more about the Japanese Ladies Light Orchestra

three Japanese ladies gazing at a light bulb
Many of my music machines are played by electro-magnetic actuators driven by signals from a computer. In this performances, the actuators are human beings and the computer signals are flashes from electric light bulbs which provide the cues to strike the tubular bells.

No musical skill is required - all you need to do is to concentrate on the light. It works surprisingly well - after just one rehearsal ...
The Japanese Ladies Light Orchestra
dress rehearsal for the first performance.

The Ladies played 3 traditional Japanese melodies - selected and arranged for 8 players by Makiko Nishikaze. The flash from the light bulb lasted about half a second and the players were instructed to strike the bell at the moment when the light went out; this made for quite accurate timing. To avoid confusion, the pieces had to be arranged to avoid rapid repetitions on one note. As you can see: some players had an extra bell to cover the scales in all three pieces.

Those are fans they have tucked into their sashes; after each number they had a short break, fanning themselves - it was very hot weather - and indulging in light conversation.

Kayako Matsunaga
Natsumi Komatsu, Nanaé Suzuki
Tsuyoshi Arai, Masuko Iso, Tadahiro Masuda, Mutsuko Tomita, Yoshiaki Tada

FAQ ... yes, on this occasion some of the Japanese Ladies were Japanese Gentlemen.

Do it Yourself (2000)
a 9-voice canon for 8 players by Tom Johnson.
Do it yourself

This uses the same technique as the Japanese Ladies (above) but was played by the general public - visitors to the installation in the singuhr galerie, Berlin. Tom Johnson (fourth from left) provided additional versions of the canon for a reduced number of players.
a diagram showing two portions of an imaginary music roll
9 voices with 8 players

The diagram is like an imaginary music roll showing two portions of the 9-voice canon:- near the start (97-127) on the left, and exactly half way through (193-222), on the right. The 8 columns represent the 8 players. The individual voices are numbered from 1 to 9. It shows how the 9 voices intertwine - and with increasing density, as the palindromic canon procedes towards its half-way point. The canon uses what Tom Johnson calls his 'tiling' technique; he used it for the first time in this work.

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