Come join me at what promises to be an enjoyable event that offers you a visual introduction to all things Japanese. This includes a colorful fashion show to original Japanese performance by famous Kokyu performer Daikuke Kiba and my own variations on 1,000 year old Japanese koto music played on the keyboard. These include Haru no Umi, Tori no Yo Ni, and Kojo no Tsuki. I will also play my originals including recent art show selections Windy Wheat Fields and Snow Blossoms, and hyper fast Snow Flurry.
The Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo, Colorado showcases a stellar presentation, professional art exhibit “Representing The West”. My music was selected among 550 artists as part of the digital media section:
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:
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.
Another stroke of luck. In January – March 2017 two of my original Kotojazz tunes are recognized as “Representing the West” at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center annual exhibit. These are pure new age Americana folk songs. “Snow Blossoms” was inspired by the blue violets peeking through melting snow on a sunny winter day along Boulder Creek trail in Boulder, Colorado. “Windy Kansas Wheat Fields” was inspired by strong wind blowing over fields of grass and wheat creating a steady undulating flow like ocean waves. You can see the wind blowing through wheat fields in eastern Colorado and Kansas. Both feed our souls, in their simplicity and stillness (snow blossoms) and their awesome enduring power (windy Kansas wheat fields).
I am reminded that the “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it; you know neither from where it comes nor to where it goes, and so it is with the Spirit.”
David Wilborn likes to jazz it up with some upbeat, almost ragtime rhythmic tunes. His music is mostly improvisation and this is one of those. As a gifted creator of sound into melodic rhythm, it’s been a pleasure and privilege to have Dave as a friend for over 20 years, and as a music partner for the past year.
Sometime the smaller venues are more fun and interactive and relaxing for us both, and we find that C&P Coffee Company which hosts music performers like us every week, is just such the place to make you feel at home. It is located right on the main drag in West Seattle at 5621 California Street, just south of the West Seattle “Junction”. Stop by sometime and you just might find us rockin’ up this classic coffee house, or someone else like us. The coffee and service there is fabolicious!
This new CD mostly live production was crazy, experimental fun – anchored by a few George Winston covers, a touch of Narada/ Silver Wave- style new age, a koto jazz tune, and some “off the beaten path”, eclectic wacko improvisations . . . and you have a metamorphosis of the senses –
60-80% of a garden’s beauty can be made from resources already available around your home or among friends. Remember, nature offers its own beauty that may only need minor enhancements. I personally don’t care for regularly maintaining a yard, especially constantly mowing lawns. It just brings out the sneezing in me. Lawn mowing is among the world’s biggest wastes of water and consumes unnecessary time in my lazy, stubborn opinion. Frankly, it offers no creativity or inspiration of natural beauty.
We start with creating a garden image in your head. Imagine an idyllic beautiful scene in your head. Then, dig a space of dirt, any shape you want it to be. Apply that idyllic scene to this bare space. First, simply turn over the grass and put it upside down, occasionally scraping off the loose dirt to further expose the grass roots, so the grass is certain to die. Then, take cedar droppings from underneath cedar trees in the back yard and spread it throughout the dug out space. Cedar is highly acidic and will largely reduce if not eliminate the need for weeding the area garden space. Not much of anything can grow under cedars; maybe a few rhodies (rhododendrons) which thrive in acidic soil.
In the case of the above pictured garden, I dug out the entire side of the front yard off of the concrete path. I left a few “accents” of grass to provide lining for the area garden’s borders. These can be easily held at bay with an occasional weed whacking. If you want you can raise the garden, which I did for the area garden beyond the concrete path toward the top of the above photo. You can raise it as much as you like by simply adding more soil to the area and more mulch. I moved the rhody from another part of this house where it was hidden away, and is now featured in the raised garden. A general rule when creating your own garden is to place the larger items – bushes, trees, or stones – toward the back, while shorter smaller flowers and plants should be placed toward the front. As a taller, larger bush, the rhody serves as an attractive back drop to this area garden.
BORDERS & HIGHLIGHTS:
It’s always nice to have borders for the area garden so as to define its space. Borders can be stone, bricks, slate, wood, bamboo pieces, even plants. In this case, I used stones found in the ground when digging out the garden area. As for the larger boulders highlighted around the rock creek, I was fortunate to find a friend who was excavating a part of his property and was trying to get rid of these beautiful blue-hued boulders (with more to come in later phases). These boulders give the impression of a mountainous terrain with a valley carved out by a rolling creek. Reinforcing this mini- mountain scene is the meandering creek. I place various types of sheet moss, tree moss, and fern moss on the north, more shaded side of the garden area. Eventually, all dirt areas you see in the garden will display a plant, fern, moss, or ground cover of some type to add personality.
