Kodo “Eternity” Blu-ray & DVD Released Today!
Kodo “Eternity,” on Blu-ray & DVD, is on sale from today! We hope you’ll add a copy to your home theater collection. It’s exclusively available from Kodo Online Store and Kodo performance venues.
Recorded: Live at Bunkyo Civic Hall, Tokyo, Japan, on December 21 & 22, 2014.
Price: Blu-ray: 6,000 yen (tax inc.) / DVD: 5,000 yen (tax inc.)
Kodo Discography http://www.kodo.or.jp/discography/index_en.html
Kodo Online Store
Ake No Myojo
This piece shines a light on Kodo’s female performers.
They perform this piece on stage with dynamic choreography and mood lighting. For the “Mystery” album recording, we aimed to recreate those visual elements with sound by adding that feeling of movement to the rhythmic part and expanding the vocal parts.
Thanks to a year of honing this piece on stage, I think we were able to capture feel-good sound on this recording with ease. I hope you will enjoy this unique audio version of Ake No Myojo.
[Purchase on CD]
Kodo Online Store | Mystery [CD]
[Purchase Download Version]
I composed this piece for the “Amaterasu” encore performances in 2013.
According to Japanese legend, once upon a time when Amaterasu, the sun goddess, hid away in a cave, the world was plunged into darkness. Greatly troubled by this situation, all the other gods & goddesses came together to discuss what could be done. Kuwa-wake depicts this scene from the famous tale.
To express that conversation between the gods, I focused on incorporating elements such as combinations of rambling changes of rhythm and pianissimo sounds. Kusa-wake differs from other Kodo compositions to date in that it makes the most of hollow sounds as well as hearty sounds. This piece incorporates a wide, dynamic range of volume from really tiny sounds to huge, strong sounds.
There are theatrical elements to our performance of this piece in “Amaterasu,” so when we perform this piece in “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery,” we put those theatrical elements into our musical expression instead. However, we are very careful to maintain that feeling of having a conversation with each other while we perform it.
When we perform it on stage, we let ourselves go with the flow as the rhythms push, pull, and repeat. I hope you’ll enjoy the unique vibes and groove created by our “conversation.”
Motofumi Yamaguchi: An Interview by Johnny Wales
Composer, arranger, fue (bamboo flute), koto (Japanese harp), shamisen (Japanese banjo-like stringed instrument), kokyu (Japanese violin), flute, cello and piano player Motofumi Yamaguchi was born in 1954 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just up the coast from Tokyo. His family moved to the big city when he was five years old. At high school and university (The Musashino Academy of Music) he studied Western classical music, composition, piano, cello and flute.
In those days classical Japanese music was not generally held in very high regard among fellow students, and even some of the staff. It was seen as not quite as real as music from say, Germany or Italy. Motofumi began to feel this was very strange. Why shouldn’t Japanese have greater respect for their native culture? So he began seeking out performances of Noh and Kabuki, shamisen, koto and even Buddhist shomyo chanting. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that they felt very comfortable to him. He began to sense that he would be able to express himself more naturally in Japanese genres than Western. And so, at the age of 18, he began to study under shamisen (jiuta style) and koto teachers living nearby. He was surprised at how quickly he progressed and began to think that he had discovered a better, more natural direction for his career.
He was also beginning to tire of the big city and to dream of a life making music in the country. One day, while listening to his car radio, he heard vocalist and composer Ryudo Uzaki talking enthusiastically about his wonderful experience making music on Sado Island with a taiko group called Sado no Kuni Ondekoza. He talked about how amazing not only the taiko, but the koto and shamisen sounded too. Motofumi was fascinated and so went out and bought the two available Ondekoza records. They changed his life. As koto and shamisen were two of his instruments, he thought the group might have some use for him. He had heard about Ondekoza’s strict physical regimen and so decided to buy a bicycle. He would combine getting into shape with a 3-month holiday touring Japan. He quit his part-time job, drained his bank account and hit the road.
It was mid-November 1980 when he arrived unannounced at the group’s old wooden school house overlooking Mano Bay. After being reprimanded for not calling ahead, he was invited in and spent 3 days running at the crack of dawn, helping with cooking and cleaning and watching the group train. He returned to Tokyo with the understanding that he would move to Sado in January. Those were the days when there were no interviews, tests nor an apprentice system to join the group. If you showed up, demonstrated enough dedication and persistence, chances are you were in. Motofumi says with a chuckle that he (and quite a few other senior members) probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the place under the current way of doing things!
