12/31/07

Ellis Island Footage 1906 エリス島映画

"On the first day of January".... 1892年1月1日 からアメリカに入るアイルランド移民がNew York港のHudson川の河口にあるエリス島で入らないといけませんでした。そのごろはこの短い映画で見えます(タイトルをクリックして下さい)。エリス島は1954年11 月12日に閉まりました。エリス島についてはmodernな歌(Brendan Grahamで1998?) (Isle of Hope)も映画 (Golden Door)もあります. 歌手は ショーンケーンさん (Sean Keane)
Click title for footage.

Musicians Union Japan  日本音楽ユニオン

Musicians Union Japan offers temporary membership for visiting artists (including health insurance), and has bi-lateral agreements with MUs overseas. Click on the title for further details.

12/27/07

Kyoto Street Cries  火の用心

The neighbourhood Fire Troop just passed by my house (it is 8.50pm) which reminds me put out my fires before going to bed, and to step on it re blogging the street cries of Kyoto. We have many, and how welcome they are - election time excepted, when it all gets a bit hysterical, living, as I do, at a handy little crossroads.
"Hi no youjin" (火の用心) is the cry of the Fire Troop. A three or four strong parade clack together resonant wooden chocks (hyoshigi) and announce "We are the Kita Shirakawa Neighbourhood Fire-watch Troop! Please take care to put out your fires before sleeping!" (Tonight being school holidays there was also a gaggle of children echoing behind). It's not quite as anachronistic as it might sound - 'though I suspect there is an element of tradition-keeping about the mode, rather like rag and bone men in London - as many people still use naked charcoal in hibachi pots and under their kotatsu hot tables. There are no chimneys here, except for those towering over the public bath house furnaces; old houses do not have central heating and are heated by hibachi and movable gas and kerosene burners. Fire remains an entrenched terror for the community in spite of the fact that high-risk swathes of wooden houses are fast disappearing under the bulldozers, thanks to inheritance tax and earth quake fears, to be replaced by concrete fortresses, supposedly quake proof and certainly less combustible.

Cries may be heard in this N. Kyoto neighbourhood (Sakyo-ku) for:
(Naked voice) vegetables (on foot, with hand cart), fire safety (on foot, with hyoshigi wooden chocks)
(Open truck and recorded song/announcement) bamboo and laundry poles, hot sweet potatoes, old newspapers and magazines, unwanted white goods/large recyclable 'rubbish' (incl. guitars), kerosene - you have to take your own flagon.
NB. The hyoshigi were also used by kamishibai travelling (bicycle) picture-storytellers, to call their audience, 1920s-50s)

Down town you can also hear criers with:
'donkey' cakes,
Aomori apples, in season
ice, in season
tofu (hand cart with just a hooter)

Not forgetting the shouts from market-stall holders and restaurants, and specially written jingles for the shopping arcades, certain shops and rubbish trucks, it is not unheard of to notice these ditties in your head whilst washing up. I always intend to record the sounds myself but, never getting round to it, I recently bought a book and CD called (in Japanese) Sounds of Kyoto, which includes street cries but also has the distinctive railway jingles and zebra crossing melodies (based on old songs), temple bells and chants, and some sounds of nature.

Further info:
Another person's blog
Kansai Time Out magazine Feb. 2008 (p12) has an excellent article by Colin Smith on regional variations in Japanese garbage truck music.
Far Side Music

12/22/07

English Folk Dance, Tokyo イギリスフォークダンス東京

A Japanese member of EFDSS made contact via HQ at Cecil Sharp House in London. This is what he wrote...
"I am living in suburb of Tokyo. There are several English Dance groups in and around Tokyo area. Our group usually meet on 4th Friday, once a month. Of course we explain in Japanese with several terms in English. Mainly we dance historical (Playford, 18-19C) and contemporary (Maggot Pie) dances. Traditional dances (as in CDM) and contra dances are rare.
This month we danced following dances:
1. Small Circle Dance
2. Felicity (by Colin Hume)
3. The Jovial Beggars (in Maggot Pie)
4. The Fair Maid of Wickham (in Kentish Hops)
5. The Fair Quaker of Deal
6. The Astonished Archaeologist (by Philippe Callens)
The last Sunday of January we have annual 'New Year Ball'."
SO...only four more EFDSS members in Japan to find.

