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AnExaminationofInfluenceonComposerToruTakemitsuThroughHisWork,RainTree

AnthonyJ.Grande

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InRainTree,thepercussiontriobycomposerToruTakemitsu,therearedistinctsignsof
influencefrombothWesternandEasternsubjects.Whilemuchpreviousscholarshipfocuseson
oneinfluenceortheother,thispieceexemplifiesthesynthesisofEastandWest,necessitatingan
examinationofboth.WhileTakemitsusidiomofchoicewasnotablyWesterninnaturein
termsofinstrumentation,harmoniclanguage,andsomecompositionaldevicestheinfluenceof
hisowncultureisrepresentedinbothcompositionaltechniqueandtheoverallformofthepiece.
Beforeananalysiscanbegin,itisimportanttounderstandhowTakemitsuhimself
viewedhisplaceinbothEastandWest:
IcannotignorethecenturyofJapan'scontactwiththeWest,thoughIhavedoubtsabout
howtointerpretit.IfIignoredit,Iwouldriskdenyingthepresent.IthinkthatJapanand
myownlifehavebeeninthemidstofgreatcontradictions.Instinctively,Iwouldnot
trytosolvethecontradictionsinanysimplewayeitherthosebetweenJapanandthe
West,orthosewithinme.Iwouldprefer,infact,todeepenmanyofthecontradictions,
andmakethemmorevivid 1
ThisstatementexemplifiesthenatureofwhatTakemitsuwouldseekinhismusic,amixtureof
EastandWestthatissimultaneouslyincooperationandopposition.This,though,wasnot
alwaysthecaseforhim.
Attheageof14,TakemitsuwasconscriptedtoworkinaWorldWarIIJapanesemilitary
baseitwasherethatheheardWesternmusicforthefirsttime.2Thissteeredhislifetowards
composingWesternmusic,asatthetimehefoundJapanesemusicuninspiring.3Thisbeingsaid,

TimothyKoozin,ToruTakemitsuandtheUnityofOpposites,CollegeMusicSymposium30(1990):34.
JimmyFinnie,TheKeyboardPercussionTriosofToruTakemitsuandToshiIchiyanagi,(DMAdiss.,
UniversityofNorthTexas,1995):1.
3
Ibid,2.
1
2

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hebegantofindinspirationintraditionalJapanesemusicinthe1960sthankstohiscontactwith
AmericancomposerJohnCage.4Itisimportanttonotethat,priortohisnewfoundawarenessof
hisculture,TakemitsusmusicwasstillinfluencedbyhisEasternheritage.5
Ingeneral,Takemitsuisdescribeashavingthreecompositionalperiodsinhislife,and
theworkRainTreefallsunderthelastofthoseperiods,postmodernistinstyle.6Thereare
fourcategoriesofWesterninfluencethatcanbediscernedinthiswork:
1. InfluenceofAleatory
2. InfluenceofAtonality
3. InfluenceofMessiaen
4. OtherInfluences
Forclarity,allreferencestothemusicwillbemadeusingthesystemPageSystemMeasure,
ie.Page6System3Measure1isthepointinthescorewherethebeginningVibraphonesolo
hasnowendedandwegetthemetronomemarkofeighthnoteequalto120BPM.
Inthematterofaleatory,thereisnoothersingularcomposerwhohadmoreofaneffect
onTakemitsuthanthatofJohnCage.TakemitsuwaspartofacollectiveknownastheJikken
Kobo7inJapan,agroupwithsimilaridealstothethenexperimentalschoolinNewYorkthat
Cagehimselfwouldhavebeenapartof.Itwasin1961,whenacontemporaryofTakemitsu,
ToshiIchiyanagi,returnedfromstudyintheUnitedStatesthatheexperiencedCageShock.8A
performanceofCagesConcertoforPianoandOrchestrahadsuchagreateffectonTakemitsu

Ibid,6.
TomokoDeguchi,FormsofTemporalExperienceintheMusicofToruTakemitsu,(Ph.Ddiss.,SUNY
Buffalo,2005):12.
6
PeterBurt,TheMusicofToruTakemitsu(CambridgeUniversityPress,2001):175.
7
ExperimentalWorkshop
8
PeterBurt,ToruTakemitsu,92.
5

