Why fashion needs music, Why music needs fashion.
Fashion is an important source of inspiration. The abstract energy fashion has triggers my creativity and transforms it into new images and sound gestures within my personal universe.
I’m often inspired by what I see when I compose my works. It has been the weather, various experience, feelings, the nature, the people around me and what I hear in my daily life but recently I’ve been especially interested in fashion, textures, fashion collections, fashion weeks and fashion designer’s aesthetics.
It was around four years ago in Paris. Fortunately I could get in and see one of the show in Fashion Week. It was the first time for me to see fashion show in Fashion Week and it was incredibly wonderful. Models wore brilliant clothes and the people sat in the first row at the show looked gorgeous. I literally got drawn into the atmosphere and the moment and also I thought that it was totally a work of art.
One of the reasons why I am specifically interested in fashion is that I personally think fashion and music have a lot in common, for example, both of them is a movement. Fashion is one of the unique arts to have a movement because we always wear it. Fashion designers always expect and consider how it moves when people wears and walk with. Also music is a movement. It’s time art. It’s always moving and going to the next moment and getting to another point even if there is no sound and gesture. Moreover, music and fashion, they often need for each other. Absolutely fashion designers need the music for their shows. For example, Burberry in 2015, they literally put the orchestra in the show and the orchestra played music as a live performance. Models walk around the orchestra as a runway and it was the innovative idea of collaborating fashion and music. Also Alexander McQueen and Henrik Vibskov, both of them is the fabulous designers I have been inspired the most for my music though their shows are elaborately constructed and structured with the music and the visuals. A kind of the contemporary music has been often used for Alexander McQueen ‘s show and Henrik Vibskov’s A/W show in 2012 was that models walk on the runway that the drum-set has been set up. The drums sound when the models walk on and it means models have the role of playing music in the show as well. It’s also the new way of collaborating fashion and music and I totally agreed with his idea for fashion and music because both of them should be existed not only independently but also being together and blended for making the new atmosphere in the show somehow.
However why do fashion designers need music in their fashion show even the models are not walking on the beat? The models look like they don’t care the music at all and they are walking in their ‘Tempo’ (Speed) when they are walking on the runway. To be honest, it was a bit uncomfortable for me to see that when I started watching the videos of Fashion Week but it has been considered step by step that there are always two different ‘time structures’ between models and the rest in a show and that has turned to be the most interesting point of the fashion shows for me. Nevertheless do fashion designers really need music for their fashion? How do they get the meaning of music in the show? This is my opinion though the audience in the show is literally exited to see the new collection and the designers have to take them into the their world with their collection visually and psychologically. It depends on the concept of the collection though sometimes the collections are completely different from the clothes in reality and our daily life, so the designers sometimes try to make the theatrical atmosphere and the world of fantasy for the collections. Therefore they definitely make not only the fashion but also the atmosphere or the world the collection needs with stimulating various senses of the audience visually, psychologically, physically and musically. One of the fashion designers who I have talked with before said that she is always listening to music when she draws designs. Sometimes the music influences the designs directly and sometimes not. However she said that the music is absolutely different from what she is using for her show. She just said that she listens to the music to enhance her mood. The meaning of music for fashion designers depends on the designer his/herself though it might be necessary that fashion has any other aspects.
Sound gestures and physical gestures, the form and the scheme
What I considered first when I got the opportunity to compose for orchestra was how to control the big energy and sound gesture in the orchestra in 10 minutes. I personally think orchestra is one of the brilliant social that human beings make for being together and making movements like a body with 100 different people. Therefore orchestra has literally big energy because there are a lot of people and the each has a different instrument and different physical gesture. I have learned a lot when my third orchestra piece that is called ‘Tone on Tone check’ has been performed in Japan (Premiere) and Sønderborg in Denmark. What I have learned the most was that I could not control the energy that orchestra itself has in the piece and I also thought that orchestration is a big part of an orchestra piece to construct music and time. In the piece ‘Double-face’ that has performed by Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Pulsar festival, I tried to take what I have learned from my experience with various orchestras in Japan and Denmark.
