Sunday, 5 June 2016





A sampler of contemporary Japanese music, and other related matters.


The following passages are part of the conversation between Nurtan and myself regarding the seven Japanese pieces placed on G+ from the end of April into early May. The first part of the blog has links to the seven works and a short commentary which “breaks the ice” to entice the listener to part with a little of his or her time.


Hiroaki Minami: Electronic Symphony No. 1



written in response to the death of his daughter. Looking back on electronic music of the 1950's and 60's it is inevitable that we hear clichés, the medium with its lack of technology ensured that getting distinctive sounds was difficult. To make the music expressive is a greater challenge again but this work manages to not only express emotion but the most difficult of emotional states. The density of the music increases throughout and with it our emotional response.


Litany pour Fuji



Akira Miyoshi's music like that by Joji Yuasa is rich in textural changes but the musical language is closer to the human emotional states of fear, anticipation and uncertainty. The orchestration sometimes reminds me of Stravinsky and the melodic strands of Varese.  At times the music could be taken as film music so strong are the associations that the music invokes in the listener. Music and mountains together makes me think of Hovhaness, and in some ways they are not a million miles apart. Like so many Japanese art prints nature is a major concern, and while not dominating the music its presence is felt.


Akira Nishimura - Mirror of stars



Harmonically enticing, beautifully spaced chords. The staccato repeated note change surprises us, especially as it is followed by a return to the opening style. We are set up for a play between textures and the tension of waiting for these drives the music onward. What is astonishing is how short the interjections can be and how alien they feel to the homophonic material. Recently I saw a ladybird flying onto a blade of grass, there were a million green leaves and one tiny splash of bright red. I wondered how to represent this in music, and this piece does it very well.


Hikaru Hayashi: Concerto for viola and strings "Elegia" (1995)



Influenced by Western values?  Elegies by Elgar and Bridge are well known, and listeners who are familiar with them cannot fail to identify with the tone and mood of this work. At times is seems to be using a similar language but as the work progresses there are moments in which the Japanese character emerges (21.30). The emotional range is wide, sometimes subdued sometimes impassioned. The narrative always seems to be first person. It is of little surprise that the composer had a strong interest in opera and wrote film scores as the music communicates easily and effectively the tensions of human passions.


Joji Yuasa: Territory (1974) 




This is one accomplished musician, highly respected by academics and practical music makers. Territory gives us an idea why this is the case. Brilliant textures with instruments subtly emerging from previous sonorities.  The flute sounds in particular give an authentic Japanese quality to the music. I hear bamboo and wood and natural sounds here adding colour to an intellectual design. One of the joys of this work is that the textures are unpredictable but never outlandishly so, the changes of rhythm and pulse are always easy on the ear.


Toshio Hosokawa - Vertical songs I. for flute solo (or recorder)



The blend of voice and recorder makes a wonderful and natural pairing. The musical gestures are events framed in silence and near silence. Once again I find myself making associations with the natural world, but this is no pretty depiction but cutting and aggressive drama where rapid actions follow moments of tense anticipation.


I find that the rapidity of events within a short duration gives the work a different outlook on time, the seven minutes is over quickly but there are moments in which everything is remarkably still. I would love to see a dancer interpret the music!




Minoru Miki - Marimba Spiritual




I first heard this in a performance by Evelyn Glennie, but I am more than happy with this brilliant and dramatic performance. The opening is an exploration, widening out the scope of the marimba, and then that curious little rhythm begins to establish itself. While the other percussionists mark out the phrases, short sequences begin to drive the music forward and then we are under way gradually moving from broken phrases into a continuity of action. From 7.00 onwards it is a fast ride with a superb ending.



The following is Nurtan's response to the works shared on G+



Another pair of ears.

I wrote this entry several times over and revised it many times it was bordering on ridiculous. I went to a concert last night and on the return trip home, it became very clear what I wanted to say and missed the point in all these earlier revisions. I shall keep the original introduction for a birds eye view came up and go from there.


I will start with a confession that I know very little about so called ''Eastern'' music and I usually listen to music with Western ears – well almost because I like to listen to Turkish/Greek/Anatolian music. I am a little more familiar with the Indian music than Japanese music. It is a marker that makes me a naive listener who is tied pretty closely to another sound world. I know some of the works of only three Japanese composers: Toru Takemitsu, Kosaku Yamada and Minoru Miki and not very extensively at that. All three blend East and West but mostly in the Western idiom.  I liked most of whatever Eastern music I heard, but only by chance encounters. I justified this lack of curiosity by ''I am both heavily committed and busy enough not to seek more of it.” Therefore I have to excuse my naiveté by ars longa Vita brevis.


