Monday, March 14, 2011

Jo Kondo - Standing / Sight Rhythmics / Under the Umbrella (CP2, 1981)

These deceptively simple compositions demonstrate the blossoming of Japanese composer Jo Kondo's ideas over a short period in the early 1970s. Kondo initially described his style as Sen no Ongaku, translating that roughly as Linear Music. At its foundation is the use of a steadily unfolding melody, with little in the way of variation in rhythm, dynamics, and timbre, and a limited pallet of pitches, focusing not on the individual character of each note, but on how the notes interrelate.

Standing (1973) is a somewhat more sophisticated take on his linear approach, utilizing three disparate instrument groups--in this case, marimba, flute and piano--rather than his usual one or two. Arranged in an interlocking, hocket-like form, the three instruments sound in close succession, the flute and piano essentially shadowing each step of the marimba. After selecting the tones, Kondo arranged them in a random sequence, forming a shifting tonal center rather than an actual key. On occasion, a tone will repeat, disrupting the steady back and forth rocking onto which much of the melodic line unfolds. As the piece progresses, rapidly echoing tones emerge, which, because they are performed on instruments of varied timbre, have the effect more of a stutter than a cascade. Kondo composed the piece for Sound Space "Ark", an ensemble specializing largely in contemporary Japanese pieces; appearing here are three of its members, Aki Takahashi (piano). Hiroshi Koizumi (flute), and Yasunori Yamaguchi (marimba).

Aki Takahashi appears again on Sight Rhythmics (1975) for solo piano, distilling onto one instrument a piece originally intended for violin, steel drum, banjo, electric piano, and tuba. The piece features a more intuitively determined, pointillist approach to melody, which presents with much more subtlety on this piano rendition than in its ensemble form. In reducing the instrumentation, Kondo's melodic approach to the seemingly repetitive figures is revealing, giving way to near imperceptible variations that get lost in the ensemble version.

The closing Under the Umbrella (1976) marks a number of departures for Kondo, the most immediate being that this is his first piece for untuned instrumentation. The work calls for 25 cowbells, with the pitch and range determined by the five performers, and one low gong. Structurally, the piece differs in how conceptually different each movement is, some focusing on the rhythmic cells formed through the interlocking arrangements, others on the resultant melody in spite of the more ambiguous pitch of the instruments. With each movement, Kondo demonstrates a number of different effects that occur due to the specific timbral nature of the cowbells. Although the cowbells create a sound world much different than the previous pieces, the result is distinctly a Kondo creation.

Standing / Sight Rhythmics / Under the Umbrella
& in .flac


  1. one of my favorite contemporary classical records.
    thanks for posting your rip!

  2. It's one of my favorites as well! I really enjoy the actual execution of the recording. I especially love the woody sound of the keys striking throughout "Standing".

  3. hey this is very wonderful, thanks

  4. DIME just had a torrent of Kondo's work. Shall I upload it?
    o Kondo (*1947) - A Portrait

    01. The Serotinous (1986) (8:43)
    John Snijders - piano
    (other members of the) Ives Ensemble
    Maria Minorkerk, Utrecht, November 18, 1998

    02. Isthmus (1985) (3:01)

    03. Syzygia (1998) (10:19)
    ASKO/Schönberg Ensemble - Reinbert de Leeuw
    Muziekgebouw aan het IJ, Amsterdam, January 29, 2009

    04. Under the Umbrella (1976) (16:41)
    Slagwerkgroep Den Haag
    Paradiso, Amsterdam, March 7, 2000

    05. The Serotinous (1986) (9:04)
    John Snijders - piano
    (other members of the) Ives Ensemble
    Muziekgebouw aan het IJ, Amsterdam, February 8, 2008 *RESEED*

    total time (47:50)

    Titles 02, 03 and 05 are from 192kbps (MPEG-Layer 3) webcasts

    Titles 01, 04 are from FM broadcasts

  5. I would love to hear that! Thanks.

  6. can you update this link?? THANKS VERY MUCH