Tue Mar 28 22:47:49 CEST 2006



20060322, Wednesday

The day before yesterday, my mother and I went to a concert
in the fashionable Akasaka district. Right next to the Hotel
New Otani is a music hall, where we went to listen to a
curious concert.

The type of Concert? The musicians all played traditional
Japanese instruments (Shamisen, Koto (both the regular type
the more unusual 13 stringed Koto), Migibue, Taiko, etc) but
they played non-traditional melodies.

This in itself is unusual. Traditional Japanese music has
pretty much stayed the same for centuries, so the norm is to
play music written many hundred years ago or so. The
consequence is, of course, that all young musicians who want
to create new music have shied away from the traditional
instruments, and chosen to go with the western styles-
i.e. the quad group: guitar, drums, bass + vocals, or the
'boy' and 'girl' bands, with canned music and lots of dancing
and singing.

This concert was an attempt to break the centuries old
tradition of playing old music to try to get these young
people to get interested in learning new sounds and

The result was impressive. All the songs were played in
traditional style (kimono and stage arrangements) but the
sound of some of the pieces played were completely

The concert was split up into seven parts, each played by a
different constellation of musicians. Two of them really stuck

The first piece was inspired by arab music, and was
breathtakingly beautiful. It reminded me strongly of Zakir
Hussein's music. If I closed my eyes and just listened to the
music, I would never have guessed that these hard faced
traditional Japanese men and women were the source of this
music. Just plain incredible.

The other excellent piece was written by the composer in
1960, when he had newly graduated from Music school. When he
presented this piece to his masters, he was completely refused
because... it was new and he was young. It wasn't in his place
to write something new, that was something you did after a
lifetime of studies (if even then). So he put the piece on the
shelf for almost fifty years, and now that he's a famous
composer he dug up the notes and here we are :)

The other pieces were interesting, but a little dull
compared to these two. I guess you cant get them all...