24 Dec 2013

We wish you a Merry Christmas

Happy Christmas,

Pocket Penguin recently organised an ensemble concert with our students. We and the students enjoyed playing violin, flute, piano, guitar, tombak and melodica. That was the first time for most of them both to play melodica and join in an musical ensemble, but we think they did it very well. We made a CD with the recordings of the pieces they played. Here is one of the recordings on the CD, “We wish you a Merry Christmas”, which we played with a six years old girl, Komachi Paine, a good melodica player.

10 Dec 2013

Performance at U3A

Pocket Penguin performed at an event of U3A (University of the 3rd Age) with Viola da Cunha.

Ayumi Toyama (melodica)
Ryusuke Koarashi (guitar)

Novello: My Dearest Dear
Gershwin: Foggy Day
Falla: El Pano Moruno
Falla: Nana
Falla: Cancion
Monti: Czardas
Gershwin: (Medley) Love Walked In – I Got A Rhythm – The Man I Love
Lehar: Vilia
J.S.Bach: BWV 147, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Christmas Carol: First Nowell
Adam: O Holy Night

2 Dec 2013

Music Picnic (Ensemble Concert)

We organised an ensemble concert with our students. Both piano and guitar student usually plays and practices solo piece alone in their process of learning. We think it is better for them to have an opportunity to make music with others, to see/experience music from different view point, and playing in ensemble is absolutely enjoyable!

15 ensembles consisted of mainly melodica, and flute, violin, piano, guitar, and tombak.

Music Picnic


German Folk Song: Buzz Little Bee (Melodicas) Arr. R. Koarashi
W.A. Mozart: That Sounds So Beautiful (Melodicas) Arr. Wilhelm Popp
Japanese Song: Mushi no Koe (Melodicas) Arr. R. Koarashi
English Folk Song: Scarborough Fair (Melodicas) Arr. E. Coulthard
Polish Christmas Carol: Lulajże Jezuniu, Moja Perełko (Melodicas, Piano) Arr. R. Koarashi
George R. Poulton: Aura Lea (Melodicas, Piano) Arr. R. Koarashi
Czech Folk Song: Polka of Mountains (Melodicas, Piano) Arr. R. Koarashi
German Folk Song: The Cuckoo (Melodicas, Piano) Arr. M. Matsuda
English Christmas Song: We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Melodicas, Guitar) Arr. R. Koarashi

Makoto Nomura: Don Yu (All)

Iranian Folk Song: Gole Gandom (Piano, Tombak, Guitar) Arr. R. Koarashi
Anooshiravan Rohani: Gole Sangam (Vocal, Tombak, Melodica, Guitar) Arr. R. Koarashi
Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr.: We Three Kings of Orient Are (Flute, Violin, Melodica, Guitar) Arr. R. Koarashi
German Folk Song: Chorus of Frogs (Flute, Violin, Melodicas, Piano) Arr. M. Matsuda
Jo Hisaishi: Path of the Wind (Flute, Melodica, Piano) Arr. R. Koarashi
Christmas Song: Jingle Bells (Melodicas, Piano) Arr. R. Koarashi

Pocket Penguin:
J. S. Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring Arr. R. Koarashi
Vittorio Monti: Csárdás Arr. R. Koarashi
English Christmas Carol: The First Noel Arr. R. Koarashi

10 Nov 2013

A Concert at Christ Church Southgate

We had a concert at Christ Church, Southgate in London

Viola da Cunha (mezzo soprano)
Yuki Osedo (piano)
Jill Anderson (clarinet)
Ryusuke Koarashi (Guitar)
Ayumi Toyama (Melodica)

De Falla: 5 spanish popular songs
Musa Mirzayev: Lyrical Piece & 1st Dance from 6 Pieces (of Azerbaijan Folklore)
Granados: El Majo Discreto, Amor y Odio
Rodrigo: DE Los Alamos Vengo Madre
Folk Song: Sari Gelin
Gershwin: Summertime (together with all performers)

29 Oct 2013

Oshin’s theme, with Melodica & Guitar

Our performance of “Oshin’s theme” has been available on youtube. “Oshin” was a very popular Japanese TV drama broadcasted in 1980s. And it eventually became the most watched Japanese drama inside and outside the country, especially in Asia (They have not broadcasted in UK or most of European countries). Composed by Koichi Sakata.

Melodica: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar & Arrangement: Ryusuke Koarashi
The arrangement score is available to purchase from here. But as the website does not have a good translation for non-Japanese customer, please feel free to ask us if you find difficulty with the procedure to buy the score.

