Tag Archives: hayashi

Hayashi kenkyukai next Sunday

Every year February Udaka Michishige hosts the hayashi kenkyūkai. In Japan a kenkyūkai is a meeting of people gathering for a day of intensive study. In this case we members of the Kei’un-Kai and INI (Udaka-sensei’s students) get together for a day of intensive noh practice. In a hayashi kenkyūkai we perform only maibayashi and full noh plays performed in kimono and hakama. Those of us who study instruments also join as musicians when we don’t chant or dance.

This Sunday I am going to perform Takasago maibayashi, featuring the godan kamimai, one of the fastest dances in the Noh repertoire. I will also play the taiko for Makura Jidō maibayashi, featuring the gaku, another godan (five sections) dance.

The kamimai is not my first godan dance: I already studied the godan hayamai for Tōru and the gaku for Kantan. However, the speed of the kamimai in Takasago is quite a challenge. It requires not only confidence in the movements, but also full understanding of the music, and ability to think well ahead in order to keep up with the fast tempo.

Anyway, good luck to me!

–Diego Pellecchia


Noh Reimagined in London


A wonderful series of Noh events coming up in London!

Noh Reimagined – The Contemporary Art of Classical Japanese Theatre

Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May 2016, Kings Place, London

Art, Music, Dance & The Divine

Noh originated in the 14th century and has been performed continuously since, making it among the oldest unbroken performance traditions in the world. Noh’s aesthetic concepts, unique musical rhythms and tempos influenced many Western artists in the 20th century, including Benjamin Britten. This two-day festival explores the art of Noh, which continues to inspire many practitioners across diverse art forms.

King Place continue their collaboration with Akiko Yanagisawa of mu: arts in presenting some of the foremost Noh performers from Japan to the UK. These performers, all of whom are recognised as intangible cultural assets by the Japanese Government, will be joined by innovative British artists at the cutting edge of the UK’s vibrant interdisciplinary arts scene. The festival’s aim is to communicate the essence of classical Noh and explore how its distinctive aesthetic and musical textures have become valuable resources for the contemporary visual, musical and theatrical arts.

Yakult, Daiwa Anglo-Japan Foundation, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, The Japan Foundation, Arts Council England and Arts Council Tokyo generously support the Noh Reimagined Festival.

Overview of the two-day festival:

• Highlights from the popular classical Noh repertoires including Tenko, Takasago and Toru performed by pre-eminent Noh artists from Japan, such as Yoshimasa Kanze (main actor-dancer) and Yukihiro Isso (Nohkan flautist and accomplished improviser).

• ‘Evan Parker Meets Noh’ A ground-breaking collaborative improvisation with the renowned saxophonist Evan Parker and Noh musicians, combine for an evening of virtuoso improvisation.

• ‘Masking and Unmasking: Noh Theatre as a Strategy in Contemporary Art and Performance’ explores the place of Noh in contemporary visual arts and performance, starting with a screening of Turner Prize winner Simon Starling’s ‘Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima)’. This is followed by three collaborative performances and a panel discussion featuring Ignacio Jarquin, Andrew G Marshall and Michael Finnissy, Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt and Palle Dahlstedt, as well as David Toop and Wiebke Leister exploring the psychological and aesthetic significance of voice and face-masks in Noh.

• Premieres of new works for Noh instruments by Andrew Thomas and Nicholas Morrish-Rarity, who have collaborated with Noh musicians on the Sound and Music Portfolio programme over the past eight months.

• ‘Noh Remixed’ Award-winning composer/turntablist Mariam Rezaei premieres OM, a live remix of traditional Noh stories exploring experimental improvisation in live performance, with electric guitarist Adam Denton and Noh performers.

• ‘Cross-cultural Collaboration and Contemporary Music’ A panel discussion with composers Nicola LeFanu, Ruth Fainlight and Sound and Music Portfolio composers chaired by Richard Whitelaw, Director of Programmes at Sound and Music.

• ‘Movement in Noh: The Dynamism of Stillness’ A workshop in which participants will learn to focus their inner energy through the highly stylised movements of Noh.

• ‘Music of Noh’ A workshop offering insight into the unique features of Noh music, which consists of chant and song accompanied by the Nohkan flute and three drums to create a distinctive sense of ‘ma’ (or ‘space’).

• ‘Knowing Noh’ An introductory talk by eminent Noh practitioner Professor Richard Emmert.

Full listings are available on the Kings Place website:

Dedicated project microsite: noh.muarts.org.uk

Press Contact: Akiko Yanagisawa (mu:arts) Email: akiko@muarts.org.uk Phone: 07782343632

‘Cremona’ rope

Cremona rope

This is the kind of rope we use to tie up the two skins of a taiko stick drum. My teacher recently got this in order to replace the one on his taiko in Kyoto, which started to fray despite numerous applications of tsubaki abura (camelia oil). The label says, on the right, 太鼓用 (for taiko) and on the left クレモナロープ (Kuremona rope)… Cremona?

Cremona is a beautiful Italian city in Lombardy, famous for its violin-making tradition and the cathedral, just an hour drive away from my hometown, Brescia. I was wondering what kind of connection the city might have with Japanese taiko… I started fantasizing of XVI century missionaries from Cremona visiting Japan and transmitting the ancient rope-making tradition from Cremona.

A quick Wikipedia check demolished my fantasies: first of searching for ‘Cremona rope’ does not even bring up results other from Japanese pages, which points toward the label as being a Japanese invention. Second, Cremona rope is far from being traditional: it is a mix of vinyl and polyester fibers. Third, Cremona rope is made only by Japanese producer Kuraray – spelled クレラ (KURERA) in katakana. クレ is rendered KU-RE in alphabet, which can be rendered as CU-RE (kɾe) by Italian readers. KU-RE is the way Japanese spell KRE or CRE sounds, adding the [u] sound between K and RE.

Long story short: KUREMONA is not Cremona [kɾeˈmoːna] but a pun with KURE from Kuraray and something else which I don’t even know. Blah.