Just finished this book of writings by Takemitsu. Really worth the read. I used to post stuff about interesting readings in music. Maybe it will start up again.
"For several years I have been fascinated by traditional Japanese instruments such as the Biwa and Shakahuchi...
"The sounds of such instruments are produced spontaneously in performance. They seem to resonate through the performer, then merge with nature to manifest themselves, more as presence than as existence. In the process of their creation, theoretical thinking is destroyed. A single strum of the strings or even one pluck is too complex, too complete in itself to admit any theory. Between this complex sound–so strong that it can stand alone–and that point of silence preceding it, called ma, there is a metaphysical continuity that defies analysis. Like itchō in Noh music, this ma and sound do not exist as a technically definable relationship. It is here that sound and silence confront each other, balancing each other in a relationship beyond any objective measurement.
"In its complexity and its integrity a single sound can stand alone. To the sensitive Japanese listener who appreciates this refined sound, the unique idea of ma–the unsounded part of this experience–has at the same time a deep, powerful, and rich resonance that can stand up to the sound. In short, this ma, this powerful silence, is that which gives life to the sound and removes it from its position of primacy."
Great stuff. Check it out. Libraries are a great thing. So was a lot of Takemitsu's famous music.