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Takemitsu’s influence on Brouwer’s La Harpe du Guerrier

Recently, I started an analysis of El Decameron Negro by Brouwer and within half a page of work I noticed the similarity with Takemitsu’s Wainscot Pond. As previously mentioned in my post on In The Woods: I, the modal world of TT, and the first movement in particular, (link here for those who haven't read it):

The first movement is heavily soaked in the modal sounds of the Melodic b5 scale. For those unfamiliar with the sound, here are the modes in C Melodic b5:

C Melodic b5

D Dorian b24

Eb Lydian +b3

F Lydian 7b2

Gb Lydian +#23

A Aeolian b5bb7

B Alt bb6

Obviously, all of the modes of Melodic b5 differ by one note only from the Melodic minor’s modes, but as with any scale that has its 5th flattened, the contrast is quite astounding.

Now, in El Decameron Negro, the music enters into Melodic b5 territory almost immediately, from bar 3 onwards. Contrast that with its appearance in bar 5 in Wainscot Pond. It stays in D Melodic b5 in EDN for the next 23 bars, and keeps coming back to it in either D or B, while TT also uses F Melodic b5. The similarity is quite eerily similar.

I am in two minds whether Takemitsu was an influence on Brouwer or vice versa, or even that both were seeking to write music from a particular scale palette that suited both of their musical ideas, but the fact is that ‘..the concepts Takemitsu expressed during his life of “Dream and Number” and “Sea of Tonality” have been wonderfully re-expressed on the guitar in this new work by Brouwer, who both respected Takemitsu and saw him as his life’s teacher’, says one source on the two of them. I would suspect that because Brouwer wrote EDN in 1981 and TT wrote ITW in 1996, that TT has used the Melodic b5 amongst other scales to create his tonal landscape for many years in multiple pieces and that Brouwer had liked it so much he decided to use it himself, albeit in his own way.

I have included a video of myself playing bars from both pieces that are using the Melodic b5 scale and its modes for you to compare and see how they fit together, followed by a brief example of the modal sound of the Melodic b5 scale showing how easy it is to conjure up that soundscape. Both composers even use the same chord in the same inversion, which you’ll hear in the video. Everything in the video is using the Melodic b5 scale as I chose the examples that create that particular soundscape, common to both composers.

I’ll continue with analysing El Decameron Negro and All In Twilight and will post them on this group when they are ready, but I thought it was a subject worth bringing up. Funny how analysing the scales that both composers used in these pieces is confirmed by the historical record, but then again, the study of scales and their modes in particular is proving to be extremely fruitful.

NB: This was my first attempt at a proper video, so excuse any shortcomings as I’m sure I’ll improve over the next few months. Its a bit of a learning curve, but I’m sure that I’ll get there.

For those who prefer an alternative to YT here is the video on Rumble:

Don’t forget, the method I use to analyse pieces and to compose and improvise is covered in my book available here:

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