Like tiny golden
Birds the ginko leaves scatter
From the tree on the
Hill in the sunset glow
“Tangled Hair” Yosano Akiko
Sotatsu image, tanka,tingsha bells, voice, ukiyo-e printing technique.
Images of the poem:
Flying birds, scattering leaves, sunset, colours of yellow, gold
The picturesque element is predominant in this poem: the soft evening autumn light, light wing-shaped ginko leaves lifted by the wind, the spectator looks up blinded by the setting sun and can’t distinguish the birds from the leaves. Like in a scene from a painting of Sakai Hōitsu 12.1 the stress on play of light has given me the association of glistening reflections of the golden plated fusuma doors or screens.
I imagined standing still in the nature with eyes squinting from the intensity of the rays of setting sun, and being whisked by the wind, almost hearing the light leaves rustle gently in the space around me. This serene atmosphere I wished to capture creating a “three dimensional” sound impression. I have scored the piece for speaking and whispering voice in different registers, spoken in soft volumes, accompanied by the bells, since in my perception they translated the play of light in the most associative manner.
I have recorded six vocal tracks, having the first one serve as the "main print" or "main carving" to be filled with "colored ink" of mounting sound associations.
The following tracks complete the picture just like in ukiyo-e woodblock printing, as with each layer the picture becomes more understandable.
You could see the first track (first voice you hear speak in the recording) to be the first black ink framework to be filled with colours as the process continues.
Ginko Leaves - Voices
To play with the ukiyo-e technique I have bound certain words with a sound:
-“golden” with a high bell,
-“glow” with a longer sustain bell,
Ginko Leaves - Bells
-“birds” with a percussive vocal sound,
and added those to the spoken interpretation of the poem.
Ginko Leaves - Voice and Bells
The aural space I have achieved by panning the voices between loudspeakers and giving them slightly different reverb (very little to keep true to the “dryness” of the leaf) and in some cases filtering the low frequencies away in the final mix.
In the live performance placing singers in different places of the room, surrounding the audience, or standing in-between them would create a similar effect, as it would give the listeners the experience of the sound coming from different directions and with different intensities.