The sounds of summer

Koto virtuouso MIYAGI Michio on summer nights:

In summer, I open the window when darkness falls to let in the breeze as I turn to my work. Deep into the night I work, listening to the trams and trains and cars outside, the sounds of the city; but as it grows later they settle naturally into silence, until all I hear is a distant motorcycle patrolling the town.

Recommended listening: Miyagi's Kohen no yūbe (湖辺の夕, "Lakeside evening"), available in two parts here—with Miyagi on kokyū!—if you scroll down to "Victor 51041".

It's rare to find shakuhachi and kokyū together in the same performance of music like this, by the way. The shakuhachi is generally understood to have usurped the kokyū as the sinuous, high-pitched melody line in sankyoku (三曲, [traditional] trio pieces). So this is kind of like a sax-trumpet-piano trio, and I think even if you generally find most traditional koto-based Japanese music much of a muchness you will find it intriguing.

Also recommended for on that same page: Kotori no uta (小鳥の歌, "Song of the birds"), side A of Victor 50366. Two shakuhachi plus Miyagi on koto thrash out something cute and perky for your morning ablutions.

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Was that patrolling motorcycle pre- or post-暴走族?


Yeah, bugger the music--tell us about the motorcycle gangs!


But you guys, kokyū!

Miyagi died in 1956, so I guess it's possible he may have heard a kaminari-zoku or two. But this piece was published in 1941, so I think it was more likely to be someone from an organization much less zany.


Bugger the bousou! The music link is wonderful. A nice archive. And the scratch of the 78s added a nostalgic air to the Lakeside Evening. I hadn't thought of it before, but it does sound a bit strange to hear all three instruments together.

language hat:

Are you quite sure Kohen no yūbe doesn't mean "Cohen's Night Out"?


Everyone's a comedian. (But I'll remember that one for when I get my klezmer/honkyoku band together.)

Joel: Yeah, that site is really a treasure trove. God bless the internet.

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