Lecture: “Clouds drift aloft, do you see the waves?” Tone Color Constellations in Japanese Noh Drama


October 19, 2011 - 1:00pm

Arts and Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow Michael Gardiner and Noh Training Project faculty member Joyce S. Lim give a lecture that examines aspects of musical form in the opening sections of Japanese Noh drama from the vantage point of tone color morphology. The first portion of the paper, through analysis and live demonstration, presents the individual sonic components of Noh’s sound spectrum and their combination into a stratified complex. These components include the two drums, the otsuzumi and kotsuzumi (along with their respective drum calls, or kakegoe), the nohkan flute and the various modes of singing (utai) available to the actors and chorus. The second half of the paper looks at color constellations/assemblages created through the temporal arrangements of these sonic materials. We name these color morphologies ‘chromatopes’ (chroma = color, topos = space).

Joyce S. Lim, from Malaysia, is on faculty at the Noh Training Project, which offers the most extensive Noh training available in the United States.  She has trained in kotsuzumi, otsuzumi, taiko, shimai (dance) and utai (chant). Her utai teacher, Oshima Kinue, is the only professional female shite actor in the Kita school. Her research and choreography has been presented internationally and in venues in New York such as Dance Theater Workshop, and Danspace Project, with funding from Robison Foundation, Nippon Foundation, Japan Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council, among others.

Michael Gardiner is a music theorist and composer and is currently an arts and sciences postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. The core of his experimental project for the fellowship, ‘Coupling Machines and Generative Combinatoriality’ lies in gleaning ideas about musical structure through unlikely, even incongruous conceptual pairings, producing results can be exchanged across disciplines, transversally.