Drum kits in No Theater - Japanese traditional fusion music


I have been living in Japan since November in order to deepen my knowledge about Japanese music and hopefully to meet with Japanese instruments musiciens. 

I already went to some concerts with Japanese instruments, which you can find here more than in Europe. Recently, I went to a concert featuring contemporary musical compositions for the Koto, voice and clarinet. 

In December, I went to a concert of Japanese flutes (shinobues, nohkans, shakuhachi...) sho (free reed musical wind instrument) and drums :-) ). The principal coordinator of this concert was Isso Yukihiro, nohkan player from a traditional musician family. However, as"drums" were one of instruments, it was not really a traditional style.  It was nice to see drum kits on the stage of the traditional noh theatre :-) 

I think a lot of traditional Japanese musicians nowadays are looking for styles other than real Japanese traditional music. 

The music was based on traditional melodies, motives and modes, but styles were free and the sounds and charm of the instruments were brought well together, because it was composed by the flute player himself. Very virtuoso pieces. It sounded natural, but the styles were adapted for our time period with drums. 

As this flute player likes to play with many musicians in other fields and there were drum players, I thought the music might be Jazz style, and the rhythms and melodies are adapted to the Western style. After the concert, though, I heard the drummer telling the audience that it was difficult for him because there were many new things he didn’t know (because the music was based on the traditional music) So it perhaps wasn’t adapted to the Western style. 

The concert  I attended in November was one with classic contemporary style music, which means for some people, "incomprehensible" music. There are already many pieces of music in Japan for Japanese traditional instruments. I sometime find these pieces are written too much in the Western style of music that isn't convenient for Japanese instruments. Or it just doesn't sound good with Japanese instruments as Japanese instruments don't work like modern Western instruments, for which most of the composers have studied and composed.

As I saw somewhere on a flyer, composers and players must discuss a lot together to make a new style. Even though I'm not part of these movements in Japan for the moment, I'm happy to see all these activities. It gives me a lot of ideas!

I know that this Japanese music is still unknown in Europe, even though some people around the world may have listened to it and some people may have composed for those instruments. Nevertheless, I hope we can disseminate those instruments and music to the world more than it has been now :-) 


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