Pirate’s Highway

Pirate’s Highway

  • Composer: Tamura, Shuhei
  • Grade: 5.5
  • Duration: 8:00
  • Genre: Concert Band
  • Publisher: Brain Music
  • Item No: ZOMS-A104S


Program Note

Commissioned by Brain Music/Bravo Music in 2018.

The composer has done many works on the theme of "the sea", but this time the commission asked "How about the Murakami Kaizoku (Pirates)"? and thus this work was begun.

From around the mid-fourteenth to the fifteenth centuries, the Murakami Kaizoku protected ships including those of the Muromachi feudal government (the Shogunate of 1336 to 1573) passing through the Seto Inland Sea. Over time, the Murakami Clan took control of the major sea routes and ports using their knowledge and expertise in navigating the rapid currents and narrow straits, and adopted the Geiyo Islands as their base.

The Murakami Clan typically piloted ships through the Seto Inland Sea by issuing them a flag as a "passport" or by boarding the vessels in return for a fee. In this way the Murakami Clan also protected the sea traffic from pirates and from the perils of the strong currents.

Although the word kaizoku means 'pirate', the Murakami Kaizoku were different from the traditional image of western pirates or from present-day pirates who unlawfully board ships steal money or seize goods. The Murakami Kaizoku helped to maintain order in the sea by assuring the security of ships. In addition, whereas pirates have a cut-throat image, the kaizoku of the Murakami Clan were religious and enjoyed cultural activities such as the tea ceremony and renga collaborative poetry.

Because this work was written based on such subject matter, passages such as drums and conch that appear in the piece were inspired by the pirate music and instruments that seemed to have reverberated in the sea at that time. However, instead of music based solely on historical fact, this reflects the kind of heroic and human image gleaned from the remaining records, with the admiration of the composer himself.

From the middle ages of Japan to the present day, most people have subordinated to organizations and influential people and have found a way to live. The Murakami Navy may have felt their own beliefs and prosperity to be exceptional, while living a free life on the sea.

In all instances, heroes of high reputation are at some time alone, despite their brilliant achievements and trajectories. The Murakami Kaizoku had a fluid relationship with neighboring powers, and, amongst various threats, they demonstrated their own strength and established presence adequately to secure their survival. As solitary beings of the time, they seem to enjoy a precursory existence to the freedoms of today.

I have been writing for small to mid-sized instrumentation. For this piece I proposed to "pursue the possibility of a small work" when commissioning. Although the technical difficulty required for each part is relatively high, I feel that it is a work that can fully utilize the character of each instrument.

Since this work assumes a grand scale in the world view of music, musical expression, and the expansion of sound, not only the minimum scoring, but performance by medium bands of 30 to 50 players is also effective.


1st Flute
2nd Flute (doub. Piccolo)
3rd Flute (opt.)

Oboe (opt.)
Bassoon (opt.)

Clarinet in Eb(opt.)
1st Clarinet in Bb
2nd Clarinet in Bb
3rd Clarinet in Bb
Bass Clarinet

1st Alto Saxophone
2nd Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone (doub. Ocean Drum)
Baritone Saxophone
1st Trumpet
2nd Trumpet
3rd Trumpet

1st Horn in F
2nd Horn in F
3rd Horn in F (doub. Ocean Drum)
4th Horn in F (opt.)

1st Trombone
2nd Trombone
3rd Trombone

String Bass (opt.)

[1st Percussion]
Suspended Cymbal
3 Tom-toms
Wind Chimes
4 Wood Blocks

[2nd Percussion]
Wind Chimes
Bass Drum
Snare Drum
Suspended Cymbal
Crash Cymbals

[3rd Percussion]

World Parts Download

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