Matsuri Shu at Kyoto Arts Centre

Tonight's Matsuri Shu concert surprised me by leaving me cold. Usually I love wa-daiko (Japanese drums) - mainly the regional festival rhythms, or variations of, based on strong simple steady beats/grids. It's humble and raw and summons the real thrill of universal vibes (literally), developing into a trance-like state.
If you play often, as in a pro-team, you become incredibly fit, and I guess you get new ideas, not least as your fitness allows. Today's concert was all original pieces and it was so complicated and variable and hyper-dramatic that it simply made me tired. The audience (all Japanese except 3 'obvious' foreigners incl. me) admired their stamina and called for an encore, at which point the flute player played Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring while the main man secretly made himself Christmassy. Next he ran down through the audience with his silk tassels now tinsel and wearing one of those reindeer headbands with felt antlers. Then they all played taiko to Jingle Bells on the flute. It went down a storm. I won't go on about it.

12/9/07

Diaryライブスケッジュール2008-9

My gig diary 2008-2009
(for Venue details see Links #5)
2008/01/04 Osaka, Blarney Stone: w Akazawa Atsushi, Pete Damashek, "Shoes".
2008/01/27 Ashiya, Main Bar: Burns Night: w Les & Hideko Denniston
2008/02/01 Kyoto, Gael
2008/02/04 Kyoto, Gael
2008/02/27 Ashiya, Main Bar: w Les & Hideko Denniston
2008/03/13 Kyoto, Gael: with Jay Gregg, Atsuko, Mr Kaneko
2008/03/14 Kyoto, Gael: with Jay Gregg, Atsuko, Ken Matsusaka
2008/03/15 Kyoto, Gnome: with Takahiro Kunugi, Genta Fukue
2008/03/17 Kyoto, McLaughlin's
2008/03/13 Kyoto, Gael: with Jay Gregg, Atsuko, Mr Kaneko (free)
2008/03/14 Kyoto, Gael: with Jay Gregg, Atsuko, Ken Matsusaka (free)
2008/03/15 Kyoto, Gnome: with Takahiro Kunugi, Genta Fukue
2008/03/17 Kyoto, McLaughlin's: with Jay Gregg (gtr, fiddle), Atsuko (fiddle), Mr Kaneko (whistles, uill. pipes) (free)
2008/04/24 Field, Kyoto: Indoor busking with Les Denniston (free):
2008/05/04 Banpaku Koen: World Music & Sports Day: with Les Denniston, Taro Kishimoto
2008/05/11 Kimura kan, Kobe: with Leslie Denniston
2008/05/16 Kyoto, Gael: with Genta Fukue, Hiroko Nishimoto, Drakskip
2008/05/25 Kyoto (private function): with Leslie Denniston (voc, bodh.)
2008/05/30 Kobe (private function): with Leslie Denniston (voc, bodh.)
2008/05/30 Kyoto, Gael Gion: with Jay Gregg, Atsuko, and Melissa Holding.
2008/06/06 Kyoto, Gael Gion
2008/06/07 Junkroom Kyoto: with Mesuinu & Co.
2008/10/23 Kyoto, Field
2008/11/30 Ashiya, Main Bar (St Andrew's Day)
(then see Upcoming gigs here 今後のライブ予定)
2008/10/23 Kyoto, Field, with Les Denniston
2008/11/07 Kyoto, Gael, Gion, with Jay Gregg on fiddle and guitar and Atsuko on fiddle
2008/11/14 Kyoto, Gael, Gion, with Jay Gregg on fiddle and guitar and Atsuko on fiddle
2008/11/15 Kyoto, McLachlan's, with Jay Gregg on fiddle and guitar and Yoshida aka Shoes on accordion and concertina
2009/11/22 Hill of Tara, with Les Denniston
2008/11/27 Ritsumeikan University, with Les Denniston
2008/11/30 Ashiya, Main Bar, with Les Denniston (St Andrew's Day)
2008/12/05 Kyoto, Gael, Gion with Jay Gregg and Dale Russ
2008/12/06 Kyoto, Gael, Gion with Jay Gregg and Dale Russ
2008/12/13 Kyoto, Field, with Mine
2008/12/14 Kyoto, Venetia International Christmas Party with Les Denniston, John Matthews and Taro Kishimoto (flute)
2008/12/26 Kyoto, Gael, Gion, with Jay Gregg, Jake Costello, Atsuko
2008/12/28 Kyoto, Ballet School Concert (private function)
2009/01/01 Kyoto, Hill of Tara, with Les Denniston
2009/01/14 Kyoto, Bukkyo University - Lecture/Performance on Irish Music & Song
2009/01/25 Ashiya, Main Bar with Les Denniston (Burns' Night)
2009/02/13 Kyoto, Gael, Gion with Jay Gregg and Peter Damashek
2009/02/14 Suita, May Theatre, with Les Denniston: World Music Series
2009/04/11 Kyoto, Hill of Tara, with Les Denniston
2009/04/18 Kyoto, Hill of Tara, with Les Denniston
2009/05/22 (Fri) Kyoto, Gael, Gion with Jay Gregg, Atsuko on fiddle and Jake Costello. (free)
2009/05/31 (Sun) Kyoto, Gnome, Sing Song with Tomoko Saito 7.30-9.30pm (free)
2009/05/22 (Fri) Kyoto, Gael, Gion with Jay Gregg, Atsuko on fiddle and Jake (Hyperhooley) Costello. 8.30pm- (free)
2009/05/31 (Sun) Kyoto, Gnome, Singing Around the Table with Felicity & Tomoko 7.30pm- (free)
2009/06/21 (Sun) Kyoto, Gnome, Singing Around the Table II with Felicity & Tomoko 7.30pm- (free)
2009/06/26 (Fri) Kyoto, Gael Gion. Felicity (surrendered to the music of Michael Jackson (King of Pop) who died that day).
2009/07/19 (Sun) Kyoto, Gnome. Felicity with Kenichi Gatayama and a solo set by Paul Williams. (8-10pm, free)
2009/07/26 (Sun) Kyoto, Gnome, Singing Around the Table III with Felicity & Tomoko7.30pm- (free)
August - summer hols

