Idobata Kaigi 02
Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble (Yoko Ikeda, Wakana Ikeda, Aya Naito, Taku Sugimoto) ✖️Ryoko Akama
I participated in the ensemble’s rehearsal and interviewed the members the following day. The interview shows how musicians intermingle and maintain their relationships in the city and around the experimental music scene. Additionally, it expresses how the city weaves its culture of listening from one generation to another.
R (Ryoko) Let’s start with your background and what you are normally involved in outside the ensemble. Yoko, you are primarily active in the improvisation scene?
Y (Yoko) Yes. I am heavily associated with the improvisation scene.
T (Taku) You’ve emphasised that statement.
R Deeply embraced in the improvisation.
Y The improvisation scene. I am committed to it.
R Always with a viola and violin?
Y Mostly, yes.
R When I saw you in the Fttari’s year-end concert in 2015, you improvised with Yumiko (Tanaka) and Ken (Ishida).
Y With Akiyama (Tetuzi) and Date (Tomoyoshi).
R Sorry! I forget everything.
T I’d never seen her performing compositions before the ensemble.
Y I’m in a band as well.
T Still now?
R Is violin your first instrument?
Y Yes, since I was little. How long ago was it? It’s been more than ten years since I bought the viola. I was working in Kinoshita (Kazushige)’s quartet as a violinist to start with. The quartet had three violinists and one cellist, so I changed my instrument to viola. I felt as if I was jumping from the third floor.1 Anyway, the reason was only an excuse since I’d always wanted to play viola.
R Was the CD you gave me produced a while ago?2
Y Yes, it was.
R It’s a very fresh CD.
T What is fresh music? (laugh)
R You can often guess a production era when you listen to certain improvised music. Sometimes, an album cover helps you guess. I thought that CD was produced very recently. That’s what I meant by “fresh.” How about your background, Aya?
A (Aya) I started with classical music, enrolled and graduated from a music university. I met Wakana during my time at the university. We were both working as temporary performers for different orchestras. Then, I started to play in bands, including the band3 we told you, Ryoko.
R That band. You must’ve been very busy then.
A Yes, we were releasing CDs, performing, and so on. I left the band first, but kept working as a session musician for other bands.
T I’m surprised to hear that bassoon gets invited to band sessions.
A Mostly for CD recordings.
W Bands that include instruments like bassoon are so cool. You know, such as Lindsay Cooper from Henry Cow.
A I took oboe when I was a junior high school student, as my school had a renowned brass band club. When I went to high school, I changed to bassoon, which I continue to use in band sessions now.
R Do you play both bassoon and oboe?
A Only bassoon nowadays.
R What made you choose bassoon?
A There was a special music faculty in my high school where I was asked to join in as an oboe player. But, I rejected the offer as I wanted to be an ordinary student.
R You were a prestigious player then.
A My teacher was the one to be praised, wasn't he?
W Yes. He was living in the same apartment block as mine. I used to play flute for his orchestra.
A I got the impression that the music faculty was very strict. I only cared for the normal high school student life I’d always imagined, so I turned the offer down. Then, I joined in the brass band club, which had three oboe players from the same year. Consequently, the club asked me to change to bassoon.
R That’s a similar story to Yoko.
R There were three performers who played the same instrument who made you decide to move onto another instrument. After that, which university did you enroll in?
A The faculty of Music at Seitoku University.
R Is that the same university as Wakana's?
R You are not an old bandmate?
W We met at university, but we weren’t at the same institute. We were performing for the same orchestras when we were in our third year.
Y What kind of orchestras?
W Youth orchestras.
R What music did you perform?
A It was a selection of the usual classical music, like Mozart or Beethoven. I performed for others mostly while I was a student.
W What initiated our friendship was working at Tower Records. We had a part-time job there though we worked at different locations. It’s strange enough for orchestral performers to have a part-time job at record shops. I was using a particular clear folder with a rock band’s picture on it, to keep scores.
R Which rock band was it?
W It was a very popular rock band, The XX. I got the folder from my branch and was using it, which surprised Aya..
A I also had a clear folder with Friendly Fires’s pictures on it, who was a more popular rock band. That also came from my branch.
R What do classical music performers normally listen to?
A Classical music.
W They usually listen to music to practice. Or, probably J-pop.
