Dissertation Index

Author: Deguchi, Tomoko

Title: Forms of Temporal Experience in the Music of Toru Takemitsu

Institution: University at Buffalo, SUNY

Begun: January 2002

Completed: November 2005


This dissertation integrates my three primary interests: the concept of time in music, how this concept of time influences the perception of form, and the music of Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996). The analyses are based on the standpoint that the temporal mode in Takemitsu’s music is primarily Western; Western in the sense that his music is linear, and the musical events have continuous relationships with each other. Also given that music can only be experienced in time, the subject of time engages the issue of musical form. Listeners can experience form in Takemitsu’s music through a dynamic process of form-building utilized in the analyses of the three compositions that are the focus of this dissertation. The resultant form reveals strong commonalities with Japanese sensitivities and aesthetics.

The recurring three-note figures in the melodic line in the Requiem that are embedded in the small and large scale repetitions simulate a palindromic formation which gives rise to what I call the “cyclic-time form.” In Piano Distance, the perception of phrase formation solely comes from the relationships between the expectation and the retention of musical events. The concept of Japanese consciousness, “force that becomes one after another” illustrates the phrase formation of Piano Distance. In Rain Tree, certain parts of the music come to obtain two formal functions, in which the interpretation is based on the events happening before and after those parts. The concepts of inter-subjectivity and non-subjectivity can be associated with the Japanese mode of narrative. In the final chapter, I explore the significance of the music of the Japanese Noh flute in Akira Kurosawa’s film Ran, and show how Takemitsu uses flute music and an Eastern conception of time to accommodate Shakespeare’s King Lear (as retold by Kurosawa through Ran) a work that relies on Western notions of linearity.

Keywords: Takemitsu, form, temporality, linear time, cyclic time, Japanese aesthetics, narrative, film music


I. Concepts of Temporality, Linearity, and Form in the Analysis of Takemitsu's Music
II. Requiem for Strings (1957): Cyclic-Time Form
III. Piano Distance" (1961): Force That Becomes One After Another
IV. *Rain Tree
(1981): Inter-subjectivity and Form
V. Gazing at Time: Nohkan Music for Kurosawa's Ran


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