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