R Returning to our topic, how about you, Wakana. How did you start playing the flute?
W When my father studied abroad, he picked up a second-hand flute in an attempt to teach himself, but he stopped after a day of practice. Since then, he kept it in the closet. I was born in the countryside in Chiba, where the entire school had only 100 students. I was a self-taught trumpet player, but when my family moved to a bigger city, Ichikawa, I couldn’t make noise anymore and lost the practice space needed to play the trumpet. It was then that I began playing the flute in the closet.
R How old were you? Did you use practice books?
W I never used any practice book. Until I had lessons to pass the university exam, I had to learn it all by myself. Though I took some free trial lessons, I had no time to continue, as I was also busy studying to enroll in junior high school. I tried brass band club, but I disliked it. I just bought scores I liked at stores and played them.
R What did you like then? Classical?
T These three [pointing at Wakana, Yoko, and Aya] have a proper classical background, while the rest [pointing at me and himself] are outlaws.
Y I only listened to classical music. I knew no other method apart from renting CDs from the library, which only kept a selection of classical music.
T A library would own nothing else.
Y I had no access to TV up to year seven, either.
R Parents brainwash children. Once, my daughter wanted to learn cello despite the fact that she’d never listened to cello music in traditional or classical form, only drone, improvisation, or exclusively quiet cello pieces. I wonder whether she would hear works by Bach or Mozart as avant-garde compositions if she ever had general music lessons. Was anyone else influenced by their parents?
W My father used to listen to classical music until I got sick of it.
A My parents were nothing special. They just listened to The Carpenters, The Beatles, or Pink Floyd in their car.
R That’s not “nothing special” in Japan.
T Not at all.
A They loved their foreign model car. They had a policy that foreign music must be heard in a foreign car.
R My mum’s car only played Sabu chan.
A There was no music at home. I picked up some classical music by myself, but never got into it.
R Don’t you have any memory of listening to classical music?
The ensemble members in Tokyo after the interview, 2016
A I was forced to learn piano.
R Yoko, when did you get tired of classical music?
Y I was around 22 when I got utterly gob smacked by a DMBQ concert I went to with my friend.
T It is more shocking that you had never had such an opportunity until 22.
Y I was still taking lessons in the music school where I was already a senior. Subsequently, I began searching for a reason to practice the instrument, and for what career. DMBQ was a rock band who jammed over 30 minutes of a forty minute song in total.
R What is the different between improvisation and a jam session?
T Jamming is an ad-lib with predicted chord progressions.
Y Jamming develops sequences, expects a climax with an unspoken agreement, and eventually goes back to the melody.
T In other words, it’s Grateful Dead type music.
R Ah. I never got into them.
T Me neither. I never liked them.
R There are certain improvisers who lead the music in the same way, following deliberate climaxes and with a clear ending.
T I don’t work with those guys. That kind of improvisation is really just playing songs.
R Did you have hard time quitting the school you went to?
Y Yes. I wrote a very long letter of apology to my teacher. Straight after that, I started playing rock music. I left a band member recruitment leaflet on the seventh floor at Shinjyuku Disk Union.
W A member recruitment!
Y There was a post rock band advert looking for a cello player. Post-rock, like Mogwai and God Speed You Black Emperor, was so famous around that time.
R Was it difficult to shift from music that is scored to music that pushes jamming elements?
Y Yes. They would say, “Can you come in here?” and I’d say, “Ahhh, okay.”
R How did you get past that?
Y Have I? I don’t think I have yet, though I have practiced a lot.
R Wakana and Aya, what brought you to work with Taku and to become a frequent visitor at Ftarri after being in the rock world?
A Wakana invited me to Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble, which was new to me.
R Had you ever improvised?
W I had a university professor who was into contemporary music, like Toru Takemitsu. His program was full of this kind of atypical music. Because of him, I never felt resistance to music by Taku.
R But, music by Takemitsu is quite traditional and classical.
W Yes. But, when music universities in Japan are involved, that’s as far as professors could go. He was still the weirdest one.
R Did he teach Toshi Ichiyanagi and so on?
R Text scores?
W Not that far.
R Yoko Ono?
T Come on, definitely not Yoko Ono.
R She has made great compositions. I think she’s very underrated as a composer.
W Universities here would not mention or appreciate genres like rock or pop if professors were not interested.
