Thuistezien 257 — 06.05.2021

Hibiki Mukai
Instrumental Shifts

Today, May 6th 2021, Rewire Festival is back in action with a full program, albeit only online. Last year, the music festival had to be cancelled, as the lockdown measures began to become a part of our reality here in the Netherlands. The three-day music festival invites musical artists from all over the world that explore new technologies and sound to perform, as well as discuss their ideas and innovations in a formal setting. On the 29th of March 2019, West Den Haag hosted the symposium 'Instrumental Shifts’ as a part of the Rewire Festival. Organised by The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, RE:VIVE initiative, Rewire, and West Den Haag, the one-day symposium brought together researchers, academics, and artists to discuss artificial intelligence technologies and their contribution to evolving creative practices.

Hibiki Mukai, now a graduate from the Institute of Sonology working on his PhD in digital media at the Universidade De Porto, is an award winning Japanese composer that combines traditional elements from both Japanese and Western music through the use of self made programs and notation creating a unique musical experience for both listener and performer. During the Instrumental Shifts Symposium, Mukai elaborates some of the fundamental distinctions between traditional Japanese and Western music practices and explains his methodology of incorporating these both in his own music.

As Mukai explains, traditional Japanese instruments are taught through an oral tradition. Their notation only tells the player where to place their fingers, while leaving the ornamentation of the music to the players' virtuosic interpretation. This ornamentation is passed on orally from master to pupil and takes much time to master. Through digital analysis and processing, Mukai has developed a system that will artificially ornament a sound input, allowing for musicians untrained in these traditional practices to still play in this fashion. Furthermore, he has developed a new notation system that makes traditional Japanese music techniques more accessible and understandable to Western taught musicians with minimal learning necessary. Through these innovations, Mukai hopes to make Japanese music more accessible to the whole world, modernising its practices to fit into the 21st century and beyond.

Text: Hendrik Hohlfeld