Sheng! L'orgue à bouche - 17th seminar
Shô, shô basse and sheng alto in Anâhata (1986) by Jean-Claude Eloy
with Véronique Brindeau (Inalco)
Anahâta - "Primordial Vibration" - is an electronic fresco composed between 1984 and 1986 by Jean-Claude Eloy. Conceived as a triptych, the work combines an electronic score with two solo voices of Buddhist monks, percussion instruments and the wind instruments of gagaku court music: ryûteki transverse flute, hichiriki oboe and shō mouth organ, the latter forming the fulcrum of the third part subtitled Nimîlana-Unmîlana ("That which opens - that which folds"). It is this part, which also makes use of the ô shō and the sheng-alto, that will be analysed. Like many of his other works for electronics and voice or instruments of oriental origin, it is a question for the composer, who has always been concerned by the slow and fluctuating tempo of gagaku and by the slippery chanting in indeterminate pitches of Buddhist shômyô, of "broadening his cultural roots" - while at the same time enlarging the traditional palette of the gagaku by the addition of the ô hichiriki (the lower fourth of the hichiriki) and of the ô shō (lower octave of the shō). As he writes: "From this dialectic between these two great sources ("the oriental" and "the occidental") was born my entire approach as a composer.
Sho, Gagaku and modern harmony in Yoritsune Matsudaira (1907-2001) - interpolarity between harmony and timbre
with Mikako Mizuno 水野 みか子 (Nagoya City University)
Yoritsune Matsudaira (1907-2001) is the first Japanese composer who combined occidental instruments with gagaku harmony and crystalized to own personal sound ecriture. Theme and variations for piano and orchestra (1951) showed very special approach to twelve tone technique and the style of the piece is far from atonal harmony. It partially simulates Aitake harmony as cluster. Matsudaira was thinking gagaku sound is different from gagaku harmony and from the instrumental timbre of gagaku. Matsudaira often used six violins for the sound of Aitake in his early days but had never used sho itself before 1990’s. Matsudaira often claimed that he didn’t use Japanese instruments like sho or koto because their timbre inevitably evokes Japanese culture and aesthetics.
For Matsudaira, gagaku is not the counterpart to be simulated but a metaphysical world to be pursued through musical experiments. Encountering with Yumi Nara’s singing style with much portamento triggered new phase of Matsudaira’s composition. Genji Mnogatari, mono -opera dedicated to Yumi Nara, was premiered in 1995 in Fukui. On the stage, five modern pictures by Toshimitsu Imai were presented by turns. There included soprano, two shō (one of them is U) and So, which is very rare case in Matsudaira’s compositions.