R Isn’t there any professor who would mention rock music?
T I don’t think so.
W There are music history classes.
R How about electronics or techno music?
A There were classes that covered pop music at mine, which was a part of the electronic music department. I also took music history classes. Teachers with alternative backgrounds had interest in electronics or taught how to compose songs for pop stars.
W My university was unfortunately adamant. They preached classical music to death, but I was luckily exposed to a range of contemporary music, as well as rock music since I was young. I don’t tend to divide music into genres. When I like something, I like it. During my time at university, I lead a team that would premiere scores created by student composers. The ensemble, consisting of oboe, harp, and me, did open calls for students to make scores for us, which was my first contemporary music activity.
R How did you decide to start Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble?
T You jump subjects!
W Simply speaking, I joined in a rock band without thinking, but got hooked on it quickly. The band consisted of highly professional members who made me realize that there were so many musicians with professional attitudes and great policies even outside the classical music world. This experience made me quit wanting to become a classical player and commit to perform other genres of music. Sooner or later, the band became very popular and I started to feel suffocated. So I left and began performing Taku's music.
R From rock music to Taku’s music must’ve been a change!
W I had already performed his scores and played with him because I was in the band with Okada, who was connected to Taku.
T Then, asked.
R Who asked?
T I asked.
R You flirted.
T Yes, I flirted. (laugh) I needed a few young performers for concerts with Christian (Kobi) in Tokyo.
R That is your strategy, to flirt? (laugh)
T I asked her again when Johnny (Chang) came to Tokyo to perform.
R Ah, that was last year.
W Before that, he came to see my improvisation band called Hatten. It still exists. I formed the band with people who were into improvisation, and we enthusiastically released a cassette. When we wanted to sell the cassettes, we found Ftarri in Suidobashi on the Internet, by chance on a site that introduced the space as if it was the mecca for the improvisation scene. We then brought the tapes to Suzuki, hoping something would turn out. But, he just greeted us with an intimidating look on his face and said, “Yes?”
R (laugh) Does he still intimidate you?
T He is quite curt.
W He is super terrifying when he meets strangers. On top of it, Ftarri is dead quiet, isn’t he, with the occasional sine tone coming out of the speakers…
The improvisation scene frightened me then. I could not speak up to tell him that I had cassette tapes to sell, but I eventually asked about the possibility for the shop to handle our release. He said he would listen to it first and our correspondence has continued since that day.
R Was that recent?
W Two years ago. It was the beginning of it all.
R Did you purchase the tape, Taku?
T I went to see their live performance two years ago.
R At Ftarri?
W My first performance at Ftarri was with Okura who is also a little brusque at first.
T That’s his face’s fault.
W I wasn’t familiar with Ftarri’s persona, nor Suzuki being terrifying. Everything intimidated me already. Then on top of it, Okura looked horrifying. I could not play at all that night. I was extremely tense.
R Is Okura an improviser?
T He does everything, including playing in bands.
W He was performing with the Saxophonist Hikari Yamada at the concert. Since that night, Suzuki kept inviting me to various concerts and I got to know him better.
T There aren’t young artists at all. I invited her to my septet and our collaboration began.
R You said you already were familiar with Taku’s music?
W Yes, since I was a university student. Taku Unami’s music, too. When Taku came to my concert, I was quite surprised.
T Why did I go there?
W You gave Okada your CD.
T Yes, I remember.
W I used to listen to a lot of improvisation music, even Otomo's, but what eventually made me start improvising was the book by Derek Bailey. I was very moved when you [Akama] took me to Sheffield while I was in England. I thought to myself, “This is the city of improvisation!”
R What did you think of the improvisation scene in the U.K. and Berlin, in retrospect?5
Y Our improvisation at the Access Space [Sheffield] was a familiar and traditional one. It was only lo wie who improvised in the Fuse [Bradford]. Having lo wie changed the atmosphere.
R It was great that Charlie [Collins] performed very differently from his usual ways in terms of quietness.
W Performing with Hada6 in Berlin was also different.
R Don’t you improvise within this group [pointing at Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble]?
T We’ve improvised with Copi. I never improvised with Yoko.
R Who came up with the idea of Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble?
T We came up with it together.
W I went to see my friend’s event where Taku was performing Antoine’s piece.
R What composition?