12/8/07

Auld Lang Syne in Japanese  蛍の光

The melody of Auld Lang Syne is very well-known in Japan as it is used for the students' song Hotaru no Hikari (Fireflies' Glow). It has nothing to do with New Year, but it always signifies the end of something; its four verses are sung at graduation ceremonies, and the melody is played in many stores to signal closing time - if you hear it in a shop, you are about to be thrown out. The words are a series of images of hardships that the industrious student endures in his quest for knowledge, starting with the firefly’s glow, which the student uses to keep studying when he has no other light.
Light of fireflies, snow on the window,
Many suns and moons spent reading
Years have gone by without our noticing
Day has dawned; this morning we part...

Click on header for Japanese words, romaji, translation and score sheet.

Irish Pubs/Sessions Kansai 

KYOTO
Irish Pub Field Nishiki-Karasuma (Sessions Tue, Sat, 9pm-)
The Hill of Tara Oike-Kiyamachi (Sessions Sat, 9pm-)
The Gael Gion (Gig/session Fri, 8pm-)
Gnome, Nijo-Kawaramachi (Session Sun. 7pm)
Sheep's, Higashioji-Marutamachi sagaru, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Tel. 075 334 5676
Woodnote, Sakyo-ku (Session Mon. eve)
OSAKA
Murphy's Higashi Shinsaibashi.
The Temple Bar, 2-8-26 Sonezaki, Kita-ku, Osaka Tel: 06-6366-8851
The Blarney Stone, Sonezaki, Kita-ku.
KOBE/HYOGO
Capall Uisce, Nishinomiya-shi.
The Wexford Tavern Nishinomiya-shi.
Murphy's. Akashi-shi.
(Ryan's Irish Pub, Kobe has closed).

Article in Kansai Scene Magazine

Japanese Robots - Music & Dance

Click here for a video of the new Toyota partner robot playing Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory on violin. At the end the announcer says "From now on it will practise and improve."
More about it from Toyota here.
Previous version: trumpet solo and band at Aichi Expo 2005 here.

Another robot at Tokyo University was taught folk dances and could eventually be used to document and preserve them. Article here. Video here.

