Strings and Serpents is a multi-cultural collaboration between two pianists, (myself and French pianist Benoît Delbecq), animator Saki Murotani and the Japanese TsuguKaji-KOTO duo (Ai Kajigano and Tsugumi Yamamoto). Commissioned by The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and funded by The Japan Foundation and New Music USA, the completed project will begin touring in 2014. Merging musical and visual forms into a unified experience, Strings and Serpents features a 30-minute animated film in conjunction with the live performance of the combined piano and koto duos.
Musically the project explores a synthesis of Japanese and Western structures in terms of form, improvisational language and rhythm. Seamlessly blending traditional and modern koto textures with the language of jazz and contemporary improvisation, the compositions explore a polymetric approach for prepared piano and koto, expanding the interaction of rhythmic forms and sonic colors between the music and the animation. The theme of the animation is based on the Rainbow Serpent mythology and employs 2-D and 3-D computer-generated imagery (CGI), inspired by the music. The story is told visually, without dialogue or subtitles and elegantly projects a visual composition that experiments with color, shape, texture, light, and motion to enrich the relationship between the pianos and kotos.
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