Tadayuki Matsubara: Churaumi, Churashima

This new album by singer and sanshin player Tadayuki Matsubara (released under the full title Churaumi, Churashima ~ Ayagu, Miyako no Uta ~) is, as its name suggests, a celebration of the traditional songs of the Miyako islands.

The music of Miyako has a unique quality that distinguishes it from that of Okinawa to the north and Yaeyama to the south. The islands are especially known for their love songs and sad melodies as well as for dances and celebrations connected with island life and work in the fields and at sea.

The most well-known exponent of these songs is, of course, the iconic singer Genji Kuniyoshi who sadly died last week at the age of 90, and it seems Tadayuki Matsubara is set to follow in his footsteps. Matsubara was, in fact, born in Urasoe, Okinawa in 1992, and his grandparents and mother are natives of Miyako. He learned singing and sanshin as a pupil of Genji Kuniyoshi from the age of eight until twenty and was also able to join him to perform on stage.

Through this experience, he says, he learned about the heart of Miyako songs. Finally, at the age of 27 he decided to devote himself seriously to traditional songs and music as he wants as many people as possible to listen to these island songs. Now we have this debut album as evidence of that aim.

Most of the familiar and much loved Miyako songs are here as well as some lesser-known ones. There are versions of the classic ‘Togani Ayagu’, ‘Irabu Togani’, and ‘Nariyama Ayagu’ as well as livelier songs such as ‘Nima nu Shu’ and the spirited ‘Pyarumizu nu Kuicha~Yonamumi nu Anigama’ with shimadaiko and female backing vocals so typical of this music (see video below). There is also a duet with Yoshiko Kuniyoshi (Genji’s wife) on the Miyako love song ‘Shin Kanushagamayo’ which has lyrics by Genji Kuniyoshi.

Churaumi, Churashima (Beautiful Sea, Beautiful Islands) was produced by Tsukasa Kohama who also chose the song selections with Matsubara. There are 16 tracks and a running time of 68 minutes. Miyako songs are frequently played with stark and spare sanshin accompaniment. Matsubara captures the mood perfectly on an album that would surely have made his great mentor proud.

Churaumi, Churashima ~ Ayagu, Miyako no Uta ~ will be released by Respect on 23rd June.


Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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