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Zen-On Releases Two New Publications by Norio Fukushi

Apr. 19, 2023

On April 15, Zen-On released two new publications by Norio Fukushi: Seigai-Haand Skoal!

Seigai-Ha, for six perucssionists, was commissioned by Percussion Museum and first performed by the ensemble (Mitsuyo Wada, Shinya Matsushita, Hisao Horio, Isao Murai, Kyōko Katō and Akihiro Ōba) at Hama Rikyū Asahi Hall in Tokyo on March 7, 2015. Norio Fukushi notes: 

"During a period of overseas study I had the opportunity to visit the temples with their colossal stone columns in the ancient Greek city of Paestum, which looks out onto the Tyrrhenian Sea in southern Italy, near Naples. These stone columns gave me the main idea for this work.

Sounds reverberating along a vertical axis are hammered down like stakes in accordance with the Fibonacci series, interspersed with scattered fragments of sound based on the Tribonacci series. These sounds gradually combine so as to pile on top of one another in surging waves. The time and pace continuum becomes overlaid with gradations that expand from single points to a plane, with stakes forming a backdrop. The stakes assume a variety of guises while playing a constant role as the backbone of the work.

In 2011, I composed a work entitled Umi wo wataru kane no oto (‘The sound of a bell crossing the sea’) as a requiem for those who perished in the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. I composed Seigai-ha in 2015 for the members of Percussion Museum as the successor to this earlier work in the hope that it would serve as a message of support for those who survived the disaster. The name of a pattern consisting of linked wave-like concentric semicircles used in costume decoration, seigai-ha, is thought to have its origins in the Sassanid era of the Persian empire. The pattern was subsequently transmitted to China and then to Japan. It acquired its Japanese name, meaning ‘waves in the blue sea’, due to its use to decorate the costume worn by dancers in the ancient Gagaku dance piece (Bugaku) Seigai-ha. As a design traditionally considered to possess auspicious significance, it is still used frequently as a motif in modern design. I adopted it as the title of this work to symbolize the idea of everlasting peace through its association in my mind with the Japanese expression shikai nami shizuka (‘the Four Seas are calm’), meaning ‘the world is at peace’."

Norio Fukushi's Seigai-Ha, performed by Phonix Reflexion, conducted by Shiniti Uéno

Skoal! was commissioned by Atsushi Sugahara and first performed by him at a percussion and marimba recital held at Yamaha Hall in Tokyo on December 28, 2017. Fukushi describes the piece:

"This piece was composed to celebrate the seventieth birthday of the percussionist Atsushi Sugahara. I gladly accepted his request to write an entertaining piece to be performed at a recital he was to give in 2017.

One generally thinks of materials such as stone, wood and bone when imagining the materials that humankind in its earliest stages must have used to create sounds from physical objects. But the world of percussion instruments is by no means restricted to hitting objects and includes sounds created by means of other actions such as scraping, resonating, blowing and throwing. My own interest in sound production and in the exploration of sounds generated by percussion instruments in such ways is continuing to expand. The instruments involved may include both finely tuned keyboard percussion instruments as well as a 27-centimeter stainless steel bowl of the type one uses to knead dough in the kitchen.

I have known Atsushi Sugahara for half a century, during which time I have composed several percussion pieces employing a variety of toys. These pieces may well be entertaining for listeners to see and hear, but they are challenging for the performer."

Atsushi Sugahara performs the world premiere of Norio Fukushi's Skoal!

To learn more about Norio Fukushi, visit:

Norio Fukushi
Seigai-Ha (2015)
for six percussionists
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Skoal! (2017)
for solo percussion 
View sample pages