SUSPENDED IN AMBER SARAH PEEBLES innova 506
1. Blue Moon Spirit (1987) 3:34
Ko Ishikawa, sho
Tomoe (Version 4,1991-1993) 39:59
6. The Big Sleep
Hiromi Yoshida, sho/u
Kakehashi Ikuo, percussion and MIDI Katcontroller, noise-makers
Sarah Peebles, MIDI keyboard, sampled sound, electronics, sho, noise-makers
8. Phoenix Calling (dance version, 1991-1993) 12:44
Ikuo Kakehashi, tuned idiophones
Hiromi Yoshida and Sarah Peebles, sho
Bugaku percussion ensemble: Haruo Suzuki Haruo, o-daiko; Yasuo Yamamura, kakko; Norifumi Shimazu, gaku-daiko; Aya Motohashi, shokko and keiseki
9. Aqua Babble 1993 13:49
Harada Takashi, ondes Martenot
Mizushima Kazue, string telephone installation
Sarah Peebles, electroacoustics, sho, toys
Blue Moon Spirit, Tomoe (Version 4), and Phoenix Calling composed by
Aqua Babble composed by Takashi Harada, Kazue Mizushima and Sarah Peebles
Sound sources: loon recordings and samples from Voices of the Loon CD/LP, Audubon Society, U.S.A; Buddhist chant - the Toronto Buddhist Church (Amida Kyo Sutra); prayer bells (kin) and sho, recorded at The University of Toronto Electronic Engineering Sound Lab; crickets and water - Wards Island, Toronto, Canada; cicaeda and frogs - Kai-Komagatake Shrine (Hakushu, Yamanashi Prefecture) and Tokyo, Japan. (All of the above used with permission). Large temple bells and keiseki (musical stone) graciously provided by Shukoji and Genshoji respectively. The Tomoe performance at Shukoji also featrued Kaieda Harumi, calligraphy performance, and Higuchi Yasul, lighting designer.
Phoenix Calling was choreographed and danced by Mie Morimoto.
Aqua Babble was performed with video installation by Haruo Higuma, sound installation by Kazue Mizushima (including 70 paper cups, string, trash can lid, and wire); electroacoustics by Sarah Peebles (Boss SE-50 processor, bells, noise-makers and sampled sounds utilizing Sample Cell "peppermint").
Blue Moon Spirit recorded by Tsutomu Suto April 4, 1995 at Studio 246, Tokyo.
Tomoe recorded live September 25, 1993 at Shukoji, Kawasaki : parts I-V, main hall; part VI, inner garden. Recording engineered by Tsutomu Suto; Naoko Suginama and Taichiro Suzuki, live sound technicians. Edited by Philip Strong at Somnambulab studio, Toronto, Canada, September, 1995.
Phoenix Calling recorded live by Tsutomu Suto; Naoko Suginama and Taichiro Suzuki, live sound technicians. Remixed and edited by Philip Strong at Somnambulab studio, Toronto, Canada, September, 1995.
Aqua Babble produced by Haruo Higuma as part of the annual Water Echo Series performance-art festival at Studio Kinshicho, Tokyo and recorded live by Miyoshi (DATE?).
I would like to express my gratitude to those who have offered years of invaluable guidance and instruction in Japanese traditional musics, particularly Mr. Kiichi Yajima, the Tokyo Jinja-cho, Mr. Naohiro Shibata, Tamigoro Okada-sensei, Kuniaki Okada-sensei and Professor William Malm. I am also in debted to these artists and friends whose extra musical contributions instigated and completed these collaborations: Morimoto Mie, Mr. and Mrs. Sugawara, Kaieda Harumi, Higuma Haruo, Otani Maya, and Furuya Kazuko.