I always decide the outline of the piece first when I start composing. It means I just try to make my conscious and ideas of sound clear and sometimes put specific sound ideas in the score with using ‘the inner ears’ as the first step. This time, my idea was having a big energy from the very beginning and keeping it as much as possible (as long as possible) in the music so I just decided to put the loud sound and lot of gestures with various instruments and big dynamic in the beginning and keep it about for 6 minutes. (I didn’t have the specific idea of duration to keep so it was the very rough form.) Also I wanted to leave a big impression for the audience with this beginning so I have imagined how it’s going to be with a lot of physical gestures of each player in the orchestra for many times during composing. It’s not so difficult to imagine the various gestures in the orchestra musically and visually from my experience though this is always the very first step of composing the piece and the one of important ways of thinking about the form of the music for me.
Next step was thinking out the scheme from the form. To be honest I don’t have such a big difference between ‘the form’ and ‘the scheme’ because I seldom have a mathematical system with my music but ‘the form’ is the very first rough step to put ideas that I have in my mind and ‘the scheme’ is more specific to decide the duration and details for me. First of all, I wrote down all sound ideas on the score as sketches even they are completely different and they don’t have any coherency at all. During the process of composing this piece, as I have mentioned above though I wanted to have the loud and energetic sound through the piece and also I already had a specific idea of sound gestures and notes for the beginning. It was the various patterns of the rhythms with strings parts from the violin 1st to the viola so more than 40 people play these patterns with the big dynamic. Moreover, not only strings parts but also wood winds, brass and percussions are doing a kind of own accents (sometimes they are doing together though) with the big dynamics in the really fast tempo (3/4=144 in the beginning).
It’s the literally energetic, dense and intense section and I personally think the audience can’t get what’s going on for the moment in the beginning. It means these musical patterns with this orchestration and gestures themselves take time to let them understand and also their attention is definitely got drawn into the piece because of the loud sound even if they are tired of the concert. It was honestly quite hard for me to decide how long this energetic beginning should be kept specifically and how long these musical patterns take to let the audience (audience’s ears) understand and accept the music because I did not have a mathematical system for this piece neither. However I took the really simple way that I lined up the score in a row and sing it in the tempo for many times with imagining the orchestra and their physical gestures. It’s a really easy and simple (might be foolish) way though I always do it in my composing process even I have a mathematical system for the piece. Also I tried to stretch out this beginning section because I always feel the time (duration) shorter when I compose for orchestra or any other big ensemble. (Because I practically have to write down a lot of notes when we compose for the orchestra so sometimes I am confused where I am in the process of the music).
Then I considered ‘the map’ and ‘the landscape’. After I wrote down this energetic beginning almost for 1:30 to 2 minutes, I left it out. I always try not to decide everything for the moment in the process of composing and I always want to leave a blank space for the each section because I will absolutely check out the coherency as the landscape after I all write up the piece.
My next idea was keeping this musical energy of this beginning and connecting to the next section somehow so I changed the patterns of sound gesture and the orchestration. Even only if they are changed, the sonority and the atmosphere of the music will be completely changed. In the beginning, the orchestration is that strings parts have the role of background with a lot of physical gestures, the piano and some low parts have the roles of base and the woodwinds and brass are doing accents and a kind of the counterpoint. However in the second section, the pattern of the orchestration is changed and it’s more ‘group-orchestration’. For example, the flute parts (three flutes) are playing the same musical phrase and having the same sound gestures, the each string part is divided by three and they are doing the same sound gestures in the group as well.
I’ve often taken this orchestration with my chamber pieces as well because I am really interested in the sound and the gesture that the each player personally has. Even they are playing the same instrument, they absolutely have their own sound and different colors so if I take this orchestration, I think that I can represent the each sound clearly. Also in this section, I only used wooden instruments with percussions for the same reason.
