Improvised Music from Japan / Ryoji Hojito

Liner Notes of Ryoji Hojito's CD Aciu!

by Masami Suzuki
(Russian literature scholar)

The people who come to the performance can enter this world themselves, and live in it as characters in the story. At the Vilnius Jazz Festival performance recorded on this CD, the audience was completely absorbed in Hojito Ryoji's story; I know because I saw it with my own eyes and felt it with my whole body. It was as if the entire room had become one living thing, attaining a state of pure happiness. The digital camera set for instant recording (as the DAT being used was in poor condition) no doubt resonated with this happiness. Even the heartbeat of the camera's internal motor accelerated, so this sound was also preserved for the record. Listening to this CD, you will surely resonate with the sound as well. You will feel that you have become a camera, seeing the performance in minute detail.

When I started to talk about Hojito's music I ended up telling a fairy tale, and I think the reason has to do with the roots of improvised music. It is said that in ancient times, the sermons chanted by novice ascetic monks became the spirits of chants, flowing through the air and eventually dissolving into it; and that even after thousands of years they still exist, floating in the atmosphere. If true music comes from somewhere, then when we ourselves become mediums who catch these chants and chant-spirits and express them with our own bodies and voices, the result is improvised music. The piano is an extension of the musician's body--just as the voice is. Issunboshi, rampaging inside the demon's stomach, becomes one with the demon and mallet, and the lovely princess, and produces improvised music. Since the birth of life on Earth, the primitive music of various voices, sounds, and chant-spirits have filled the Earth's atmosphere, waiting for the day when they become sounds that can be heard by human ears. But for the very reason that these sounds are complete strangers to Hojito, his music is made more vital by mistakes and chance. Simply becoming aware of the sounds would instantly turn improvised music into something commonplace. Changing the cluster of chaotic sound into the cosmos requires the body itself, transcending consciousness. Hojito's improvised music is inside Hojito; and it is also his attempt to make a part of his being the innumerable musics existing in the air all around him. The attempt is transformed into visible motion, and the movement of the body itself can be heard and seen by the eye as wonderful music. The music of the cosmos, which ranges from the tracks of elementary particles to the movement of the heavenly bodies, on stage becomes Hojito's body, and thus becomes reality.

February 14, 2000

English translation by Cathy Fishman and Yoshiyuki Suzuki

Last updated: July 8, 2000