For bass clarinet, double bass, accordion and percussion (and stopwatch).
Early April 2021 I got a phone call: ‘’Would you like to write for the contemporary music ensemble But What About, which consists of accordion, double bass, clarinet and percussion?’’ Thus I participated in the Gaudeamus Summer School.
In the course of the few months after, gradually an idea developed. Ugetsu finds its origins in a story about Buddhist monk-poet Saigyou, as written by D.T. Suzuki. Saigyou was on one of his travels and one day needed a place to stay for the night. He met an elderly couple who could, hesitantly, only offer him a leaking hut. It turned out that the couple was in a doubt whether to fix the roof or not. The old lady loved the moonlight coming inside, so the hut was left roofless, but the old gentleman enjoyed listening to the rain beating against the roof, which would only be possible after repair. Furthermore, it was already Autumn, which is the finest moon season but also offers enjoyable autumnal showers. Despite the dilemma, Saigyou was allowed to enter if he could elaborate on a few lines suggested by the couple. Hence the following poem came into existence:
Is the moonlight to leak?
Are the showers to patter?
Our thoughts are divided,
And this humble hut –
To be thatched, or not to be thatched?
Saigyou (Suzuki, 1959, p. 340)
While staying the night, Saigyou beheld the moonlight illuminating his surroundings, even shedding its light inside the hut. He also thought he heard the showers coming, but it was the autumn wind making the dead leaves beat against the house. ‘’It is a shower of falling leaves in the moonlight.’’ The following poem could express this magical experience:
When the dead leaves are falling thick,
As I sit quietly at night in my room,
Difficult it is to judge,
Whether it is showering,
Or whether it is not showering.
Minamoto no Yorizane (Suzuki, 1959, p. 341)
Enjoy playing Ugetsu!
Maurick Reuser, 6 August 2021