Showing posts with label Taiko. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taiko. Show all posts

On Ensemble's Dust and Sand

Available at Amazon

On Ensemble has released their first compact disc called Dust and Sand. They included my work Two by Four, for nagauta voice and taiko as part of the recording.

I remember when I wrote Two by Four in 2003. I visited the musicians in Mt. Shasta where they were rehearsing. One night, Shoj, his dad, Mas, Kris, and I huddled under the piercing stars on a summer evening. I fell asleep listening to their deep voices tell stories from the past. In my slumber, I discovered that Two by Four was about creating an alternate story for North American taiko music based on noise and the ephemeral quality of stars. Being near a sacred mountain, I was reminded to listen and feel the night in this way, calmly taking in the activity of nature.

Listening to On Ensemble's recording, I hover in that summer dream space again, fascinated by how the taiko and gongs cross between Latin and Japanese, between past and future, and between myself and the night-mountain sky.

Two by Four

Chamber Music
for nagauta voice, taiko
Available at Amazon

Two by Four features nagauta voice singing the names of stars in Latin and Japanese along with gongs/taiko played mallet-style with two sticks in each hand. The graphic-notation score is modeled after a Japanese star map from the 16th century.

Program Notes
One summer, I visited Ōn Ensemble in Mt. Shasta. Two of the members were raised near this sacred mountain. I wanted to experience the childhood homes of these Los Angeles-based musicians.

One night, Maz, Kris, Shoj and his dad told stories under the stars. I fell asleep listening to their deep voices. In my slumber, I discovered that my role as a composer was to discover alternate sound possibilities for North American taiko music. Rather than structure rhythmic motifs, I thought about patterns of noise. What if North American taiko music embraced the attention to sound textures of hogaku music?

I realized that Two by Four embraced the ephemeral quality of circulating stars similar to the member of the Ōn Ensemble  transnational artists who travel between the United States and Japan.

Two by Four hovers in a summer dream space, nagauta voice, gongs and taiko cross between the Latin and Japanese words for stars, between now and then, and between the listener and the night-mountain sky.
Byron Au Yong

Duration: c. 6 minutes
Recorded on the CD Dust and Sand, released by Ōn Ensemble, 2005
Premiered at Grand Performances, California Plaza, Los Angeles, 2003
Commissioned by Ōn Ensemble

Dedicated to intercultural collaboration, Byron Au Yong composes songs of dislocation, music for a changing world. He teaches in Performing Arts & Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

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