T A quite recent one that has been produced as the album CD by Cristian.
R Okay. That one on wandelweiser.8
T After I played, Wakana and I talked about this ensemble.
W I didn’t have a commitment to any group after my resignation from the rock band. We were drinking together and established a rapport.
T The leader is Wakana, while I am a lieutenant general, or an advisory council?
W I take suggestions, and we discuss, but ultimately, I am the leader.
R Did you form the group to perform wandelweiser works?
W Not at all.
T Wandelweiser is an entrance. We have easier access to their scores, but we never feel that performing wandelweiser is our aim. Of course, it’s easy for me to ask them favors as they are my good friends.
The ensemble members rehearsing at Ftarri before the concert, 2016
W I had a seriously runny nose when we were performing 3+3=3 last night. I am sure the audience could see my snotty nose. It would’ve made such a loud noise if I’d ever sniffled. It was so hard.
R I know that feeling. I once performed Antoine’s four-hour piece from 22:00 to 2:00 am9 with six performers and voice at a proper church concert hall. I was utterly tense with the fear of needing to go to the bathroom or any accidental noise I may cause. Around the midnight, I saw the cellist in the middle of the stage nodding his head in sleep. I thought that he was the most professional performer of the night.
T I have fallen asleep at concerts in the past.
R Manfred told me that you fell asleep quite often.
T I don’t fall asleep that often.
R He says that guy [pointing at Taku] sleeps well.
T I saw a snotty nose on a noh actor once. To make the matter worse, he was unfortunately maskless. His snot was diagonally running down his face. I sympathized with him a lot. A prompter hastened onto the stage and fixed it right away.
R Maybe we should have a prompter too.
T There’s nothing we can do about it. No one can keep themselves healthy at all times.
R Do you find these noises improper or unacceptable in quiet concerts?
T Who’s making the noises? The audience?
R Sniffling and making abrupt noises.
T The audience?
T I don’t particularly care if someone coughs or whatever. It can’t be helped. But, I don’t like people chatting.
A I remember someone was snoring in front of the row when we were recording our show.
T Yeah, I remember.
A That was when we were performing a piece by Jürg Frey.
T There is definitely a place for forgiveness. I can allow falling asleep but snoring is…
R But, nothing we can do about it.
T That is also correct.
W Just because we were recording the pieces, snoring was not acceptable.
R And if you weren’t recording?
T It still bothers me.
R Does it bother you? When I did a super quiet duo with Ferran Fages, one listener in front was snoring with a chirping noise, which was unquestionably louder than our performance, but, I found it quite charming. Many people in the audience were laughing as well.
R It’s much better than a deliberate jeer like, “When will it start, mate?” when the heckler has surely acknowledged that it has already started.
T I know that moment. Sometimes, a performer is just fumbling with machines and we are not sure whether anything is happening or not.
W Contrary to it, I don’t also like audiences being polite. I like them relaxed.
T Yes, they should be relaxed.
R How about coming in and out of the venue?
T Antoine wrote something about that once.
R About leaving?
T Yes. He said that allowing audiences to stay or leave is one question that composers can pay attention to in the composing process. I disagree with it, but I find it an interesting opinion.
A I don’t mind these noises.
T Sometimes, I dislike a door sound.
W That clang. Ftarri’s door especially has a heavy lock and makes such a clang when opened.
R But, a door noise once awakened a new musical sense in you in the past, Taku?
T Yes. It can happen.
R Noise and music have a peculiar relation.
T That experience was exceptional.
R I hear how your music career shifted from music that entertains people, like rock or improvisation, to…
T Do you think improvisation entertains audiences? If so, Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble also entertains people. At least, it pleases me.
Y A different kind of satisfaction.
R A way of captivating people without much sound. Is there a difficult and interesting discovery you have noticed when dealing with such elements? Have you had much resistance to the almost nothing element in your music?
A Not much. It’s just another kind of music. Rock music is rock music and this is this. At first, there were a number of ideas I did not understand, but gradually I came to enjoy performing and listening to this music.
Y I sometimes wonder whether audiences really enjoy it or not while I am having fun.
T Once you start wondering that, you can’t do anything.
Y A way to listen.
mp3 version for streaming made by Sound American
Shoguu / Radu Malfatti
recorded at Ftarri, Tokyo on 7th May 2016
performed by Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble (Yoko Ikeda, Wakana Ikeda, Aya Naito, Masahiko Okura, Taku Sugimoto)
The ensemble’s CD is available here.
