomu (1926-1996) was a blind kotoist and prolific composer who represents the postwar period of Japanese traditional music. This work represents a feeling of restless wandering. The scales and musical feeling depicts the Middle East. The left hand creates a tango-like rhythm in the main theme. Rahman accompanies on the Iranian frame drum daf.

 Haru no Umi – Spring Sea, Miyagi Michio (1894-1956)
 Koto and viola duet with Sherry Hanson, viola.  Miyagi Michio was Japan’s most notable koto performer and composer. He was born in late 19th century Japan and spent much of his childhood in Korea. He lost his eyesight at a young age and took up a traditional path for blind people at the time- that of a professional musician. His genius was the ability to blend traditional Japanese and Western classical musical elements, and he was a pioneer in the new koto movement. “Spring Sea” was composed in 1929 for shakuhachi bamboo flute and koto, but it is frequently performed with violin and koto as we will perform it this evening.

 Part Two: South Asia and Beyond
(Songs in the second part will be performed on flute and tabla unless otherwise noted.)

  Raga Bhupali: classical music of North India. A Raga is a framework for improvisation that includes a mood, time of day, scale, melody, patterns for improvisation, and a rhythmic cycle. Raga Bhupali portrays a feeling of devotion. It is best performed in the evening. Every raga begins with a slow section (alap) in free rhythm introducing each note of the raga. Then the tabla joins in, providing the rhythmic accompaniment to the melody. After playing the melody (gat), the flute alternates fragments of the gat with improvisational patterns (tan). After a period of call and response between solo and drum, the melody is played again. Then a series of fast passages set up for the ending. As the music becomes faster and faster, the final pattern (tihai) is played three times before a rousing end.

 Lahora: Tabla improvisational solo accompanied by harmonium.Lahora is a solo tabla improvisational piece. This lahora is based on Tintal, a 16 beat cycle improvisation, accompanied by the flute, showing the myriad tone colors and virtuosic rhythms of the tabla.

  “Bourée angloise” from Flute Partita in A minor by J.S. Bach.
 “Badinerie” from Suite in B Minor for flute by J.S. Bach.
What if Johann Sebastian Bach had a chance to visit India? He certainly would have written something for tabla… Here is an arrangement of two Bach classics for flute and tabla.

  Gram Chara (Remembering My Hometown)
 Lyrics and music by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Anjan Ganguly. Flute and khol. This is a song written by the famous Bengali poet, composer and writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913 for his book of poetry Gitanjali: My king’s road that lies still before my house makes my heart wistful. It stretches its beckoning hand towards me; its silence calls me out of my home; with dumb entreaties it kisses my feet at every step. It leads me on I know not to what abandonment, to what sudden gain or surprises of distress. I know not where its windings end- But my King's road that lies still before my house makes my heart wistful.

Majhi Nao Chairya De (Bangladeshi Boatman’s Song)
 Lyrics by S. M. Hedayet, music by Ahmed Imtiaj Bulbul. Flute and dhol. Oh Boatman, let’s start the boat, raise the sails and as we sail, you may sing as much as you like.

 Ektara Bhajayo na (The Importance of Preserving Tradition)
 Popular song of Bangladesh.  Harmonium and tabla. Ektara is a popular song of Bangladesh that reminds young people to cherish and preserve their traditional culture. It humorously juxtaposes traditional food, clothing and music with imported popular culture. Here is a translation: Don’t play the ektara (one-stringed lute); don’t play the doutara (two stringed lute). Play the conga drums and guitar instead. If you play the one-stringed lute and the two-stringed lute, I will remember that I was once a Bengali. Don’t wear a sari; don’t decorate your feet with henna. Wear pants and a maxi dress instead. If you wear a sari and paint your feet with henna, I will remember that I was once a Bengali. Don’t cook shukto (bitter gourd); don’t make pais (rice pudding). Make Mongolian barbeque and Chinese food instead. If you make bitter gourd and rice pudding, I will remember that I was once a Bengali.

  Purano Sei Diner Kotha (When I think of my Hometown—Bengali)
 Hotaru no Hikari (By the Light of the Fireflies—Japanese);
Auld Lang Syne (English), traditional Scottish Harmonium and tabla.
While “Auld Lang Syne” is very popular in the English-speaking world, its lovely melody has spread around the world. Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) visited English in 1878 and was enchanted by the folk songs of English and Scotland. He adapted the melody and added a Bengali poem about the importance and persistence of memories. The same melody was adapted for use in Japanese schools during Japan’s period of modernization in the second half of the nineteenth century. Inagaki Chikai published “The Light of the Fireflies” in his 1881 book of Children’s School Songs. Bengali: How is it possible to forget the old days of my life? Japanese: Time piles up, reading by the light of fireflies/ And snow by the window/ Years have gone by without notice. /Now the day has dawned on the cedar door/ And it’s time to say “farewell.”

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