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thathelaterwroteIstillfeeltheshockofhearingthatpieceinanobituarynoticeforCages
death.9WhilehewouldhavedonesomeexperimentalmusicasapartoftheJikkenKobo,itwas
afterthiseventthatTakemitsusmusicwouldbegintousemoreformsofaleatoryand
indeterminacy.
Jumpingforwardtwentyyearsintime,RainTreeshowsmanysignsofthisinfluenceof
Cage,specificallyinthecrotales.Whiledistinctlynotated,thematerialpresentedfromthe
beginningoftheworkuntiltheendofthefirstvibraphonesoloisfreeinnature,providingan
aleatoricsense.Inthecrotalesespecially,betweenMarimbaAandMarimbaB,thereare
momentswithnodefinitivesenseofmotion,beinggiventheinstructionstoimprovisesoftly
andirregularlyonPage5System1Measure1andtoImproviselikescattered
raindropsonmarimba(Page10System1Measure1).10Aleatoryisalsousedasanarrival
pointinSectionIIIofthework(Page13System2Measure3),allperformersimprovisingon
crotaleswhilespotlightsareturnedonandoffaroundtheperformers,...likefallingraindrops.11
Continuingtheaboveorder,Takemitsuwasheavilyinfluencebyatonalityfromthe
Westernworld.Takemitsutendstousetransformationsofsmallersetsinhismusic,ratherthan
serializingallofthemusicalmaterialwithinacomposition,aspopularizedbytheSecond
VienneseSchool.Thecomposerhimselfhasstatedthathedidnotuseanyparticularserial
processinthecompositionRainTree,andthatthe...piecewasmadequitesensuously.12
Perhapsthemostimportantexampleoftheuseofsetsistheseamotive.Themotifisbasedon
thelettersinthewordSEA,andrelatestopitchesinGermannomenclature,Es(E)EA.13

Ibid.
ToruTakemitsu,RainTree(Mainz,Germany:Schott,1981).
11
Ibid.
12
JimmieFinnie,KeyboardPercussionTrios,44.
13
PeterBurt,ToruTakemitsu,177.
10

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RainTreeusesatranspositionofthismotiftwice,bothinthethirdsectionofthework(before
thecoda).Whatthismotivedoesfortheworkisconnectittoalloftheworksinhisseriesof
Waterscapes,aseriescontainingatleastfourteenworksspanningfrom1974to1993.14
WhendiscussingthemusicofTakemitsu,thereiswithoutadoubtamentionofcomposer
OlivierMessiaen.TakemitsusaidofMessiaeninanobituarythatTruly,hewasmyspiritual
mentor...AmongthemanythingsIlearnedfromhismusic,theconceptandexperienceofcolor
andtheformoftimewillbeunforgettable."15ScatteredthroughoutTakemitsusmusicisthe
usageofModesofLimitedTransposition,andRainTreeisnoexception.Thematerialatthe
startofSectionII(startsPage6System3Measure1)isdrawnfromtheoctatonicscale
startingonpitchclasses2and3,Fbeingusedasafocusingpitch,beingonthedownbeatof
eachmeasure.16Besidesoctatonicism,variousothermodesarefoundthroughoutthework,
sometimesinconjunctionwitheachother.OnPage12System1Measures13,forexample,
thereistheusageofanoctatonicscale,wholetonescale,andMode6fromtheModesofLimited
Transposition.17
WhiletherearecountlessexamplesinRainTreeofallotherWesterninfluencediscussed,
thenextcategory,other,isrelativelysmall.Tostart,therearehintsofinfluencefrom
minimalism,especiallythemalletmusicofSteveReich,startingonPage13System3
Measure3andgoinguntilPage14System3Measure6,wheretheconsistentrepeatof
ostinatopatternsfinallyends.Whiletheinfluenceappearstobethere,Takemitsuisnotedfor

14

Ibid,17677.
ToruTakemitsu,ThePassingofNono,Feldman,andMessiaen,ConfrontingSilence:SelectedWritings,
13941.
16
TomokoDeguchi,FormsofTemporalExperience,167.
17
JimmieFinnie,KeyboardPercussionTrios,5051.
15

