My Summer of Shamisen

It seems that my lofty goals of having a composing summer have (once again) gone unmet.

Instead, this summer, I got back to focusing on shamisen, studying with my teacher to learn (among other things) a new piece, Senboku Nikata Bushi. Now, at the end of the summer, I think I’ve finally got a grip on this piece (or at least I know what I need to practice from here on out).

Two months of practicing two hours a day = one two-minute piece… that sounds about right.

Along with all the practicing I managed to get out for a few volunteer performances in Iwate Prefecture (Japan). The last of which was at a temporary housing complex for people who displaced by the tsunami in March.

shamisen

09/13/11: Playing Shamisen at Temporary Housing in Ozuchi-cho

Although I haven’t put a single note to paper since August, I definitely don’t feel my time was wasted, but, with school starting again in a week, it’s time to get back to being a composer, and now, with a head full of ideas (and a head full of that song, Senboku Nikata Bushi), I’m ready to get back to work.

Stay tuned for such pieces as: “Cowboys and Samurais: Blues for Guitar and Shamisen” (with art by Christopher Hoover), “Sea Garden” a song cycle written for Katherine Price on texts by H.D., and the “School Song” from my ongoing opera project ONODA with libretto by Katherine Hollander.

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Art, to be fully appreciated, must be true to contemporaneous life. It is not that we should ignore the claims of posterity, but that we should seek to enjoy the present more. It is not that we should disregard the creations of the past, but that we should try to assimilate them into our consciousness.

-Okakura Kakuzo