Ken has selected a varied collection of modern pieces, probably as comprehensive in its coverage as any seven reasonably short pieces one can chose. I enjoyed listening to the seven pieces; each is beautiful in its design, sonorities and appeal. Hearing these pieces and thinking about them made me think that these contained the conflicts, sonorities, similarities and differences contained in any seven pieces you choose and listen to from the catalogue of Debussy, Bartok, Malcolm Arnold, Berio, Ligetti, Beatles, Jerry Garcia, Saygun, Shostakovich, Gorecki, Getz, Coltrain, Stockhausen, Bernstein or Boulez. In fact, the entire "Western music" literature of the 20/21st century is as varied and different within as it is the same and different between "Eastern music". We cannot explain the sonorities contained within Schoenberg's 2nd string quartet by the sonorities in Debussy’s ''Le Martyre de saint Sébastien'' or Joji Yuasa's ‘‘Territory’’ nor can we dismiss the similarities between them.


There is considerable amount of Milton Babbitt sonorities or Richard Strauss' ''Tod und Verklarung'' musical elements in Hiroaki Minami's ''Sorrow Songs the Stars sang'' and it also shares an amazing amount with my ''Quiet Sorrow''. The three composition mentioned are very closely related and similar but they are nothing like each other. Similarly, no one in his/her right mind would argue that any of the seven Japanese examples are a derivative of ''Le Martyre'' or ''Tod und Verklarung''


One might argue that there are several levels of listening to music. One might listen to and carefully to understand the musical structure of a piece, or listen for the sonorities that build the sound world of the composition. One might seek a psychologically determined reaction to the musical content or simply enjoy the technical complexity or simplicity of a piece or a passage.


After several hearings of the work one might, aided by recall start to listen to all of these factors simultaneously. The performers are analysed by the same factors and additional unquantifiable factors such as phrasing, appropriate rubato, tempi etc. One thing clearly obvious is that any one factor cannot be considered superior to any other factor by any kind of logic or data. In the enjoyment of listening to music one individually reacts pleasurably or finds the musical experience within his/her expectation criteria of enjoyable. One may argue that listening experience is not a constant and can change more or less arbitrarily. Therefore, the appeal of the music is judged in a very personal manner. 

I don't believe that there is cross-cultural data on music listening and enjoyment; not even at a simple interview based research on the factors which influence a person to like or dislike a musical piece (as rigorous research this would be a bad idea). With that in mind we can argue logically why the enjoyment of art might have a commonality. From a physiological point of view, the sound reception and perception is universally the same even though it might differ in acuity by age (young hear better) and by some cultural or life style influences (quiet surroundings lead to better hearing). In all brain scanning or other neurologic investigations (some we reported) an origin or nationality based difference has not been observed. This suggests that the stimuli we receive are the stimuli we perceive irrespective of what our origin might be. The technical understanding and comparative statements are universally based on the data received and perceived, tempered, or judged by the listener's knowledge and preferences. There is likely to be cultural differences in how we process the perceived stimuli as likes and dislikes; this probably has a strong influence on our ''preferences''. This offers an explanation on the universality of music as well as how similar very different music can be.


I don't know what fraction of listeners listen to music passionately or which would be more strongly influenced by culturally learned experiences or which would be more strongly influenced by the technical knowledge of music. One is not superior to the other and the lack of technical knowledge does not necessarily diminish the enjoyment. I believe that a person who listens to music passionately or dispassionately or both has a huge universe to enjoy. The judgement of a piece can only be in multiple levels such as technically superior or flawed, interesting or boring, etc.


Last night I heard a magnificent performance of Britten's ''Sinfonia da Requiem'', Strauss' ''Tod und Verklarung'' and Elgar's ''Enigma Variations'' by Chicago Symphony Orchestra. On the return journey home I thought about these three pieces and the seven Japanese pieces. The answer to my question was crystal clear. At least, fully at the technical and partially at the passionate level.


Ken: In getting to point where Nurtan posted that reply we had shared e-mails on the blogs including the topic of what makes some music difficult. In considering difficulties it was quite natural that the cultural aspect should arise.


This particular link is being shared via the blog and is new to Nurtan, it has a junior school style of presentation but it is both useful and clear:




The following was shared by e-mail and considered the shared heritage which influenced Western views of Japan.


