Notes by
Ken Ueno

Commissioned by
the Pro Arte Chamber

This piece was made
possible by a grant
from the Fromm Music
Foundation and is
dedicated to
Bernard Rands at 70.

The title of this piece is a word devised by Samuel Beckett for a map of the heart. Beckett derived “apmonia” from a Pythagorean term in acoustics theory; his purposeful misreading of the Greek letter rho as the Roman ‘p’ transforms “armonia” (harmony, octave) to “apmonia.” The reference appears in Beckett’s first published novel, Murphy.

The large-scale structure of Apmonia is influenced by a work of the German filmmaker Wim Wenders.

As a Japanese-American artist, I have struggled with feeling colonized by the tradition of Western Classical music. Wim Wenders, in interviews, has talked about a similar struggle with his medium being dominated by Americans. Artistically, he acknowledges that cinema is essentially American, and, not being American, he asked himself if it was possible for him to participate in cinematic art-making. He found his solution when he discovered the works of Yasujiro Ozu. Ozu’s individual style, voice, and accomplishment in cinema inspired Wenders that he, too, might be able to create great cinematic works, albeit not being American.

Wenders’ filmic essay, Tokyo-Ga, pays homage to Ozu. The opening credits of Tokyo-Ga start with the opening credits to Ozu’s masterpiece, Tokyo Story, after which is presented Wenders’ own opening credits. During the end credits, Wenders’ credits are followed by the end credits to Tokyo Story. In this way, Ozu’s Tokyo Story literally parenthesizes Wenders’ Tokyo-Ga.

I have borrowed something of Wenders’ structural strategy for Apmonia. The opening timpani solo and the orchestration of the ending are allusions to the beginning and endings of important works by my mentor Bernard Rands. The opening timpani solo references Rands’ ...body and shadow.... The ending references Rands’ Wildtrack 1. As are many of Rands’ titles, ...body and shadow... is a Beckettian reference.

No one has guided me more in developing my own relationship to the literary world of Beckett than Bernard Rands, especially in terms of the varied manifestations of the influence of Beckett on my music. For this and for revealing to all of us the true essence of music in such masterworks as Apókryphos, I dedicate Apmonia to Bernard Rands at 70.


© 2020 KEN UENO



© 2020 KEN UENO