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havingadislikeofminimalistmusic.18Thechoicetoincludeminimalisticelementswasperhaps
madetodeepenhiscontradictions,asstatedinhisquoteatthebeginningofthispaper.
AnotherpossibleinfluencetoexamineisatthevibraphonesolostartingonPage10System1
Measure2.Thissolohasanadditivequalityinitswriting,somethingthatatleastonescholar
believesmayhavecomefromstudyingAlbanBergsmusic.19Thismakeslogicalsense,asBerg
isnotedtohaveaninfluenceonTakemitsuinthelaterperiodsofhislife.20
ThefocusthusfarhasbeenonWesterninfluenceseeninRainTree,butitgoeswithout
sayingthatthereareinfluencesgainedfromTakemitsusEasternheritage.Thisheritageplayed
itspartinthecreationofRainTreeinvariousways,butthemostimportanteffecthasbeenonits
rhythmiclanguageanditsform.TherhythmiclanguageofRainTreeispermeatedwith
polyrhythm,suchasatPage5and6inthevibraphonesolo,aswellasotherlocationsthroughthe
useoftwodifferentformsofaleatoryonethatcouldbecalledrandompolyrhythmic
occurrences,suchasatPage13System2Measure3,andthedisplacementofmeter,found
inthecrotaleintroductiontothepiece.21Thereisevidencethatthisuseofrhythmiclayersmay
beinfluencedbyBunraku.22Inthisformoftheatre,thetayu23,shamisen24player,andpuppeteers
havearelationshipwheretheperformersareinmetricoppositiontooneanother.25Besidesthe
useofpolyrhythm,itispossiblethatvariousformsoftheatrearetheinfluenceonTakemitsuto
includelightingeffectsintheworkasanatmosphericelement.

18

PeterBurt,ToruTakemitsu,187.
Ibid,186.
20
Ibid,186and223.
21
ToruTakemitsu,RainTree.
22
BunrakuisastyleoftraditionalpuppettheatreinJapan.
23
Narrator
24
TransversefluteoftenusedinNohdrama,anotherformoftheatretobediscussedlater.
25
JimmieFinnie,KeyboardPercussionTrios,40.
19

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TheformofthepieceislaidoutinawaythatisnotsimilartoanyWesternsystemused:
itisfreeandthroughcomposed,yetneverleavesonefeelingwithoutguidance.Thisisbecause
thereisastrictstructureunderlyingthemotionoftheworkthroughtheformofjohakyu,an
aestheticconceptoriginallycomingfromthetraditionalcourtmusicofJapan,Gagaku.26Inthis
artform,johakyuindicatedaworkinthreeparts,eachpartgrowingintempo.27Theconcept
wasimmenselypopular,anditeventuallybecameapartofmanyotherartformsinJapanastime
progressed,mostnotablyinNohTheatre.Theaestheticsofjohakyuhadbeengreatlyexpanded
uponbythetimeitreachedtherealmoftheatre.
ThejohakyuofRainTreeismostsimilartothatfoundinNohTheatre.Firstly,Noh
TheaterisaclassicalstageartinJapan,whichconsistsofliterature,music,anddancewith
mask,developedfromavarietyofsacredritualsandfestivalentertainmentsestablishedduring
themedievalperiod.28EveryelementofNohisdeterminedbythegrammarofjohakyu.29
ReiderexplainsthisgrammarforNoh:
Joliterallymeanspreface,characterizedbyadignified,statelyrhythmandmood,and
denotestheintroduction.Hameansbreak,indicatingthetransitionfromthejophaseto
thedevelopmentoftheplay.Astheplayprogresses,thetemposbecomecorrespondingly
moreelaborate.Kyumeansfast,signifyingafastfinishinabriskrhythm,butitisnot
thetruefinale,forthejohakyuprogressioniscyclical:thebriskrhythmofthelastscene
slowsattheveryend,connectingbytempowithjo.30

26

TomokoDeguchi,FormsofTemporalExperience,19192.
Ibid.
28
Ibid,189.
29
NorikoReider,AkiraKurosawasDreams,asSeenThroughthePrinciplesofClassicalJapanese
LiteratureandPerformingArt,JapanForum17(2005),266.
30
Ibid.
27

