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Jo Kondo: Sen no Ongaku / Linear Music (Various Artists, 1974)


“Sen no Ongaku (Linear Music)” is the first album by Jo Kondo, a Japanese composer of contemporary classical music, who was born in Tokyo in 1947. It is a collection of his five compositions composed in 1973–1974 based on his own experimental methodology of composition, which he himself called “Sen no Ongaku (Linear Music)”.


The album was released as a LP by ALM Records / Kojima Recordings in 1974 before he became known worldwide as a composer in the field of contemporary classical music.

Though most of the compositions in the album were rerecorded by Japanese chamber orchestra Ensemble Nomad later and were released as CDs, the album is important for the point that he first set up his methodology of “Sen no Ongaku”, which was his starting point, as a group of compositions.

Kondo also published his music theory book of the same title as the album in 1979.

The album was first released on CD by ALM Records / Kojima Recordings in 2014.

According to the liner notes of the album written by Kondo, “Linear Music” means a row of single tones, in which each single tone is articulated with another, and it has a continuity as an endless pulse. Based on this concept, he treats tones not as a group but as a row of spatialized single tones.

“Linear Music” gives interspaces to sounds, and changes music into a place of the relationship between a sound and its shadow. The composer applies the word “metaphonesis” to its method of “attaching a shadow to a sound”.

As means of metaphonesis, the difference between the attacks of the instruments are used in “Orient Orientation” (harps, multiple recording) and “Standing” (flute, marimba, piano), a time lag shift in the mobility of a continuously transitional sound is used in “Falling” (two violas, contrabass, electric piano), and harmonics are used in “Click Crack” (piano) and “Pass” (banjo, two guitars, taishōgoto, harp, harmonica). 

The album is recommended for those who like John Cage, Morton Feldman and Steve Reich.

Track Listing

The track listing and performers are as follows:

  1. Click Crack (1973): Yūji Takahashi (piano)
  2. Orient Orientation (1973): Ayako Shinozaki (harps, multiple recording)
  3. Standing (1973): Hiroshi Koizumi (flute), Yasunori Yamaguchi (marimba), Aki Takahashi (piano)
  4. Pass (1974): Norio Sato (banjo), Kikuo Shimura (guitar), Masaru Soga (guitar), Aki Takahashi (taishōgoto), Ayako Shinozaki (harp), Yasunori Yamaguchi (harmonica), Ryô-ichi Kawai (conductor)
  5. Falling (1973): Isako Shinozaki (viola), Masatsugu Shinozaki (viola), Yoshio Nagashima (contrabass), Aki Takahashi (electric piano)
Jo Kondo – Sen No Ongaku (1974)