“What I Focus on When I Create New Pieces” by Yuta Sumiyoshi
Oct. 12, 2014
I am writing this blog post on my day off in Saitama Prefecture. On our days off, we all go about our normal daily lives.
Me? Well, I went for a bit of a run this morning and right now I am at laundromat, watching the tumble-dryer do its thing. Our tours always get so hectic, so times like this to chill and stare off into space are unexpectedly precious. Ideas for new taiko pieces often come to me at times like this.
So, today I would like to talk about what I think is most important when I compose pieces.
When I create a new piece, I always make it thinking about incorporating a moment that will move the audience listening or watching and give them goosebumps. I do not know if “goosebumps” is the best expression, but hope you can kind of get what I mean by that…
I think this sensation of goosebumps, or chills, is something that everyone feels, regardless of their own personal preferences or cultural background.
Such different music, impossible to list, is scattered around the world, and to me good music always has a moment somewhere that gives people goosebumps. I think there are various things that move us in music, like the distinct characteristics of the musical instruments, development throughout the piece leading up to that moment, phrasing, and so on. On the other hand, sometimes I think these moments are related to the certain charms of the performers who bring the music to life.
To create music, I think it is also very important to study musical elements and their cultural background. Then, we can recreate new pieces by filtering those elements through our own sensibilities.
Many Japanese people admire foreign music and I often hear that Japanese people tend to overlook Japanese music and its attractive qualities. If we stick to believing that Japanese music has to be a certain way, I think we will never be able to create anything new.
I have been playing taiko since I was little and I think it is the best musical instrument for me to express myself right now.
That’s why I compose taiko pieces.
If I had grown up playing the guitar or piano, or some other instrument, I’m sure I would be using that to express myself instead.
I don’t want to play taiko that claims, “This is the way to play taiko! It has to be like this!”
I want to use taiko to express sentiments such as who I am, how I see the world, and what I’m feeling!
So, I want to keeping thinking of new songs all the time. I think there are so many things that I can only write about right now.
And since I have the chance right now, I would like to keep writing pieces that incorporate elements that are unique to Japan and our identity that show their appeal, such as Japanese traditions, culture, music, and phrasing. Also, I want to continue to create and perform a great deal more in the hopes that taiko will become well-known as world music, or global music, so that people from every corner of the world will be moved by it and get goosebumps.
My plan is so grand, so I always end up saying to myself, “What was it again that I want to do?” (lol)
So, first things first. I’ll start with what is right in front of me: I’ll study all kinds of things, little by little, and work hard everyday on different creative activities.
I am on tour with the “Mystery” production in Japan right now. This programme features four pieces that I composed. Please come to see our performance! I really hope we can give you goosebumps!