T I wonder if there is any difference between audience and performer when performing pieces like the last one [Wakana’s piece] at the concert.
Y There are various ways to listen and enjoy.
R Any change in listening aspects?
A I enjoy listening to rock music that is composed of many notes. Conversely, this music tells me that it is still music when nothing is performed. I now think that music is still there even when I am not playing, especially these moments when I wait and make dialogues with others.
T I know. That captivates me too.
T Wakana has disagreed with me in the past, but I like this kind of dialogue.
A For example, I missed a perfect point to join in and regretted it as I had only one part to play during 20 minutes of Yoko’s piece last night. You know I had only one minute during which I was able to perform in that piece!
T I hear you. I was negotiating my sound with the sound of flute. I wanted to come in when everyone was on as I had only two minutes to play.
A During Wakana’s piece, one other performer joined in when I changed the way I was rubbing my object, which sounded so delightful. This particular way of listening has grown on me because of this ensemble. My ears are improving.
T I remember there was a moment when your rubbing sound got weakened.
W I do too. I was like, “Is it ending now?”
A I mistook the piece as 20 minutes long when it was meant to continue for 40 minutes.
R I love it so much when performers make eye contact with uncertainty, thinking “Did I make a mistake?” “Is it the end?” and so on.
W Performers eyeing each other shiftily.
A I was secretively looking around during Wakana’s movement while rubbing my object, looking down at just her foot.
T When playing, you must take notice of others in relation to you. Otherwise, you can’t play appropriately.
A For these reasons, it was fun to perform the piece. The rehearsal was very different from the performance. Scores we work with here give unpredictable results, whereas one can almost predict what happens with classical music scores. Here, each performance is perceived as a new piece. That’s a very different perception from other genres I’ve been involved with. There are many viewpoints like this , which are important contributions to my music career.
T Will you write a piece?
A Wakana let me join without any previous knowledge of the music. I thought it would be much harder and more restricted than classical music.
T I think this music carries a kind of absurdity.
A I had a fixed impression that it was far closer to art, so I did not think I would ever be able to compose. I’d always thought that a composition had to have rhythms and beats in regard to its structure. But, working on colleagues’ pieces last night made me want to write a piece one day. I would like to know if I am capable of expressing what I feel with sounds.
R These scores typically demonstrate not only freedom but possibilities. Performers are allowed to establish various interpretations. Do you ever decide how a score should be played because of the composer’s taste? For example, the piece should be played quietly because the composer mostly makes quiet music, etc.?
T I try to perform naturally all the time.
Y As a matter of fact, I feel that I need to work on that perspective more.
R You mean you like to reflect your performance more on the composers?
T Most often, the composers are in the rehearsal, so I change if asked to change. That’s all.
W At last night’s event, we discussed how to perform Stefan’s piece especially where nothing was instructed. If we decide certain ideas collectively, we follow. If the idea we have is rubbish, we don’t follow. That’s all.
R For instance, Manfred’s scores can be seen as having such total freedom that someone can make extra loud noises.
T I would hate that.
R I agree with you, but we have previous knowledge and experience.
T But, it takes a certain route for the person to come to know his works. Only the specific route can bring someone to come to perform his compositions.
W What counts is whether your way works out well or not. If there was a mad score performed by a player who translated it to be performed simply, and that worked well, I would enjoy it.
R I agree. I like performing complex pieces plainly. But doing the opposite is the real question.
T Playing loudly definitely gives a sense of showing off. It’s better to attend to the piece instinctively.
W Altering the idea deliberately isn’t cool.
R But, what if the idea isn’t reflected in the score or you just don’t know where the score comes from? Spontaneously, we rely on a sense of mutual respect. We work with certain people because we know that they will do things in particular ways.
T Definitely, as always. By choosing people like that, I don’t have to explain some details. There are several issues like this as a composer.
W I asked Aya to join in the ensemble not only because she plays bassoon but also because she has no previous experience with this music. I thought she might bring unexpected interpretations. I did not know how she would react as a performer, but I trusted her as a friend. I did not pick up members in order to control everything, but to see what can be achieved with them.
R Taku said it was much more fun to work with young people.