The dry creek appears to naturally flow between the larger boulders. Each boulder enforces a bend in the creek, as it does in natural creeks. Large creek rocks are generally placed toward the outer borders of the creek, while smaller rocks are toward the center, again mimicking these natural occurrences in nature. The creek narrows and appears to flow into a small lake in the foreground toward the street. I recommend using black creek rocks if available; otherwise, the varied colored rocks will do. To make the dry creek, I dug out the space and put in a thin layer of cedar mulch, then a thick layer of sand to prevent weeds from growing in the creek rock. Soon to come will be a natural stone recycling water feature at the beginning of the dry creek.
FLOWERING PLANTS & THINGS:
As for the flowering plants and things in this area garden, I looked for anything that might complement the “bones” of these area mounds. Fortunately in the Pacific Northwest, there are lots of plant life growing everywhere, some considered weeds in some circles. For example, ferns, wild white flowering heuchera, crocosmia, and wild blue bells grow like weeds in this region, but one can never get enough of their natural beauty. I placed the wild heuchera on the north side and underneath the rhody where it thrives in shady areas. I scatter the wild crocosmias, blue hyacinths, and blue bells unevenly throughout the area gardens to reinforce the natural look. The blue bells and hyacinths will flower in the spring while the crocosmias flower in late summer into autumn. I also have a relative of the ‘lamb’s ear’ ground cover which grows wild here and flowers a gorgeous deep magenta flower at the ends of each antler-like stem. I also have another ground cover that emerges a bouquet of hundreds of tiny white bulbous flowers during the summer and autumn seasons. I plan to add various types of ornamental grasses in addition to the Japanese red grass and the yellow bamboo grass clumps around the garden areas.
I have shoots of Japanese red grass planted to the side of the weeping blue cedar, tulips and other bulbous flowers not yet blooming scattered around the area gardens as well. I was gifted a rosemary to add a year round pungent aroma and a gorgeous orange rose bush.
A work- in- progress of my Japanese garden in the front yard, the garden includes two dry creek rock gardens (one in the foreground of the featured image and the other in the background as a minimalist Zen garden), featured stones, lantern, bamboo borders, a Japanese lace maple, a coral bark maple, yellow, black and red grass, various ground covers and mosses, irises and crocosmias, an elderberry, succulents, a smoke tree, salvia, purple asters, rhododendrons, anenome flowers, echinacea, 3 types of hellebores, 4 types of heucheras, painted ferns, shark tale, razor and licorice ferns, and the featured weeping “dragon” blue spruce pine in the foreground.
PURCHASED HIGHLIGHTED ITEMS:
The low budget provided for a few highlighted features, such as the Japanese lantern, Japanese coral bark maple, the weeping blue “dragon” cedar, Chinese purple lantern flowers, two red dogwood bushes, and a few ground covers such as English daisies, heucheras, and grasses. Outside of sweat equity, the total budget was a remarkable mere $141! For the future, I plan to add another raised garden across the walkway in the front, mock bamboo, a Japanese purple lace maple, ornamental grasses, and maybe a rare plant such as an aromatic variegated pink daphne, a cone flowering hydrangea, Asian tiger lilies, or a few exotic pink or magenta Japanese anemone flowers. The blue pots can feature beautiful maples such as local vine maples, or anything that requires a controlled environment such as bamboo.
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 –
Take a mid-week break next Wednesday and relax by stopping by The Royal Room at 7:00-9:30pm, April 13th as Patrick Wilson and I demo our experimental session of Koto Jazz with bossa nova rhythm and beat on the Steinway and Patrick’s invention, the SyntHorn. We’re attempting to further refine it to make it truly stage worthy in preparation for Northwest Folklife opening day. We perform for Northwest Folklife on Friday, May 27 at 4:30pm-5:10pm. The Koto Jazz will be stage worthy with bossa nova fusion. The Royal Room is located in south Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood at 5000 Rainier Ave South, Seattle. See http://theroyalroomseattle.com for quality dining and drinks. This will be part of a donation of $100 I plan to give to the Royal Room and Wayne Horvitz toward piano repairs!!
I really got into a zone rockin’ the piano. Sometimes it feels like I’m connecting to the true “Seattle Sound”, an almost eclectic, grunge sound on the keyboard. . . if that is possible. Live recordings will be coming soon. The feedback I have from a handful of attendees last night at Egan’s Jam House tells me these were the most well received tunes:
1) The Hummingbird song (no surprise, I rocked it; Hatchidori wa Hana Kara Hana e Tobu);
2) Tide Pools @ Waves (no surprise, this one reached the top 10 out of 80k songs on soundclick.com);
3) Odds & Endings (same as Tide Pools);
4) Ripples on Creek Rocks (surprised, this is the one that aired on KSFK NPR jazz radio, in S. Alaska, and I still don’t know why)
5) Mount Index Ice Caves (surprised, an acquired taste; haunting sounds)
6) Thanksgiving (surprised, this one by Peter Kater)
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.
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
– 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