Instruction for performace:
Bar 18: Guitar takes the main melody and Melodica goes to background so should play softly.
Bar 20: Melodica gradually gets louder to the bar 21.
Bar 21: Notice that the melody on the guitar is passed to Melodica on the first beat.
Bar 24: The chord of Dm which the F# on the Em key is altered sounds impressive, and that forms the Plagal cadence with Am in the next bar. It might be nice to play softly.
Bar 27: The melody line gradually gets louder (crescendo) towards the bar 30. Melodica normally has more volume when plays single note than a chord, so be careful not to make it too loud at the bar 27.

Amachan Opening Theme, Melodica & Guitar

Our video clip of performing "Amachan opening theme" is available on Youtube. "Amachan" was a very popular TV drama series in Japan, finished broadcasting recently.

Melodica: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar & Arrangement: Ryusuke Koarashi

Also its arrangement score has been available to purchase from here. Please have a look if you are interested in. As the website does not have a good translation for non-Japanese customer, please feel free to ask us if you want to buy the score and find difficulty with the procedure.

11 Sept 2013

Evening concert at East Finchley Methodist Church

Pocket Penguin joined in a concert organized by a singer, Viola da Cunha at East Finchley Methodist Church.

Viola da Cunha (mezzo soprano)
Yuki Osedo (piano)
Jill Anderson (clarinet)
Ryusuke Koarashi (guitar)
Ayui Toyama (melodica)

We played some spanish repertoires with the singer. After the performance, some people told us that it was interesting to hear, as those songs are normally accompanied by just piano (or sometimes guitar), and they have never heard the combination of three parts including melodica.

Manuel De Falla: 5 Spanish Popular Songs (with singer)
Musa Mirzayev: Lyrical Piece & 1st Dance from 6 pieces
Enrique Granados: El Majo Discreto (with singer)
Enrique Granados: Amor y Odio (with singer)
Joaquin Rodrigo: De los Alamos vengo Madre (with singer)
Aşık Veysel: Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım
George Gershwin: Summertime (played by all together)

21 Jul 2013

Second Album: Prelude

The second album of Pocket Penguin "Prelude" finally became available to order from our store online. This time, we included only new works written particularly for melodica and guitar, whilst the first album "a bird flying over mountains" consists of arrangement works originally for different instruments.



1-5. Prelude I - V

6-10. Fragments of Dreams

11. Hoshikage

The preludes are series of experimental pieces that we described in the article before. "Fragments of Dreams" is a selection of pieces which Ryusuke writes every night. And the last piece, Hoshikage (meaning shadow of starlight in English), is a trio piece for violin, melodica & guitar. Hoshikage, titled in Japanese, was originally composed to perform at a charity concert for the great earthquake in Japan in 2011—the event eventually became the opportunity to start Pocket Penguin. Unfortunately this piece was not included in the programme of the concert and there has been no chance to perform until now. But finally it came out to be audible as a recording.

Why melodica & guitar - why not violin, piano or other instruments? It is a question we have been asked so many times by people since we have established Pocket Penguin. An answer is here in the album, it is simply because other instruments would not make it possible, if it is not the question asking about our original impetus to choose this combination.

We have been working with these particular instruments, searching possibilities of using them, sometimes along with, sometimes against a conventional way of producing sound. And we have eventually discovered plentiful ways of producing sounds specifically belonged to the instruments. The album consists of full of moments which were producible only by melodica and guitar, and were not replaceable by another instruments.

Both guitar and melodica is very commonly played all over the world, and this combination also may look not very unique. However we believe that the possibility of this combination has not yet been exhausted at all, and we are very much convinced that there still remains vast areas of sound making which is has not been explored enough. This album is just at near the entrance to the frontier of sound world.

We have done only what we wanted to do, and what we felt "should" do. We don't expect a big commercial success to this album, but only hope this album will reach to a person in somewhere in the world, to share a joy to meet a new sound and a dream.

The lovely art work was designed by Kaori Onishi, an illustrator and animator in London (Her recent works include "minna no uta", a famous music programme of NHK, Japan's national public broadcasting organisation). We gave her some fundamental ideas on composing sound and music, which penetrates the works of the album. She interpreted and reflected them on the artwork beautifully with her brilliant technique of drawing, in an unpredictable way to us.

The second album "prelude" is available with hard copy, we don't make it downloadable with audio files this time as the first one is.

P.S. please find that new goods of Pocket Penguin, stickers & postcards are also available to buy at our store now.

17 Jul 2013

Music Picnic & Kitchen Party

We performed at two events on 14th Jul, 2013. It was very busy and HOT day–London is currently in a heatwave, and apparently this weather is set to last throughout July–, but we enjoyed them very much.


