The Hill of Inbeisu - Brass & Percussion Octet

The Hill of Inbeisu - Brass & Percussion Octet

  • Composer: Grasstail, Jerry
  • Grade: 5
  • Duration: 5:00
  • Genre: Chamber Ensemble
  • Publisher: Brain Music
  • Item No: ENMS-84443

Also Available Digitally
Digital Sheet Music

Commissioned by Tokai University Takanawadai High School in 2013.
“The Hill of Inbeisu” is actually called Isarago-zaka* (Isarago Hill) in Takanawa, Tokyo, Japan. Though the name’s origin is unclear, the name “Inbeisu” is considered to be Chinese from the Ming dynasty era. It is unknown why a hill in Tokyo has a Chinese name. Moreover, the title “Inbeisu” itself is a unique name for the Ming era and is especially strange for this location with such strong Edo roots. During the Edo era, Edo Bay could be seen from this hill, which might have influenced this naming. Nonetheless, the actual truth is still a mystery; that mystery inspired me to research its history.
The more I researched, the greater my imagination grew, and I created a fictional account that goes like this:

In the mid-Edo period, a trading vessel of unknown origin had drifted ashore at Edo Bay. Officials there found the ship’s only surviving sailor. He was too weak from the ordeal to remember his name or speak much. The officials gave the survivor good care, but his memory did not seem to come back. Troubled with this tragedy, the officials nicknamed him “IN BASE”, which they took from the name of the vessel, and offered him shelter. With time, IN BASE recovered and grew more accustomed to the Edo life. Although his memory had yet to recover, his experience as a sailor was recognized and he was given the tide watchman’s job on the hill. One day, he noticed a group of unknown large ships on the horizon. He could not determine if there were few or hundreds of them. He quickly notified the officials and then got on a boat to face the vessels himself so they would not reach the harbor. As he approached the lead ship, it was though he was expected, and a rope was dropped to bring him aboard. Surprised and confused, he stood there for a moment until he noticed the engraving on the ship, “IN BASE II”

The above imagined story led to this music composition. In my mind, the story ends with IN BASE’s memory coming back as he remembered the original plan to force an open port treaty with Japan. He recounted the fine treatment received from the people of Edo while convincing the sailors to return to their country without forcing a treaty. He became a hero in Edo.
I came up with a stereotypical happy ending. Those doing this piece may imagine their own conclusion to spice up the music a bit. It sounds like I am leaving interpretation up to the performers, and honestly, that is the case.
I created motifs for different scenes in the story. The obvious one is Inbeisu. Others are the wrecked ship, a messenger, the attack, dawn, etc. It is like a drama or film where each scene and character are represented by a motif. There are more motifs hidden in the music. I invite you to find them and contribute elements of your imagination to further personalize the music.

*written Chinese characters are known as kanji in Japan. ??? is pronounced inbeisu in Chinese and isarago in Japanese.


1st Trumpet in Bb (doub. Piccolo Trumpet in Bb )
2nd Trumpet in Bb (doub. Flugelhorn in Bb )
Horn in F
1st Trombone
2nd Trombone
Foot Bass
Suspended Cymbal
Chinese Cymbal
Grass Chime
Wind Chime
Sizzle Cymbal