Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Water Drumming

When I was 20, I went to see Eiko and Koma performing "River" in the Delaware river in Easton, Pennsylvania. It was my first experience with art that uses nature as not just a backgroung but as an integral component. There was a speaker playing soft shamisen music off to the side and the dancers just drifted down the river out of sight as the sun set- that was the end of the performance. The next performance of "River" was with the Kronos Quartet with music composed my Somei Satoh. They tried to recreate the natural setting on stage and it just didn't have the same impact.
DANCE; Two Dancers Who Never Step in the Same 'River' Twice
Published: November 30, 1997

TWO DANCERS, A MAN AND A woman, were immersed in the Delaware River, moving almost as slowly as the flotsam of tree branches that wound around them on a late summer night in 1995. Boats slowed so that fisherman, and one barking dog, could watch. Then, suddenly, a heavy night sky broke over Easton, Pa., and poured more water down on the performers.

know that Satoh created at least one other enviromental work but I can't seem to find any details on it. I also read of another composer who enacted opera on a lake with two large boats that lasted until the sunset.
There is also the Baka People of South-Eastern Cameroon who do this amazing thing with the river water drumming. I practiced this a lot with my son over the summer.

Baka Girls Waterdrumming

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I've been busily arranging some pieces for string quartet and piano for C for some upcoming concerts and in those wee hours of the morning working on a piece for two sopranos and piano using found texts with some of my words mixed in- it's my first attempt at a Japanese text.
Luka had his soccer practice yesterday and I think he found a girlfriend- he just goes crazy when he sees her-he even tried to eat sand for her. Anyway his grandmother gave him a stern talking to about listening to the coach and not eating sand to which he replied by crying in my arms for about an hour. Finally he said "Mama"(which is the name he uses to call his grandmother) angry. Luka sad" which is the first time I've ever heard him use those words in context.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Stardust(er) was commissioned by Chie Morimoto and Yoshio Nomura. The first performance was held on October 25, 2008 at the INAX Live Museum in Tokoname. The performers were Chie Morimoto(vln1) Sachie Umemura(vln2) Yoshiko Numura(vla) Aki Uchida(vcl) and Yoshio Nomura(gtr).

The piece was originally inspired by Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust”

Listen here
thanks to Sam Ishiguro for his audio recording expertise

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sor and The Cambodian chasing the Water Buffalo

Here are some pics- the first is my solo performance from last weekend and the other is of a duet Yoshio Nomura and I performing Woratep Rattana-umpawan's piece for two guitars "Three Thai Traditional Songs" the second movement appropriately named the "Cambodian chasing the Water Buffalo"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Starduster and Magic Flute Variations

Starduster for guitar and string quartet will have its premiere on October 25th at the INAX Live Museum. They're also performing some Puccini songs which I arranged for guitar string quartet and soprano, Debussy's string quartet, and Boccherrini's string sextet.
This Sunday I'll be performing Fernando Sor's Magic Flute Variations for guitar at Yoshio Nomura's Happyokai at the Cafe de Aria in Ozone.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Starduster and myoga- the ginger of forgetfulness

I've been frantically trying to finish my piece for guitar and string quartet . The piece is inspired by the book "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman, a great book that Glenn over at Oran let me borrow. They have some great new songs that you should check out.

I've also been eating large quantities of myoga or Japanese ginger- a very crunchy and pungent vegetable. They are known for making people forgetful- very dangerous for a forgetful person like me.

Also I have the mastered version of "Getting Here" over at my website. It's the same version that's on this month's copy of GuitarDream a bi-monthly guitar magazine produced here in Japan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

new website

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Getting Here version 1.1

Yoshio Nomura and I made a rough recording over the weekend of my piece for two guitars "Getting Here." The mic I used doesn't seem to be the best for classical guitars so please bear with it. We're planning on recording it a few more times until we get it right so just consider this to be version 1.1.Here are the links

