Tag Archives: chaos jazz

Koto Jazz tune 91: Creating a free form, “chaos” music

Indeterminate music happens when a musician creates a base melody, and leaves the rest to spontaneous chance and free flow of expression. Instead of the musician taking the driver’s seat, the musician surrenders to letting the music take the driver’s seat; take the musician wherever it leads. It was first practiced by John Cage and Brian Eno say some, but this type of creative expression has been around since the first music was created.

In the mid- and then late 1900s, it has been made into somewhat of a classification of its own. Indeterminate music, a “composing approach in which some aspects of a musical work are left open to chance or to the interpreter’s free choice”, according to Wikipedia.

With that, here is an attempt to create some form around it. First you have the music piece itself. This music can itself take on its own life and expression around its main themes – deter, detract, explore outside of its originating themes, chordal structure and basic musical patterns – and then later return to those main themes. In fact, the whole idea of “indeterminacy” means it does not necessarily need to return to the original themes. It just seems to help the listener connect to the music more effectively, to hear some semblance of familiarity with the musical score.

Systems based indeterminate sound seems to have its own characteristics and tendencies. It takes advantage of all the ways of changing an original score. These include:

  1. Modulate
  2. Reverberations
  3. Delay
  4. Compress
  5. Distortion

A truly indeterminate music piece can not only deter off the main themes, but it also may modulate, reverberate, delay, compress, and distort at any given part of the music piece. This indeterminacy might have a connection with the concept of “chaos jazz” I’ve discussed in previous blogs entries on Kotojazz; e.g., Li Pui Ming’s style of jazz.

Chaos variations of known music scores have been a topic of intrigue at various times and places. For example, Diana Dabby an MIT graduate in electrical engineering sought to make the connection between music and math, including using “math to create new musical ideas.” Beyond that, using math to generate inspiration and far reaching creativity. “The principles of her work have now been used to create new dance “chaography” and even a chaotic remix of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ according to a 2013 article about her in t he Boston Globe (see “What a little chaos does for music”). Her works refer back to Ilya Prigogine’s “chaos theory” in physics and mathematics. The article says that in mathematics, “‘chaos’ is actually the result of a system that is evolving according to set rules”, even though it often does not appear that way. The reason chaotic systems seem so unpredictable and random is that they are “sensitive to slight changes in initial conditions, commonly referred to as the butterfly effect”. So too, the “butterfly effect” applies to music as well. These are the makings of the “nonlinear dynamics”, as explained in the article by Dabby’s associate and University of Colorado, Boulder professor Liz Bradley. Just as musical expression challenges people to explore their deepest most personal secrets, music will find its way to unleash all of it and more. So in this sense, it is a reflection of our self awareness and what I believe we refer to as spirituality.

 

 

 

 

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“Breach” – Live Koto Jazz & the SyntHorn @ The Royal Room; NW FOLKLIFE Next

Here is a live recording of a tune I first played at Stone Way Café’s Fremont Art Walk on April 1st, then recorded live at The Royal Room on April 13th with Koto Jazz accompaniment by Patrick Wilson on the SyntHorn –

🎶  “Breach”, by Chris Kenji & Patrick Wilson.

 

Koto Jazz on soundclick.com

 

Join me and Koto Jazz partners next week in Pioneer Square and Northwest Folklife –

April 29th, 7-8:30PM, Saturday, Koto Jazz @ FREDERICK HOLMES AND COMPANY Art Gallery, 309 Occidental Ave., Occidental Mall, Pioneer Square, dowtown Seattle; #206-682-0166.

May 27, 4:30- 5:10 PM, Friday, 2016 NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE;“Koto Jazz – Sounds On the Coast” by Chris Kenji, Center Theater, Seattle Center, Seattle WA. No cover

Koto Jazz 83: Song Stories- Wandering Rhino Bug

If our local Seattle grunge band The Presidents of the United States of America can get away with writing songs about bugs (Boll Weevil, Lady Bug), I figure I can too.

This is a fun, eclectic koto jazz tune about one of my most memorable life experiences. My brother, Uncle Yasushi and I used to go hunting, not for a rhinosaurus with a gun, but for rhinosaurus beetles with a net in rural Japan. They make for popular pets in Japan, as do so many exotic insects. The less adventurous just go to the local insect pet store, and are able to purchase them. We preferred the tree climbing approach where the “Kabuto mushi” (Rhinosaurus beetle) dwell. Unfortunately, the last of my bug collection was soaked up by the summer flood of 2014 in Boulder, Colorado.

This version was recorded live at Egan’s Jam House in Ballard last weekend, November 21st, and was one of a number of new songs I introduced at the show. Here is the recording: Wandering Rhino Bug

Join Me This Saturday, Nov. 21st in Ballard @ Egan’s Jam House

Come join me, Chris Kenji, Saturday, November 21st, 9:00 pm – 10:30pm, at Egan’s Jam House in Ballard, northwest Seattle. I will bring you new songs on the piano, including Odds & Endings, Seascape, and my new Koto Jazz piece, Motto Midare (More Chaos).