The drip feed of culture from the East:


You say that you are less familiar with oriental art, and that is a statement with which I can sympathise, but I think that both you and I have familiarities with Japanese art as a result of its influence in other art forms.  Let’s remind ourselves of some basic facts that visitors to the grand houses of the National Trust would be all too aware of (I know it is a charity that delights visitors from the USA – I watched an aunt from NY visiting a local attraction, Erddig, with a dropped jaw expression that stayed with her for hours).

Collecting Chinese and Japanese artefacts was popular in the UK from the 17th century onwards. Finding examples of Porcelain, lacquered cabinets, screens, tables and tea services with an Eastern quality seemed to be a part of my life from my teens onwards. TV shared its part in educating me about such matters with the Antiques Roadshow regularly introducing us to everything from armour to bamboo flutes.


Most of us are aware of the restrictions on trade with Japan for a number of years, the embargo or isolation period (a better description) came to an end around 1854 (The Convention of Kanagawa). The situation with China was more fluid, there being some trade with the English East India Company, but the Treaty of Nanking opened doors not just to trade but to the interest in art objects.  The culmination of this interest came in 1862 with the Great London Exposition, where both Chinese and Japanese arts and crafts were represented.


The influence of Japan on artists was felt in two distinct ways, Whistler and Degas studied Japanese art works for their style and form while other artists – like Monet represented oriental objects as part of their own paintings. This has little difference to the cultured collection in stately homes of screens and the like without great thought for integration.

Degas, mentioned above, makes use of space in his works in a way that we now identify as belonging to the mind-set of japonisme, this is to us more interesting than the inclusion of chrysanthemums as an indicator of influence. There are other indicators of Japanese influence on 19th century art, tilted perspectives are popular, but these don’t transfer into musical perspectives.  We are both familiar with Haiku poetry, I think it fairer to say that we both love this style, but it came as a surprise to me to find out that Japanese poetry was very closely associated with Chinese poetry in its earlier history:


Much of the literary record of Japanese poetry begins when Japanese poets encountered Chinese poetry during the Tang Dynasty. Under the influence of the Chinese poets of this era Japanese began to compose poetry in Chinese (kanshi); and, as part of this tradition, poetry in Japan tended to be intimately associated with pictorial painting, partly because of the influence of Chinese arts, and the tradition of the use of ink and brush for both writing and drawing.

This short extract from Wiki is interesting to me because of the association of calligraphy and drawing and the way that they are integrated. I suppose that could take us to Cage, but let’s not jump the gun.

I am sure now that I have started this trawl through Eastern influences that you will come back with more illustrations of the same.  I look forward to reading some.








Maternal Caress: Mary Cassat



It is difficult to work out how many people listened to the music placed on G+, some indicated their pleasure with a + and the usual small group added supportive comments, Giorgio shared with me a work which he came across that was new to me, thank you.



D. LO - MUSIC FOR A STARRY NIGHT... [für Ensemble, 2015]




If you have found Japanese music that has excited, puzzled or delighted you why not share it?

You may do so by responding to this blog or simply place a link to the work on the G+ pages.


It has occurred to me on several occasions that the notion of craftsmanship is strong in Japanese music; one should say the same of all serious music despite its ethnic origins. ‘Craftsmanship’ isn’t a term that appears regularly in writing about Western music, a composer like Frank Bridge stands out as one nominated in this way and I can think of reasons for why Bridge carries this distinction, both good and bad. Perhaps a reader with greater familiarity with Japanese culture might like to help me out with this thought.


Japanese aesthetics (2)


For me the study of Japanese aesthetics has much to offer the Western composer, though at first the qualities may seem more appropriate to art, architecture and writing, particularly in the form of poetry. I hope the following points illustrate how much we can still benefit from Japanese aesthetics even if they often seem contrary to the interests of European composers.

Japanese philosophy understands reality as constant change, to Buddhists change is impermanence. The arts in Japan traditionally reflect this. In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, awareness of impermanence brings about action and the appreciation of each moment of awareness and life. This is beautifully told in the following short tale:

The Monk, Tigers, Mice and the Strawberry

A monk was walking through the jungle when he saw that he was being chased by a tiger. The monk fled with the tiger close behind, then he realised he had come to the edge of a cliff. As he looked back, he saw that the tiger was getting closer.