Getting Here

I Early Morning Departure

II Over the Water III A possible, but most likely imagined Tribal Dance

Here are the program notes
Getting Here is based on the idea of soul delay. I read about it in Willian Gibson's book "Pattern Recognition." The idea is then your soul can only travel at about 100m per hour, so if you travel over that speed, your soul can't keep up with your body. So, once you arrive at your destination it might take a few days for your soul to catch up with you. I really liked this idea and I started imagining the adventures my soul might have had on its way to Japan...a lonely early morning departure on silent seas...some turbulence and mythical creature sightings...a tribal dance in the shadows...arrival-cherry blossom snow and the final reunion celebrations.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Oriental Dance in Shinjuku

I went to Tokyo this weekend with Luka and his grandmother. On Sunday we spent the night in Sakura a town near the coast in Chiba. There I finally met Mari's cousin, he was the only member of her family that I hadn't yet met. He's a Latin Ballroom dance teacher- it was fun to hear him talk about Mari when they were kids. He hasn't seen her for about 15 years.
On Monday we trekked over to Disneyland for a few hours- pizza, chocolate popcorn and then onto Shinjuku to see Mari's Tokyo debut. Actually her stage name is Mayardy. It was a great show and her performance was effortless. A lot of people came up to her afterwards with tears in their eyes- they were that moved! It was a great relief for me because she's been stressing about the performance for the past few months.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two things

Here's Luka at the park.

Here's me on Japanese TV

this blog is terribly unfocused, I know

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

October Dream Recording

October Dream for guitar quartet as recorded by the Osaka Guitar Quartet has been included on the accompanying Cd to this month's Guitar Dream Magazine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Luka as Elvis

Luka loves to try on sunglasses, but for some reason he always puts them on upside-down

Monday, March 10, 2008

War-torn countryside

It's actually the view of my apartment from the riverbank.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

secret song

Last night, Mari was putting Luka to bed and while I was turning the lights off in the rest of the house she started singing this song. It was very beautiful and lilting in a natural way. It seemed to spill out like honey or sweet butter. I asked her whose song it was and she told she just made it on the spot. She was worried that it might have been too broadway- it was nothing of the sort. That's all, it was very powerful.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

About me

So, I finally have some time this morning...Melanie from over at My Life as a Gaijin tagged me so here goes...

What I was doing;
10 years ago

I had just graduated college and that summer moved to New York City, where I attended a recording engineering school in the afternoon and worked fixing computers at Baruch Mari and I got married. We had been living together in Japan for about two years. The ceremony was in Hawaii at tiny chapel. Everything was perfect. One of our classmates from the recording school, Yuki and her mother came, and my parents, grandparents and my aunt and Mari's parents and friend Ai were able to come. We swam in the ocean with the giant sea turtles. I was working teaching English in the afternoons and writing and practicing in the mornings. I had my first real paid commission- Takashi Nakamura asked me to write a piece for harp and tenor. My piece "October Dream" was in the works to be published by HomaDream. I also met my mentor, Yoshio Nomura,who has been basically responsible for all of the great musical things that have happened to me here in Japan.

1 year ago
Teaching. Taking care of my one year old son. Writing and performing a piece for two guitars with Nomura-san. Riding my bike to work every morning. Waking up early to write music. Mari opened up her bellydance studio, Yasalam in downtown Nagoya.

I found some time after work to begin putting my orchestral piece "prayers and sighs" into the computer. Had some wine with Mari. Talked with my in-laws over dinner. My Japanese skills are in a down swing- 'been speakin' to much English.

5 snacks I enjoy

1.chocolate red bean soup(zenzai)
3.roasted chestnuts
4.chestnut cake(marron braun(sic)
5.rice cakes

5 books I like

1. The Wind-up bird Chronicles- Haruki Murakami
2. Vineland - Thomas Pynchon
3. Against the Day - Thomas Pynchon
4. The Mind's Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination- Bruce Adolphe
5. the new Haruki Murakami book

5 things I'd do with $100 million

1. Buy a house on the water in Hawaii with a studio overlooking lots of palm and fruit trees with a small coffee-bean garden in the back.
2. Establish a water based energy source company
3. Charity
4. Give it away- too much responsibility
5. Dig my own hot spring in Gifu