Special thanks to: Minnesota Composers Forum McKnight Recording Loan Fund, Japan Foundation Uchida Fellowship Program, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, Apple Japan, Opcode, Digidesign, Dynatek, Korg, Inter/Access, Studio Kinshicho, Rossignol & Associates, Matsumoto Yoshiaki, Mackerel, Ito Kaku, David Rokeby, Ishikawa So, Robert Cruickshank, Nagaoka Fumiko, Ichigaya Mika, Yoshiguchi Sarah, Uchida Mizuko, Goto Natsuko Honjuiin, Mr.& Mrs. Hongo, Mr.& Mrs. Miyajima, Goto Asamu, Sakamoto Keiki
This recording is dedicated to the memory of dancer and choreographer Rene Highway, who so enthusiastically supported and joined in my endeavors, and whose spirit continues to inspire me.
SUSPENDED IN AMBER
"The dance has an image of a phoenix who gains its energy by cyclical change of the moon. Spatial image comes with the breadth of the silk road, and time derives from the sound of this ancient instrument [sho]." (Mie Morimoto).
The ethereal, transfixing sound of the sho, described by William Malm as "like a butterfly suspended in amber," inspired much of the music on this recording. After working intensely as a deshi (apprentice) and studying gagaku (court music) and Sato Kagura Bayashiand Matsuri Bayashi (pantomimed music-theatre and ensemble music performed at Shinto festivals) in Japan in 1986 and 1989, I became interested in the role of music in society, as well as in expanding my own compositional language through observing and playing non-Western music. This lead me to explore for my own music alternative concert settings- relationships between performer and audience, and between audience and space. Returning to North America in 1990, I experienced difficulty in finding collaborators in my new home, Toronto. What began as a place of isolation became a place of exploration as I shifted from the acoustic and analogue realm to the world of sampled sound - an exploration which included acoustic Japanese instruments and familiar natural sounds from the Great Lakes region, and later, the soundscapes of my rural and urban surroundings in Japan.
"Cross-cultural" collaboration is a further and primary ingredient in the works on this disc, both in the international sense and in subcultural contexts that exist within the Japanese art world as well as the art worlds of North America. Mixing improvisers, contemporary music performers and traditionally-oriented artists was a challenging but instructive experience. My orientation as a North American yielded as many clashes but many fruitful dialogues as well.
"Transforming Temple" was the title and theme of the concert during which the first three compositions on this recording were presented. Held at Shukoji, an intimate, historic temple situated in a small remnant of countryside amid the urban sprawl of Kawasaki's Asao borough, the experience was intended to transcend the contemporary Western notion of the concert hall. Stepping off the train and walking up the long, bamboo-forested path to the temple, the listeners began a physical, sonic and spiritual journey. Late-afternoon gagaku in the temple's inner garden opened the musical cycle; as dusk descended, a mixture of contemporary sound, architectural elements, calligraphy and Buddhist-inspired ritual followed within the main hall. Returning outdoors, the listeners heard the concluding music and and watched dance accompanied by a cool night breeze and glowing moon above; starlight and singing crickets escorted visitors back to the town.
1. Blue Moon Spirit (for solo sho, 1987)
A friend commented that listening to the sho was like watching the clouds change. This short piece is my first for the sho. The motion, harmonies and flavor here take after a specific gagaku composition. WHICH ONE?
Blue Moon Spirit is titled after a painting by Mizuko Uchida in which a woman holds before her a blue "moon" while another glows in the sky above her. The spheres in the painting are metaphors for the spirits of the woman and of her lover, the blue orb in the sky "falls very, very slowly. The woman waits forever." SARAH, IS THIS A QUOTE?... FROM?