Y Young people?
T Sorry but I meant people younger than I.
A What age range?
T That depends on the context. As far as politicians are concerned, forty to forty-five is still young.
W Why is that? Fresh and developing viewpoints?
T I’m not sure, but I just said it.
R Younger than I means nearly everyone.
T Yes, even Okura is.
R By the way, Taku’s music is dissimilated and distributed well in the non-academic field in Japan.
T It hasn’t been distributed enough.
R In the Western scene, this music is appreciated more widely by university or school-related composers.
W Art and music education in Japan is still weird.
R This is why I find this ensemble and Experimental Music Workshop fascinating. I understand that you are all educated and graduated from universities, but the music develops in the non-academic space like Ftarri and l-e.9 Would you also consider performing in bigger public spaces, like city halls?
T I would love to.
W I would like to make an event in a small concert hall.
R Pisaro often presents his works in bigger venues, creating compositions on a bigger scale.
T Do you think he operates bigger events?
Y Suzuki said that Pisaro’s CD were bestsellers nowadays.
R Michael’s CDs are fantastic. Teachers and their friends are often the leaders of this music in England, like Sarah [Hughes], Phillip [Thomas], James [Weeks], James [Saunders], etc.
T Of course, Michael’s CD are very popular. I’ve been to his Dog Star Orchestra
R You have?
R Academics and non-academics are consciously nourishing their careers separately over there.
W On the contrary, there is no academia around us in Japan.
Y Japanese are not prepared for this music yet.
R You think so? I don’t agree with that. Could it be the opposite case?
Y Funding applications and programs that claim to help art scenes, such as recent programs for artistic activities for the 2020 Olympics, are primarily for painting, theater, videos and installations, without appreciation for music at all.
R I see names like Yoshihide Otomo and Ryuichi Sakamoto very often in funded programs.
T This is politics.
Y Music is a neglected genre compared to other art genres, apart from people who are closely engaged with these matters.
T This is the reason why nothing is balanced in Japan.
R Objectively speaking, Japan tends to support the person once (s)he becomes famous. Conversely, it’s promised that public funds in England must be distributed equally in terms of areas and status. Though the system isn’t functioning that properly, it seems more balanced than Japan which tends to give funds to the same artists.
W There were several funding opportunities for students when I was at the university.
Y There are loads for classical music.
R Taku’s music is classical.
T Not at all.
Y Music, aside from classical music, hardly exists in university curriculums.
R Public opinion on artists sometimes varies depending on the artists’ educational backgrounds. Taku’s music could’ve been categorized as classical music if he had graduated from a famous school of music, and continued to teach there.
W Applying for public funding was unsuccessful for me, even though I graduated from a music university.
T You need behind‐the‐scenes negotiations.
W When I think of what my musical career will look like in the future, I admit that it would be fun to teach in a much freer environment than the current institutional system. But, I reckon that’s impossible.
R Do you desire that change?
T There are universities that teach improvisation now.
W In Jazz curriculum?
T And other courses.
W Improvisation classes?
Y (laugh) That is weird too.
W Charlie [Collins] told me that there were improvisation courses in British academies.
R I would like to move to the last few questions. What would you like to work toward from now on?
Y I would like to compose more pieces.
R Do you ever overlap the ensemble activities with Experimental Music Workshop?
T I will make a little exchange in the next ensemble event. I want to find emerging composers, otherwise this music will die. I will ask Experimental Music Workshop to make pieces for the ensemble. This music needs to be disseminated and it’s impossible to do so with only veterans’ pieces.
R Humans will die eventually.
T Wandelweiser composers are still young, but I want to find more new composers along with old experimental pieces.
W I made and performed my first piece last night, which gave me lots of ideas. I had been just a player. Now, I want to develop my composing skills.
T Stefan said Wakana would be composing soon.
A I would like to investigate the trajectory of this music more. I have slowly begun being able to respond to certain situations. I wish to participate in events more regularly. I want to gain further knowledge in order to become a performer the audience will appreciate, and pass what I have learned onto others in return.
R The last word from the teacher.
Wakana’s piece touzainanpoku (east, west, south, north), 2016
T I am not the teacher. You are always teasing me. I have nothing to say.
R Let’s enjoy?
T Only one thing, we should get together more regularly, at least once every two months.
