Journey Within II "Walk About"

Motoshi Kosako

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Journey Within “Walk About” Motoshi Kosako : Harp

1 Improvisation, April 20, 2022 -4 (15:35) 2. Improvisation, March 29, 2022-2 (3:04) 3. Improvisation, April 20, 2022 -3 (8:54) 4. Improvisation, March 29, 2022 -1 (2:48) 5. Improvisation, February 10, 2022 (8:54) 6. Improvisation, April 27, 2022 (11:05) 7. Improvisation, June 15, 2022 (7:11)

Journey Within “Walk About” Motoshi Kosako : Harp

1 Improvisation, April 20, 2022 -4 (15:35) 2. Improvisation, March 29, 2022-2 (3:04) 3. Improvisation, April 20, 2022 -3 (8:54) 4. Improvisation, March 29, 2022 -1 (2:48) 5. Improvisation, February 10, 2022 (8:54) 6. Improvisation, April 27, 2022 (11:05) 7. Improvisation, June 15, 2022 (7:11)

Instrument : CAMAC Atlantide Prestige tuned in A=432Hz All the pieces are improvised in the moment of recording by Motoshi Kosako Recorded, mixed, mastered by Motoshi Kosako Produced in October 2022 All right reserved

“Walk About” is a collection of improvisations that do not have any specific intention behind them. It is a literal result of my spirit’s “Walk About” through my mind—taking inspiration from an Aboriginal spiritual tradition.  

Liner Notes

 It was about 30 years ago when I first heard The Köln Concert, a solo piano improvisation album by Keith Jarrett. And to this day I still remember how astonished I was to realize that such a beautiful & complete piece of music could be created with improvisation. How was such a thing possible?

Back then I was a talented young jazz guitarist playing in professional bands in Tokyo. Improvisation was not something I was unfamiliar with, in fact it is something that is quite well known to  jazz musicians. However, we often  create our improvisations based on the structure of a piece of music that has already been composed. But what Mr. Keith Jarret was doing during The Köln Concert was something else entirely. He was composing a piece of brand-new music during the performance. 

 Since then I was possessed by the keen desire to become an accomplished improviser like Mr. Keith Jarrett. I picked up the 8-string classical guitar in order to expand my musical repertoire from jazz to classical, baroque, renaissance, and even medieval music. I studied a wide range of theories of composition, such as; renaissance counterpoint, baroque basso-continuo, modern harmony theory, and jazz theory. Through all of this, I was hoping to gain all the necessary skills and knowledge I would need to become like Keith Jarret. The result however, was disappointing. I had put a lot of effort into gathering the skills and bits of knowledge which had helped me to become a good musician, but I still felt that a crucial element was missing. 

 It did not take me long to discover that Mr. Jarrett had  been deeply influenced by the esoteric teaching of G.I. Gurdjieff. After reading some books about Gurdjieff’s teaching, it became very clear that the crucial element that I found to be lacking in my work, was not skill or knowledge, but rather an element of Being. I could not achieve my goals because of this, and therefore what I needed to do was work on myself internally. I needed to alter my way of existence.

Since I was ready to do whatever it took to achieve my goal, I decided to commit myself to Gurdjieff’s esoteric path, and I joined one of the groups providing teachings on Gurdjieff's Work- a spiritual training method known also as The Fourth Way. A few years after this I gave up my comfortable life in Tokyo, and my career as a medical professional—even if this meant turning down a very compelling job offer to be an assistant professor at one of the public colleges of nursing in Tokyo—and I moved to California to commit myself even further to The Fourth Way work. And so it was that quite unexpectedly, my quest to become an accomplished improviser led me towards a spiritual path. 

 As a result of the series of internal and external changes that I experienced, I began questioning the importance of music in my life. Did I really want to be a musician? I truly loved music, but there was something about being a musician that didn't feel quite right. And if I did want to be a musician, did I really want to be a guitarist?

I had never separated these two things before: being a musician and being a guitarist, to me those two things had always been synonymous. The biggest turning point through all of this, was the moment I realized that the suffering that I associated with music was actually coming from an attachment to the time and effort that I had invested in learning and playing guitar. I had an unnecessary vanity and pride based on my achievements as a guitarist, and a limited view of music based solely on a guitarist’s mindset. 

 As it turns out, the answer to my final question was that I did not want to be a guitarist anymore. That realization meant that I had to give up the toxic relationship that I had with music. But, if I was not going to play guitar, what would I do? I decided that it would be best to pick up a new instrument, and the harp conveniently fell into my lap.  

 At this point though, I was already 28 years old, and I couldn’t afford to take harp lessons regularly. Desire, however, was not waylaid by this. I still wanted to become an accomplished improviser like Mr. Kieth Jarrett, and I would do so as a Harpist. 

