Memory Mixtape: Japan and Harmony in the Age of Enlightenment

Two compositions which are more unusually but still closely linked are Memory Mixtape: Japan and Harmony in the Age of Enlightenment. Though the style of composition and their conceptual root are very different, Harmony in the Age of Enlightenment would not exist without Memory Mixtape: Japan. 

Memory Mixtape: Japan

A Hiroshige of Edo once the eastern capital, modern day Tokyo

Ryan visited Japan and Korea in August 2012, upon visiting he realised that his view of the country was somewhat antiqued when he had written Thirty-six Views of Mount. Fuji and that far from the prints that Hokusai had produced nearly 200 years before the country was alive, busy and full of energy. For the year after Ryan wrestled with aspects of more modern Japanese culture before starting work on Memory Mixtape: Japan in September 2013. Based on material taken entirely from Thirty-six Views of Mount. Fuji but written for 32 musicians including bass guitar, organ and kit player, Memory Mixtape: Japan has a vastly different dynamic to the original pieces. The piece had its first workshopping as part of the 2014 Frontiers+ Festival, but is still very much a work in progress. This however is not the entire story of Memory Mixtape: Japan…

Harmony in the Age of Enlightenment

On the 16th November 2013 8:30 am moments after sending an email to Howard Skempton, Ryan’s laptop hard drive failed (it was later preserved and became part of the Crimson Pangolin Private Collection). The majority of Ryan’s music was saved in some form, however he had failed to backup Memory Mixtape: Japan. In a moment of almost crushing irony Ryan was forced to write the entire piece from memory, however his life was made no easier by fellow composer Luke Deane, who recorded Ryan speaking about his lose, in an attempt to make the piece his own. Outraged Ryan plotted his revenge…

Luke Deane in 2014

Not being a Bond villain, Ryan’s revenge to the shape of Harmony in the Age of Enlightenment a composition for organ. Ryan had observed the unusual harmony made Luke laugh, and decided to use this behaviour to construct the piece. One evening Ryan invited Luke to his house to drink tea, as Luke drank Ryan played a variety of Renaissance music to him from the piano, ranging from Orlando Gibbons to Domenico Scarlatti. Ryan made a note every time Luke laughed. Once Luke had left Ryan took these bars that had made Luke laugh and put them together to form a piece. Ryan’s revenge was complete. Harmony in the Age of Enlightenment is due to be recorded and released on Birmingham’s Jewellery Records label sometime in summer 2014.

Domenico Scarlatti

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