Composer’s Notes

Hikaru Sawai


Aka e / 朱へ / Towards Red

Hikaru Sawai 沢井比河流

“Aka” is a color of the painted inside of Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute). While played it will flow down from the fingers of a player, fill the air and make the minds full. Then koto will automatically start to send a sound as if blending with the “Aka” ….

Form: koto, shakuhachi

Aka no Irodori / 赤の彩り

Hikaru Sawai 沢井比河流 / 2003

“Red – the Color of Blaze -this piece describes various shades of red in a blaze. Smoke comes first, then red flame changes to a blaze. Seeing many different red colors in the flames, and finally bursting into a blaze.” -Hikaru Sawai. Born as a son of a great couple of Koto maestros (Tadao and Kazue Sawai), Hikaru Sawai is a Koto player/composer, and he now leads the Sawai Koto Institute. He also plays guitar in a metal band.

Form: koto, 17-string koto, shamisen

Dosei / 土声 / Voices of the Earth

Hikaru Sawai 沢井比河流 / 1991

The two voices in this piece offer strongly contrasting timbres which complement each other as earth and sky. There are two distinct movements, with the second being more intense and ominous. The opening free rhythm suggests a tentative dialogue between the two voices. The music then settles into an intensely energetic and dramatic argument. The percussive koto exudes earthy energy while the shakuhachi is more lyrical and flowing.
The piece features frequent mood changes: aggressive and dissonant at times, lyrical and poignant at others. A constant accumulation of motives drives the music forward.

Form: 17-string koto

Illusion / イリュージョン

Hikaru Sawai 沢井比河流 / 2000

There are two manifestations of illusion, ‘Fantasy/Magic’ and ‘Visions’. Fantasy is created intentionally, whereas Visions are involuntary and believed to be reality. In both cases reality eventually returns.

Form: koto, 17-string koto

Ishi no Niwa / 石の庭 / Rock Garden

Hikaru Sawai 沢井比河流 / 1999

The title ‘OKOTO’ refers to the instrument itself and pays respect to it by adding the honorific ‘O’. The title is written in the English alphabet only, removing the formality of the traditional Chinese characters. Two rhythms in the first movement of the piece blend to form a melody. The second movement showcases the harmonic elements of the piece. In the third movement the two parts engage in a dialogue.

Form: two kotos

Josho no Kanata / 上昇の彼方 / Beyond the Rise

Hikaru Sawai 沢井比河流 / 2003

People seem to climb an endless stairway one step at a time. These stairs can appear in time, space and spirit and they can extend into different directions. Beyond the Rise portrays the climb in three movements, as we slowly ascend the stairs and look skywards.

Form: 2 kotos, 17-string koto