Duo En
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Duo En

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""Calming and serene.""

If you need to turn off the noise of the outside world, turn on Affinity....At exactly one hour, it's great for massage, spa, or sleep sessions. Affinity is perfect for any fan of the timbres and style of Japanese music and is one of the most calming and serene in-store plays imaginable. - New Age Retailer - New Age Retailer

"Pine trees and twinkling stars"

If you love the sound of plucked koto and whispering shakuhachi bamboo flute, you are going to love "Affinity." Elizabeth Falconer and her husband John Falconer form the duo "En" --"affinity" in Japanese. There certainly is an affinity for koto and shakuhachi. The dry but fluid sound of the flute blends with the harp-like dripping of the plucked koto. Mrs. Falconer is one of the few American koto players who are actually licensed as a true Japanese master of the instrument. She and her husband met while studying Japanese, and their affinity for each other has created a wonderful musical partnership.

What's marvelous about this cd is that it includes koto-shakuhachi arrangements of popular tunes like "Scarborough Fair" and "Je Crois Encore Entendre" and "Amazing Grace." There are also traditional Japanese tunes mixed in and original works. I was amazed at how Japanese Simon & Garfunkel could sound!

I like relaxation music. I find that I can turn off all the "noise" in my brain by listening to quiet music right before bed. This cd is going right into the bedside CD and I have a feeling it's going to be staying there for quite a while. This is gorgeous music. If you have kids that need settling down before bed, I'd recommend you try this music for them. You could read a beautiful bedtime story, a psalm or bible verse, or look at a soothing picture book and make a wonderful bedtime ritual. Or just sit and cuddle and teach them to calm themselves after a busy day. For adults, this is also something very romantic. Dinner by candlelight? Sofa and fireplace? Sitting on the porch or deck on a lovely evening? The music evokes dark silhouettes of pine trees and twinkling stars and the breeze stirring the floating leaves.

If you have a friend who is a fan of Japanese music, or who likes world sound or who might need something relaxing, this would make a wonderful gift. I think this is a great addition to any cd library and so far, tied with "Deep Pool" this is my favorite of all the Falconer koto albums so far. Absolutely excellent and highly recommended. - Joanne Daneman, Amazon Top 10 Reviewer

"A balance between precision and relaxation"

Seattle-based John Falconer and Elizabeth Falconer not only husband and wife, but are married musically as well. Their closeness is on display in this subtle, gorgeous album of duets between Elizabeth's kotos, and John's shakuhachi. Great music for background or meditation, it also bears up to active listening. The couple aren't dabblers; they have studied the music from master teachers, and have lived in Japan. And they've managed to achieve a balance between precision and relaxation in this fresh recording with ancient Japanese roots. - Sound Roots


This atmospheric CD is both haunting and enchanting, like the full moon in a velvet black sky. Of special note are the compositions by Falconer/Falconer; the sound of shakuhachi and koto weave together to make magic. - J. Shontz, CD Baby - CD Baby

"Authentic yet accessible...."

It's interesting that, for whatever reason, Japanese music has never come into the "new age limelight" as have the Celtic, Nuevo flamenco, and world beat genres. That's puzzling since I'd think the plaintive and reflective qualities of traditional Japanese music, as represented on a disc such as Moonviewing from Duo En (John and Elizabeth Falconer), would be an ideal "fit" for the aesthetics of the new age movement. The haunting quality of the shakuhachi flute (John Falconer) and the mystical sounds of the stringed instrument known as the koto (Elizabeth Falconer), when played with artistry and restraint (as the pair do throughout this recording) are among the most evocative instruments in the world. I've been a fan of Japanese music since I first heard it (which was probably as part of the soundtrack to some film I watched back in the '60s or '70s) and I consider myself fortunate whenever a disc like this arrives in my mailbox for review.

There is a patience inherent in traditional Japanese music, even when a particular piece's tempo is not slow (such as during certain passages of the thirteen-plus minute original composition, "Moonlit Garden" or the Falconers' "Floating Leaves". a composition which features energizing duets as well as quieter sections), so that the listener does not feel overwhelmed by the music but more absorbed into it on an unconscious level. I am reminded of the line from the movie Serenity when Wash, the pilot of the titular starship, utters in the midst of a chaotic moment "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar." This quality of Japanese music is on display throughout Moonviewing; the music carries you with it, not by force per se, but by you becoming one with it, if one surrenders to it, the way a leaf surrenders to the wind.

Besides the two tracks mentioned earlier, the other original is "Ancient Pine" (inspired by the evocative artwork adorning the CD's cover, painted by Molly Hashimoto), a somber yet beautiful meditation. Of the traditional pieces on the album, the one which all but the most closeted ethnocentrists will doubtless recognize is "Sakura, Sakura" which gets a subtly distinct arrangement by the two performers without losing any of its familiarity. "Call of the Cranes" is usually meant for two shakuhachi flutes but John Falconer's solo arrangement finds a way to convey the plaintive calling of the birds to one another across the snow with just his single instrument. The closing track, "Meditations on Rokudan" showcases each of the two artists on solos embedded within the nearly nine minute long track which begins and ends with them playing together. For me, the most haunting cut on the album is "Kojo no Tsuki (Moon over Castle Ruins)." Simply too beautiful to be adequately described!

With its mixture of a few uptempo numbers as well as tracks that are more sedate and soothing, Moonviewing would likely be a good introduction to Japanese music for someone who has never been exposed to it before. It is true to its source, i.e. it's "authentic" but yet is accessible enough for those who enjoy the Western "counterparts" of these particular Japanese instruments (which I suppose would be silver flute and harp). Personally, I think Japanese music (such as this) is superb background accompaniment to both moments of reflection as well as mild to moderate levels of activity (and it goes without saying you couldn't ask for a better soundtrack if you're fortunate enough to cook and then partake of a Japanese meal or, better yet, have one cooked for you). While the more spirited pieces may prove somewhat too busy for "true" meditation, everyone resonates to a different tempo and mood in that regard so I leave it up to you to decide if you can use it thusly. However, even if you only listen in order to enjoy the rich musical culture of Japan and take an aural voyage of sorts across the Pacific, the CD still comes solidly recommended.
Rating: Very Good + - Bill Binkelman, New Age Reporter - New Age Reporter


Hear all our music at www.duoen.com!
"If you've never listened to Japanese music...listen to this. If you've listened to a lot of Japanese music...listen to this."
"...pine tress and twinkling stars and the breeze stirring the floating leaves."
"A fresh and unusual holiday album rich with quiet beauty."



EN is a duo bound to Japan, music, and each other, and specializes in sharing contemporary and classical music from Japan. EN's philosophy is to connect - to their audience, the environment, and the moment. Based in Seattle, En plays throughout the Pacific Northwest, and has toured throughout the US and Japan. Their music has been used in television, CD compilations ("Seattle Presents," GOA's upcoming "CHILLOUT" series), and for film and games.

John and Elizabeth met when they began studying Japanese in 1974. They fell in love with each other, then fell in love with Japan. Since then they have lived in Japan for over a decade, studying Japanese music from master teachers including Sakata Ryozan, Sawai Kazue, Sawai Tadao, and Igarashi Ryozan. Their love for Japanese music and culture comes alive in their warm, intimate, inspired performances. John's shakuhachi flute and Elizabeth's koto create an elegant and meditative mood.

En plays at casual and formal venues. Performances include Festivals, corporate events, weddings, art openings, educational settings, gardens, and collaborations with other artists. Duo En's music has also been used in television and film.