Furthermore I focused on controlling not only the musical energy but also the audience’s ears physically in the music this time because I thought that we couldn’t let the audience’s ears (attentions) attract to whole music even it’s short. We sometimes have to leave them out from the music and sometimes capture them for the moment all the sudden. Therefore I take the one beat silence with strings for the first time in this music in the bar 110.
I have been honestly afraid of having the silence because my basic idea of this piece was keeping the energetic music but I took it because the audience definitely needs ‘the break’ for their ears as well. Also since the very beginning, the strings are always doing a lot of gestures musically and visually (physically), so if it’s suddenly stopped, the audience’s ears and eyes are kind of confused what’s happened. It’s like they ride on the roller coaster and I wanted to take the audience to anything abrupt and extremely changes especially up and down in the music physically and psychologically.
Moreover in the second section, the three percussionists often play the woodblock together with the big dynamics to interrupt the music all the sudden and the sonority is changed at the moment. Also the three players are disposed like left-the middle-right on the stage so they also have the role of the speakers because I wanted to have a visual aspect for my music as well.
The music is going on with changing the patterns of the orchestration and the sound gestures. In the third section, the score looks that the music is totally changed though it’s not. The strong musical energy has been kept as a coherency with the different physical gestures and the sound gestures. The flutes and clarinets are doing really high notes with the really loud sound and all strings parts have a break for a while. After that, music is going to be spread out with strings parts step by step. The hardest process of composing this piece was how to construct time between the third the forth section. In the forth section, I wanted to keep the strong musical energy with tiny and the more solostic physical gestures and sound gestures. The all string parts are divided by four without double base and I only used metal instruments as the percussions. The reason why it was the hardest point was that the physical gestures and the sound gestures between the third and the forth section were completely different. It means the each gesture itself needs and takes time to determine and the each gesture has own time structure physically and musically. Then I had three ideas for that. One of them was that I stretched out the third section more and more until like the audience gets tired of the sonority and the atmosphere. The second one was just adding the comma between the sections and the final idea was adding the extra measure between the sections with fermata. (It means I have a long break that can not be determined.) However I didn’t take any ideas and I just let the music move on the next section because I thought the music absolutely loses the energy if I took any break between the sections. Also I thought that the third section can be ‘the extra section’ to connect the second section to the forth section because they have some coherences between the sections.
After the forth section, the music is finally going down with the dynamics and physical gestures. It’s around at 6-7minutes. Then I checked out prospects until here around 6-7 minutes with ‘the helicopter perspective’. I lined up the all scores and put them in a row on the floor again and I stretched out some sections and phrases where I felt it was too short. My scheme was that I quit keeping the strong energy at this point, however, I felt like I wanted to keep the energy through the piece even with completely different patterns and sound gestures. Therefore I came up with the idea of putting the string quartet behind the audience (invisible place). Also I came up with the title ‘Double-face’ at that time. Double-face means ‘the reversible clothe’ as a fashion term so I wanted have various ‘Double’ meanings in the music. For example, double music (time structure) between the orchestra and the string quartet and double structure between the energetic music and calm music. Furthermore the piece is not reversible though there is big energy in the beginning like the climax so I thought it could be reversible as the scheme.
In the fifth section, the string quartet plays the totally different music the orchestra does. However it’s definitely coming from what the orchestra had in the beginning so the string quartet has the role to keep the musical energy and sound gestures from the very beginning. They are behind of the audience and much less than the orchestra so the audience can’t listen to what they do actually but it doesn’t matter. I just wanted to have the effect of a kind of the memory and give the audience the chance to remember what they have had in the beginning. Furthermore, as I keep the strong musical energy through the piece, I can have the strong coherency as ‘the landscape’. Here there are the two different structures and the physical gestures between the string quartet and the orchestra and it’s getting to be mixed in the next section, the sixth section. When the music gets to the sixth section, it almost loses the strong musical energy that has had in the beginning but I tried to keep the energy with the long tones. In my opinion, a powerful physical gesture literally has the strong energy but also it can have the other type of the strong energy with the long tone with a small dynamic and the less physical gesture because the players are definitely nervous and they have much tension. In the section, the music is stretched out with the long tones and mixed with the sound gestures between the string quartet and the orchestra. Finally the strong energy the orchestra has had in the beginning is coming back all the sudden in the last section and the piece will be finished like the wind suddenly blows up and disappears.
