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Strings and Serpents

A multi-cultural, multi-layered composition and performance collaboration between two kotoists, two pianists and an animator.

The Latest Update

2018 Tour – CD/DVD release

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Andy Milne

We’re still awaiting final confirmation for some funding, but there are several performances scheduled for April 2018 in the US and Canada. Strings & Serpents will also release a CD/DVD (final media format TBD) in conjunction with the tour.

More Updates ▼

Strings and Serpents Tour Dates Announced

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Andy Milne

Strings and Serpents will premiere at Lincoln Center (Rubenstein Atrium) on Thursday, October 16th, 2014, and then tour the US during October.

We’ll be in residence at Juniata College rehearsing the show from Oct. 11-15.

For complete tour dates, see: www.stringsandserpents.com or here.

Between now and then, we’re completing animation, creating the projection system, corresponding about tour logistics and gearing up for the really fun part.



Strings & Serpents is a multi-cultural, multi-layered collaboration between pianist/composer Andy Milne and animator Saki Murotani that will begin touring in 2014. The music will be composed for two kotoists (Japan based TsuguKaji-KOTO duo) and two pianists (Milne’s Crystal Magnets Piano Duo with French pianist Benoit Delbecq). The thematic substance for the project will be based upon the Rainbow Serpent mythology (虹蛇), to which the koto owes its origins. The goal is to create an interpretation of this legend, merging musical and visual forms into a unified 60-minute presentation featuring projection of an animated video, and live performance of the combined piano and koto duos. The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts will provide their facilities for the creative team to collectively cultivate their ideas for 12 days in late November 2012. The broader vision will be developed through collaboration. As lead composer/collaborator, Andy Milne will be responsible for bringing together these elements and ensuring the successful completion of the project. CalArts anticipates the approval of a grant from The Japan Foundation to support the participation of the koto duo.


Musically this project will explore a synthesis of Japanese and Western structures in terms of form, improvisational language and rhythm. The goal is to seamlessly blend traditional and modern koto textures with the language of jazz and contemporary improvisation. Milne will explore a polymetric approach for prepared piano to help expand the interaction of rhythmic forms and sonic colors between the koto and piano, as expressed through each musician’s improvisational sensibilities. The video animation will employ 2-D and 3-D computer-generated imagery (CGI) techniques, inspired by preliminary musical sketches. The story will be told visually, without the use of voiceovers, dialogue or subtitles. It will fully experiment with color, shape, texture, lighting, visual composition and motion to create an elegant and impactful story to enhance the relationship of the piano and koto’s timber, pitch, texture and rhythm. The music and the animation will influence and complement each other throughout the development and during live performance. The video will be projected behind the musicians, enabling their interaction, while the images abstractly depict the journey of the Rainbow Serpent.

Project Media

Chander Logic
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Composed for this duo, Chander Logic features very specific prepared piano textures for both pianos that alternate between two sections. It was compsed to exploit the spacial array of 5.0 surround sound format used during the recording. One of the goals was to use texture and depth-of-field to create a rhythmic conversation between the two pianos. Each section is also characterized by a distinctive clave pattern played in the right hand. The panel should pay close attention to interplay, synergy and blend between pianists, beginning at 1:32

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Features: Tsugukaji-KOTO

TsuguKaji-KOTO duo (2011 performance)

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Features: Saki Murotani

Forest of Temptations demonstrates that things and people are not always as we perceive them, despite that visual appearances seem to be one of the most important factors influencing peoples’ views and perspectives. We tend to only see what we can see and this sometimes leads to misunderstandings of peoples’ intensions. This film indirectly addresses human relations between different cultural and ethnic backgrounds within a multi cultural society.

Start and End Dates



Valencia, California

2 updates
Last update on March 20, 2017

Project Created By

New York, New York
A fearless, versatile explorer, pianist/composer Andy Milne has been a distinct and respected voice at the heart of New York’s creative jazz scene for over 20 years, collaborating with dancers, visual artists, poets and musicians spanning jazz, classical, pop, folk, and world music. He has recorded and toured throughout the world with Ravi Coltrane, Ralph…

In Collaboration With

Vancouver, CANADA
Clichy, FRANCE
Koto duo


2 responses to “Strings and Serpents”

  1. AfricaNola says:

    bon chance,
    love the music, and am taken by the music of the Koto….and dream of the interaction
    between the beauty of the koto, and jazz improivsation…..
    We are fortunate to have a Kora master with us here in New Orleans, and its the same
    feeling I get when we play together…


  2. Andy Milne says:

    P’frog. I love the Kora. In the right hands, that would be an amazing stringed addition to this project.

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