Preface by Yoshihisa Hirano
Having been a jazz-obsessed teenager, ragtime is a familiar musical genre to me. Indeed, from the ease of Scott Joplin to the extreme fierceness of Art Tatum, I have been fascinated and inspired by this unique music from time to time. In one of my anime works, I’ve also produced a soundtrack of Joplin’s work arranged for a variety of instrumentation, and of course, I’ve written many originals. Ragtime, in my opinion, is pure fun, happy, anti-aging music that contributes more to raising the corners of your mouth than wrinkling your brow.
These are the first two rags I’ve written as independent concert works. It contains some rather strange and joke-like musical sections, but hopefully it will resonate as pure fun for the audience, making ‘the corners of your mouths rise with a smile’. Needless to say, the performers will face a group of inevitable age-accelerating phrases that cannot help but cause a deep ‘crease between the eyebrows’. Sorry!
“Pickled Plum Rag” is a tune that aims to be like ‘cod spaghetti’, or ‘matcha ice cream’. In other words, it’s an attempt… or rather a game, to take my own musical style as a foundation and pour a rag onto it, hoping for some sort of fun chemical reaction. I hope that a taste-good synergy like that of ‘cod spaghetti’ and matcha ice-cream will occur.
“Rag Simulation” was written with the same concept as “Pickled Plum Rag”, but is somewhat more advanced in form than the relatively straightforward rag style of “Pickled Plum Rag”. The tune is wilder, and if “Pickled Plum Rag” embraced a Joplin-like easygoingness, this one is more Tatum-like in its fierceness. The piece has been arranged for saxophone quartet and is included on ‘Sur-Saxophonism / Kenta Fukui’ (299 MUSIC, NIKU-9013).
Yoshihisa Hirano was born in the Wakayama Prefecture of Japan on Dec.7th, 1971. Having been attracted to baroque music, he started to study composition by himself as an elementary student. He found jazz in high school. He enthused over the music of great jazz masters such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane. His admiration of them once gave him dreams of becoming a jazz musician, but he then discovered contemporary music. Specifically he gained interest in the works of John Zorn, one of the musicians who had the biggest influence on him in his youth. On the other hand, symphonies by Shostakovich also greatly impressed him, and helped him make up his mind to study composition seriously.
After many twists and turns, he moved to the United States. He entered Eastman School of Music in NY and studied composition with Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner. Getting engrossed in books by 20th century french writers and thinkers including Bataille, Klossowski, Mandiargues and Genet, he spent most of his time reading and composing rather than attending classes.
After many twists and turns, he quit the school. He made his debut as a film composer in 2001. Thereafter he has composed a large number of soundtracks of TV shows, films and games.