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AsisfurtherexplainedinDeguchisdissertation,johakyudeterminedtheorderofplaysata
NohTheatreduringthedayorderedbysubject(theorderbeinggod,man,woman,lunatic,and
demon)thecontentofeachindividualplay,infivesections(thefirstbeingjo,themiddlethree
beingha,andthefinalbeingkyu)thestagebeingsplitintojohakyu,eachconceptbeinga
differentportionofthestageaswellasthetempoofthemusic,asitwouldincreaseasthe
progressionofjohakyucontinued.31Itisimportanttonotethatallformsofjohakyufeaturean
oddnumberofsections.ThisappearstobeageneralpreferenceamongtheJapanese,asodd
numbersareusedinformalarrangementsofflowers,inthebuildingoftraditionalJapanese
gardens,inthecompositionofclassicalJapanesepoetry,eventheoddnumberedbirthdaysof
childrenaremorecelebratedthantheirevennumberedcounterparts.32
RainTreeisinfiveparts:Introduction,SectionI,SectionII,SectionIII,anda
Conclusion/Coda.AswithNohTheatre,eachindividualpartalsocontainsitsownjohakyu.33
TheIntroductiontotheworkistheentiretyofpage4.Thisisjo,beingtheprefacetothe
upcomingmaterial,specificallythatofthevibraphonesoloonpage5.Thissectionis
characteristicofjo,asevenamongthealeatoricshiftingsandinstabilitiespresentinthe
polyrhythmicmaterial,thefirsteightmeasureshaveintroducedasteady,simplepulsethat
remainsconsistentthroughoutthesection.FortheIntroduction,thefirstfourmeasuresarejo,
establishingtimeandbeginningfromsilenceonrepeatedBs.Startingatmeasure5isthefirst
ha,theintroductionofMarimbaBandnotesotherthanB.Page1System2Measure3begins
thesecondha,theintroductionofmaterialotherthanonenoteperbar.BySystem3Measure2,
themusichasreachedthelastha,theintroductionofoddnumberedgroupings.Kyuisreachedat
31

TomokoDeguchi,FormsofTemporalExperience,193.
Ibid,191.
33
JimmieFinnie,KeyboardPercussionTrios,4142.
32

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System4Measure1,thelargestrhythmicsubdivisionrequested,whichsteadilyfadesbackto
jofortheremainderofthepage.
SectionIisfromtheVibraphonesolo,beginningonpage5,totheendofthesolointhe
finalbarofPage6System2,markedbyadoublebar.Inthemacroform,thisisthefirstha,
representedbyanincreaseinatmosphericandrhythmicdensity,yetstillrelativelycalm,theonly
movementcomingfromoneofthethreeperformers.Startingfromthebarofrestbeforethesolo
begins,youhavethejoofthesection.ThisendsonPage5System1Measure4,asthebarsof
restsinthissection(mostly)indicatebrakesbetweensubsections.ThefirsthaisfromPage5
System1Measure6toSystem2Measure5,thesecondfromSystem3Measure2toSystem
3Measure5,andthelastfromPage5System4Measure2toPage6System1Measure
2.Thesuddenbreaksexperiencedasrhythmicdivisionsaredroppedleadstotensioninthe
hearingofthe4:5polyrhythmthathadbeensopresentinthehasectionsleadsmetobelievethat
Page6System1Measure3isthebeginningofkyu.Asintheintroduction,thisfadesback
intojo.
ThematerialfromPage6System3Measure1untilthelastbarofpage9(a
doublebaragain)representsthematerialforSectionII.ThisisthefirsttimetheMarimba
containsthemotivicmaterialpresented,helpingtodenoteitasthesecondofthethreeha
sectionsforthework.Thissectionsjobeginswithathreenotemotiveasnotesaredrawnfrom
theoctatonicscale(startingfrompitchclasses2and3),thereisanincreaseindensity.Thelights
inthissectionhelptodividethebeginning:jobeginsfromPage6System3Measure1,apart
wherethemusictradesbetweenthetwomarimbas,emphasizedbythespotlightsturningonand
off.OnPage7System2Measure1,thelightsoverthemarimbasareturnedonandremain