Music is always changing and getting to the next moment even if there is no sound because there are gestures at moment. It can’t be staying and stopping until the music is finished. In my opinion, it’s the task for composers to make the direction of music clear and construct the time with various gestures.
Coloring score like designing fashion
As I mentioned above a bit though I have changed the orchestration for each section step by step. Especially in the first section, I have changed the orchestration for many times and I took the way of coloring the score literally. I wanted have three-dimensional ‘sound layers’ because almost the same sound gestures and physical gestures are repeated in the section. I am not synesthetic actually but I have a kind of synesthetic response to music. I sometimes have a color images for specific sound gestures and musical phrases. First of all, I intuitively colored each beat (each note) with various color pencils, like red, orange, yellow, green and blue and also I decided red is the strongest and blue is the softest as sound. Then I specifically distributed the instruments to the each color. I put the instrument that has strong sound in the vivid color, on the other hands, that has softer sound in pale color, for example, brass, timpani and piano in red and woodwinds and some string parts in blue. Therefore it will be the layers not only visually but also musically. I was not sure how much the audience could recognized the sound layers because it was in very fast tempo but it thought I could have the coherence as the orchestration and it would be much clearer for players as well. Furthermore it was much clearer for me to see the colored score because I could get which note I need for the moment easily and also it was easy for the audience to find the important notes in the chaotic section.
Conclusion, new possibilities between music and fashion
I have talked with some fashion designers and they told me the interesting things of designing process. They said that some of them chooses the fabric first and then starts drawing. They touch various fabrics, for example, silk, cotton, lace or felt and then draw with being inspired by it. Sometimes they cut the fabric and use the part of it. Moreover they can also make the fabric, for example, some of them prints their own designs on the fabric. Also, the fabric will be changed when it’s ironed or washed so they can choose its texture of the fabric as well. On the other hands, some of them starts drawing first and then chooses fabrics. It means they have a priority of their designs and choose fabrics practically to make the form.
We can say almost the same things in music. The fabric is instrumentation, timbre or an instrument itself for me. We can develop the sound itself with extension techniques and we can also make an instrument. It means, we have a lot of ways and materials to create something new and it can be changed step by step during creating. We can’t define what ‘contemporary music’ is and we never know it because it doesn’t have a restriction and a definition. We can literally do anything in music nowadays. However we have a restriction for the instrument itself, for example, each instrument has each register. Also we have to care about the breathing points, if there is enough time to take on/ off mutes and so on because it’s one of the common things between fashion and music though both of them is performed by a human being. A fashion model wears the cloth and represents the designers’ ideas and a musician plays the music. It means we always represent music and fashion through the other people. Therefore we can’t control everything in music and fashion but that’s the interesting point as well because we could coincidentally get something new that we couldn’t expect.
My almost of interests is in fashion though there are a lot of possibilities to enhance for each, fashion and music. Fashion brand can hire own composers and they can have custom-made (tailored-made) music for their show. Also they can have some musicians in the show and have live performance simultaneously. On the other hands, we, composers can take fashion as a visual for the performance. For example we can indicate what kind of clothes the player should wear in the piece and we can also ask fashion designers make specific clothes for each player because each player has each physical gesture. For instance, a cellist has a really special gesture and also the appearance and the way of playing are so unique. Therefore that would be wonderful if the clothes fit on the gesture each player or each instrument has. Thus we can have a lot of possibilities to collaborate music and fashion and they absolutely need for each other. It would show us new aspect for each fashion and music and also give me new meaning of music.