Sō-Gū II (1971)

Basic Information
Japanese 遭遇 II 番
German Sō-Gū II
Opus 019
Year 1971
Category Orchestra/Concerto
Duration ca. 18 min. (not determined)
Instruments Gagaku-ens, Orch
Score information
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Description by the Composer

«Sō-gō is the 'unexpected encounter' of two separate works, Music for Gagaku and Sō (Pair) for Orchestra which can be performed independently.

«Since any interrelationship in the compositional techniques of the two works was not intentionally sought, we cannot speak of their encounter as an 'ensemble' in the usual sense. But as in Sō-gō I, where shakuhachi and piano meet, in Sō-gō II I hope to establish an environment where instruments of East and West—Gagaku, the world's oldest extant orchestra, and an orchestra representative of European music—might find instants of musical rapport.

«The conductor decides when the Gagaku ensemble and the Western orchestra first meet, but since these two works are written to proceed in two completely different temporal levels, the two worlds of sound always come across each other in unforseen places.

«Music for Gagaku was composed in the summer of 1970 on a commission from the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra Concert Series.

«There are several points of divergence between this piece and the Gagaku works handed down by tradition. Most importantly, in Music for Gagaku there is not time at all. That is, relatively more emphasis is laid on the sense of rhythmic improviation that reflects the natural breathing of each performer. Herein lies Gagaku's fascination. I also intended to avoid the pitfall of writing non-Western rhythms in 4/4, 6/8, and so forth, since by doing so it is so easy to slip into a measured Western beat. I designed the piece so that the traditional Japanese rhythmic sense imminent in each Gagaku musician could be expressed naturally in the flow of each new sound.

«So, meaning pair, implies two mutually corresponding parts, and in this case refers to the process in which European sound approaches are paired off with their counterpart in traditional Japanese music. Started in 1970 and finished in May, 1971, this piece was composed in Berlin and Tokyo.»

[Remark: Music for Gagaku had subsequently been renamed Shikyō (op. 19a) by the composer, and Sō (Pair) for orchstra had been renamed Dipol (op. 19b, 1971).]

Maki Ishii, 19 Jan 1972. Source: "Performing Arts", January 1972. p. 26 (Program notes for the US-American Premiere, San Francisco Symphony Orch.)