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on:forthefirsttime,theyarerhythmicallyunison.Thisisthefirstha,althoughitis
shortlivedPage7System3Measure1marksanintroductionintothenextha,the
vibraphoneentranceatmeasure3ofthesamesystem.Forthisportion,thevibraphoneremains
relativelystable,repeatingageneralrhythmicpatternthatallowsonetograspwhatishappening
aroundit.Thefinalha(startingatPage8System3Measure2)isthefirsttimethatthe
vibraphonedoesnotplaythedownbeatofameasure.Fromhereon,therhythmicstability
presentthroughmuchoftherestofthissectionislost.Page9System2Measure4marksa
timbralshiftasthevibraphoneplayerturnsonhismotorandplaysmorenewmaterialoverthe
marimbas.Thismarksthebeginningofkyu,theworkgraduallyfadingfromheretoarepetition
ofthenotesBandA,thecycleagaincompletingitself.
SectionIIIisthelasthainthemacrocosmicformofthework.RelatingbacktoSectionI,
thejoofthissectionbeginswithavibraphonesolo.Thisvibraphonesologrowsintothefirstha
ofthissection,thesuddenarrivalonPage11System1Measure2.Thishacontainsquotes
fromthebeginningmotivicmaterialonmarimbainSectionII,andendswiththeseamotive
discussedabove(Page12System1Measure1).ThesecondhabeginsonPage12System1
Measure4.Thissectionpresentsnewmaterialthatgrowstothearrivaloncrotales,an
improvisationonpage13,andendswitharestatementofthematerialpresentinthetwobars
priortothelongadlib.ThelasthaofSectionIIIistheminimalistsection.Startingwith
MarimbaAonPage13System3Measure3,asixnoteostinatopatternisestablished.This
patternisalteredonlyinwherethesforzandoaccentsinthemarimbapartslie.Thissection
reintroducesthevibraphoneinunisonwiththeothertwopartsonPage14System1Measure
1.ThereisagradualcrescendothatleadsintoKyu.BeginningonPage14System1Measure

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3isarepetitionoftheSeamotive,presentedearlier,fromanewstartingpitch.Thisisthepoint
wherealloftheminimalistmotionoftheprevioussubsectionscomestoahalt,andkyuhas
officiallybegun.Thejohakyucycleiscompletedwiththereturntojoatthesuddendropin
rhythmicdensitypresentonPage14System4Measure1.Thesectionendswiththecrotale
onE,thesoftestnoteplayedoncrotalesintheentirepiece.
Thepiecehasfinallyreacheditskyu.Muchliketheorganizationofplaysduringadayin
NohTheater,thekyuinTakemitsusworktakesonasimilarqualitytothebeginningofthe
work:ratherthanbeingafastfinish,thelistenerisreturnedtothecalmjoofthebeginning.
HarkeningbacktotheGagakutradition,thecodaofthepieceisinthreeparts,ratherthanfive.
Joispresentstartingatthepocopimossointhelastsystemofpage14.ThearrivalonPage15
System1Measure8markstheendofjo,asitisthefirstharmonicchangeinthemarimbasfor
thissection,aswellasthestrongestarrivalmadeinthecoda.Habeginshere,butfadesquickly.
Thereisanothershiftinharmony,thisentiresectionalwayspresentingsomeformofset[026],
plusanotherpitchinthemarimbaharmonies(aftertheinitialharmonyinthejo)untilthefinal
chord.34ThehaendswithadescendingfigureinthevibraphonederivedfromOct1,2,although
thepitchBthenotewhichbegantheworkismissingfromthescale.Thearrivalofanother
harmonicchangeinthemarimbasandthefinalnoteinthevibraphonepartmarksthekyuofthe
finalsection,fadingtothefinalharmonicshift,aDmajortriad.Thistriadfadestonothing,
markingafinalreturntojoandthesilencethatwouldhavebeenpresentbeforethefirstcrotale
noteoftheworkwasplayed.

34

TomokoDeguchi,FormsofTemporalExperience,177.

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ToruTakemitsuwasalandmarkcomposerforWesternmusic.Beingthemost
internationallyrecognizedoftheJapanesecomposersfromhistime,heisoneofthenow
countlessartistswhohavehelpedpavethewayforothercomposerswithanEasternheritagefor
producinginaWesternworld.Whilehisinfluencesweremany,andoftentimesinoppositionto
eachother,theseinherentcontradictionshavehelpedtoshapewhathasbecomeanimportant
partofmusicrepertoire.AsisevidentthroughhisworkRainTree,Takemitsufoundaunique
combinationofEastandWesttotrulyrepresentwhoheis,asbothacomposerandamanof
EasternheritagelivinginwhatwasbecomingaWesternworld.

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