Book Talk with Rui Hara

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On November 29 at 11am, Rui Hara, PhD, from Kyoto University, will present research from his recent monograph on the music of Tōru Takemitsu.


In 1971, Japanese postwar composer Tōru Takemitsu (1930-1996) published his first collection of essays titled Conflonting Silence. The term “Silence 沈黙”, like “Ma 間”, is often regarded as a concept that well represents Takemitsu’s oriental aesthetics. His music contains many pauses in which his unique chords gradually disappear, and if we understand these pauses as “Silence,” it can be considered a device which encourages listeners to listen to the lingering sounds carefully. On the other hand, given that many of the essays in the book were written in the 1960s, when Takemitsu was under the strong influence of American composer John Cage (1912- 1992), who came to Japan in 1962, it is also possible to suppose that Takemitsu’s concept of silence implies that of Cage: unintentional sounds, or sound itself. In this presentation, I will read Takemitsu’s essays hermeneutically and reveal how Takemitsu was fascinated by Cagean world of unintentional sounds and thus struggled with the dichotomy between constructing the work and letting sound be the sound itself. Eventually, Takemitsu discovered how to confront Cagean silence, using graphic notations and traditional Japanese instruments. By clarifying this process, I will shed new light on Takemitsu’s creation in the 1960s.


We are grateful for the geneous support of the Van Hunnick Department of History, the Levan Institute for the Humanities, and the USC Thornton School of Music. 


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