We express through something– 11/15/10

November 15, 2010

I am reading a book “Violin Dreams” by Arnold Steinhardt. He writes about his parents lives as Jewish. It is very touching, and the music has been deeply involved in their long history. Mr. Steinhardt writes ” Jews believed that only music could give these prayers wings strong enough to deliver them to God.–” When he first played Nigun out of Baal Shem Suite his father told him “Two thousand years of Jewish suffering are in those notes. The Nigun is  a cry to God himself–” . And I started to think about my own heritage, Japanese. What do we believe? What have we been expressing though our emotions? When Okinawa people went to gyokusai (they took their own lives when American troops came into this island located in the south of Japan. The father killed their own children and wives, then they killed themselves. ) at the end of WWII what was in their mind? In the suffering after the nuclear bumb in Hiroshima what was in their mind, and what did they rely on?

In long history Japanese have been worshipping our beautiful four seasons, writing Haiku and Tanka (poems) according to the seasons, and cooking beautiful dishes using the seasonable vegetables. We don’t express emotions like Westerners, but we express ourselves through food and poems, and unspoken moment between words.  We value those “Unspoken Moments’ (Kijukai).  We had court music “Gagaku”, but it was not for civilians. We don’t have music like Nigun. We have folk songs composed during Meiji period (the end of 19 century to the beginning of 20 century), and we sing those songs with melancholy. But it is not cry—.   I am married with an American musician, living in the American society, playing western music, but I carry deeply my Japanese heritage.

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