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Monday, June 11, 2012

RAIN AND TORU TAKEMITSU










Light rain all day. The world outdoors the lush green of late spring heading into summer. The green world is radiant happy, the leaves of jewelweed between a foot and two feet tall dancing as they're struck by drops falling down through the leaves of the trees. They're not so much struck as tapped, like tapped on the shoulder, not to jolt them, but to set them in motion like music. The West African balafon comes to mind, the wooden vibes that have their special tone. I think of it as a honey tone. Like Thornton Spencer has a honey tone on his fiddle, to my ear. The sound of raindrops on leaves is a softer sound, but reminiscent, including drops of water striking water, striking rock, softly, quietly. I'm hearing someone like Steve Reich amplifying the sound of water drops touching jewelweed leaves, making them dance. Reich could find the music in repetition sequences, the rain. The sound of rain brings Japanese composer, Toru Takemitsu to mind. He's made compositions of rain in a Japanese garden. Not the literal sound like recording it, but the sounds he found in the piano that best evoke the sounds of the rain falling from leaf to leaf, to falling on the surface of a pond.


I've put some Takemitsu compositions on. Robert Aitken plays a flute, David Swan the piano, with viola, harp, guitar and clarinet. Lovely music. Takemitsu composes water themes frequently. How could one not become so fine a composer studying water so closely as to make music just right for a day of gentle rain exercising the leaves in dancing motion, A relaxing day, a day that says I don't want to go out the door. The pictures above were taken standing in the doorway with screen door pushed back enough to allow visual freedom. Outside, the rain on leaves; inside, a flute playing a composition about rain. What I see in my mind's eye is a Japanese garden of moss, large rocks, trees, water, big rocks standing in the water, red leaves, yellow leaves, evergreens, a mountain in the distance, clouds flowing across the sky like boats seen from below. This has about it something ideal seeming. Summer rain, Takemitsu music to hear in the near distance strolling through a Japanese garden, gazing out the open door and two windows in mild wonderment seeing one of the more subtle manifestations of beauty there is. A gust of wind flew by rattling the wind chimes that sounded like they belonged in the music.


The present composition is Rain Spell. A vibraphone played like wind chimes in a gust of wind soon after the wind chimes outside rang.  Piano notes punctuate the soft tapping of water drops on the leaves of dancing jewelweed. Inside and outside have become one, the music inside and the music outside like one playing rhythm and the other playing melody, both softly at the same volume. The music inside has stopped, the windchime outside the door rings a leisurely ting-ting in the soft percussion of raindrops splashing on fresh leaves, an orchestra of random water drops striking random leaves. The windchime sings a melody, the wind increased the rhythm of percussion from the ground, from above, from all around. What an experience. I've never listened to Takemitsu so in tune with the subtleties in the sounds he makes with piano and flute bringing forward the music he heard in the rain. The rain outside makes the original sounds he recreated on piano strings. On a day such as this I feel like I'm in a Japanese poem.

             An old pond---
         
          a frog jumps in:

            the sound of water.

                            ---Basho


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