Common musical repertoire: Britain-Japan

I am slowly building a list of trad songs/tunes that are known both in Britain and Japan.
Some Western folk songs are known actively in Japan, having Japanese lyrics (to the same melody) or being used for English study. Others are simply familiar through movies, TV ads, radio etc. American Folk Revival stuff is pretty well known - Peter Paul and Mary (called PPM), Credence Clearwater Revival (called CCR) and Pete Seeger type stuff.
According to the Nihon Kyoiku Ongaku Kyokai (1934) the first time Japanese formally learned Western music at all was when the British conductor of the Satsuma (Kagoshima) Army Band (a Mr Fenton), taught 30 young band members at Yokohama in 1869. From the Meiji Period Western influence became apparent in schools, not least due to the adoption of Western educational systems. The Ministry of Education certainly promoted some of the well known foreign folk melodies (with Japanese lyrics) via the national curriculum in the 50s and 60s - I am currently going through the text books. Also, a lot of western nursery rhyme tunes are known. Some of these tunes appear in toys, music boxes and ansafones (many manufactured in China!) and beginners' instrument tutors and in the Tokyo Kodomo (Kids) Club popular records. Anyway here are a very few widely known melodies gathered so far. You can add to this list by posting in 'comments'. (J) means it's also a song in Japanese.
Auld Lang Syne (J), Amazing Grace (J), The Water is Wide (TV commercial), Suil A Ruin (J), Greensleeves, Scarborough Fair, Danny Boy, Sally Gardens, Home on the Range, Little Bird (I have heard, what a merry song..), Twinkle twinkle little star (J), The Minstrel Boy, My Grandfathers Clock, I've Been Working on the Railroad, Brahms' Lullaby, Sur le pont d'Avignon, Mockingbird, Pop Goes The Weasel, Happy Birthday To You, When The Saints Go Marching In, Puff The Magic Dragon, Danny Boy, You Are My Sunshine, Greensleeves, Waltzing Matilda, Camptown Races, Sipping Cider Through A Straw, The Blue Bells Of Scotland, Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms, Annie Laurie, Early One Morning, The Muffin Man, The Man On The Flying Trapeze.See also the tracklists for records produced for kids by Tokyo Kodomo Club 1965-80.

Japan Times Article - multicultural influences on Japanese music/dance/song

12/5/07

Vaughan Williams Film 新映画

NEW FILM "O Thou Transcendent - The Life of Ralph Vaughan Williams"という新しい映画はクラシックコンポーザーと伝統的なイギリスフオークソングのコレクターの人生にたいしてあります。日本に来たら見に行って下さい。
London Barbican just launched this full-length biog film about the great English composer, who based much of his composition on songs and music he personally collected from English folks in the early 1900s. Nice! Further Information

Scottish Song Workshops スコットランド歌教室

スコットランドのレズリーさん(Leslie Denniston)はよく伝統的な歌の教室をします。Further Information

12/4/07

Irish Music in China

Following on from the earlier post "Irish music in Japan", heard there is also a growing Irish music scene in China - will go back to the source and write more later... not sure if they mean the players are Chinese. Meantime, check out these links
Chinese Irish Cultural Academy
Chinese Fiddles
Irish Network China

English Song Workshops イギリス伝統的歌居室

京都や東京でイギリスの伝統的な歌教室をするつもりです。コーラスソングの海歌(Sea Shanty)とサッセキス県のCopper familyの古い歌とかんたんなChorus歌を教えたいと思いますので興味があればどうぞれんらくしてください。

Sessions 'abroad' - Japan

See also posting: Irish Music in Japan - History
I am planning to research sessions in Asia generally - what they are like and if/how they are different from back home. Ideas and contacts would be welcome. Meantime here are notes so far on Japan, and there is another article on Bali.

Japan
Drop-ins: All the tobi-iri (fly-in) sessions I have been to are hosted by 'Irish' pubs. (Pubs labelled 'British' and 'English' generally have rock music - live or recorded - although in the 1980s-mid 90s, before there were Irish pubs in Kyoto, the session was at the 'Pig & Whistle - British Style Pub'.) Many of the pubs will allow an impromptu session - they don't have entertainment licensing issues here - and keep house instruments you can borrow eg a house guitar and whistle, a (playable) bodhran on the wall. Often an open session will follow a raibu (live performance) by a well known player from abroad.
Gig sessions: Some so-called sessions, in Kyoto at least, are more like a gig - with PA and a stage area and you are expected to address the audience. It may be useful therefore to know what English language songs and melodies are familiar to Japanese people. More about that here.
Audience participation: Although Japanese people have a reputation for seeming shy or reticent (standing out is bad bad bad!), that doesn't apply to singing and they love to join in a chorus. As it's a foreign language, songs with simple refrains work best. They will also clap along a lot - which can be surprising but it's all in generous spirit - you might get used to it. On those two counts the song that goes down best so far is The Rattlin' Bog - even if they have no English at all, people laugh as they realise the verses are getting longer and longer.
Japanese players: In an open session by Japanese people the repertoire is 99.9% tunes, as opposed to songs. So far I have only ever heard songs sung in English by Japanese young women who had either lived in Ireland or are working in a band. In Kyoto the players are mostly flute and fiddle players, and in their twenties and thirties. If they played other music before this it usually classical on these same instruments, though some come from shakuhachi (Japanese flute). I have met box and concertina players in Kobe and Tokyo. I haven't come across any players yet who grew up with Irish music at home, school or Ceoltas. They learn from recordings, workshops from visiting players and some make trips to Ireland, or classes at Field in Kyoto given by the best Japanese players. There are a very few guys, now in their forties and fifties, who have been playing Irish music for 20 years or so and I have also met other older (male) players playing guitar, bouzouki or mandolin who have a background in bluegrass or C&W, which is still quite popular here among their generation.
Etiquette: Music-wise, pretty much the same as in UK, and as an overseas player you will be welcome and unlikely to tread on anyone's toes. The pace is not so fast as London - music or drinks-wise. Drink buying is different too - if you buy people a drink, don't expect one back - they don't do rounds here. And if it is supposed to finish at 11pm, it will.