Hanging over the edge was a thick vine, so the monk took the vine and began lowering himself over the cliff. He looked down and, far below a second tiger prowled.

Two mice began to gnaw at the vine. The monk saw a wild strawberry plant was growing within hand’s reach. He picked a ripe strawberry, it was delicious!


Impermanence is seen as being beautiful, hence the Japanese love of cherry blossom which usually falls from the tree within a week of appearing. Music in the form of improvisation should capture this quality, and with the characteristics of Iki, knowing the formation of elegant shapes, scales, chords and melodic formations, one should aim to produce music of delicate quality.


In addition to the values outlined in the chart there is the concept of the “cut”, (kire) or, “cut-continuity” (kire-tsuzuki). This device is highlighted in the Haiku poem where the alteration of viewpoint is a key element:



In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus -
A lovely sunset



- Matsuo Bashō


Should you wish to spend a little additional time with these concepts this mid-length article offers a good starting point:













As the summer has arrived and it is a period for relaxation and a suitable time for contemplation I turned my mind to a simple musical game, could I identify qualities from the Japanese aesthetics in a given period of music? It didn’t take long to decide that French Impressionism would provide a wealth of possibilities, here are some suggestions:





Wabi-sabi: Debussy’s “Voiles”, natural, subtle; “Des pas sur la neige” tranquillity, and “Nuages” for transience. My wife takes a different viewpoint and suggests that Satie is a more likely candidate, particularly “Parade”, I see her point of view.


Miyabi: Ravel’s “Tombeau de Couperin” for refinement and awareness of transience.


Shibui: Ravel Concerto in G major for the balance of simplicity and complexity.


Iki: Debussy “La fille aux cheveux de lin” for refinement (personal attributes), and “Le sons et les parfums…. for sophistication, complexity and intricacy.

Yūgen: Debussy “La Cathédrale engloutie, “Danseuses de Delphes” and Ravel’s “Valse nobles et sentimentales”.

Geidō: With Ravel being described by Stravinsky as the “Swiss watchmaker” it is natural to include him in respect of tradition and craftsmanship, the “Sonatine” perfectly represents this quality.


Jo-ha-kyū: This aspect is less well represented, but if one takes the Ravel “Bolero” as beginning quietly, then being intensified and then “cut” it acts in several respects as a mirror to this quality.


Ensō: The universal may be represented by Debussy’s “La Mer”, but for me the final movement of  R. V. Williams “Sea Symphony” reflects this quality, particularly in the final bars as they approach eternal silence.


I am sure that others will come up with equally good ideas regarding this topic, perhaps better examples, and examples from different composers and periods. However one feels about these comparisons the process of making associations is useful in consolidating the characteristics of two different cultures. As we have seen in previous blogs on this topic Japanese influences on the French were particularly strong in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so the connections are relevant to the art and furniture of the period. Little seems to be made of this in English writing on French music, perhaps those who read French articles might direct me to sources on this subject.


Takemitsu "Les Yeux Clos II"


Odilon Redon painted a series of works on the theme "Les Yeux Clos" in 1890, he says that the images were made with the most diluted paint, making the subject, the face of his wife, near transparent on the canvas.  When Takemitsu took the same title he worked his music with a clarity of texture that approached Redon's ideal. 


The pitch content is primarily driven by the use of a limited mode (of eight pitches) in its 3 transpositions. The modes are shown below as pitch classes where C =0


M1: 0,1,3,4,6,7,9,10

M2: 1,2,4,5,7,8,10,11

M3: 0,2,3,5,6,8,9,11 


There are phrases where a single note or pair of notes lie outside the mode, usually as a dissonance to a surrounding phrase.  Once the sound of the mode is familiar to the listener the music is easily heard as being derived from it, and the pitches outside the mode are never destructive to its character. One of the most apparent features of the mode is the pairing of semitones, and the tension created by the use of semitones is heard from the outset in "Les Yeux Clos II". The following manuscript lays out the main harmonic concerns that reveal themselves in the course of the music.




Here all the material is taken from M1 and forms two layers, the upper part is the open fifth on C'/G', a tolling bell figure in keeping with the title. The use of the open fifth is kept for this figure to highlight its importance to the concept of the music.  The middle texture is built from a pair of semitones, C/D flat and F'/G, so the C/G forms a transposed fifth at the semitone, and a pair of augmented fourths a semitone apart C/F' and D flat/G. The augmented fourths are also present in the bass as B flat/E, E flat A. These formations are heard throughout the work, and make the form of the composition clear. The semitone dissonance is a vital element in the drama of the music, and is only diminished in importance in the closing bars where the tensions, particularly of the central section, are released.