2. - 7. Tomoe (“revolving life,” Version 4 - 1991-1993)
An improvisational tableau for 2 sho, u (mouth organ), percussion, electro-acoustics, calligrapher, temple, and autumn evening soundscape [utilizing 3 performers, electroacoustics, calligrapher, and temple]; In six parts: Pre-Dawn - Spring Summer - Autumn - The Big Sleep - Rebirth
Tomoe is a work about cycles and process in which Japanese and North American perspectives are explored through environment and sound. It draws upon basic natural elements: the seasons, creation, death, rebirth. The sho, loons, bells, and water weave a sonic and allegoric thread throughout the piece. Music of the sho is historically believed to provide a trail for Shinto kami-deities between this world and the nether ; the loon, with its distinctive calls and "laughs" inhabits a treasured place in the hearts of people of the northern woodlands of North America. The birthplace of all life and the symbol of purity - the ocean - finds its parallel near Toronto in the Great Lakes. Impermanence, infinity, the intangible, transitions in time and space - all are embodied in the lingering tone of a bell.
The idea and structure for Tomoe were initially developed from an original concept for avant-garde shodo performance with musician, based on the Buddhist concept of rinne tensho (literally, revolving life or "revolution") by Japanese shodo artist Ono Toshihiko. Version four of this sixty-minute work features sho and u (large mouth-organ), folk toys, Buddhist prayer bells, electronics, sampled sound, DAT tape, avant garde shodo (calligraphy) performance, lighting design and temple setting. Three musicians and a calligrapher perform in various areas of the temple's main hall and outer garden: two of whom trigger sampled sounds via MIDI keyboard and Katcontroller. Sampled materials are controlled by one performer who, in real time, chooses from twelve different "instruments." Collaboration and improvisation are essential elements to the performance of every section of the work.
8. Phoenix Calling, (dance version, 1991-1993) for assorted, tuned percussion, bugaku-style percussion, sho and/or free reeds, hyoshigi (clave), tape and bugaku-style dancer [for small ensemble, with bugaku-style dance]
Phoenix Calling explores the dynamics of aitake (harmonies used in gagaku ) and rhythm of bugaku (court dance) in a setting which involves electronic tape, bugaku-esque cyclic rhythm, rhythmic improvisations, dance and sho players who call and respond as they move along opposite sides of the audience. I wanted to study the quality of aitake via sampling each, one by one, transposing, and superimposing this material.
Harmonies shift from what a Western ear might perceive as consonant - pitch sets of several aitake which are derived from the first five pitches of a tonal series (D A E B G#) - to more "dissonant" aggregates of aitake which include the sixth and seventh pitches of a tonal series and thus include half-steps. Hyoshigi and Japanese clave (SARAH: ARE THESE TWO DIFFERENT KIND OF CLAVE?) mark the change from one aitake-based group to the next (in order: Otsu, Bo, Ichi, Kotsu, Ju, Ge, Ku).
The tuned percussion players memorize seven basic aitake as well as a "master rhythm" with which they may improvise upon throughout the piece. The cyclic rhythm performed on bugaku percussion is based, as is the above "master rhythm", on a Shingon sect (Buddhist) secular mantra unrelated to gagaku. This cyclic rhythm is re-interpreted in a way reflecting and, at the same time, departing from the yohyoshi 4-beat rhythm standard to many u-mai bugaku pieces.
Said to depict the shape of the phoenix resting her wings, the sho and its
sound, represent the cry and image of this mythical creature. The phoenix is
thought of in Asia as imperial, regal, and usually female. In the bugaku
ensemble, she adorns the right half of the dadaiko (great drum) pair, which
is also crowned by the moon (one of the most significant and powerful connections to woman-kind and to the cycle of life). In our "modern" lifestyles, we have all but forgotten these basic connections, and, in
both Western and Asian histories, we are taught to hide, reshape or to be
ashamed of, rather than to revere, our powerful and sacred female bodies.
Phoenix Calling is a celebration of Woman.
9. Aqua Babble (1993)
improvisation for string-telephone installation, ondes Martenot, electroacoustics and sho
Strings, oscillators, free-reeds, and bells all seem to embody the idea of the continuous tone, like the hum of the nervous system. In reality, they can transform sound into totally unexpected shapes. This performance provided an unorthodox forum in which seemingly contrasting instruments could either collide or unite on common ground, each element overlapping intriguingly with the other.