Thursday, December 30, 2010

Japan, at last

Brass band, Japan, early 20th Century
8" x 13"
oil on wood, 2010
This month I've been comparing traditional music from China with that of Japan. The musical games I played (without any purpose, see posts on pipa vs. koto) resulted in victories for Chinese music. Five historical recordings from China made the Top 100 list so far and now finally the first Japanese recording secured a place in the Top 100 2010. And with three consecutive top 10 notations, the Japanese tune Seigaiha, by the Imperial Palace band recorded in 1903, moved straight into number 8 in this year's Top 100, higher than any recording from China. Japanese music had been very well represented in my Top 100 in the last fifteen years but this was mostly due to contemporary avant-garde music made in that country. This historical recording of the Imperial Palace band sounds quite "avant-garde" in its own right, the intro to Seigaiha sounds like In-a-Gadda-da-Vida, the flower-power rock classic by Iron Butterfly, and could have been played by the Acid Mothers Temple (a psychedelic rock band from Japan featured in the Top 100 2009). I was psyched to make the painting for Seigaiha and I worked on this a long time, too long maybe; it's not a very good painting at all. Resolution for 2011: Make better paintings! The image, by the way, is from a photograph without caption from the EMI archives tucked into the album Sprigs of Time that contains the Imperial Palace Band.

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