Colleen Christina Schmuckal:
Advantages of a Traditional Centre for Compelling Modernity: Examining the Roles of Japanese Traditional Instruments in Contemporary Music Through the Analysis of Katsusuke Nakajima’s Mizu no En

Stati a studie / Živá hudba 2021/12 / Publikováno 29. 4. 2022

Nagauta shamisen performer, founder of the genre “Sōsaku Kamigata-Jōruri”, and
Japanese composer Tōon Katsusuke was a prolific forward thinker of traditional instruments and music through a complex web of musical practices, historic roles, and deeply developed traditions with new and creative compositional solutions. His composition, Mizu No En (The
Water’s Grudge) (1969), for shamisen, voice, and fue (shinobue and nōkan flute) is a hauntingly provoking example that questions the role of Japanese traditional instruments
and performers/composers within modern music through revealing the process of modernising a tradition based on its own inherited musical aesthetics and practice. Examining this piece’s incorporation of modernity, traditional idioms, instrumental roles and musical-cultural contexts highlight how Japanese traditional music can coexist within the modern music scene while retaining its own identity and original aesthetic. The music analysis process itself
will also be brought into question as its influence has historically limited, overshadowed, and diminished the appreciation of Japanese “performer/composers”, as well as Japanese instruments themselves. This research includes personal experiences as a composer, teacher, researcher and Japanese instrumental performer living in Tokyo, and first-hand interviews
with performers, students, and family members connected with Nakajima. This paper will reveal new opportunities for Japanese traditional instrumental roles and performances within contemporary music when enriched by the ideas and traditions from their own history, hopefully expanding the possibilities for modern music.