Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tea Duet  デュエット点

How is a chaji like a symphony? A symphony is an extended musical composition usually composed of 4 movements; a chaji is a full-length tea gathering composed of four sessions: charcoal laying ceremony, kaiseki meal, koicha thick tea ceremony, and usucha thin tea ceremony. Each movement of a symphony follows different principles often featuring a different orchestration of instruments. Each session of a chaji has a different meaning that requires different tea equipage. The theme of a symphony unfolds over the whole piece and includes a climax. The theme of a chaji unfolds throughout the gathering with koicha being the climax.

I think teaists (adept practitioners of the tea ceremony) share many skills with musicians. While pondering their similarities I had the idea of creating a tea duet, a tea ceremony that can be ‘played’ by two people at once. My ideas crystallized while watching the Japanese drama ‘Nodame Cantabile’. In Nodame there are scenes of two pianists facing each other playing Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos, and scenes of them sharing one piano playing a duet. From this I conceived two people facing each other performing the tea ceremony while sharing an iron kettle and fresh water container, the ‘keyboard’ of the tea ceremony.

In the standard configuration of tearooms, guests sit to the right of the host performing the tea ceremony. Sometimes the configuration is different and the guests sit to the left. When this occurs the host must use their left hand for many movements in the ceremony. In a tea duet the teasits face each other so the guests are to the right of one teaist, and to the left of the other. This enables one teaist to perform the ‘right hand’ and the other the ‘left hand’ ceremony, just like the bass and treble pieces on a piano. And like a musical duet, it is essential both performers be in time with each other.
While watching me perform the tea duet with a teaist of a different School, Shakuhachi musician Anne Norman alerted me to something fascinating: heterophony is present in the tea duet, as is some musical duets. Heterophony is a phenomenon where each of the performers are essentially playing the same melodic line, but one will precede the other for a while, then they play in unison, and then one takes off on a slight deviation and returns to a staggered unison. It is integral to Japanese music as exemplified in the performance of the jiuta repertoire of the shamisen, voice, koto and shakuhachi. Heterophony has arisen partly due to the fact that the different instruments of the jiuta ensemble all use different tablature, and the players in the ensemble may come from different schools. In the tea duet of two schools, the actions are similar, and sometimes slightly staggered in execution. If we use a musical analysis, they are heterophonous in nature, not in perfect unison as they are when both tea masters are of the same school. A most enchanting texture results, making the fleeting moments of unison all the more beautiful.
This new tea duet can be conducted for a large number of guests to serve more bowls of tea in shorter time. More importantly, I want to perform duets across different Schools of Tea. For example, one person performs the Ueda School ceremony, and the other in the duet performs their School’s ceremony, be it Urasenke, Enshu Ryu, etc. The tea duet is a perfect way to understand your partner’s different School of Tea. I’m looking forward to performing more duets across tea borders.

Reference: discussion with Anne Norman, Shakuhachi Musician



有名なドラマ『のだめカンタービレ』には、二人のピアニストが向き合い、モーツァルトの2台のピアノのためのソナタをひくシーンがあります。また二人が一台のピアノでデュエットをひくシーンもあります。このシーンに感銘を受け、茶道でも二人の茶人が向き合い、茶道の 「鍵盤」である一つの釜と水指を共有して同時に点前を行うというデュエットが可能ではないかと考えました。 




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