The Golden Pavilion
Traditional Japanese music, poetry and painting, especially those of Hokusai and Hiroshige, have always attracted me. In 2007, I wrote a cycle of melodies based on texts of Tankas, very short poems akin to the more famous Haïkus.
Reading Yukio Mishima’s The Golden Pavilion inspired me to write for the koto. Wanting to establish a bridge between the instrumentarium of the East and that of the West, I associated it with bowed string instruments. In addition, I wanted to bring together the pentatonism used in ancient Japanese music and the twelve-tone scale of the Western scale. This relationship initially posed a problem for me. Koto writing, with its melodic sequences dating back to the 6th century, is self-sufficient. Curiously, it was during the composition phase, in November 2010, that the two scales came to merge naturally.
Built in 1397, the Golden Pavilion was the residence of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu before becoming a Zen temple after the shogun’s death in 1408. The Japanese name is Kinkakuji, because the 1st and 2nd floors are entirely covered in gold leaf.
In Yukio Mishima’s novel, two extracts caught my attention because of the lighting effects they evoked: “Although Kyoto itself is on the opposite side, it was the Golden Pavilion that, in the indentation of the mountains, I saw rise from the rising sun and soar high into the sky”.
In the evening, “the dazzling temple would fade away. Shadows gradually ate away at the balustrades; the forest of columns gradually lost its brightness. Light deserted the water of the pond, whose reflections faded under the awnings. Soon, every detail was plunged into an inky darkness.
All that remained was the imprecise, uniformly black silhouette of the Pavillon d’Or…”.
I produced three versions:
1-for koto and string orchestra (original version)
2-for koto and string quartet
3- for koto and orchestra