Interview with Yasushi Takemura (june 2016)


The first question is always the classic one: how does it start your love and interest for guitar and what instruments do you play or have you played?

I started the electric guitar when I 13 years old because of my admiration for rock music. The bands that I liked at that time were Metallica,Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses. My father played the classical guitar as a hobby and that is how I learned tuning and C major scale. I learned everything else by myself. I started playing the classical guitar when I was 17, and then I entered a university for music.

I discovered your music because I was looking for Reich’s music played by guitars, I was surprise to see that you have played “Music for Piece of Wood,” your is the only guitar version I have of this score, why did you choose to play it? Did you use a “mute” technique?

“Music for Piece of Wood” has many pieces of music which bring attention to their rhythms, but actually they also have beautiful harmonies. I pondered on whether such beautiful harmonies will sound more prominent if they are played using a guitar. The reason I play with “mute” technique is to create a percussive sound that gives the African music type of atmosphere.


Why did you decide to play Steve Reich’s music? I have listened to your versions of Nagoya Guitars and .. I think they are quite .. funky…

Steve Reich’s music, such as Classical, Contemporary, Jazz,  Rock, Techno, House, HipHop and  Ethnic music are important music that links to all the music in me. I started recording for the purpose of facing Steve Reich’s work, which is the “hub” that connects the various kinds of music in me. The reason why you think Nagoya Guitars is funky is probably because it is a fusion of the various kinds of music in me, with some groove incorporated into it. I am very happy that you’ve got such an impression! The image that I had in mind when recording Nagoya Guitars was Samurais with their swords locked together in a duel.

What’s the role of the “Error” in your musical vision? For “error” I mean an incorrect procedure, an irregularity in the normal operation of a mechanism, a discontinuity on an otherwise uniform surface that can lead to new developments and unexpected surprises…

Accidental unintended or unexpected events are purely “error”. I think seeking surprises or coincidences is looking forward to something from the time before “error” happens, but because you are seeking something, it is not a “error” but one of the tools used in creation. But it is a fact that even if it is simply a “error” to the performer himself, it might become the coolest moment to the audience. In other words, “error” to me can simply be “error” or one of the tools used in creation. This reminds me of the sentence “Understanding is but the sum of misunderstandings.”  in a book written by Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart.

I have, sometimes, the feeling that in our times music’s history flows without a particular interest in its chronological course, in our discotheque before and after, past and future become interchangeable elements, shall this be a risk of a uniform vision for an interpreter and a composer?

There are different values and sentiments during different times. I think to ignore them and to go back in time with the values and sentiments of modern times will make us drift away from the understanding and perspectives of the composers and the performers then. However, when it is impossible to listen to recordings from a time where there are no such things, it is necessary to derive that from various literature and interpretations of that era. And I will leave the last to the performer. On the other hand, I do not think that it is the joy of music to just reproduce what was from a certain era. It is also a fact that many outstanding pieces of work have been produced from contemporary interpretations and performances. No matter whether you try to go as close as possible to the style of that era, or create a style through modern and personal sentiments, they are all part of the joy of music.

Please tell us five essential records, to have always with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island …

Glenn Gould ”Goldberg Variations 1981”
Pascal Rogé ”Ravel The Complete Piano Works”
João Gilberto “João Voz e Violão”
Miles Davis ”On The Corner”
Herbert “Bodily Functions”

What are your five favorite scores?

Johann Sebastian Bach “Violin Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 Chaconne”
Steve Reich “Electric Counterpoint”
Erik Satie “Sports et Divertissements”
Anton Webern “Variations for Piano op.27″
Matteo Carcassi “25 Etudes op.60″

With who would you like to play? What kind of music do you listen to usually?

The guitarist is Ralph Towner. I listen to all types of music intensively everyday. Classical, Jazz, Latin, Dance, Rock, etc. Recently I listen to James Blake “The Colour In Anything” and Alfred Brendel “Haydn: 11 Piano Sonatas” a lot.

Your next projects?

I am currently recording a new piece of work. It is probably going to be a piece of work that readers of “” will be interested in. I want to be a musician that can make people feel the beauty of silence at any time.