R I want more composers to make pieces in Japanese. I like to do it myself, as well. I sometimes wonder why I keep using English.
W My piece wasn’t in English.
R I know. It’s cool.
T It didn’t have texts.
W It did.
T Ah, yes.
W I agree on that.
R There were scores in Japanese on the Experimental Music Workshop CD.
T Because no one can speak English.
R It was great.
T Maybe use both?
R I enjoy various nuances of the Japanese language, its abstractness, a sense of space, etc.
On top, we have three characters; katakana, hiragana, and kanji. It’s slightly different to say, “please do” in katakana and hiragana, which is fascinating. When I bought the CD, it intrigued me culturally and visually. The scores were very artistic.
T I have no interest in how scores look.
Y As a result, they are great.
T Scores… I couldn’t care less.
A Wakana’s piece was quite artistic.
T I agree.
A When I received it via e-mail, I didn’t get it and left it to deal with at the rehearsal.
T You could’ve expanded the size when printing and placed it on the floor. I do like thinking of these visual possibilities.
R For those who have bad eye sight.
W Originally, it was meant to be printed on several sheets. Maybe four of them laid out on top of each other.
T You should’ve used transparent papers.
W I also wanted performers to decide how many sheets to be used, but I couldn’t even be bothered to make numerous sheets. I want the ensemble to make score events more often in Japan and target more diverse audiences. At this moment, we see same faces who deliver the same ways of listening, who seem to be pondering what motif a composition carries out and so on.
T Yes, I know.
W Their thought on concerts is too serious. One listener apologised last night for falling asleep. I don’t care if she sleeps or not. I don’t want her to apologize. I want more audiences, so I will try to advertise for it.
T Then, we should find a bigger space.
W Venues like Ftarri have merit. We can make conversation with the audience right after the performance. They can also ask us questions.
Y The relationship between performer and audience is very different than in other genres of music. It is not simply the passive and active. Listeners do more than listen and performers do more than perform.
W On the other hand, I thought there was a clear distinction between performer and listener last night. Performers acknowledge the rules of scores and decide what can be done within the prescribed information. For example, my piece lets you think how to move or when to stop if your sound is an accidental trivia. You will be experimenting for forty minutes, even taking care of your tired hands. On the other hand, listeners are watching us without seeing the score. They can guess something, but nothing more. Attempting to guess rules is like a treasure hunt, which is not about listening. That’s why I think performers are in a different position.
T Rule hunting is a way of enjoying the piece, too.
W Of course, it is up to them to do it or not, but then, they have a different aim from us. My question is what I can do for audiences.
T I would pay attention to how to show the performance.
A When you performed 3+3=3, I kept wondering what was written on the score, watching Taku dropping sheets of papers that made sounds and eventually, music. I guessed when the piece would end, checking Taku’s papers falling away. It was visually fascinating.
T I had sixty papers for twenty minutes, so three papers per minute.
A I enjoy searching for rules in relation to both visual and aural information, which is an exclusive pleasure for the audience side.
T Anyway, Manfred’s score had no rule. The copied papers were the score, which I wanted to throw away.
W That piece had a high level of freedom, which made me think a lot. It was fun.
A It intrigued me because it had an incredible amount of visual information and movements.
T The Wakan piece could be enjoyed more in terms of sound movements.
W That’s what I expected.
Y Maybe it was too long.
W Yes, it was, but I felt it had to be long.
T It can be shortened down to ten minutes if produced as a part of a CD.
R Well, everyone. Thank you so much for a fruitful conversation. I definitely want to hear more of your stories next time.
1 A Japanese phrase for being daringly and bravery.
2 Sediments by Segments String Quartet (Tenseless Music: TLM-002: 2011
3 Yoshida Youhei Group was the band Wakana and Aya once belonged to.
4 An enka (Japanese traditional ballad) singer, Saburo Kitajima.
5 Wakana Ikeda, Yoko Ikeda, lo wie, and Ryoko Akama performed in London, Sheffield and Bradford in October 2016.
6 Hada Benedito more information.
7 24 Petits Préludes Pour La Guitare (Edition Wandelweiser Records: EWR 1302: 2013).
8 Four-hour version of en una noche oscura was performed at HCMF 2013 at Phipps Hall (Huddersfield University).
9 Another venue in Tokyo at where Taku often performs. more information.