Project detail

I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree

[2012, France] electro-acoustic music
I-Saw-Time-under-a-Cherry-TreeTomoko Momiyama
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An entrance to the forest of Bakkamiki

A geiger counter

A bridge in Bakkamiki

The forest of Bakkamiki in Minami-soma, Fukushima

A house after Tsunami in Minami-soma

A tree in Paris

At GRM.JPG

At the studio of GRM in Paris

utopiana.jpg

At the studio of Utopiana in Geneva

“I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” was composed in 2012 upon commission from Fukushima Open Sounds, which is a collaborative sound archive initiated by webSYNradio and Droit de Cités journal, in partnership with various institutions such as INA-GRM (French national institute of audio visual – Research Music Group) and Radio France. The project attempts to respond to the ongoing nuclear disaster in Fukushima since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011. (http://fukushima-open-sounds.net/)

 “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” uses field recordings from my trips across Tokyo, Fukushima, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and Geneva, as well as from the archive of Fukushima Open Sounds. In addition, I used sounds inside trees that I recorded with contact microphones. In Fukushima, I visited Bakkamiki in Minami-Soma, which is believed to be the birthplace of an ancient lullaby called “Kanchororin.” The forest of Bakkamiki is now too highly radiated for people to enter and the situation surrounding children in Fukushima is only getting more and more complex. I sung this folksong to the trees in Paris and asked them what they thought about the situation in Fukushima.

My composition “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” was realized through residencies at INA-GRM in Paris and Utopiana in Geneva between July and December of 2012. The piece uses field recordings from my trips across Tokyo, Fukushima, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and Geneva, as well as from the archive of Fukushima Open Sounds. In addition, I used sounds inside trees that I recorded with contact microphones. In Fukushima, I visited Bakkamiki in Minami-Soma, which is believed to be the birthplace of an old and mysterious lullaby called “Kanchororin.” The forest of Bakkamiki is now too highly radiated for people to enter. “The fall foliage is beautiful here…” murmured an old local folksinger, who brought me to this off-limits forest. The situation surrounding children in Minami-soma and the rest of Fukushima is only getting more and more complex. I sung “Kanchororin” to the trees in Paris and asked them what they thought about the situation in Fukushima.

 “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” has been broadcasted at various radio programs and festivals worldwide, including France Musique, Radio Télévision Suisse, Monofonic Festival, and Festival FUKUSHIMA!

I went to ask the trees in Paris what they thought about the situation in Fukushima. It was in the summer of 2012, over a year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

 

“I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” uses voices from inside these Parisian trees, as well as sound recordings from Fukushima, Tokyo, Aix-en-Provence, Geneva, and Paris. In Fukushima, I visited Bakkamiki in Minami-Soma, which is believed to be the birthplace of an old and mysterious local lullaby called “Kanchororin.” Deep in a foggy mountain by a steep river, the forest of Bakkamiki is now too highly radiated for people to enter.

 

“The fall foliage is beautiful here…” murmured an old local folksinger, who brought me to this off-limits forest. The situation surrounding children in Minami-soma and the rest of Fukushima is only getting more and more complex. This children’s folksong of “Kanchororin” is quoted in various ways throughout my composition. A poem I wrote in Japanese with the same title “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree,” is also narrated in the music.

I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree

(Text: Tomoko Momiyama)

Flower petals with a faint tint of red

Whisper to me a sweet hint of scent

And dance through the sky

While a renewed wind caresses my cheek

And the sun kisses deeply, into my cells

 

Children are crying with laughter

Mothers are chatting away

Men are pruning old branches

Birds fly off from a lake

Cats play hide and seek in the grass

Bugs and flowers sing together

 

All of this is so dear

And

All of this is so beautiful

 

Because

Time

Exists

 

Because there is an end, it is beautiful

Because there is death, it is beautiful

For this, we are born

And for this, we die

 

Although

Even at this moment

We are

 

Draining radiation into the sea

Polluting the soil, water, and air

Launching missiles at each other

Raping, killing, and abusing life

 

While workers at the nuclear power plant      are irradiated to deal with the disaster

We use and waste electricity to read news on the Internet

While we create lands where nobody can live for generations to come

We sell nuclear power plants to people in other lands

 

Children’s urine

And mothers’ breast milk

Are now radioactive

Dog, cow, and human corpses

Were abandoned a year ago

As nuclear waste

 

However frightening all this is

However sad all this is

 

Trees

Just

Live

Abiding

With

Time