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About "Takai-Yama"

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Takai-Yama 高い山 mus  pdf  mid  mp3  xml

Title in English: "High Mountain "

History

Painting of Mt. Fuji"Takai-Yama" is a popular song from the end of the Edo period, a rather banal, somewhat humorous work song, with a lovely pentatonic melody.

Text

As I gaze from the high mountain
Into the valley below
(Look now!)
Cucumbers and eggplants are at their peak of blossoming.

Remarks

My source for this song is the 1895 Japanese book by Nagai and Obata, cited below.  This book appears to be a slightly different edition of the 1892 book by Nagai and Kobatake which serves as the source for most of the Japanese songs on this website.

"Takai-Yama" appears in Giocomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly, in Act II as the music for Suzuki's prayer.  According to Powils-Okano, its use in Suzuki’s prayer may be related to the fact that in Japanese myth and folklore, gods usually inhabit high mountains. On the other hand, could it be that Puccini simply liked the tune and attached no importance to the song’s title and lyric?

For a list of Puccini's Japanese songs and where they are used in the opera, see Japanese Songs in Puccini's Madama Butterfly on this website.

References

Hara, Kunio, Puccini's Use of Japanese Melodies in Madama Butterfly, Master's thesis, University of Cincinnati, 2003.  Download from http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd/send-pdf.cgi?ucin1060955367 [Large pdf file, 3MB].

Powils-Okano, Kimiyo, Puccinis "Madama Butterfly", Verlag für systematische Musikwissenschaft GmbH, Bonn, 1986 (in German).

Nagai, Iwai and Obata, Kenhachiro, Seiyo gakufu Nihon zokkyokushu, pub. Miki Shoten, Osaka, 1895 (in Japanese).

(Mt. Fuji Clipart: Microsoft)

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