Tabibito

for Noh voice and cello
[2021]  dur. 12′ ca.

Commission: Contemporary Music x Noh 2021
First performance Suntory Hall – Blue Rose, January 2022, Tokyo/Japan
Ryoko Aoki (Noh voice) Ayano Kamimura (vc).

The piece is based on two poems written by Kenji Miyazawa. 

The first part of the piece is built on the beginning of Chō chō (1933) written by Miyazawa in his last days of life. This part is mainly based on the sound effects of three Chinese characters in Japanese pronunciation, repeated almost obsessively in the poem to vocalize a sort of fight against a spirit, the illness, the death. 

Chō – which originally meant “nail”, is, when repeated as chō chō, used to represent a variety of sounds such as swords striking at each other, the pouring rain etc. The character of son means “respect”, ”reverence”, and that for satsu means “kill”. 

The voice here is rhythmical (mainly spoken, whispered), and it creates a counterpoint with the percussivity of the cello sounds and the sounds of the fan which the singer uses in the piece.  

The part built on the last lines of the poem becomes more lyrical: here the voice underlines every word and the struggle/confrontation of the beginning, makes way for other visions and a sense of nostalgia.   The last part of the piece is built on the short poem Tabibito (traveler, in Japanese) (1922), a devoted and ironic homage to the traveler, the one who faces and embraces nature, adversities, and adventures. Here the percussive and rhythmic sound world of the beginning resonates but in the form of a chant accompanied by the cello.