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East Asian artists give audience an authentic musical experience

Staff October 15, 2013 News No Comments

By Julianne Zala

Transcript Correspondent

On Saturday, Oct. 5, Yumi Kurosawa and Deep Singh offered Ohio Wesleyan students, faculty and Delaware residents an opportunity to experience traditional Japanese and Indian music in Jemison Auditorium.

Yumi Kurosawa played a 20-stringed variation of the koto, a traditional, 13-stringed Japanese instrument similar to a harp. The koto originated from China, and was then adapted to Japanese culture well over 1,000 years ago.

According to Kurosawa the koto, originally served as religious spiritual music, which was later adopted by monks, monarchs and eventually the general society.

In the first set of the performance, Kurosawa played solo on her koto. Selections included “Rapture 3,” which she wrote for the independent short animated film “Rapture.”

She also performed “Midare—Disorder,” written by Kengyo Yatsuhashi, one of the most well known composers in koto history.

The piece emphasized the concept of “ma” (間), which junior Marisa Lucian, a Japanese major, defined as “the sound (or lack of sound) that follows a movement or action.”

“It’s a ‘felt’ experience and not measurable, similar to meditation,” she said.

Kurosawa also played “Inner Space,” her first ever composition, inspired from looking at shrines in Japan.

Tied into the concept of “ma” are the traditional movements Kurosawa used as she played.  These movements symbolized grace, purpose and respect as she played, remnants from the traditional origins of koto.

Deep Singh, a tabla drum performer, joined Kurosawa after the intermission. A native of northern India, Singh works as a composer, producer, Hindustani vocalist and engineer. He also plays many different percussion instruments, harmonium, keyboards and bass guitar. Singh has toured the globe with artists such as Hariharan, Anup Jalota and George Harrison.

The two performers met five years ago, and their paths have crossed frequently since then. They first collaborated a year ago, and plan to tour Brazil together later this year.

The pair opened with a piece called “Enchantmentica,” which demonstrated a mix of their two cultures. They then performed “The Harvest Moon,” a piece featuring electronic sounds inspired b y Kurosawa’s image “Looking Up At the Sky.” Kurosawa said as performers they can “pray and move forward.”

Singh played on two drums: the small dayan and the larger bayan. The drums, made from taut goatskin, produce a high pitch. The drums had a black spot in the center, made from fine iron mixed with rice paste, to make the sound resonate. As he demonstrated the rocking movement his hands make to play the instruments, Singh described the sounds as a spoken language, which translated into the drumbeats.

Junior Marisa Lucian said she thought Kurosawa and Singh’s performance was a manifestation of differences between Eastern and Western cultures.

“The Japanese put great emphasis on order, silence and peace in many forms of art and music,” she said.

The east Asian studies and music departments co-presented the performance as the final event in the fall season of OWU’s Performing Arts Series.

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