Inorikaze - Prayer Wind liner notes
This album is a compilation of my original compositions from 2004 until 2014.
I first started composing music in 2004. I was living in London. Emi Inaba, a pianist, composer, and a friend, had planned a concert of her original compositions and asked me to play on one of her pieces, “Traveler”. While rehearsing, she said to me, “Why don’t you write one piece for this concert?” So I did. I am forever thankful for her encouragement.
Composing is a powerful tool. I am so much more creative and alive because I compose.
Tsukuyomi is the name of an ancient moon god, said to have many powers, among them to bring back youth. There are beautiful verses of Japanese poetry (waka) referring to this god.
Walking on St. Marks Ave. in Brooklyn on a crisp, spring night, I looked up at the moon, bright and soft around the edges. This moment was captured in my heart, and the piece flowed out of me as I played the shinobue newly borrowed from my teacher Kaoru, the one that makes a very sweet tone and allows me to express myself freely.
My grandmother visited me in my dream and told me that I need to become a photographer. I woke up, and somehow I took her word and started researching about photography and cameras. After a few hours, I realized the absurdity and thought, “Ok, I don’t think I will become a photographer. Let’s just write a piece about it.”
The composing process became a wonderful imaginary conversation with my deceased grandmother and a research into her past, my ancestry. Having moved out of Japan at a young age, I didn’t get to know her very closely. I imagined her as a young lady, wearing high heels and pants (which was apparently pretty avant-garde for her time), meeting my grandfather who I never met, and journeying together through life until the war and my grandfather’s early death.
Thankfully, my grandma, as well as my grandfather, were avid amateur photographers. And I knew that my father had organized her thousands of beloved photos when she passed away. So I asked my father to send me copies of some. There were photos that my grandparents took, photos of them, photos of my father as a little child, and also photos of my ancestors well over 100 years old. I share some of these here soon.
I wrote this piece at a time when I wanted to try writing something 'like' a pop song – pure, simple, straightforward. Also, the initial plan was to make this into a 3-movement suite, each one depicting a different period of my grandma’s life. I never got to the other 2 movements, but this might explain the strong thematic construction of the piece. For some reason, I kept imagining erhu and scenes from the film “In the Mood For Love”. In this album the piece is expressed through the wonderful cello and koto.
Inorikaze I (Prayer Wind) (2011)
The March 2011 East Japan Great Earthquake shocked all of us Japanese and changed me forever. There is a lot I can write here, but hopefully the music will speak for itself.
This is the first movement, subtitled “Prayer”. The second movement, not yet recorded, is called “Yes To Wind”. It was originally written for shinobue and piano.
Gregory Singer and his Manhattan Symphonie, of which I am a member, allowed me to premiere this orchestral version at a 9/11 concert at Merkin Concert Hall, New York, in 2013. We recorded the first movement in November 2013. With no rehearsal time and technical difficulties, it is in no way a perfect rendition, but I wanted to include it into the album anyway. I am so thankful for all the people who made this first orchestral composition possible, including Gregory, Yuko-san, and Alan Schulz who gave me so much great compositional advice and guided me through the entire arrangement process.
Magic I – II (2004)
This is my first composition ever! I wrote this for the concert with Emi (see above if you skipped over the first bit.)
For me, the piece is associated with a lot of fond memories.
I had no idea how one goes about composing. I hogged one of the two practice rooms at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, where I was studying ethnomusicology) for a good couple of weeks and wrote measure by measure.
Although the resulting piece doesn’t sound anything like them, I listened to Piazzolla and Magic Malik, my favorite flutist, for inspiration while I was composing this piece.
I remember having so much fun rehearsing this with Emi in her flat in Finsbury Park in London. I had run out of time and brought to her a score with 4 missing measures for the piano part. I think she wrote those bars for me. This concert was the starting point of many years of collaboration with Emi, even after we both moved from London to the east coast of the US. Through her, I also met the album cover artist Shelley Revill and a whole bunch of warm, beautiful people that I adore. Hmm maybe I should rename the piece “Emi”, or at least dedicate it to her!
In the summer of 2012, I visited Iwate, where the 2011 East Japan Great Earthquake hit.
My Japanese music professor from SOAS, Dr. David Hughes, lived in Iwate and so wanted to organize a trip, and I came along. After volunteering at Tono Volunteer Net, we spent some time in Morioka's Reconstruction Center, Kitakami, and Rikuzen Takata. In Rikuzen Takata, there is a traditional festival called "Ugoku Tanabata Matsuri (The Moving Tanabata Festival)", where beautiful floats are paraded through the village with taiko drumming. David and I "helped" (more like we just went to visit, learned a lot and hung out) with the preparation of the festival, in particular decorating the floats. It was amazing that this festival actually happened - many of the floats of the different teams were destroyed in the tsunami, many of the villagers' houses gone, roads gone, train stations gone, schools gone, lives gone. The community came together to make it happen.
In the festival field, where there once was houses, now nothing, I saw a little girl, maybe 6 years old, playing with a piece of azafu festival streamer that must have fallen off one of the floats. She was swinging it around in the air, jump roping with it, smiling and laughing - in this moment, I felt the power of children. Just an honest expression that fun is fun, happiness is happiness. This piece was inspired by her and all the magic that children bring to this world.
THANK YOU FOR READING TIL THE END!! :)