|Dimensions||14 × 12.5 × 1 cm|
Japan: The Spirit of Water is a superb exploration of Japanese tradition—the mastery of Japanese musics and spirit—emphasizing the link between the culture of Japan and the influence, or spirit, of water featuring both traditional and non-traditional techniques. In the realm of music, or the art of sound (ongaku) as it is termed in Japanese, the fascination with water is something which cuts across stylistic or historical boundaries: new developments proceeding from traditional forms provide new vehicles for the embodiment of, amongst other sentiments, the spirit of water. This embodiment may be explicitly programmatic in nature, the program then often containing elements of the human world as well as the non–human environment. A famous and popular piece of this kind is Haru no Umi (Spring Sea) from the early 20th century. Although originally scored for the common combination of koto and shakuhachi, many arrangements of this piece now exist, including some for western instruments. The image of this piece proved to be so powerful that Haru no Umi has achieved the status of a national heritage heard virtually everywhere in Japan on New Year’s Day. The combination of koto and shakuhachi, in recent times, has become a musical exploration drawing on the traditional style and extending them as reflected in Mountain Stream with its melodic and harmonic structure based on tradition with an improvised musical process which is not traditional. Japan is also the land of percussion sounds, the taiko. It appears in two of Japan’s main dramatic forms, Nô and Kabuki, and is central to festival (matsuri) music as reflected in The Wave. Shinrabansyo (All Creation) combines taiko with shinobue (a Japanese transverse bamboo flute). Raintree stems from a Japanese composer trained in Western composition. Ise is a piece by a Western composer/performer who has assimilated Japanese influences into his playing of non–Japanese music and instruments.
CD review by Graham Blackley
This eight-track collection of atmospheric Japanese music, selected by James Ashley Franklin from the University of Western Sydney, is unified by the theme of water.
Franklin, a composer, Lecturer in Music Technology and a Master of the Japanese endblown flute known as shakuhachi, provides an insightful and learned exploration of Japanese culture, music and the theme of water in his extensive and articulate liner notes and performs the track Daha (Pounding Wave).
Synergy, who contribute three tracks to the compilation (Shinrabansyo (All Creation), Raintree and The Wave) are directed by Australia’s Michael Askill and Ian Cleworth who have been leading this pioneering combo since 1974.
Synergy has released four albums: Percussion, Matsuri, Synergy Percussion and Impact.
Interestingly, in 2007 Synergy along with TaikOz and special guests explored the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space in a live performance titled The Five Elements.
Other featured artists on Japan-The Spirit of Water include: the founder and director of the Japanese Music Institute of America, Masayuki Koga, who is considered to be one of Japan’s finest shakuhachi masters; Tomoko Sunazaki, master of the koto, a 13-stringed Japanese harp made with movable bridges, who co-founded the Koto Trio in Japan; Flute virtuoso James Newton who has been voted the top flutist for 23 consecutive years in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Poll; and Honoka, a collaboration between koto player Satsuki Odamura and Franklin.
This accomplished collection traverses ambient soundscapes while calming and nourishing body and mind.
4 in stock