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Brad Jenkins: Yōkai - AUDIOEmbedded audio
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Yōkai is an experiment in working with a handful of harmonic fields containing pitches of fixed register, as opposed to working with transposable keys and scales. Common to spectral music and some serial music, fixed register means that although a harmonic field (pitch collection) may span several octaves, each pitch within that harmonic field rarely appears in more than one octave. The work’s formal structure is defined by a series of tensional changes, with the acceleration/deceleration of change between underlying harmonic fields being a primary agent in reinforcing these tensional changes. As a result, motifs can be heard to interrupt one another, while elsewhere they are given extended space to breathe. Ascending and descending runs containing “foreign pitches” (somewhat akin to chromatic passing notes) provide occasional flashes of disruption, interrupting the fixed register pitch plan.
This work was not written with any extramusical associations in mind. Upon its completion, however, the yōkai of Japanese folklore seemed an apt thematic companion for the work’s sometimes unsettling nature, the elusive quality of its harmonic material and the liminal space it constantly traverses between perceivable rhythm and more conversational gestures. Yōkai are spirits, often possessing animal or human features, with some appearing as inanimate objects and others having no discernible shape (they are not considered ghosts as they are not supernatural manifestations of the deceased). The word yōkai is made up of the Japanese kanji 妖 (bewitching, attractive, calamity) and 怪 (apparition, mystery, suspicious). Yōkai can be anything from mischievous to malicious, though some actually bring good luck to those they encounter.
Yōkai received the NZSM’s inaugural Matthew Marshall Prize for Classical Guitar Composition in August 2014, and was placed third equal at the 2014 NZSM Composers Competition.
27 Sep 2014: Performed by Jamie Garrick at the Adam Concert Room, New Zealand School of Music, in Wellington.
12 Oct 2014: Performed by Jamie Garrick at the Futuna Chapel, in Wellington.
29 Nov 2014: Performed by Jamie Garrick, at the Old Library, in Whangarei.
07 Dec 2014: Performed by Jamie Garrick, at the New Zealand Classical Guitar Competition, at the Adam Concert Room in the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington.