Toru Takemitsu

In an Autumn Garden (1973; 1979)

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A piece in six movements for the traditional "Gagaku" ensemble. The ensemble for this work consists of 29 performers seated in 4 groups: the "autumn garden" seated stage center, Group A "tree spirits I" seated stage back with Groups B and C "tree spirits II and III" seated audience left and right. This seating recreates the ancient idea of gagaku as outdoors music -- for strolling in a garden for example -- and allows the composer to build in the kind of spatial and temporal delays that would naturally happen with the movement of the sound. Of course, the gagaku ensemble has music for it going back into antiquity and "a world of sound filled with a captivating allure not belonging to this world" (Takemitsu). By carefully studying the capabilities of the instruments, the composer was able to create some new sounds -- for example, the lower ranges of the hichinki are used to play Middle Eastern sounding melodies, and the music uses the Greek dorian modal scale (a favorite of Takemitsu's used in "The Dorian Horizon" for example) with movable tonics and quarter-tones and also employs secondary melodic lines as in Indonesian gamelan music, all practices not used in the traditional gagaku music.