This was just the time that Ondekoza was splitting off from the group’s founder Mr. Tagayasu Den, so things were in a great state of flux. Back in Tokyo, Motofumi met with Mr. Den and helped around the office for a week. Mr. Den suggested he learn the fue, and rather strangely, that he grow his beard. Motofumi followed his advice on the former matter and after arriving on Sado in the New Year he spent the next six months at the school house while the group toured, teaching himself the Japanese flute. It wasn’t long before he was touring with the group, something he carried on doing – including long stints as Musical Director – for the next 35 years.
The “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Mystery” North America Tour is about to begin. This production premiered in Japan in December 2013 and it has just set off on its first tour abroad. We are really looking forward to seeing how the audiences in the USA and Canada react to this new programme.
Last year, we released the music from “Mystery” as an album, which captures the work in another unique light. The composers created new arrangements of their stage pieces especially for the album, which we then recorded at Kodo Village.
Each performer took great care to pack each and every sound with feeling. We hope you will enjoy the album, as a fresh look at the music from this “One Earth Tour” stage performance.
“Mystery” is available from Kodo performance venues, Kodo Online Store, iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.
【Listen to Track Samples Online】Discography | Mystery
【Purchase CD】Kodo Online Store
【”Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery” Preview】YouTube
Our brand new album, “Mystery,” was released today! It is now available at our performance venues in Japan and from the Kodo Online Store.
The first 300 customers to purchase it will receive a special gift: an original Kodo “Mystery” sticker. We hope you’ll add it to your album collection.
Kodo Online Store
Kodo will release a brand new album, “Mystery,” on Dec. 19 (Fri). This studio recording captures the essence of the stage production “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery,” directed by Tamasaburo Bando.
All eight tracks are original compositions, each one a piercing ray of light from within a sacred world of darkness. We hope this album takes you on a voyage to the extraordinary, to a mysterious realm that lies in the beyond. Sit back, close your eyes, and let the sound of “Mystery” conjure a wondrous world deep within your mind, where darkness & light intersect and stillness & movement entwine.
Kodo Discography | Mystery
Samples of all tracks available on this page.
Available from Kodo performances venues and Kodo Online Store from Dec. 19.
CD “Yamazu Megurumo”
An Interview with Yoko Fujimoto by Johnny Wales
On March 3rd Yoko Fujimoto released her 2nd solo album ‘Yamazu Megurumo’ (Circle of Life) with Otodaiku. You can order her CD at the Kodo Online Store.
The seed for this project was when my mother in Tokyo became ill and I wondered what I could best do for her living so far away. Well, for me, that is singing. So that’s how it began, a private thing for mum.
I began to think about how life is one long continuous line from time immemorial to now. And relationships – just when you think one might be over – What?! It’s started up again! The ties that bind are re-tied. I wanted to express in song how extraordinary a thing life is, how it renews itself, carrying on in a never-ending cycle. I will be happy if – in some small way – these songs serve as a comfort and encouragement to people who hear them. Incidentally, mum is much better now.
I saw a wonderful Italian movie, “L’uomo che verrà” (The Man Who Will Come) in which an 8 year old girl and her newborn brother are left alone in a mountain village in Italy during the war. Her other little brother had died in her arms the year before and from that shock she lost her ability to speak. She resolves to do anything and everything she can to protect him. The movie ends with her finding her voice by breaking into a lullaby to her little brother. Even this tiny, seemingly powerless girl found the strength to carry on the line of life. And so it has ever been. This power that has allowed our race to continue to this day. So I wrote a poem about that. Then I learned the traditional Italian lullaby from the movie and began singing it.
As it happened last year was a very confusing time for me, there were so many changes in my life. I was even thinking about quitting singing for good. A close friend said to me, ‘Stop being confused! You have been blessed with the chance to sing with Kodo for 30 years, stop whining!’ She opened my eyes. I showed her my poem. She said, ‘You should do this! Make this into a song!’. That friend who helped is an abstract painter. I wanted to use one of her paintings on the CD cover. She asked me the name of the CD project and I told her, ‘Circle of Life’ and she said, ‘Wait there!’ and disappeared into another room. She reappeared with a smallish painting and said ‘This is my favourite painting! And its called ‘Circle of Life’ (Meguru Inochi). That settled it.
I first recorded the songs with no accompaniment and sent them to Shunsuke Kimura who laid down the accompaniment. He played fue (bamboo flute) and some Japanese percussion, and added other musicians on Tsugaru shamisen, wadaiko, 13 and 17 string kotos, world music percussion and violin. ▶ read more