I will also sing a few popular classic rock/ folk songs with an eclectic alternative style. In between these vocals, I will play my “Koto Jazz- Sounds from the Coast” tunes. $5.00 cover. For directions and map, visit map here: 1707 NW Market Street (Ballard), Seattle; Call or text: 206-200-2733.

Marie Bolla & Chris Kenji Beer @ The Royal Room

It was a relaxing night of playing at the Royal Room on Tuesday night, and the modest- sized audience was very generous with their contributions. To friends and fans, thanks so much for coming on a weeknight. The donations were solid, so I call it a good night. It means they either really liked your music, or they really, really felt sorry for you. Lol. I say it means you “approve this message”, so thanks. It is also possible we found an introduction to Paul Simon in the audience. 😉

The evening started with a few original works that will be included in my second CD, and a Koto Jazz tune include:
– Falling Leaves
– Seascape
– Haystack Horse Trot
– Protective dissonance

Marie chimed in with vocals for the following ballads:
– Fragile by Sting
– Rivers & Roads
– Make You Feel My Love
– Goodnight Irene

Marie Bolla & Chris Kenji Beer with Marie's friends.
Marie Bolla & Chris Kenji Beer with Marie’s friends.
Marie singing and on keyboard.
Marie singing and on keyboard.
Rob Ingram & Jay Gray at the Royal Room, Columbia City, South Seattle
Rob Ingram & Jay Gray at the Royal Room, Columbia City, South Seattle
Marie Bolla with Victory Music members David John and Ed Yakuzawa @ The Royal Room.
Marie Bolla with Victory Music members David John and Ed Yakuzawa @ The Royal Room.
The Royal Room, November 27 @ 7:30 - 9:30pm, Columbia City, South Seattle.
The Royal Room, November 27 @ 7:30 – 9:30pm, Columbia City, South Seattle.

KFSK Radio, NPR Syndicate Airs Koto Jazz, “Ripples On Creek Rocks”

It’s nice to have one of my songs airing on NPR syndicate KFSK Radio in Petersburg, Alaska’s Rainforest Festival music playlist (September).

Here is that song, at Amazon Music: Ripples on Creek Rocks,

and a link to the same song on Soundclick.com: http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=1382715

Marie Bolla and Chris Kenji on Stage @ Royal Room, October 27th

Marie Bolla will sing beautiful classic folk/ contemporary jazz songs with Chris at the keyboards. Marie has played piano and sang nearly her entire life, and has received local awards for her performances. She has played with the popular Seattle area bands. The first half of the show will feature Chris Kenji’s new piano instrumental tunes for his second CD “Sounds from the Coast”, to be followed by Marie Bolla and Chris Kenji in a keyboard duet with Marie singing solo.

Come join us OCTOBER 27th, 7:30-9:30pm (Tuesday),“Sounds from the Coast”, by Chris Kenji and Marie Bolla at the The Royal Room, Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood ; no cover charge. “Koto Jazz- Sounds from the Coast” by Chris Kenji and Marie Bolla. For directions and map, visit map to Royal Room, Seattle. Address: 5000 Rainier Avenue, Seattle, WA 98118; Call or text: 206-200-2733.

Koto Jazz 74: playing @ 101 Public House pub

Half time playing a piano gig at the pub in South Bend/ Raymond, the oyster capital of the world. And two Koto Jazz fans! This was so much more relaxing than a few weeks ago when I played at the Seattle Center. Ahhh, the taste of the ocean air , a couple koto jazz tunes . . .. and more oysters . …

Koto Jazz 57: Song Stories- Haystack Horse Trot

The Haystack Horse Trot was written in November of this year (2014) and inspired by childhood memories of horse back riding on the Cannon Beach, Oregon coast to and from Haystack Rock. Horse back riders today are often seen riding along the shore toward Haystack Rock, racing waves rolling in. Haystack Rock is recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the third largest single rock structure in the world. The second largest lies just a few hours away by car along the Columbia River east of Portland, and Ayres Rock in the Australian outback is the largest.

Growing up in Colorado also gave ample opportunity to ride horses in the mountains and valleys of the Rocky Mountains. I learned a horse is a friend, a pet, a means of transportation, a guide, job work mate, and a teacher, all rolled into one.

Unlike other tunes I wrote where there is a free form flowing and at times undulating motion, this song takes on a more consistent, western style rhythm.

Koto Jazz 56: Song Stories – Mount Index Ice Caves

This new age musical tune was inspired by a hike with my friend Kim. We climbed to the ice caves at the summit of Mount Index off highway 2 just northeast of Seattle.

The Mount Index ice caves were leaking typical eerie, echoing sounding drops of water melting off blue ice, which increasingly gathered and coalesced into more and more tributaries of water racing toward the opening of the ice caves. It is the beginning of the water cycle, passing beyond alpine lakes and converging with glacial streams and eventually, rivers racing toward the Pacific ocean.