Sessions: Links to session information
Irish Pubs/Sessions Kansai
Irish Sessions Tokyo
Session video from the new Cock O'The Walk, Tokyo
Workshops: Most venues will welcome workshops. To offer or attend workshops in Kyoto contact Field (which also sells CDs and tune-books) - they have classes and practice/recording studios. For other areas contact The Warrior Celt (Tokyo), Kells (Mito), Tokyo Fiddle Club, or any of the other venues/organisations (see 'Japan Venues' Links list).

12/3/07

Dale Russ - Hiroshima & Mito

Just got back from 2 days in Hiroshima and Mito with Dale Russ (fiddle), Jay Gregg (guitar/fiddle), me (bodhran, songs) and guest Take-san (bodhran). We had a great time (I think - they are still away with more gigs in Tokyo) and met lots of Japanese Irish-musicians. Dale comes over from Seattle once a year to play here and has many fans and workshop students. Thanks to Take for organizing it and playing together. We did Irish music mainly - Dale loves Morning Dew, my favorite of his is The Gold Ring - with some Irish and English songs/Scottish mouth music in between: Lake of Ponchartraine, Mary and the Soldier, Sally Free and Easy, Hebridean/Irish Mouth Musics, Green Fields of Canada, Rattling Bog. And Jay does a guitar solo of (?).
At Molly Malone's in Hiroshima it was the 5th Anniversary Party. Fantastic.(So we also had to sing Molly Malone). A huge shamrock cake in shades of the tricolor with candles and happy birthday singing. Jimu the owner made a speech in Japanese which Jay translated (irreverently), and Kayo and Mark who run the bar, and all staff, were all dressed in party regalia including commemorative red t-shirts. There were "5"-related quiz questions to win many bottles and magnetic Jamesons dartboards (which sucked my earrings to the right). There were bands in both rooms: we were in the main bar and Welshman Paul Williams and Chris (from USA) were in the huge art-deco party room with dance floor. After our gig where Taiko-chan Irish-danced as well, and a session by local musicians, Paul and Chris carried on, leading a singalong in the main bar until the early hours.
On to the tiny Kells Bar in Mito where the owner Yamaguchi-san hosted a small audience of locals, half of them musicians, and Andy Stark and his wife came from the warrior Celt in Tokyo - they had apparently had Okinawan session in their bar the night before. He told me an Oxfordshire couple (morris dancers?) visit his pub every year on holiday and sing duets there too. After the 'concert' at Kells, a session went on for as long again: Kaoli sang Sally Gardens and The Last Rose of Summer unaccompanied, and there were fiddles, a mandolin and a concertina and accordion player, and nice spoons! Two Japanese Irish bands, Poitin and Wild Geese, there lead a monthly session. I will check my notes for names and session details and update this later. Click here for photos

Celtic Christmas 2007

Dec 14th 6pm TREAD Irish dancers, will perform in Kyoto at Taku Taku JPY4000 (incl drink). You can buy the ticket at Field in advance. For info mail to: field-aiken-owner@yahoogroups.jp
For the rest of the Celtic Christmas 2007 Japan tour: Tickets & information : Plankton Co.,Ltd. 03-3498-2881 http://www.plankton.co.jp/
TREAD来日公演(京都公演)のお知らせです。12月14日金曜日18時開場at磔磔、前売4000円(1ドリンク別、全自由)。
TREADはチーフタンズのハープ奏者トリーナマーシャルと同じくチーフタンズのツアーダンサーであるキャラバトラー&ピラツキ兄弟
による新しいバンドです。彼らの、ダンスチューンとダンスが一体となったステージが京都で見られるのは貴重ですよ。会場が磔磔だということは公演後の動向も少し期待できますね。前売チケットはfieldでも販売しています。お急ぎください。fieldアイ研 洲崎一彦