Fujii Marimba Databases

The Fujii Marimba Databases, Vol. I-III were written and generously donated to PAS by famed-Japanese marimbist, Mutsuko Fujii, and the Senzoku Marimba Research Group at the Senzoku Gakuen College of Music Percussion Institute.

*To access the Fujii Marimba Databases, an active PAS Membership is required

About Mutsuko Fujii

Mutsuko Fujii is one of the pioneers of the Japanese marimba movement that started back in the late-1960’s and early-1970’s. Fujii-san commissioned and premiered works by Akira Miyoshi and Maki Ishii, and eventually recorded two CD’s of their works. In addition to these recent recordings, a performance at the 2010 PASIC with her daughters Rika and Haruka Fujii, Mutsuko is actively teaching at the Senzoki Gakuen College of Music. It is this institution where she began research for the first Database and has continued on to form the Marimba Research Group to complete the next two documents and various other projects involving marimba research in Japan.

Fujii Database Vol. III:
The Development of Music for the Xylophone and Marimba in Japan

To better understand the importance of these documents, the three-volume database makes more sense starting with Fujii Database Vol. III: "The Development of Music for the Xylophone and Marimba in Japan”, then moving backwards. This third volume describes the Japanese history and ancestry of the xylophone and marimba, beginning with the boat-shaped xylophone coming from China in the Edo-period (circa 1600-1840). The use of the xylophone in kabuki theatre is well documented in Fujii’s research, which leads into the Meiji period beginning in the late 1800s. This period includes the introduction of Music Education in Japan and the dawn of the table xylophone in post-World War II Japan. In a clear and succinct fashion, Fujii traces the evolution of the instruments and how performers, composers, educators, the entertainment industry and family heritage had a part in developing the xylophone and marimba over the course of 400 years.

Fujii Database Vol. II:
Evolution of the Japanese Marimba - A History of Design Through Japan’s Five Major Manufacturers

The Fujii Database Vol. II: "Evolution of the Japanese Marimba - A History of Design Through Japan’s Five Major Manufacturers” focuses on the five major marimba companies in Japan and how their instruments developed from 1947 to 2008.  1947 was a pivotal time in Japan as it was the year the Japan Ministry of Education deemed the xylophone as a primary tool for music education in the schools.  To understand the lineage of instrument development for each company for volume 2, Fujii and members of the research team visited the President’s or heads of Miyakawa Marimba, Mizuno Marimba, Korogisha (Korogi), Saito Gakki Seisakusyo and Yamaha.  (It was noted that only Korogi, Saito Gakki and Yamaha still maintain a research and development division of their respective companies.) This second database is presented through pictures and specific information about each instrument the companies have made since 1947.  This information includes the manufacture date, model number, range, measurements, bar material quality and product characteristics. The overall scope of this volume is informative and intriguing. The combination of pictures and descriptions allows the reader to see how drastically instruments have changed since 1947 and the different experiments companies have tried in relation to size, bar material and overall design.  Omitting instruments that did not receive major changes, the “Fujii Database 2” provides information about 64 different xylophones and marimbas developed in Japan over a 60-year time span.

Fujii Database Vol. I:
Japanese Marimba Works

The “Fujii Database of Japanese Marimba Works”, the first volume of this project, is a list of 724 works for marimba composed by Japanese composers.  This extensive list not only includes the composer, title and composition date, but it also includes information about the premiere including the date, concert hall, prefecture/state, country and performer.  The publisher and the recording(s) the piece is located are also included.  The database includes works composed between 1929 and 2003. Additionally, the “Fujii Database 3” includes a breakdown summary of the pieces listed in volume 1, according to genre: 218 marimba, woodwind, and percussion pieces; 176 marimba solos; 70 marimba concertos; and various pieces for marimba duos and trios, xylophone concertos, marimba and piano, and marimba with other instruments.  While it is not an exhaustive list, the first database is an outstanding, and somewhat overwhelming resource to learn more about marimba pieces composed by well-known and lesser-known Japanese composers. Personally, I had no idea Eyichi Asabuki composed over 40 works or that Toshi Ichiyanagi has a dozen works using marimba.  There are many other surprises and discoveries to be found among this list.

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