- Akiko Yamane
Satsuma biwa is a Japanese instrument which has been developed as one of the ways of acquiring culture in medieval times, and which has been used mainly for warrior tales. From the point of view of Western music, the structure of this instrument is not rational: its tone interval is unstable, and it produces sounds comprising a noise (as opposed to musical tone) called sawari. It has been said that Japanese people’s ears are traditionally familiar with this kind of sound.
I was born in Japan and have learned Western music surrounded by it. us for me, to learn about biwa was to step into unknown territory, and at the same time, to rediscover a sense sleeping in my deep inside.
The title Harakiri alludes to the notion of the Japanese word harakiri, which has become known worldwide, based on inaccurate information on the internet, coming to signify typically “Japanese” kitsch. In reality, harakiri or seppuku means a form of Japanese ritual suicide by a samurai (warrior), who cuts his own belly with a dagger. I tried to depict a texture where one cuts the skin with a dull edge-tool like a utility knife, now that we do not usually use swords. Biwa cuts the space, then a mass of silent substance overflows from the orchestra; the substance consists of the organs of a maiden based around the shockingly pink colour, full of material and dreams.
I express my gratitude to Ms. Kakushin Nishihara, sculptor and biwa player. Two years ago, my other piece Dots Collection no. 6 was inspired by her visual art, and now she has motivated me to compose another work.