MotherVoiceTalk, 15′, 2008
The making of MotherVoiceTalk was a journey in search of resonance with the work and life of Roy Kiyooka. My task as I perceived it, was to ‘listen’ to Kiyooka’s artistic and personal voices on all possible levels and bring them into dialogue with the musical, sonic tools of my own compositional and personal voices. The final piece emerged out of this process of listening and was, to say the least, a bit of a surprise to me! Perhaps I could call it a ‘thought piece in sounds and words’.
From the start I was curious about the relationship between Kiyooka’s Japanese-Canadian past—his coming of age during WWII and thus inside Canada’s so-called enemy-alien culture and language—and his strong position inside the contemporary English-Canadian cultural scene during his adult life. Like so many other Canadians, myself included, he carried within himself another language and culture and learnt to integrate it into the cultural environment of the Canadian world around him. This makes for a unique inner dialogue and is bound to find its expression in any artistic work, however conscious or subconscious it may be.
Listening to some of the tapes that Roy Kiyooka had made himself or that were made of his readings, musical improvisations and presentations, I was struck by the multitude of moods and expressions in his speaking and sound making. Short excerpts of these became the sonic/musical materials for this piece, e.g. sounds from his zither, or ‘harp’ as he would call it, from a whistle, and his spoken voice. The Japanese voice of his mother Mary Kiyoshi Kiyooka, and the German voice of my own mother, Agnes Westerkamp, both found their way into the composition.