Music Picnic
Opening Theme of Amachan (Yoshihide Otomo)
Itumo nando demo (Yumi Kimura)
Çok Güzeller (Ryusuke Koarashi)

Kitchen Party
Shimauta (Kazufumi Miyazawa)
Opening Theme of Amachan (Yoshihide Otomo)
Uzun Ince Bir yoldayım (Aşık Veysel Şatıroğlu)
Vecherai Rado (Bulgarian Folk Song)
Polegnala e Todora (Bulgarian Folk Song)
Dilmano Dilbero (Bulgarian Folk Song)
Çok Güzeller (Ryusuke Koarashi)

Melodica: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar: Ryusuke Koarashi

30 Jun 2013

Uzun ince Bir Yoldayım

We uploaded a video of a Turkish folksong, Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım (I'm On A Long Narrow Road) from previous concert in Izmir, Turkey. This is the first arrangement of a Turkish song for melodica & guitar. It might be rather surprise for us that we had not played Turkish music, considering for our big interest and love on the music.

The song, Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım, is extremely popular in Turkey, has been continuously covered by many young musicians. The composer is Aşık Veysel Şatıroğlu, or just called as Aşık Veysel. Aşık, meaning 'one who is in love', is a minstrel or bard who traditionally travels with saz in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, and Iran. Veysel was born in a small village of the Şarkışla district, in central anatolia, in 1894. He was a blind musician lived in a time of a political and social upheaval—the fall of ottoman empire, founding of the Republic of Turkey, and a rapid modernisation in 20th century. (I overlap him a little with Miyagi Michio, a Japanese innovative koto player/composer. He was also blind, and coincidentally was born in the same year.)

The lyrics are full of metaphors and symbols, so it is difficult to translate into English (or Japanese). In the song, Veysel sings about his life, likening a narrow and long road which he enters "a door" and walks towards "another door"—the end, day and night.

Here are some photos taken when Ryusuke visited Veysel's village and home in 2010, looking for Veysel's trace.

Veysel's house


The tomb of Asık Veysel

27 Jun 2013

Pocket Penguin in Izmir, Turkey

Pocket penguin is now back in London from Izmir, Turkey, after finishing the concert and a performance in a private party. The modern and large city, Izmir had a fantastic weather during our stay. Far from raining, we saw absolute no cloud in such a profound blue sky. The temperature was twice or even three times more than London, so that was incapably hot for us!



And this is how the venue of the concert and the party look alike. The party was held outside of a restaurant in front of the Aegean sea—the sunset was very beautiful (çok güzel!).

The following was the programme for the concert.

Part 1

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suite III, Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude

Ryusuke Koarashi: A Fragment of Dreams, 13th April

John Dowland: Frog Galliard, A Piece without Title

Part 2

Kazufumi Miyazawa: Shimauta

Kengyo Yatsuhashi: Rokudan no Shirabe

Aşık Veysel: Kara Toprak, Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayım

W.A.Mozart: La Majör Piyano Sonata No. 11 K331

Ryusuke Koarashi: Çok Güzeller

This time, notably, we tried to arrange some Turkish pieces as our new repertoire. Kara Toprak and Uzun ince Bir Yoldayım are very well known folk song among Turkish people—also our favourites, composed by a blind minstrel, A şık Veysel Şatıroğlu. We played Uzun ince Bir Yordayım in the party, too, and happily had generous comments from the guests.

We both have special interests in Turkey, Turkish culture, music, food, language etc. Ryusuke has been to Turkey every year since 2008, and also this was the third time for Ayumi. So having a performance in Turkey was a dream for us, and became true.

.....Here are some photos.


(Ryusuke bought an electric kettle for making Turkish tea and a new bağlama which is actually the third one for him.)

(Tasty Foods. The front one is "Kumru", a sandwich with ham, cheese and tomato. The back is jacket potato called "Kumpir".)


(Ayumi had her birthday during the stay, celebrated with our friend's family and their neighbourhood. The cake is a homemade by mother of our friend.)

(Izmir is not exception of protesting which has been expanded from Taksim square into all around Turkey. We witnessed that many residents in Izmir express their support for the protesters by putting flags of Kemal Atatürk orbanging pots or pans at night.)

(The high street at Karşıyaka. Photos of the victims of the protest and messages are sticked on the tree-like object surrounded by people.)

30 May 2013

Wandering Sound - Concert in Izmir, Turkey

Pocket Penguin's next concert will be in Izmir, Turkey.
If you live nearby, please come to see us!

Wandering Sound:
Melodica: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar: Ryusuke Koarashi 
Date: 21st June (FRI)
Time: 15.30 Start (15:15 open)
Cyprus Martyrs Caddesi No: 12 Alsancak-Izmir K.5, Turkey
Tel: Kemal Altintas 0533 266 90 46
Admission: 10TL

Click here for downloading the flyer.

27 May 2013

After Bath International Music Festival

Pocket Penguin joined in Bath International Music Festival 2013. We played at Victoria Art Gallery located in the city centre of Bath, together with Lánre, a beautiful singer song writer who is also based in London. In spite of a bad weather, many people came to see Pocket Penguin and Lánre, all of us really enjoyed the nice acoustics of the gallery and the event.