 During the first 7 years of my career as a harpist, I  concentrated entirely on becoming a sufficient classical harpist. I used all of my musical and spiritual knowledge to begin to teach myself harp. And in addition to this I decided to never touch the guitar again (something which continues to this day).I also stopped playing non-classical music, I even went so far as to cease listening to anything that was not classical. As a result of this, I became the principal harpist of the Stockton Symphony Orchestra within six years of my self-education. I managed to successfully establish myself as a full-time classical harpist, and was able to earn enough income to support myself, my fiancé, and her three kids. Life wasn’t too bad, good enough in fact that I almost forgot my primary purpose: becoming an accomplished improviser. 

Soon after the classical harpist routine had become very familiar—and, to be honest, quite boring—I remembered what my primary aim had been. I felt then that it was time to move on, so of course I decided to make another drastic career change. I decided to go from being a classical harpist to a jazz harpist. And, with time, and effort, I managed to combine my experience as a jazz guitarist, and my skills as a harpist together. Soon thereafter I managed to win second prize in The Lyon & Healy Jazz and Pop harp competition in 2007. Right after this achievement, I announced to all chamber music groups, orchestras, choir groups, and wedding coordinators that I was going to retire from classical gigs. Not too long after this, I married my wife Terra, and officially became a father to three beautiful children.

 My new journey as a jazz harpist and family man was soon overshadowed by the historic recession triggered by the Lehman shock. It was one of the hardest times financially in my life. I doubted my decision, became depressed, and even lost interest in playing the harp. But, through this I found the time to explore the spiritual path that I had deviated from as a result of my commitment to be a professional harpist, and the bread winner for my family. In actuality, this hardship became a precious opportunity for me to once again reevaluate my life and purpose. I decided to trust my talent and commit fully to my new career, with the tremendous support from my new family.

 The following years were very exciting ones. I started composing a lot of original pieces, and teaming up with top-notch jazz musicians, musicians like Paul McCandless—a prominent reed player. Paul had been my hero for at least two decades and it was unbelievable to me that he not only  recognized me as a musical partner, but  was also willing  to create  CD’s with me, and tour together. As a composer, it was an incredible privilege to have his signature oboe sound in my work. 

Beyond this, my career as a jazz harpist was growing nicely, and I started being recognized within the harp community. I began playing for the American Harp Society event, the World Harp Congress, and various harp festivals. However, it took me 10 more years to feel ready to perform free improvisation in public.

Everything was growing nicely until the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Pandemic policies meant that I lost all performance opportunities for nearly two years. Before this,I had started to have one or two free improvisations in concerts that I performed before the pandemic, but at the time I wasn’t ready to carry on an entire concert with only free improvisation. However, that two year hiatus from performances provided me with enough time and space to polish up my improvisational skills.

 As I continued to explore improvisation, I often felt something wasn’t quite right with the sound I that I was creating. I knew that it was neither an issue with composition nor with technique. I examined all the possibilities I could think of, and eventually it occurred to me that the only thing I had not done yet, was change the way that I tuned my harp. In all honesty, I didn’t like the idea of keeping my instrument tuned with anything but A=440Hz tuning. Anything different would mean that it would be almost impossible to play with another tuned instrument such as a marimba, most wind instruments, and even most strings as well. But then I thought “ who cares now? I am not playing with anybody thanks to the Covid lockdown!” And so I finally changed the tuning from A=440Hz to A=432Hz as an experiment. And Boom!This was it! I absolutely loved the way the harp sound resonated within my body and soul with this tuning! 

 I finally started recording some free improvisations in February 2022. Free improvisation is not a casual activity. I needed to prepare myself carefully in order to be able to make the maximum effort so that I could bring out the best in me during the moment. Whatever happens in the moment is entirely my responsibility, and I have to accept everything,  both good and bad. It’s not like a casual fun trip. It’s more like an internal journey made at the cost of making efforts and taking risks, and which brings us profound insight as a result. And after all of this, I now feel ready for my own Köln Concert. 

 This series of three albums “Journey Within” is a note on my internal musical journey of 2022. 

“Walk About” is a collection of improvisations that do not have any specific intention behind them. It is a literal result of my spirit’s “Walk About” through my mind—taking inspiration from an Aboriginal spiritual tradition.  

 I can say that this music may not make you comfortable or entertained. Instead, you might feel a certain kind of intensity that provokes some discomfort and unease. This is because I didn’t have any intention to create entertainment during the recording of these improvisations. Any journey contains blessed moments, as well as corresponding hardships. However, the journey is made special thanks to both of these aspects coexisting. 

 Bon Voyage! 

Motoshi Kosako  October, 2022

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