Twelfth Aitake II: Beyond Eleven for the Gagaku Sho for sho and electronics.

Twelfth Aitake II: Beyond Eleven for the Gagaku Sho (2013) consists of six sections, A1, B1, C, B2, A2, and B3. The chord progression of the sho part in B Sections is the same as that of the opening section of the famous Gagaku piece Etenraku (Music of the Divine Heaven). In the second Section A, single tones of the sho are processed with a phase vocoder instrument so that those pitches unplayable by the sho can be used as well, and the melodic fragments of the sho and those of the processed sounds maintain heterophonic relationships throughout. The sho can produce only fifteen pitches and nine pitch-classes. In other words, the sho allows composers to employ only three different diatonic sets, while J. S. Bach, for example, used all twelve in his Well-Tempered Clavier. In this piece, I tried to use the instrument in the twelve-tone pitch space. The entire piece has been generated by my own Java program using a rule system that makes possible the integration of the traditional eleven chords, "Aitake," into twelve-tone harmonies, which I call collectively the "twelfth Aitake." All voice leading and transformations of harmonies are strictly regulated by the rule system. Since the transformations of pc-sets in Section C are dense and resulting harmonies are highly chromatic and dissonant, I used a Lindenmeyer system (a mathematical model of the growth of a plant) for that section so that recurrent patterns generated by the system contribute to easier comprehension of the harmonies. My Java program generated score files of the piece first and then they were fed into RTcmix, sound synthesis and processing software developed by Brad Garton, which processed the sho sounds and produced all the synthesized sounds.

The following is the entire piece (11'20"):

I'm grateful to distinguished Gagaku musician Mayumi Miyata not only for her excellent performances of this piece but also for a great deal of useful advice and suggestions. I'm also indebted, again, to Jaroslaw Kapuscinski and François Rose for the Gagaku Project at CCRMA at Stanford University. Without their detailed, very clear descriptions of Gagaku instruments, I couldn't have finished this piece.

The subtitle of the piece "Beyond Eleven for the Gagaku Sho" was suggested by Barbara Ruch, Professor Emerita of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University and Director of the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies.

Akira Takaoka

New York
March, 2013

Twelfth Aitake II was performed on June 14, 2014 at Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Twelfth Aitake II was presented at RTCmix Festival 2014 at College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati on March 7, 2014.

Twelfth Aitake II was selected for peformance at CMMR 2013 in Marseille, France.

Twelfth Aitake II was premiered by Mayumi Miyata at Miller Theatre in New York on March 8, 2013.

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