Myself in the Disguise of an Ancient Goddess is a result of my attempt to come to grips with both the musical and cultural history of Japan over the 18 months I lived in and around Tokyo. Over that time, I learned a little bit of the Japanese language, enough to read poetry with the help of a few dictionaries, and spent some time learning to play the koto as well, an instrument whose sound and versatility had intrigued me for many years.
The poem, by Takahashi Mutsuo, is one of 50 self-portraits he wrote in the 1970s, in which he takes on different personae and explores how, within that persona, he deals with homosexual lust and love. This poem is haughty, domineering and apocalyptic in tone; Mutsuo as an Ancient Goddess first mocks, and then devours his/her young, ignorant lover/supplicant/worshipper/sacrificial victim.
This music is very simply constructed as a linear setting of the poem. I attempted to reflect the mood of the poem, especially the detached aloofness of the goddess’s manner. The koto is tuned in a traditional key, and almost exclusively uses traditional playing techniques; a deliberate decision made in order to root the piece in a mythical past.