Sounds poem "Kumano Fudaraku" (1980)

Basic Information
Japanese 音響詩 「熊野補陀落」
German Klanggedicht "Kumano Fudaraku"
Opus 042
Year 1980
Category Chamber
Duration 23 min.
Instruments vo, mba, perc, elec-sounds
Score information

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Description by the Composer

«The Kumano area at the southern tip of the Kii Peninsula was known as the Land of the Other World (Yomi no kuni) in Ancient Japanese Myth, and it was believed to be a place where spirit power was particularly strong.

«Here, for more than eight hundred years, mainly during the Japanese medieval period (the 12th to the early 17th centuries), Buddhist monks from Nachi in Kumano often set out on voyages on the open sea in prayerful efforts to bring salvation to the Japanese common people. Since they believed that by their sacrifice they would not only help the masses but themselves reach the shining mountain of Fudaraku (in Sanskrit, Potalaka) rising out of the southern sea and there meditate in bliss with the bodhisattva Kannon, the practice was known as going on a "Fudaraku sea voyage." Set adrift on the Pacific in small boats with only ten days worth of water and windows nailed shut and no spaces or entrances left open to allow escape, the monks went on journeys of no return to Kannon's "Pure Land" paradise.

«The sound poem "Kunamo Fudaraku" takes its subject from these journeys by people who believed they would become "buddhas in their own bodies." It tries to express the inner heart and mind of one such monk who, anguishing from his fear of death and his attachment to life, ecstatically enters the realm of death.

«The voice is based on gidayū, that is, gidayū-bushi, another name for the narration sung in the traditional Japanese puppet theater, also called jōruri. The voice sometimes chants the Kannon Sutra as well. In addition, the score calls for the gidayū singer to transcend these at crucial points and achieve a "swelling" or "exalted" voice. And at times it is modulated electronically. The "voice" is transformed in many and various ways.

«The Marimba and the percussion instruments musically amplify the almost tragic, doll-theater singing expressions woven into this work.»

Maki Ishii