James Nyoraku Schlefer holds advanced degrees, and has years of performing experience, in two musical traditions. His original compositions bring the musical worlds of Japan and the West together. Of particular interest is combining Japanese and Western instruments in new compositions that explore two sound worlds in a way that is exciting but not derivative, beautiful yet deeply respectful of both classic traditions. I have been composing music that combines Japanese instruments with Western classical ensembles for over a decade. Merging two different musical traditions presents unique challenges, not the least of which is the reconciliation of two often opposing musical philosophies. For example, while Western classical music often emphasizes evenness of tone, the less mechanized Japanese musical language accommodates natural differences in timbre. Likewise, rhythm in traditional Japanese music makes use of "MA"? (space or emptiness), a noticeable lack of sound, which contrasts with the impulse in Western tradition to fill the void. In my music I strive to transcend these disparities, bringing a different technical rigor to Japanese instruments and a sense of breath and silence to the Western instruments

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 • THE FULL BLOOD MOON –Shakuhachi, Koto, Shamisen and String Quartet (2019) One Movement, app. 15 min. VIMEO

 • FLUTE GROOVE – for Flute Choir of twelve or more players (2019) One Movement, app. 15 min.

• CURBSIDE SHUFFLE –Shakuhachi and Cello (2018) One Movement, app. 12 min. SoundCloud

• THE TROGLODYTE –Shakuhachi, Two Violins, Viola, Cello, Double Bass (2018) One Movement, app. 17 min. VIMEO

• FANTAZÍA – Violin solo and chamber orchestra (2017) One movement, 14 minutes Youtube

• 2BLUE– Shakuhachi and Viola (2016) One movement, 7 minutes VIMEO

• JAMU II – Shakuhachi, Koto, Flute, String Trio and Percussion (2016) One movement, app 11 min. VIMEO

• JAMU! – Shakuhachi, Koto, Flute, String Trio and Percussion (2015) Two movements, app 11 min. VIMEO I VIMEO II

• FULL-OUT STILLNESS – Shakuhachi, Koto and Cello (2014) One Movement, app. 12 min.

• SIDEWALK DANCES –Shakuhachi and Cello (2014) One Movement, app. 14 min. VIMEO

• DREAM CORNER –Shakuhachi, Koto, Shamisen, Voice and String Quartet (2013) 11 Movements, app. 38 minutes. VIMEO

• CONCERTANTE – Solo Shakuhachi, Koto, Violin and Cello with Chamber Orchestra (2013) Three movements, app. 21 min. YOUTUBE

• STRING JOURNEY – Shamisen, Voice and String Quartet (2012) One movement, app. 12 min. VIMEO

• SMILE ON THE BUDDHA CALM – Piano Trio with Shakuhachi (2012) In one movement, app. 9 min. VIMEO

• SANKYOKU NO. 1 – Shakuhachi, Koto and Cello (2011) Three movements, app. 20 min. VIMEO

• TAKE REI – Shakuhachi and Crotales (2011) One movement, app. 8 minutes.

• HARU NO UMI REDUX Shakuhachi, Koto and String Orchestra or String Quartet. (2011) 9 minutes YOUTUBE

• OASHISU – Dance Score for Shakuhachi, Koto, Cello and Percussion (2010) Multiple movements, 20 minutes.

• CONCERTO FOR SHAKUHACHI – for Shakuhachi, Strings, Harp and Percussion (2009) Three movements, 28 minutes.  YOUTUBE

• QUINTET No. 1– for Shakuhachi  and String Quartet  (2006) Three movements, 25  minutes.


• WE SHALL (SURELY) MEET AGAIN –Shakuhachi, Koto, Shamisen (2017) One Movement, app. 13 min. VIMEO

• TROIS BAMBOU: HOMMAGE A HOZAN YAMAMOTO – Three Shakuhachi (2014), app. 7 minutes.

• MOONWALKING – Shakuhachi and Bass Koto (2012) Three movements. app. 14 minutes. SOUNDCLOUD

• DUO No. 3 – for Shakuhachi and 20-string Koto (2007) One Movement, 15 minutes.

• DUO No. 2 – for Shakuhachi and Shamisen (2006) One movement, 10 minutes. YOUTUBE

• KUMOIJISHI – for Four Shakuhachi (2005) Arrangement of traditional honkyoku. 6 minutes.

• BIG PIECE – for Shakuhachi Orchestra in Five Parts (2004) One movement, 12 minutes.

• DUO No. I – for Shakuhachi and Koto (2004) One movement, 13 minutes. YOUTUBE

• FLARE UP – for solo Shakuhachi (2002) One Movement, 8 minutes.

• TIMELESS MOMENT – for Four Shakuhachi (2001) One Movement, 5 minutes.

• COUPLE DANCE – for Two Shakuhachi (1999) 13 minutes. Commissioned by Mary Flagler Cary Trust

• BROOKLYN SANYA – for solo Shakuhachi (1999) One movement, 9 minutes.

• DARANI REVISITED – for Shakuhachi, Violin, Viola, Cello (1998) Arrangement of traditional piece. One movement, 8 minutes.

• VARIATIONS ON "AMAZING GRACE" – for solo Shakuhachi (1997) 6 minutes.

• SOLSTICE SPIRIT – for Shakuhachi Orchestra in Four Parts  (1997) 18 minutes.