Roger Marsh Composer


Kinshi for ensemble (WP)

In the 1990s I wrote a number of pieces inspired by my study of Japanese traditional music.  These ranged from large scale pieces like Kagura for ensemble and Sukeroku for percussion quartet, to smaller pieces like Hoichi for solo alto flute and electronics and Atsumari for solo O-Tsuzumi and percussion.   When I agreed to write this short Japanese inspired ensemble piece for Vaganza, the first thing that came to my mind was the amazing vocal music of Kinshi Tsurata – a blind biwa player who also sang the Heike ballads (Heike Monogatari).  She can be heard singing the ballad Dan no Ura all through the final story in Kobayashi’s 1967 film Kwaidan.  The opening phrase of that ballad is woven into the music here, and is heard clearly at the end.    Otherwise the music is more influenced by the orchestral gagaku – in that each instrument or pair of instruments has a single function and a small repertoire of phrases which vary only slightly.  This is not Japanese music – but it behaves (a little bit) like Japanese music.