The opening five bars act as an introduction to the work as a whole and the remaining sections are clear and simple to distinguish.

In the second section the chord passages become a major feature, these form a continuous chain of collections formed from a perfect fourth in combination with an augmented fourth, the latter in the bass, the tetrachords are added to by a semitone or tone dissonance to form a pentachord when desired, the placement of the additional note depending on the linear material surrounding the chords.





There is a strong connection in these chords to passages in Impressionist music, enhanced by the simple contours shaped by the chords which contrast with the widely spaced figures which decorate the music.

The music of "Les Yeux Clos II" forms three distinct layers, the chords, the rapid figures and the slowly evolving melodic strands, often having repeated material. The following example breaks down one of the rapid figures to show the use of the mode, three inks are used to clarify their use.  One pitch lies outside the mode marked in red where it forms a semitone cluster.





The melodic element has already been introduced in bar 4 and the close of bar 6, but plays a more extensive role from the next section starting at bar 11.

Repetition plays a more prominent role here, particularly in bars 11 to 19 . The example given below is taken from one of the long measures, bar 13, where the music is based on the M3.  The 'melodic' character is introduced by a three pitch figure on G' B (repeated) F, passing through two superimposed four note figures (x and y) to a five note group (z) where the augmented fourth/ perfect fifth collection is heard. Figure y, the lower melodic shape is given prominence in bar 18 where it is heard on its own.






From bar 19 we have the fourth section where the music becomes more vertically dense though the melodic character is sustained.  At 19 selected pitches are articulated by the use of octaves and repetition, opening with B flat , A, B flat and a long held C sharp (M1). By the long measure at 27 this has extended to B flat, C (repeated) C' E , again repeated with a final F', all harmonised by M1 with the exception of two pitches which form an augmented fourth pair in the upper parts. The pitch collection forming the melody continues through bar 28, another extended measure.  It is not surprising to hear that these long measures contain a high degree of coherence by either interval construction, repetition or rhythmic design.  This way Takemitsu composes localised groups of similarities within the whole structure, sometimes made wholly clear by larger scale repetition.

Bar 31 is a softer repeat of 30 and marks the end of the section.



The fifth is the final part with a short coda to close. The passage can be heard as a reworking of the A section, where the music is increasingly refined.  Though the material is clearly from the opening Takemitsu brings in the theme from bars 27 and 28 into the texture, both the first bar material and this theme are M1 based. Only as we get to these closing measures do we become fully aware of how the decorative figures have disappeared leaving this calm and static close. The life of the music has ebbed so progressively that the conclusion is both inevitable and natural.

Art v architecture.  The music of Takemitsu.


There is no shortage of commentaries on Takemitsu's music, and there is a great deal of agreement on the main issues.  For this reason the blog will restrict itself to matters of interest for composers and the general listener of contemporary music.


Takemitsu's music does not conform to principles of strict organisation. Some would see this as Takemitsu taking more of a craftsman's role in his approach than an architect, or as the music historians would have us understand, a gardener who places his timbres and phrases with an eye for balance of colour and form.  For those who enjoy gardening (like my wife) there is a need to form collections or groups of plants in groups, as singular plants are easily lost, having heard this stated throughout my life I shall take it as gospel!  If the metaphor holds one should hear collections of phrases of similar material with spaces to articulate the design of the garden, much as seen in the image below.





There are early works which make use chance elements and as such fall outside the restricted and ordered world of modality, these include "Ring" 1961, "Corona"  1962, and "Dorian Horizon" 1966.  There is a recording of "Corona" by Roger Woodward which demonstrates admirably the contrast between control and freedom in Takemitsu's hands. There is no You Tube video of this, the Jim O’ Rourke version is more restrained with the drone / improvisation contrast discussed in previous blogs more apparent.




 Images of the graphic scores, those I have been able to find, show an artistic economy of line and space with some musical indicators to provide recurring motifs or approximations of motifs.

The modal interest which is the main concern of these articles can be heard from the earliest works, "Green" contrasts dissonant music and gentle modality. That description underplays the range of expression in the music where he first impression one gets is the influence of Messiaen, bird song included.  Repeated hearings bring out a wealth of detail which eventually binds into a stream of continuous lyricism behind the orchestral fragmentation.


