Inside the musical complexity, the conceptual challenge of Tsunehito Tsuchihashi and Gaku Yamada. On #neuguitars #blog #TsunehitoTsuchihashi #GakuYamada
Recently I had the great pleasure of receiving practically all the musical production on CD from the Japanese guitarist Gaku Yamada. Yamada is one of the most interesting guitarists to emerge in recent years, as well as a fervent devotee to the cause of contemporary music. In recent years he has also dedicated himself to performance art, going beyond the simple instrumental activity, collaborating with dancers and other artists on theatrical works and experimenting new approaches to artistic expression. I was deeply impressed by his technical ability and his stylistic coherence with the purchase and listening of his splendid cd “Ostinati” (2017), released by ALM Records, where he performed pieces by James Tenney, Akiko Yamane, Haruyuki Suzuki , Vinko Globokar, Osamu Kawakami, Kazumoto Yamamoto, Yori-Aki Matsudaira, Aldo Clementi and Alvin Lucier. Alternating with classical, electric guitar, electric bass and lute. Today I would like to focus my attention on two CDs, for guitar duo, which see Yamada playing with another excellent Japanese interpreter: Tsunehito Tsuchihashi. After graduating from the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin, Tsunehito Tsuchihashi was invited to the Lilienfeld music festival in Austria. He also appeared with Christine Ivanovic in a performance of Erich Fried’s “Izanagi und Izanami” held at the Tokyo Goethe Institute. He won first prize in the ensemble section of the Pan Pacific Contemporary Music Competition. He won the prize for contemporary music at the Forum Gitarre Wien International Competition and was a finalist and winner of the special jury prize at the Kyogaku XIII contemporary music competition. He studied guitar with Takayuki Matsui, Norio Sato and Daniel Göritz. Tsunehito Tsuchihashi and Gaku Yamada have started their collaboration in Berlin since 2010, channeling their creativity in crossing, through the guitar, a vast musical world that goes beyond the limits of time, from avant-garde renaissance, to experimental music and to the stage performance. Having gained the trust of contemporary composers, they premiered numerous new works.
Like the first cd “Archipel du sommeil dans le joir VIII” released in 2020 where they interpret two scores by the composer Masamichi Kinoshita: the same “Archipel du sommeil dans le joir VIII”, a piece over 34 minutes long, with considerable complexity and which gives title of the cd, and “Salut fur Helmut” which refers directly to the themes of Helmut Lachenmann. Recorded in 2017, the album had to wait until 2020 to be produced by the semi-unknown independent record company Blutree. Composer Masamichi Kinoshita was born in Fukui prefecture in 1969. He has long been known for his diverse and fascinating musical activities: in addition to composing many songs every year, with a particular focus on chamber music and improvisations made using electronic junk .
In 2021 a new album, “ARCS”, was released for the Japanese label ALM Records, which had already released other works by Yamada. “ARCS” is a more articulated work than the previous one, based on the music of Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough, Alvin Lucier, alongside those of Japanese composers, such as Tomoko Fukui and Toru Nakatani.
Tomoko Fukui was born in Kyoto. She has won the “Scholarship Award” of the International Summer Course of NewMusic in Darmstadt, “Akiyoshidai International Composition Prize”, the third prize of the Japan Music Competition and some other prizes in Japan. Selected for ISCM World Music Days-Hong Kong2002, ISCM World Music Days-Zagreb 2004. Invited by “La Biennale di Venezia (2002)”, Daegu (Korea) music festival (2004), Takefu music festival (2005), International Summer Course of New Music in Darmstadt (2006), Seoul Pan Music Festival (2006). She is the organizer of the ensemble “nextmushroompromotion” which plays mainly contemporary music. This Ensemble received the Saji-Keizo Award (Suntory Music Foundation) 2005. This award is given to the Ensemble that gave the most interesting and inspiring concert of the year. She is a teacher of Osaka College of Music and Kanseigakuin Univ. She lives in Tokyo.
Toru Nakatani built a microtone guitar with moving frets in 1996. Two years later he started playing with rock bands, jazz orchestra and improvisation groups. He traveled to the north and south of India and Sri Lanka in 2000 and during his stay in New Delhi he studied the dilruba, a classical Indian bowed instrument. Since 2001 she has been performing as a soloist. Her works received the third prize of the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award (2008), an honorable mention at the Irino Prize (2009), an honorable mention at the International Gaudeamus Music Week (2009) and the second prize of the BMW Live Music Composition Prize (2010).
Tsunehito Tsuchihashi and Gaku Yamada are two interpreters of the highest level, both for their technical skills and for their artistic choices. I believe that the thread that binds the music they perform is “complexity”. The term “complexity” as a description, as a characterization not only of a musical style, but also in more general terms, has over time been so contaminated by stereotypes and misinformation that it is almost impossible to explore in an emotionally neutral field. The complexity should not, however, be reduced to “difficulty” or “complication”. Checkers can be difficult or complicated to play, but chess and Go are complex games. The music performed by Tsunehito Tsuchihashi and Gaku Yamada are, without a doubt, difficult to play. However, the complexity in this context, as well as in chess and Go, refers to the construction of the pieces through multiple layers of information, sometimes conflicting, to their versatility and to the structured chaos present in them. This is not simply a matter of information density, although this is also a feature of his music, but of the multiple lines of force that must be negotiated and balanced at any given moment. In his excellent book “Music after the Fall” the musicologist Tim Rutherford-Johnson rightly points out that even Paganini’s music is difficult to perform because it adds a dense figuration and many ornaments to a single musical trajectory (a melody or a harmonic progression). , using many notes per measure. These musics, on the other hand, are complex because they describe and use multiple frameworks that intersect and conflict at the same time, at the same time and environment. I think it is a question of form, capable of containing a certain density of information, which suggests a further ideal time frame in which it can present itself and be understood by a listener, creating situations in which the material is forced to overcome its implicit limits. In a song, for example, we recognize a refrain for the first time by how it relates to the verse we have just heard and for the second time by the fact that it is repeated. Both thoughts depend on our memory’s ability to keep bits of music in mind and make quick comparisons between them. The music performed by Tsunehito Tsuchihashi and Gaku Yamada interrupt these memory paths, overloading them, counteracting them or redirecting them. Processes such as those described above, as well as the use of non-metric rhythms and fleeting relationships, are designed to violate and disturb conventional patterns and expectations and therefore inevitably attract a lot of resistance from the public and critics. The very word “Complexity” seems to have become a derogatory term. However, this music is not limited only to the realms of abstract philosophy or the development of new prototypes. Tim Rutherford-Johnson, in his book “Music After The Fall” points out how the representation of reality takes place in an exclusively musical space, but is formally similar to modern financial models, public transport payment systems and storage facilities. media, in which daily transactions no longer take place between people and objects but in a remote and impalpable space, made up of digital databases and cloud computing. Their empathy with the times we live in (even if it does not necessarily coincide with the immediate wishes of the audience) contributes to making this innovative music a powerful attraction factor. Tsunehito Tsuchihashi and Gaku Yamada are examples of a “tradition of difficulty”, artists who tend to a world not immediately accessible to the majority of their colleagues.