This paper examines some of the issues in research on a composer's discourse and his compositions. To accomplish this purpose, discussion is made of the composer SHIBATA Minao, one of the most important of Japan's contemporary composers, who has written a great number of essays and/or programme notes about his own compositions, especially about his choral, or theatre pieces. His discourse about his compositions can be understood without ambiguity, and therefore has a significant effect upon their performance. This characteristic of his discourse makes it possible to examine the relationship between his discourse and his compositional output. Two aspects are dealt with: 1. the temporal structure of his compositions; and 2. the variety of voice types used in them. Another aspect of his theatre pieces is that they always require a high level of spontaneity of the performers. It may be said, then, that his compositions have two distinctive characteristics: 1. the composer himself gives clear information about his compositions, and 2. in their performance the composer retreats into the background and a high level of spontaneity is required of the performers. It is possible to observe a degree of dissimilarity, perhaps even a paradoxical relationship, between his discourse on the theatre pieces and actual performance of them. A possible explanation of this phenomenon may lie in the prescriptive nature of his discourse and scores, while the phenomenon itself may be the essence of Shibata's compositions.
Miyagi Michio is said to have been the leader of the “New Japanese Music” movement and innovativeness in his musical works has tended to be overly emphasized. However, innovativeness in Miyagi's music is only one aspect of his compositions, so this would not be an accurate evaluation. In this article, based on my research of Miyagi's literary works, I will discuss what kind of music Miyagi was trying to create, his thoughts on composing music, and the new style in Japanese music which Miyagi was seeking. Miyagi's literary works can be devided into two types; essays and writings expressing his musical ideas. I found the latter states Miyagi's ideas for his music and these writings make a true appreciation of Miyagi's principles of composing music possible. I will elucidate Miyagi's principles from the following points of view: 1) how he undertook his compositional activities, 2) how he integrated Western music into traditional Japanese music, and 3) how he understood traditional music for the koto. As a result of my research, it is clear that Miyagi was deeply influenced by nature. He tried to create a feeling of nature as much as possible in his music. Furthermore I came to see that Miyagi tried to avoid a simplistic fusing of Western music and traditional Japanese music for he truly had a full understanding of Western music. Although people at that time seemed to be less interested in traditional Japanese music, Miyagi ardently loved and had a heartfelt understanding for it. Therefore Miyagi did use some elements of Western music in composing classical koto works because he wanted to draw people's attention back to this classical music. In order to attain this goal, Miyagi always kept in mind the general public as his audience, and he therefore composed his music in a melodious and flowing style preferred by the general public. However, some people criticized him for doing so, and he himself was in a dilemma over the issue. People at that time were seeking a new style in music. Miyagi was one of the musicians who was responding to this demand of the times. He tried to innovate traditional Japanese music in his works like “Mizu no Hentai” or “Hira” and also tried to be a pioneer in broadening styles of Japanese music in his works like “Etenraku Variations”, but at the same time he was swept away by the current of the times.
Heikyoku, music performed on the Heilke Biwa which accompanies the recital of the Heike Monogatari (The Tales of the Heike Family), is considered the literary flower of the Middle Ages in Japan. In the same way, the Edo Period text of Ko-Satsuma-Biwa-Uta, accompanied by the Satsuma Biwa, are masterpieces of the regional Satsuma literary genre in more recent times. To date, very little research has been done on these texts—possibly due to the fact that the performance guidlines for the pieces were transmitted orally. It has therefore been very difficult to find written records of the music or guidelines for Ko-Satsuma-Biwa-Uta from this time. Nevertheless, I was fortunate enough to find a large number of Ko-Satsuma-Biwa-Uta among the Biwa-Uta-Hon (music books for Biwa Uta) published during the Meiji Period, and I realized that this would provide me with adequate material for my research on Ko-Satsuma-Biwa-Uta. Therefore, I began to collect Ko-Satsuma-Biwa-Uta from the Biwa-Uta-Hon music books housed in the National Diet Library, finally gaining access to about 180 texts, including six dan-mono (songs to accompany long epic poems) and 52 ha-uta (songs for shorter epic poems and lyric poems). This formed the basis for my research. In the present paper I have categorized all of the pieces into two types, according to the length of the musc (i. e., whether dan-mono or ha-uta). In a further classification, ha-uta are broken down into six sub-categories. The classification is followed by a report on the composers and the historical background of each piece. Finally, the full text of one dan-mono and four ha-uta are given as examples.
In this paper, I suggest some frameworks for new methods of decoding ‘the cultural symbolism of the Chinese characters’, presenting a general view of its methodology and subjects etc. in connection with the research of the ritual musics in East Asia. In any kind of cultural research in East Asia, disregarding the researchers' subjective intentions or tastes, the existence of Chinese characters is something which cannot be ignored. That is because the inscriptive system of Chinese characters is the distinctive cultural characteristic of East Asia. Nowadays, Chinese characters are almost the only ideographic characters used extensively around East Asia. Its power of communication, which rises from its hieroglyphic and graphic nature, is far superior to the ‘long distance communication power’ of general letters. This is because it is not only able to transcend distances of time and space as other letters, but also the distances of languages, cultures and nations. China, as a country, covers a wide area, consists of many nationalities, and unifies many different cultures and numerous languages. This is due greatly to the considerable power of the cultural integration and capacity of the Chinese characters. Based on their hieroglyphic and graphic nature as well, Chinese characters have become a very fixed inscriptive and communication system that has continued to the present day. As research on the essence of national cultures is the most important purpose of anthropology and ethnology, we should seek pure forms of culture from its original form. In this respect, the ancient Chinese characters have written down for us vast and precise information about primitive forms of every cultural item, related to human actions and cognition, which can be at least trased back to the time when characters came into existence. This is the great value and meaning of Chinese characters in cultural research. In short, the Chinese characters are at the same time, a human cognitive system of the society and nature, and the codes or symbols of cultures. By interpreting them, and making an accurate cognition about them, we can easily trace back, to a certain extent, the primitive forms of Chinese and East Asia cultures, and bring them to light. That is the point of my ‘cultural symbolism of Chinese characters’. By investigating the characters of culture (_??__??_) from the viewpoint of this method, in this paper, we can see that the whole culture of East Asia is based deeply on festival rituals. It has a direct link to eternity and infinity, and a trend to venerate nature and transcend nature. In such environments of nature and culture, most divinities in East Asia exist in nature. And music, the most essential and common factor of culture, has in fact, an origin in the rituals for rain concerning the deity of thunder. When investigating ancient Chinese characters, we find the character _??_, namely the divinity, taking the shape of lightening. It means that, for the peoples of ancient agricultural nations like China and Japan, the most primary and sacred divinity was the deity of thunder. The praying ritual for rain from the thunder deity was written down as _??_, that is the original form of the character _??_. Its upper part is the shape of rain, and the lower part is the shape of vessels which were used as utensils for incantation. During the ritual, striking these vessels with something like a short sword was described as _??_, this is the primary form of the character _??_, showing the original concept and meaning of music. Generally, I think that nature, human, and culture, as well as every cultural subjects are ordered in a structured frame, where all of them influence and intertwine with each other. Thus, in researching ritural music in East Asia, we should not look at only the construction of the music, but should take into account their many related and surrounding subjects, especially