Thursday, October 8, 2009

The graphic experimentations of composer Toru Takemitsu

by Chris MaGee

Toru Takemitsu is a name you can't get away from if you have a love for Japanese cinema. Even if you're not a follower of 20th-century classic and experimental music Japanese film fans will instantly recognize the almost ambient scores that Takemitsu composed for such iconic films as Hiroshi Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes", Susumu Hani's "Nanami: The Inferno of First Love", and Akira Kurosawa's "Dodes'ka-den" (amongst many, many others).

Having been a bit of an experimental music geek before being consumed with my interest in Japanese film my attention pricked up when I saw this fascinating article posted over at the always fascinating Japanese culture website Neojaponisme. It chronicles a little appreciated era in Takemitsu's career during which he experimented with "graphic scores". To put it simply graphic scores throw the traditional bars and staffs of sheet music out the window and go free form in their methods of noting down a composition. A picture tells a thousand words, so check out the above image of Takemitsu's graphic score for "Corona for Pianists" composed in the 1960's and heavily influenced by American avant-garde composer and musical theorist John Cage.

The whole Neojaponisme article deserves a thorough read through, so if you've ever been interested in the work of Toru Takemitsu then definitely give it a look.

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