Sunday, November 28, 2010

Atsumori's Fue (Flute)

Our February  performance of ‘Atsumori’ has me composing for flute again. My appreciation for the flute came, in some ways, in reverse (East to West). I didn’t care for the western flute until after I moved to Japan. There I learned to appreciate the ‘distorted’ sound of the noh flute (altered in its construction so it doesn’t overblow at the octave) and the three-dimensionality of the shakuhachi (from a distant blur to crystal-clarity, pure tone to white noise and back, like turning the dial on a radio). Further exploration brought me to other non-western flutes (of Iran, Bali, Java and Sumatra), then to the west via Debussy and Eric Dolphy, and finally to flute with electronics, free improve and extended techniques.
In ‘Atsumori’, the flute is an essential part of the staging, the ensemble and the story. The February performance will reflect multiple influences. Dance sections will require recognizable noh rhythm patterns, and so will be mash-up/hommage to 20th century Japanese composer Takemitsu Toru. Other sections will be more improvisatory. It’s great to be composing again

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