SATO Motif

Neecher—Was ist das?

One day during my high school years, a friend of mine approached me from a distance yelling "Neeeeecherrrr!!" I felt an immediate affinity with my newly bestowed nickname and thus, began putting it to good use. (I have also been called "June bug," probably because I like to bug people, but somehow that died out.)

My given name, Junichi, is a very common Japanese name comprising of two Chinese characters: jun (order) and ichi (one), literally, "first in order." My guess is that this is usually a name given to the first son, but my parents claim that there is a deeper philosophical reason for naming me such.

In either case, the letter "n" in my name is a freestanding character in Japanese, the only character not associated with a vowel sound. Therefore, the "jun" part is pronounced independently of the "i" immediately following it. To the unaware English-speaking person, however, the spelling of the name Junichi ostensibly appears as consisting of the three syllables "ju," "ni," and "chi." Add to this the tendency to accent the second syllable, and the result is something that sounds more like an Italian nome di famiglia: "juneechee" (imagine it spelled Giunici!).

My nonchalance in correcting this phonic anomaly has caused me to not only accept, but alas, prefer the Anglicized version of my name, thereby exposing myself to the possibility of nicknames such as Neecher. And while I'm pretentiously rambling about my own name, here's an explanation of what the motif below represents.

SATO Motif

The three notes and the rest is a cryptographic representation of my surname (Sato). "S," or "Es" denotes E-flat in the German nomenclature for pitch; "A" can be used as is; "T," or "ti" is a solmization syllable representing B in fixed do; "O" can mean "zero" or "nothing"—a rest being the most logical musical equivalent.

My first use of this motif was in the coda of my Variations on a Theme by Liszt for woodwind quartet (2001). If the first pitch, E-flat is considered do, ti in movable do would represent D. The resulting three pitches, E-flat, A, and D, are the three most prominent pitches of the opening of Liszt's theme, transposed down a minor third. Given this link, the S-A-T-O motif in the coda of my Variations not only serves as my personal signature, but also acts as an ultimate homage to the eminent cultural hero, Franz Liszt.

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