|Zawazawa and Sawasawa
This is first piece I have written as a "resident artist" of Philharmonic Chorus of Tokyo where my dear friend Kazuki Yamada is the music director. It is also my first co-commission from The Crossing in Philadelphia, USA
When Kazuki asked me to write this piece, I remember a conversation we had a few years back in Prague. I was visiting with my family to hear Kazuki give the Czech première of my orchestral work "Rare Gravity" with the Czech Philharmonic. Kazuki was looking at my then 3 year old daughter when we all had lunch together before the concert. "Dai, you have to teach Japanese to your daughter. More importantly, you have to teach her onomatopoeia because that's the most unique thing in the Japanese language". I remember this conversation, and when I was writing for this choir piece years later, I decided to write music using Japanese onomatopoeia.
Japanese Onomatopoeia is serious. There are Haiku and other poems written only using Onomatopoeia. Apparently at the doctor's in Japan, a Japanese GP can diagnose many patients quickly, because patients can describe their pain with Onomatopoeia, which are a precise, and unique linguistic form.
So I picked several Japanese onomatopoeia, and started composing.
As usual with my vocal works, the English text is written by Harry
Ross, my collaborator of twenty years. We always work together, we
compose and write text simultaneously, in the same room. However,
this was the first time we tried combining Japanese onomatopoeia
with English texts to create a narrative. Obviously, I needed to
explain to him what "Zawazawa" (the first onomatopoeia I chose)
meant. This was hard. To me zawazawa means….well, things go
zawazawa! "Can't you feel it? no?".
So here I am in the studio explaining to Harry that zawazawa means noisy; murmuring, sawasawa means rustling etc. (I attached below the "Zawazawa" - dictionary, so you will be perfect onomatopoeia-users by the end of this concert).
Zawazawa is 15min. long, and straight after the World Premiere of this piece, Graham Mckenzie - director of /hcmf sent me a message on Twitter saying that he wants to hear it (which was nice, since people do actually read my tweets). I sent a link of the recording. 15min. later, he replied "I want to commission a sequel, can you do it?". So this became Zawazawa Part 1 and Harry and I are currently working on Part 2, which has marimba in it (also this one is co-commissioned by Philharmonic Chorus of Tokyo + BBC). The narrative of Zawazawa (Part 1 and 2), in which the text is inspired by my music (according to Harry) and my choice of onomatopoeia is best left to Harry, who writes:
So, Dai's memory of how he explained the onomatopoeia zawazawa is ever so slightly different to our actual conversation. Yes, things go zawazawa, that was his first attempt at an explanation. Then he started talking about the wind rustling in trees. I still looked a little blank obviously, since he further clarified:
You know on Hilly Fields (a park in south London we both know)
when it's a Sunday afternoon, and it's windy, and the trees
rustle, and things don't feel quite right? That's also zawazawa.
For some reason I started thinking about
Whilst writing Zawazawa, we tried a new technique.
この作品は、僕が東京混声合唱団のレジデントアーティストに就任して初めての委嘱作品。そして、ほとんどの僕の声楽作品がそうであるよう に、詩人ハリー ロスとのコラボレーション作品だ。恐らく、今の所、僕の合唱作品の中で一番大きくて複雑な作品だと思う。
詩については、僕がハリーに頼んだアイデアも盛り込まれている。山田和樹くんと家族ぐるみでプラハで会ったときに、当時4歳になる娘に「大 ちゃん、擬声語を教えなきゃだめだよ、日本語特有なんだから」と言われたのを思い出し、日本語のオノマトペ（擬声語）と英語の詩を混ぜて進め よう！と決めた。他にも、合唱団の半数が「Why」と、もう半数は「eyes」と同時に歌い、「wise」という響きを生み出したり、そう いった仕掛けが沢山この作品には散りばめてある。英語の詩を扱った作品の中では、僕らにとっては初めて試みるアイデア。