TAKAMASA SEGI/Zampona and Quena

Takamasa Segi PortraitProfile / Biography / Songs of THE WIND



Born in Tokyo.
Mastered playing the zampona & quena by himself.
Started to perform at live houses.
Went to Bolivia and studied the zampona & quena.
Made the contract with "DISCOLANDIA" which is major record company in Bolivia Released 4 albums. Established his positon as a top artist in Bolivia.
Returned to Japan to produce "Super Session Series" ('91-'94, at Sendai-city).
Formed "Libre Club" with Shuichi "Ponta" Murakami, Kazumi Watanabe, Yasuhiro Kobayashi, Tomohiro Yahiro, Yutaka Fukuoka, Masahiro Sayama, Tomohito Aoki, and Natsuki Kido.
Recruited Pedro Aznar, a fomer member of the "Pat Metheny Group" and toured across Japan.
Released 2 solo albums of "VIENTO" , "ILUSION" concecutively. Formed his regular band "Takamasa Segi & PA'DELANTE", and held "Takamasa Segi with Super Friends" concert in 8 places in Japan with world-wide famed artist, Pedro Aznar, and Tonihno Horta. This tour became the talk of Japan.
"Takamasa Segi & PA'DELANTE" toured again to about 40 places in Japan. Segi appeared on the world music showcase, "Festival Haru" which sent a message from Paris and Tokyo, and played up that opening. After transfering his contract to Polister, he released solo CD "NIEVE".
Released his 4th CD "LUNA", in Japan on Jan. 25.
Released his 5th CD "FOREST RAIN", in Japan on Mar. 1.

Songs of THE WIND

The "Zampona" is a traditional Bolivian instrument that was invented over four thousand years ago. It is the oldest wind instrument and is quite simple, only a group of reeds bound into sheaves. It is said that this instrument originated when an ancient Andean wind blew into the snapped stems of the highland reeds... it sounded like primitive music. The Zampona and the Quena, which is another kind of traditional South American pipe, are called "Viento" in Spanish, which means wind. And today, they have fascinated a certain Japanese person. His name is Takamasa Segi.

Takamasa Segi was born in Tokyo on June 29, 1966 (the day the Beatles first came to Japan :-). When he was in junior-high school, he first practiced playing the guitar but gave it up soon because of his slow progress and there were many friends who were already good at playing the guitar. He thought that he wanted to play an instrument that no one else around him played.... and remembered his old experience hearing the native melodies on an album of traditional South American folk music. Then, he got a Quena. But in the first three days, he could not produce a single sound, much less play.
"Since that quena was a cheap one, I thought the instrument itself was bad. So I thought I would return it to the store. But when I blew it casually just before I was about to leave for the store to return it, it sounded..."

A short while after that, he organized an amateur South American folk band with his classmates. At the same time, he started to play a zampona, too. By the end of junior high, he had played at live houses as a semi professional player. When he was in high-school, he joined a professional group of Bolivian living in Japan, and had the valuable experience of live performances and album recordings as a member of this band.

In 1985, just after he graduated from high school, he finally left on his own for Bolivia. He didn't have any definite objective but only the address of a live house in which one of his Bolivian friends often performed zampona music. On his first night in La Paz, Bolivia, when he introduced himself with a smattering of Spanish and played only two tunes on the spur of the moment, his performance went over well with the audience! Then, he played zampona at live houses every night of his three-month stay in Bolivia.

During his stay in Bolivia, he sometimes went to rural villages to listen to the music of "Fiestas", which means festivals. While listening to the music of their fiestas that had been played unchangedly for thousands of years and had floated in the time and space from ancient times to now, an idea crossed his mind:
"It may possibly have been a new type of song several thousand years ago, and of course, nowadays there are also new sounds emerging... There must be music that I as Japanese can create in my own style."
He set out to do that.

The name "Zampona" which is popular is Spanish, is called "SIKUS" in South American native language, and "SIKURIADA" means an ensemble of zamponas. True, the zampona was originally not a solo instrument. Typically zamponas were played in ensembles of "Do,Mi,So(C,E,G)" groups and "Re,Fa,La(D,F,A)" groups.
Since the mid 1970s these 2 groups of pipes have been bound together one on top of the other, into one instrument that can be played by one person.
But in 1984, Segi invented and began playing a handmade three-layered zampona in which he added one more layer for the tones in a chromatic scale - these are the tones of the black keys of the piano. (Surprisingly, his three-layered chromatic zampona has become popular in Bolivia nowadays!) Thus, he had already surpassed the traditional South American folk music at that time, and had begun to grope for the music in his own style after he returned to Japan.

Since he was no longer satisfied with the traditional playing style comprised of the repetition of a simple riff increasing its speed little by little up to a peak, he began to make more complexly structured songs that consisted of five or six different riffs based on the rhythm tracks of computers. Then he completed one demonstration tape. When it was finally released in Bolivia, it was a great hit! He released four albums in all in Bolivia by Fall, 1992. At that time, Segi was recognized as one of the great musicians with his original styles, even though in the Bolivian folk music arena only a handful of musicians have a finger in the new style of music. But he has still on the cutting edge of musicianship, developping his innovative style.

Since 1993, he moved his foothold to Japan and has been associated with a variety of Japanese players. His desire to express more and more musical ideas and landscapes increased. An adlib element that wasn't quite possible in the traditional Bolivian folk music also became essential for his music. He organized his own group which was free from the formalities of traditional style. In addition, he took an active part in live performances and recordings of various musicians. A prototype of his current style came into being. The association with extraordinary and unique musicians...for example, Kiyohiko Semba (percussions), Shuichi "Ponta" Murakami (drums), Yutaka Fukuoka(vocal)... pushed him to organize another special group called "Libre Club". This was in 1993.

Since then, he has been active mainly in Japan with two groups, the one is his acoustic group called "PA'DELANTE" with Natsuki Kido(guitars), Kensaku Tanikawa(keyboards), Tomohiro Yahiro (drums & percussions) which means "Go forward", the other is the Libre Club. His Japanese debut album "VIENTO - The road of the wind -" by the Libre Club was finally completed in 1995.

In 1995 and 96, he had a successful special tour in Japan with the super musicians from Central and South America, Pedro Aznar, Toninho Horta and Hugo Faltoso, and his friend Tomohiro Yahiro from Japan. This tour was named "ILUSION TOUR by Takamasa Segi with Super Friends".

To date, he has continued to release his solo albums. His latest album is "FOREST RAIN" which is his 5th album released on 3/1/98 in Japan.

It is melody that Segi treasures most. And, he blows as loud as he can just like what he heard at the rural fiesta. He plays his own music, not anyone else's. Because of these factors, he was carried away by Bolivian folk songs and was an ardent admirer of it, but futhermore he surpassed tradition. That's why in the variety of landscapes which he creates one can always sense the Andean winds and the Andean reeds playing music together in the perfectly clear Andean air, even though it's free from any formal tradition. At the same time, we sense in these not only the Andes but also a place beyond the mountains, through the plateaus, and over the seas far away to many hearts of many people....... along the road of the wind.

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