I have always been interested in instruments and their history, especially those which are unfamiliar to me.
This is the first time I have written music for traditional Asian instruments other than Japanese ones.
Over that last few years, many younger traditional Japanese instrumentalists have asked me to write music for them, and this is the reason I now have quite a few works for Japanese instruments in my list of compositions. I am very glad I got to compose for these instruments, although it was not something that I particularly set out to do.
Recently I started learning about the sheng, a Chinese traditional instrument, and an especially exciting and complex one. It is way more complex than its Japanese equivalent, the sho, as even though the sho came from China, however the Japanese chose not to develop the instrument for over 1000 years. The sheng, however, has evolved far beyond its original form so has more notes and functionalities than the sho, and that fascinates me.
Almost every day, I worked with the sheng player Wu Wei, and tried to understand the instrument. My feeling was that I didn’t want to write sho music for the sheng hence needed to find something that the sheng can do but the sho cannot.
The daegeum, a Korean instrument, is another totally new instrument for me. Through frequent exchanges with the daegeum player Hong Yoo, I began to understand and start to get a feel for this instrument.
These Asian instruments excite me, as they are not straight forward like European instruments with which I am familiar and grew up with.
This piece also has a koto. As I have written many solo works for the koto, and have just finished a Koto Concerto, at this point, writing for koto has become second nature for me.
Mixing the sounds of all those instruments together with strings, I am trying to create an imaginary instrument: one united sound from various instrumental traditions and their individual histories.
I am hoping that the idea of such mixture of sound world is one we will all want to stay in, or at least dream of visiting.
Dai Fujikura (edited by Alison Phillips)