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World Premiere of Noriko Koide’s un poco don poco for Solo Piano

Feb. 28, 2018

World Premiere of Noriko Koide’s  <em>un poco don poco</em> for Solo Piano

Noriko Koide’s solo piano work un poco don poco (2017) is performed as the compulsory work for the third round of the 4th Takamatsu International Piano Competition beginning March 14, 2018 at the Sunport Hall in Takamatsu City, Kagawa prefecture. The score will be published by Schott Music and available for presale at the hall. The new publication will be available to the public following the conclusion of the third round of the competition.

The composer notes:

“The title is a coined word combining “udon” and “ponpoko.” The title of Koide's new work is a combination of the Japanese "udon" and "panpoko", the latter word an onomatopoetic expression for the sound produced by the Japanese hand-drum, tsuzumi.

The work explores the activities in an imaginary udon restaurant owned by Tasaburo-Tanuki in Yashima-island. “Tanuki” is a Japanese raccoon dog. In Japanese popular culture, tanukis are often depicted as animals that play belly-drums, and the sound they produce is expressed by the onomatopoeia, “ponpoko.” I was inspired by the timbre and rhythms produced by the tanuki’s belly-drumming, and the body movements of making the Sanuki-style udon, a specialty of the Kagawa prefecture in the Shikoku region.

The pianist must imitate the cheerful timbre of belly-drums while chanting “un poco don poco” in his/her heart. After rhythmically kneading the udon dough like an elastic spring, the udon chef (the pianist) neatly folds the dough (sound) cut it into noodles, in a series of skillful actions where no movement is wasted.

Everyday the chef records the proportion between salt and water, trying to get the best balance. I have translated this measure into pitch relationship and used it in the composition.

Is the performer making udon or playing the piano? Is the pianist a human being or a tanuki? The more one works on this work, the less one will be able to tell. However, it does not matter—as long as we can relish delicious udon, and listen to lovely music.

The news that we hear today is full of sad incidents and unstable situations all over the world. I am sure that many young people of various backgrounds from various countries will participate in this competition.

Having vague border lines is one of characteristic features of Japanese culture. I would be very happy if, by learning the Japanese legend in which tanukis and people harmoniously coexist, reciprocating the help that each lends the other, people saw that it is possible to live generously and tolerantly, accepting the differences as they are and without amplifying hatred based on race or religion; and also that music and humor are very important elements in such a way of living.”

Press release--in Japanese--for un poco don poco/Noriko Koide)

("How to Make Udon," a reference video for the 4th Takamatsu International Piano Competition--in Japanese)

For more information about the Takamatsu International Piano Competition competition, please click here

For more information about Noriko Koide, visit

Noriko Koide
un poco don poco (2017)
for solo piano