An original composition, Symphony No. 1, and the realization of Western and Japanese influences in Takemitsu's November Steps
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation is in two parts. Part one is an original composition, Symphony No. 1 and is inspired by different aspects of Japanese culture. Part two is an analysis of Tõru Takemitsu’s November Steps, which is scored for orchestra and the traditional Japanese instruments, biwa and shakuhachi. The first movement of Symphony No. 1 is entitled Rashõmon and is based on the structure of the 1951 Akira Kurosawa film. The harmonic language is primarily polytonal and is based on the octatonic scale. The second movement is entitled For a Person of a Floating World. Its form is derived from the 5-7-5 syllabic structure of haiku poetry. The harmonic language consists of contrasting pentatonic and whole-tone derived sonorities. The third and fourth movements are inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. The third movement serves as a prelude and is entitled The Darkening Sky. The last movement is entitled The Great Wave Off Kanagawa and utilizes the percussion section to emulate a Japanese taiko drum ensemble. Both movements utilize transpositions of a symmetrical scale consisting of two  trichords (C-D-F / F#-G#-B). Part two is an analysis of November Steps and emphasizes the realization of Japanese and Western influences in the composition. It is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter is an introduction. The second chapter is a biography of the composer. The third chapter deals with the Western composers who have had the most profound influence on Takemitsu. The fourth chapter explores Japanese aesthetic concepts which are central to Takemitsu’s music. The fifth chapter discusses the biwa and shakuhachi. The sixth chapter analyzes November Steps. The introduction explains Takemitsu’s aesthetic approach. Next, previous analyses are described. The third section deals with Takemitsu’s notation for the biwa and shakuhachi. Next, Takemitsu’s orchestral seating plan is discussed. The next two sections analyze how November Step’s form is generated from stratified gestures which accumulate and dissipate over time. The last section explores how the Japanese aesthetic concepts of ma and cyclical time are realized in the composition. The seventh chapter is a conclusion.
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Haarhues, Charles Douglas, "An original composition, Symphony No. 1, and the realization of Western and Japanese influences in Takemitsu's November Steps" (2005). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 2534.
C. Dinos Constantinides