Yokai are mythical creatures from Japanese fairy tales and stories. Four of these creatures form the inspiration for A Bonsai Garden, Set IX (“Yokai Nocturnes”), whose eight movements in general are rather short in duration, and whose stylistic juxtapositions have become an important part of my working process.
The four creatures are: Kitsune—a shape shifting creature most often represented as a fox-woman; Kappa—a water goblin, a cross between a giant salamander and a tortoise; the Tanuki–based on Japan’s “raccoon dogs,” are somewhat playful troublemakers; and finally Nekomata—a sly, two-tailed cat.
As the process of writing the first seven movements led me at times to some very dark, nocturnal places, I wanted to lighten things up with the final “Transformation Dance” movement, a “fox-trot” as it were, but sounding at times like a tango and other times like a danzón.
For many years now, I have had an interest in graphic novels, comic art, and manga. I don’t pretend to be an expert, nor am I an out-of-control collector, but I do have an interest in these genres in the way they present ideas which are separated by frames—and how the reader interprets the separations and juxtaposed contrasts of a sequence of panels. “The frame” has been an important part of my thinking in all of my Bonsai Garden sets.
The Yokai Nocturnes will be performed by the North/South Consonance Trio on Monday, April 18, 2016 at Christ & St. Stephen Church, 120 W. 69th Street, New York City.