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The Project : The Original Soundscape of Water "Disappearing Water and Sound"---The Treasure We Hand Over to Our 21st Century Children---


The project of "The Original Soundscape of Water" is to think again about the precious environment and traditional culture disappearing from our daily life under the theme of "Water and Japanese traditional music."

Now our planet is facing serious water problems, i.e. pollution, acid rain, lack of water resources, floods,and the rise in sea level caused by the earth heating up. As a result, the 21st Century is called the age of "Water Crisis."
Japan is well known as a country blessed with beautiful water. Today, however, those beautiful waters are also gradually disappearing.

Talking about the culture of Japan, it can be said that it originated from this blessed water.
Actually the annual average rainfall in Japan is almost two times that of most other countries in the world. This wealth of rainfall generated the forest which covers almost 70% of our country. Japanese traditional culture was called the culture of trees (forest). This fact indicates to us that the wealth of water generated Japanese culture.
Japan's wealth of water has long been an inspiration to its traditional music.
Shakuhachi (bamboo flute) is made of bamboo. Koto (Japanese harp) is made of the paulownia tree, and the body of Tsuzumi (Japanese drum) is made of the cherry tree.
Also when playing these musical instruments, water in the air (humidity) subtly influences its acoustics.
The traditional music is characteristic of ‘ma’ in Japanese (silent part of music), and during this time of ‘ma’ we can hear various sounds surrounding us (the sound of nature, sometimes even artificial sound).

We can say that in the collaboration of Japanese traditional music and the sound of nature exists Japanese spirits. However, as beautiful water is vanishing, Japanese traditional music is also growing rare in our daily lives.
Thus, the theme of this project is Water & Japanese traditional sound, in what we hope will support the handing over of beautiful water and Japanese traditional culture to the next generation. Through this music we try to think over the current situation of water, culture and environmental problems we are now facing.
Listen to the sound of water, and feel the sound of Japan. "The Original Soundscape of Water" now is here.

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This project was started to see if we could hand over these treasures to the next generation.And for this purpose we have been trying several approaches.
By these approaches below, we would be happy if we can offer a chance to people to think over the serious environmental problems facing our society and give them the heart to cherish the nature and culture we are losing now.

Experimentation With Japanese Traditional Music

By the assistance of the Japanese traditional musicians,Retsuzan Tanabe (Bamboo flute player), Chie Sakurai (Koto player), experimentation with Japanese traditional music has been done.
The collaboration between the sounds of Japanese traditional musical instruments and the various sounds of water,for example the murmurs of a stream,a waterfall,waves, and the sounds of nature like wind, or the songs of insects are used to produce a modern approach to Japanese music, which will appeal to people who have had no interest in environmental problems or Japanese traditional music.

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Feel Original Scenes

We have been holding outdoor concerts and conducting environmental education programs in places where we can hear the sound of water as well as the sounds of nature, or where we can see beautiful water scenery, or where we can extend the image of water. At these places we can hear various natural sounds and also can hear various artificial sounds like the noise of cars and cities through the ‘ma’ of Japanese traditional music.
Through this experience we aim to have the audience notice the sounds around us which are neglected in our busy lives. We believe that noticing this will make us think over the environmental problems in our daily life. As our daily life gets artificial and far from nature, we often forget the fact that we ourselves are also part of and living in the cycle of great nature.

I think this experimentation can be effective, because the Japanese traditional music has been developed in a different way from that of European and American music.
European and American music was developed to aim for pure sound in the hall, but Japanese traditional music, on the contrary, was originally developed to be played outdoors and was not aimed at pure sound. Traditionally, the best sound of Shakuhachi (bamboo flute) has been thought to be like the sound of wind through bamboo woods.
Like this, the sound of Japanese traditional music has resembled sounds of nature, so it easily harmonizes various natural sounds. We believe that through this experience we can have a chance to feel the original soundscape disappearing from Japan and think over environmental problems and the preciousness of traditional culture we are neglecting in our modern society.

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The Complexity Of Experience

We try to present a chance to notice various aspects of nature which are ignored in our daily life. For example, we try to offer programs so that the participants can experience water and nature through their five senses.

Programs to know water are:

  1. to study how polluted water is (tap and river water).
  2. to research the headwaters and route of the water we are drinking in daily life.
  3. walking near water to know the mode of nature.
  4. to know the materials of Japanese traditional musical instruments and how they are made, also to know how these materials and instruments have intimate connection with water.

Programs to listen to nature are:

  1. to feel the greatness of nature through listening to the Japanese traditional music and various sounds of nature.
  2. through the joining of the sounds of nature and various city noises with the Japanese traditional music,we can experience the sound we neglect in our busy lives. Through these combined programs we believe that the participants can experience nature and culture from another point of view.

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Follow Water Network

In our complex society, we have no way and no interest to know where the tap water comes from or goes to after we use it. In this project we offer the chance to know and experience and feel the network of water and to know how our lives as well as other lives are maintained by water. For example, a river brings minerals found in the forest and soil located upstream, and these minerals support life in the sea.
We believe that the experience of knowing the water network we ignore in our daily lives can make people think over the situation of environmental problems and bring back the attitude to cherish water and nature.
In this project we have held these programs along the Arakawa riverside flowing through Saitama prefecture and Tokyo into Tokyo Bay. We are planning to hold this project at the riverside at a place where we can see beautiful water scenery and feel the original soundscape of water around the world.

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