Poems from the Road

Basho by Hokusai

“Poems from the Road” is my multimedia work inspired by a famous and celebrated journey which took place many years ago in Japan.

In this project I have used generative music and generative art techniques to create  a concept album. The collection consists of a soundscape introduction, followed by eight short soundscapes with images – all created using largely generative techniques. Each part is inspired by, and intended to illustrate one of the famous “haiku” poems penned by Matsuo Basho at one of the way-points on his journey.

Each short soundscape is presented alongside a textual extract from Basho’s diary, supplemented by my visual illustration employing mathematically generated imagery and by the text of the Basho poem in both simplified Japanese Kanji and in English translation. Each soundscape is also prefaced by a narration of the Basho poem in Japanese.

The longer introductory piece “The Narrow Road” was one of my first works produced using the Nodal Sequencer, and it was that output in particular which prompted me to add a further eight short soundscapes with accompanying images to create a larger body of work that might be called a concept album.

The sounds and words used here are either digitally synthesized, or sampled.

Background – Oku no Hosomishi

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japanese history. By 1680 Basho had a permanent post, teaching numerous disciples the art of Haikai. In later life he became somewhat reclusive and took to wandering, either alone or with companions.

In 1689, Basho and his student Kawai Sora set out on an epic journey to the northern provinces of Japan. Over 150 days they travelled 2,400 kilometres.

Basho kept a diary of the journey, which was published in 1694 as 奥の細道 (Oku no Hosomishi), a work that is considered by many to contain some of  his best poems.


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