Lois V Vierk
fore three tenor voices and three bass voices, with conductor
Kana was my first piece for multiples of like-instruments or voices. Soon after writing this short piece I composed TUSK for 18 trombones, Go Guitars for 5 electric guitars, then works for multiple cellos, multiple trumpets, etc. While composing this piece I was a composition student at California Institute of the Arts, and I was also playing ryuteki flute in the Gagaku (Japanese Court Music) ensemble at UCLA. I was very familiar with a Gagaku piece called Etenraku. Kana takes as its starting point the sung version of the flute part of etenraku. The sung version, called shoga, is not performed, but can be thought of as a kind of solfeggio of gestures. The player is supposed to learn and memorize the shoga first, before playing the melody on the flute and before looking at notation. In Kana, I started with the shoga syllables to Etenraku and developed textures of sound organized into three short sections: glissandi, which move into a rhythmic middle section, and then close with sung and whispered glissandi incorporating short rhythmic patterns.
There are some real words in the score. The intentional words are names of two of the instruments in the Gagaku orchestra, namely Taiko (big drum) and Hichiriki (double reed wind instrument).
Recorded live in concert by singers from California Institute of the Arts, conducted by the composer, at the Second Second Story Series, produced by the Independent Composers Association, Los Angeles 1978.