It’s one of my fun trance-like tunes of quirky frivolity reminding of the simple world we live in and the majesty of the basic elements that give us life.

KotoJazz 55: Song Stories – Kozan No Kaze (Alpine Winds)

My Alpine Winds (Storm) piece has an interesting origin. Much of my years growing up in Colorado were spent in the Rocky Mountains and its hard coming away with anything short of awe at the power of Nature.

Though written in the summer of 2014, Kozan no Kaze (Alpine Wind (storm)) was inspired by a camping trip I took with my childhood friend Rex off the Peak-to-peak highway just west of Boulder Colorado. Our plan was to hike in at timber line and wake up to a glorious view of snow-capped mountains and a winter wonderland. The camping trip/ hike up was magical with tranquil lakes and flowing springs from snow laden summits.

A winter wonderland we got. As we were hiking in we were literally stopped by a blinding wind storm. Nevertheless, the trip was stopped short by an abrupt blinding wind and snow storm, which forced back to “civilization”. Since we could only see a few feet ahead, we decided to try to stake down the tent and call it a night. That didn’t happen either, as the wind blew over our tent and rolled us around inside the tent, and so we succumbed to the power of the wind storm and headed back to the trail head.

The Alpine Wind tunes came out of this glorious experience.

Kozan no Kaze (Alpine Wind (storm))

Koto Jazz 25: Pogodas & The 5 Elements

Every true traditional Japanese garden has a pogoda. The pogoda is distinguished from the lantern by its multiple layers of roofs. The temple pogoda, like the famous Nara Temple or the temple at San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden (pictured above), is a thin tower with 5-13 floors, each of which has its own roof. Usually made of granite or basalt, it originates from Buddhist Asia, and can be found in Japan, China, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam and Nepal, according to My Oriental Garden. Unique in the Japanese garden, the pogoda is the primary ornamental focal point of the garden that is recognizably made in the image of man versus God; man-made. Perhaps, this symbolizes its religious origins, Buddhism and Taoism, as the enlightened person being in harmony with the natural world.

Functionally, the pogoda and lantern are clearly distinguishable in a Japanese garden. The lantern originates from Buddhist temples to light the pathway to the temple (see more information at Koto Jazz 12: Japanese Lanterns. The pogoda on the other hand, symbolizes the temple itself.

When a pogoda features five roofs and floors, it reflects back to the five elements of Buddhism, or “godai” (“gogy” in Chinese), also referenced to describe lanterns (see above link) – Wind (kaze), Water (sui or mizu), Earth (chi or tsuchi), Fire (ho, ka or hi) and Void or Spirit (ku). Sometimes a sixth element is included, Consciousness (shiki).

Note the (Confucian) “yin” and “yang” type of qualities of the five elements. The Wind (kaze) represents inward breathing and open mindedness. In Buddhist philosophy it can also mean evasiveness on the one hand, or compassion and wisdom on the other. Water (sui or mizu) adapts to the environment and changes with the seasons. It can also be associated with defensiveness on the one hand, and adaptability and flexibility on the other. The Earth (chi) (including plants), stable and solid as a stone and confident (ideals particularly in western cultures), can also mean stubbornness and resistance to change. Fire (ka) represents human drive and passion (ideals particularly in western cultures), but also unrestrained desire. Void or Spirit (ku) represents creative energy, spontaneity, and inventiveness.

I recently wrote a piece called Alpine Wind Storm representing the complete opposite and not at all consistent with Buddhist meaning of Wind ;-/, which is featured live here; other koto songs below are more symbolic of the Buddhist intended symbolism of the Wind and the other four elements:

  • Kozan No Kaze [or Alpine Wind (Storm)] (the 1st song in this medley),
    – Koto Jazz medley live at the Brass Tacks, Seattle (July 5th). Kozan no Kaze is inspired by world renowned jazz piano player, Li Pui Ming’s style of jazz which I call “chaos jazz” (my piece is also more “chaos jazz” than koto jazz). I will also feature this piece when I play at the Royal Room, Seattle in September (see events section)
  • 1) The Wind:

  • Koto Jazz 17: Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises”.
  • Koto Jazz 8: The Wind and the Spirit.

  • 2) Water:

  • Koto Jazz 24: Waterfalls
  • Koto Jazz 7: Water, Water, Everywhere

  • 3) Earth (including plants):

  • Koto Jazz 21: Moss in Japanese Gardens
  • Koto Jazz 20: Flowers in Japanese Gardens
  • Koto Jazz 19: Japanese Maple Trees
  • Koto Jazz 16: Bonsai
  • Koto Jazz 9: Islands of Japanese Gardens

  • 4) Fire:

  • Koto Jazz 12: Japanese Lanterns (& Lighting)

  • 4) Void or Spirit:

  • Koto Jazz 13: Koto Jazz & the Shinto Source
  • Reflections on Service & Spirituality