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Crazy Embai


Crazy Embai (2021)


for shō trio

Commissioned by Shōgirls (Japan)

ca. 18 min.​


Purchase PDF score (USD15) HERE

Program Note

I do not like concepts such as "common sense" and "precedent." Instead, I would like to invest ample time in individually examining each phenomenon and object, prodding and rolling them, heating them in fire and submerging them in water, dismantling and reassembling them, and seeking answers with my own eyes and ears. At times, it becomes imperative to pluck the feathers of a phoenix and observe them from myriad perspectives.

On Composition

The shō, a traditional Japanese musical instrument, comprises 17 bamboo pipes arranged in a circular fashion atop a bowl-shaped windchest. Sound is produced by covering the small finger holes on the bamboo pipes. In Gagaku, a traditional Japanese court music, 11 chords known as aitake are typically played continuously utilizing a distinctive fingering technique called teutsuri. Despite its capacity for being able to play multiple notes at once, shō poses significant challenges in executing rapid single-note passages or glissandos due to its structural constraints.


In Crazy Embai, a technique akin to the glissando of a hichiriki, termed embai is used. Performing this special technique successfully each time on the shō in its conventional configuration proves nearly impracticable. However, disassembling the shō and blowing the bamboo pipes individually, similarly to a vertical flute, renders this technique feasible. Intentionally disassembling, reconstructing, and exploring an object's functionality is essential to unlocking its hidden potential.

Past Performances

August 29, 2021 (World Premiere)

Ohmi Gakudo, Tokyo Opera City, Tokyo, Japan

Shōgirls: Kazue Tajima (shō I), Hanako Nakamura (shō II), and Remi Miura (shō III)

January 10, 2023

Crazy Embai

BUoY, Tokyo, Japan

Chatori Shimizu (shō I), Hanako Nakamura (shō II), and Remi Miura (shō III), Yoko Murakami (movement artist)

[Music Video]

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