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The Soul of the Orient

The Soul of the Orient

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Music for Book Lovers

Ref: CDG1137

9 tracks 65 min
Click here to preview trk 4

Tranquil Japanese music

An album which features famous Japanese composers and music from the Heian period to modern times, in a program designed to relax as the lovely, elegant music describes simple and beautiful things from nature, such as cherry blossoms, a stream, or the wind in the pine trees.

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The Soul of the Orient
Tranquil Japanese Music

An album which features famous Japanese composers and music from the Heian period to modern times, in a programme designed for relaxation as the lovely, elegant music describes simple and beautiful things from nature, such as cherry blossoms, a stream, or the wind in the pine trees.

1 Koku (Sleep in Nothingness) Kyochiku (12th century)
Masters musicians of Darumaden of Nanzenji and Melanji, Kyoto, two shakuhachis and gong
2 Matsukaze (The Wind on the Pine Tree) Traditional (c.17th century)
Masters of Darumaden of Nanzenji and Melanji, Kyoto, shakuhachi
3 Kumoi Rokudon Kengyo Yatsuhashi (1614-1685)
Master musicians of the Ikuta-Ryu arranged by Chiyoda Kengyo for two kotos
4 Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) Japanese folk melody
Master musicians of the Ikuta-Ryu, two kotos
5 Etenraku (Music of Divinity) Heian period (794-1185)
Kyoto Imperial Court Music Orchestra, gagaku orchestra
6 Goshoraku (five principles of Confusianism) 17th century
Kyoto Imperial Court Music Orchestra, gagaku orchestra
7 Yachiyo Jishi Kengo Fujinaga (fl. 1741-1744)
Yayoi Nishimura, koto, Kofu Kikusui, shakuhachi, Noriko Noda, shamisen, Kofu Kikusui, voice
8 Nagare (The Stream) Kazuko Tsukushi (contemporary)
Koto Ensemble of the Ikuta School
9 Kyushi Riebo composed in memory of Buddha's death
Master musician of Darumaden of Nanzenji and Melanji, Kyoto, shakuhachi


All tracks licensed by kind permission of Lyrichord Discs, Inc., New York

Cover image: Man Playing a Flute Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1798-1861) Leeds Museums & Galleries (City Art Gallery) UK/www.bridgeman.co.uk
CCL CDG1137
This compilation P & C 2005 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

Inside book:

The Soul of the Orient
Tranquil Japanese Music

This album provides an introduction to the fascinating world of Japanese music. It doesn't aim to be comprehensive, since this would be impossible within only an hour long programme. But we have attempted to cover several schools of playing and several types of instruments and compositions, ranging across many centuries of music-making. Japanese music has roots deep in the past and the album includes some very ancient music. These roots have continued to flourish over the centuries, and there is still very much a living tradition associated with this music. The album reflects this with works from more recent periods as well as music composed by a contemporary musician. The pieces are all played by some of the greatest Japanese musicians of our times, in recordings made often in live conditions, which gives a tremendous spontaneity to the performances.

Possibly the most famous sound in the Japanese musical world is that of the shakuhachi.
Its flutelike tones are as closely linked to Japanese history and culture as the sound of the bagpipe is to Scotland's or the timbre of the lute and guitar is to Spain's. The word 'shakuhachi' means 1.8 shaku (feet) and it thus describes the typical length of the instrument, which takes the form of a simply constructed bamboo flute. Despite its outward simplicity, however, the shakuhachi is extremely complex to play, and there are long established traditions and several playing and musical conventions. Different Japanese masters have taught varied techniques over the centuries, but its overall effect to Western ears is frequently one of great calm and of a distinctive majesty of sound and style.

The koto is a long, thin instrument which sounds similar to a harp. Its delicacy of sound is much prized in Japan. It contrasts with the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument similar to a small guitar or lute, whose sound is thinner and more open. These instruments are frequently combined with the shakuhachi, in a manner akin to the Western trio. This grouping accompanies a singer in 'Yachiyo Jishi' (track 7). Japanese vocalisation is very different from a typical Western sound. The singer meditates rather than declaims: the sound is most definitely not operatic in our Western sense, but it has a huge intensity of feeling behind it, which makes for compelling listening.

'Gagaku' means elegant or refined music. It was developed in Japan from the sixth century onwards, having originated in India, China and Korea. It is therefore probably the oldest form of orchestral music in the world. It has been heard in the Imperial Court for centuries, where it accompanies everything from formal ceremonies to dances. It is very much a living tradition, in which a standard and limited repertoire, including the very popular 'Etenraku' (track 5), is occasionally supplemented by new compositions created for special state occasions such as a royal marriage.


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