5 places I'd love to run away to

1. Kauai
2. Saipan
3. Vietnam
4. Santa Barbara, California
5. (anywhere that is warm and quiet)

5 bad habits and pet peeves I have

1. PP people who rush in front of you in line to get on the subway
2. BH drifting off into my own world
3. PP people who are mean or rude
4. PP people who take advantage of other people
5. BH being an occasional hermit

5 things I like doing

1. Writing
2. Dreaming
3. Talking with Mari
4. Playing with Luka
5. Traveling

5 things I would never wear

1. A piano tie
2. A candelabra
3. A mullet
4. A sweatsuit of all the same color
5. A football jersey

5 TV shows I like

1. Zenmai Samurai- it's a cartoon created for kids but it's absolutely amazing
2. ojarumaru- another crazy cartoon

3. I rarely watch TV so for now just the above two.
4. ""
5. ""

5 movies I like
1. Wings of Desire
2. Kamikaze Girls(Shimotsuma monogatari)
3. Memories of Matsuko (Kiraware Matsuko no issho)
4. Adaptation
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

5 famous people I'd like to meet
1. Martin Bresnick
2. Bob Dylan
3. Haruki Murakami
4. Thomas Pynchon
5. Tetsuya Nakashima

5 favourite toys
1. Laptop
2. Ukelele
3. Ipod
4. Toy Piano
5. guitar

5 people I'd like to see complete this
1. Ritchie
2. Glenn maybe he could write about his band

3. my son
4. myself in a past life
5. my other self in a past life

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I just wanted to plug the wonderful composer Bruce Adolphe's book The Mind's Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination. It's such a great book for training your inner artist. He takes some of the concepts that are taught at the Juilliard Acting School and then expands them and applies them to music. The book has really helped me to clarify my ideas.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Guerilla Tactics

I was really impressed with Mayke Nas's piece No reason to panic (2006) not only is the piece a great listen, it's also a great staging idea! Here's the general idea
Unannounced to the audience, No reason to panic served as a surprising entr'acte during a stage changeover in which the strings of the orchestra had to make way for the grand piano, that slowly rose from the catacombs.

Here' a review
"And suddenly this fresh music sounded, right through the hoisting of the grand piano. Flutes that played their ascending lines in different time-divisions, sometimes together with a piccolo. Pulsating double basses. Percussion, that was enlarged with a lion's roar, a howling drum. The conversations died down, the audience feasted upon this spicy intermediate course. The explanation came during the break. The composition turned out to be a commissioned new piece by Mayke Nas (1972) with the fitting title No reason to panic."
(Bela Luttmer in Volkskrant, 7 oktober 2006)

How cool is that! And what a great idea for new composers as a way to get their music performed by orchestras and heard by new audiences! I really believe that these guerilla tactics might be the way to go. It reminds me of those little outtake gems(outros) that you used to find between the Beatle's songs especially on the Stawberry Fields Forever album which Michael Gordon of Bang on a Can used as the basis of his piece "I Buried Paul."
The outro starts at around 3:30

Also this is completely unrelated but I think I just found one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I've ever heard it's called Twice as Pretty I don't know who the artist is but it's just so moving and the lyrics are so well written.
Enough rambling from me...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hot music for cold days

Let's see... I spent most of my Winter Holiday listening to African music, especially Jeli Moussa Sissoko's Kora playing and Moroccan gnawa music- Hassan Hakmoun's The Fire Within: Gnawa Music of Morocco and Mustapha Baqbou's album Djema El Fna- great stuff. I've been trying to capture the rhythmic flavor and playfulness of this wonderful music in a new solo guitar piece called "Falling Through the Cracks" I've also made some good progress on my orchestral piece- a piece that keeps getting put on the back burner. It seems to be one of those pieces I need to write through- like a sort of phase- and once I get through it I can finally climb out on the other side.

We did the traditional Japanese New Year's celebration eating osechi ryori(Japanese New Year's food) and going to the shrine for hatsumode(the first prayer of the new year)- it was pretty relaxing. I don't remember much of the shrine- had a little too much sake. One of my resolutions for this year is to communicate more to people in person- I feel like I spend too much time on e-mail and not enough talking to people in person.

Here's a little something I found of Hassan's on youtube

Rolfe's Barber Shop