Thursday, March 11, 2010

礫川餘光's interview with Tomimori Kyozan 5

Track 6

There is a variety of honkyoku pieces. Tsuru no sugomori in kinko is to be played for happy occasions. Following the san-san-kudo style of wedding ritual (shinto based), the piece repeats koro-koro 3 times and again 9 times. In time, the piece gradually changed like that, depending on who performed (altered) it. The myoan version of kyorei, too. The koro-koro phrase was omitted by Higuchi Taizan sensei because it is too difficult to play. Great masters can do it. But when playing in renakn (ensemble of more than 2 players) for kenkyoku (music offering), the koro-koro in ensemble doesn't go smoothly. The proverb says it takes 3 years to master the koro-koro technique. That's why Higuchi sensei deleted it. Just as he did, honkyoku became both sophisticated and spoiled due to players' additions. The style of ajikan that people play today is exactly the case.

Today, Ajikan is played quite differently from how Miyagawa Nyozan played. Although the form is the same, the level of spirit is different. Myozan's verve is no longer carried. The original of Ajikan, Sashi (that people play today), is rather closer to Ajikan in taste. Ajikan is an interesting tune. Sashi (that had been transmitted) in the Oshu area was brought to Fukuoka and became Shinhichi Sashi. This was brought to Kyoto by Miyagawa Nyozan. To this Higuchi Taizan in Kyoto added phrases from Koku as well as a melody taken from a shomyo song, Akigarasu (autumn crow), which became Taizan's Aji. It was Suenaga Sessan in Fukuoka who named Ajikan. Miyagawa Nyozan learned Oshu Sashi from Hasegawa Togaku who was the last abbot of Futaiken in Sendai, and Nyozan's Ajikan embraced his myoan style and the Oshu style of playing.

The reason why many people today play Ajikan in such a stagnant style is that many learned Ajikan from Tani Kyochiku who used 2.5 long shakuhachi. That's how it became a dull, dark song. Miyagawa Nyozan played it on 1.8.

Interviewer: There is a recording of Miyagawa Nyozan's Ajikan, even though the quality of the recording is not so great.

Kyozan: Yes, unfortunately, the recording does not carry the true sounding. To our ears, his playing actually sounded quite rough. But he had subtle expressions that nobody could imitate—the level of frantic playing. That is the true Ajikan that expresses the spirit of shingon's Ajikanpo (?). That is what is missing in today's performances. Only the form is imitated. People simply drag the song and extend the form.

Interviewer: There is also a recording of Nishimura Koku's Ajikan. He was a disciple of Tani Kyochiku.

Kyozan: Yes. Tani Kyochiku's Ajikan also carries some sort of taste and import when played with a longer flute. However, Miyagawa Nyozan said, "I wonder where he learned it from? If that is the Miyagawa Nyozan's Ajikan, it would be troublesome." I think it is fine if there is Tani Kyochiku's Ajikan. But he probably should have changed the name
of the piece.

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