Reading about Takemitsu's early life there was an appear in the lyrical quality of popular songs heard on the radio, and there are biographical indications that Takemitsu regularly sang through his musical ideas whilst involved in their creation. The distillation of sounds in the final minute of the work is masterful in its economy.  The recording with Knussen is available on You Tube, where it has received less than a hundred views at this time!




The use of modality becomes increasingly refined throughout his artistic life, with age there is refinement of style and simplicity. The restrictions placed on the use of modes will be illustrated with examples from Les Yeux Clos II (1988).  There is a score with this music so readers may follow up in greater detail the ideas presented here.




Takemitsu's music makes use of a wide range of techniques of organisation, modes, counterpoint, and repetition in abundance, all of which gives a clarity to the music which makes it immediately accessible. If we recall the chordal progression discussed earlier from Les Yeux Clos II one can hear that the motion is simple, parallel perfect and augmented fourths spiced with a semitone dissonance, the result is a series of closely related chords lacking the rigidity of serial music, but beautiful and clearly distinct as a unit for repetition and development in the work as a whole.




Analysts have found several methods of working around the inexact placement of notes chords and sections including reasonable percentage levels of accuracy on one hand and non-musical accounts on the other.  Perhaps the best indicator of use for inexperienced composers is that Takemitsu reserves the right to add and subtract notes from collections as he pleases; the antithesis of serial approaches, and perhaps a reaction against slavish imitation, which would be frowned upon in the Tao!


For the composers reading this blog the association between Cage and Takemitsu requires comment, though I will try and keep the Zen references to the minimum (despite the fact that both Nurtan and I have some interest in this philosophy / religion). For me the most important musical influence lies as much in Taoism as Zen, the balance of forces in Ying and Yang, and where there is balance, the tension created between the two extremes. It may have been Cage that made Takemitsu aware of the musical importance of silence, but in Japanese culture the philosophical theory would be well understood.  While silence is a feature of Takemitsu's thinking, sustained and dying sounds (decrescendo) are most significant, particularly in the piano works where the pedal is of considerable importance. These long ‘pauses’ are useful for shaping the composition by breaking the music into short paragraphs of evolving textures, they also permit intense and complex figures to be heard and musically "examined" by the listener.


The movement of parallel chords and similar sounding chords is familiar to any audience of jazz music particularly from Oscar Peterson onwards, and it is of little surprise that Takemitsu experienced and enjoyed the sounds of jazz from an early age.  Add to the mix his fondness for  the music of Debussy, Faure, Frank and most importantly Messiaen, one has no difficulty relating his ‘modern’ textures to these roots.


As stated, the clarity and simplicity of Takemitsu's style becomes ever more apparent in his late period, Nostalghia is one of the most accessible of his late works.  Before listening to the recording play the 0,1,4,5,8,9 hexachord and get the sound of the superimposed augmented triads in your head (use C natural for 0) and the music becomes remarkably clear to follow.


The music is a reflection on a film by Tarkovsky of the same name, there are two short clips of the film available on YouTube which speak volumes about pace, dwelling on a moment in time and the tension created between sounds.





The symbolism in the second clip of making the journey with a candle without its being extinguished may be comprehended by a practitioner of Zen as being similar to the task of reaching for a goal (enlightenment) in which the achievement results in the death of self. The use of Verdi’s music at the final moment is as chilling as it is beautiful.  It is of little wonder that Takemitsu wanted to write a musical commentary on this remarkable film.


Of the modes used by the composer the octatonic mode (2nd mode of limited transposition) occurs with some frequency, as does the sixth; (in Forte's classification the two modes are 8-25 0,1,2,4,6,7,8,10 and 8-28 0,1,3,4,6,7,9,10).  One characteristic of both modes is that the regularity of spacing prevents those hierarchical references found in tonal music, as a result the music can create a sense of stillness, valuable to his creation of contrast between paragraphs of music.  There is no naivety in his use of these modes, the placement of notes show both an awareness of articulating localised harmonic areas and creating tension by voicing the progression of individual phrases.



The self-imposed restriction of a thousand words for these blogs means that a number of beautiful and remarkable extracts have been passed over, but I hope that the blog has opened a window on Takemitsu’s method and philosophy. Most of all as a guide to younger composers one should take away two ideas, firstly that exact and rigorous control is not an absolute necessity, and secondly the old adage “be true to yourself” is an essential part of the creative process, even if it isn’t taught on academic courses.