Rhythmic cycles in kangen music

Kangen phrase structures are either 4 (hayayahyôshi) or 8 (nobeyahyôshi) measures long, containing either 4(hayabyôshi) or 8 (nobebyôshi) beats. A few rhythmic structures are made as a combination of two adjacent measures of different length: 2 + 4 (hayatadabyôshi), or 2 + 3 (hayayatarabyôshi) pulsations. Figures 1 and 2 show the possible phrase structures of four and eight measures. The most important part of the cycle is a downbeat at the half-point (obachi), and it is indicated in Figures 1 and 2 with a ‘>’. This accent is articulated in the music as the only point where the kakko (two sided drum) and shôkô (small gong) meet together on the downbeat with the taiko’s (large suspended drum) strong accent.

 

 

 

Four possible phrase structures of four measures (Hayayahyôshi)

Figure 1

 

 

Five possible phrase structures of eight measures (Nobeyahyôshi)

Figure 2

 

Figure 3 shows an unusual phrase structure of six measures (hayamuhyôshi) that subdivides in an uneven fashion of 4 + 2 measures. 

 

A phrase structure of six measures (4 + 2) (Hayamuhyôshi)

 

Figure 3

 

It must be emphasized that although the obachi is structurally positioned at the cycle's half-point, this is not how the musicians with whom we worked think about it. Some musicians conceive of it as the cycle's first downbeat, and they consider the few measures of a piece that precede the very first the obachi as a long up-beat. On the other hand, other musicians from the same ensemble describe feeling obachi as marking the first beat of the last measure of the cycle. These different manners of conceiving of the obachi do not affect the music or its interpretation -- they reflect the divergences of conception between different schools. In the litterature, we have found references to both ways of thinking about the obachi and the way musicians conceive of it. The next three examples show multiple conceptions of the obachi for the same music.

 

Structural centered position of the obachi

Example 1

Conception of the obachi as marking the first measure of the cycle

Example 2

Conception of the obachi as marking the last measure of the cycle

Example 3