1st set
Bela Bartok: Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csík District
Johann Sebastian Bach: Allemande from Cello Suite III
Ryusuke Koarashi: Fragments of Dreams, 13th April
Bulgarian Folk Songs:
・Vido, Vido, Byala Vido — Vida, Vida, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
・Radi na Radka Dumashe — Radi Said to Radka, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
・Bre, Petrunko — Why, Petrounka, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
Ryusuke Koarashi: Foreign Hill

2nd set
Musa Mirzoev: 6 pieces on material of Azerbaijan Folklore
1. Lyrical piece
2. First Dance
3. Second Dance
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sarabande & Bourre from Cello Suite III
Pocket Penguin: Prelude V
Bulgarian Folk Songs:
・Vecherai, Rado — Eat your supper, Rada, originally arranged by Philip Koutev.
・Polegnala e Todora — Todora Lay Down For a While, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
・Dilmano Dilbero — Dilmana, Beautiful Girl, originally arranged by Ivan Kavaldzhiev
Ryusuke Koarashi: Çok Güzeller

1 May 2013

Bath International Music Festival

Pocket Penguin is going to perform at Bath International Music Festival.

Melodica: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar: Ryusuke Koarashi

Date: 24th May (FRI)
Time: 6:00pm-6:30pm/7:00pm-7:30pm
Place: the Victoria Art Gallery
Admission: Free

Also there will be another performance by a singer, Lánre.
Please check here for her details.

Hope to see you there.

17 Apr 2013

After the charity concert at East Finchley Methodist Church

We've just finished a charity concert at East Finchley Methodist Church in North London last Sunday. It was a lovely day, we enjoyed very mild and warm weather.

Most of the audiences were new to hear music of Pocket Penguin, but we got good feedback from them. And we really appreciate people who generously donated to a music school in Palestine, Al Kamandjâti, that was the main purpose of this concert.


Bela Bartok: Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csík District
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suite III
Pocket Penguin: Prelude 1 & 4
Keigo Fujii: Variations on the theme SHABONDAMA (P&G)
Ryusuke Koarashi: Walking through a Forest
Bulgarian Folk Songs:
・Vido, Vido, Byala Vido — Vida, Vida, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
・Radi na Radka Dumashe — Radi Said to Radka, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
・Bre, Petrunko — Why, Petrounka, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
・Vecherai, Rado — Eat your supper, Rada, originally arranged by Philip Koutev.
・Polegnala e Todora — Todora Lay Down For a While, originally arranged by Philip Koutev
・Dilmano Dilbero — Dilmana, Beautiful Girl, originally arranged by Ivan Kavaldzhiev
John Dowland: A Piece without Title, Forlorn Hope Fancy
Ryusuke Koarashi: Çok Güzeller

We have been playing Bach’s prelude of Cello Suite III on its own, but this time we included the entire pieces of the suite (Prelude, Almande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourre and Gigue) into the programme, that was our first attempt. Upon request of the church, we played one piano and guitar piece, “Variations on the theme SHABONDAMA”. That was the piece we played for the Great East Japan Earthquake in two years ago. At the same concert for the earthquake, we played Dowland Returns(for narration and guitar) composed by Yuji Takahashi, which he used musical fragments and words by/about John Dowland. This time we played two pieces from Dowland’s own works by newly arranging for melodica and guitar. Bulgarian Folk Songs were perhaps the highlight of the programme of this time. Ryusuke has had a special interest to Bulgarian music for over 15 years—constantly attending concerts and collecting the materials (recordings & books), he had even written an essay about it when he studied at the Guildhall school. We have often played Kopanitsa, a piece of Bulgarian dance, to our programme. We gained new repertoire by “re”arranging some well known arrangements of folk songs by Philip Koutev and Ivan Kavaldzhiev for Bulgarian female choir.

17 Mar 2013

Charity Concert in East Finchley

We will have a charity concert to support a music school for children in Palestine, at East Finchley Methodist Church in north London. All the donations will go to a nonprofit organisation, Al Kamandjâti, who runs the school in Ramallah in Palestine. The organisation offers music lesson for children who have to survive in poor and violent situation depriving opportunity of any kind of education.

Al Kamandjâti says “We must give our children the opportunity to think beyond soldiers and tanks. They must think creatively, not about the destruction of their country, but about rebuilding their civilization.”— quoted from Al Kamandjâti’s website

As being musician, we still want to believe a certain power of music to open up people’s imagination beyond a confined situation. Our hope is to hear a new music, new sound on different perspective, by those children in a future when they grow up, not sound of gun and missile.

To the programme, we are thinking to include some latest works, both new arrangements and compositions, and also, upon a request of the church, some pieces of guitar & piano which we have not played almost for a year. Let’s see what will happen..!

Melodica/Piano: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar: Ryusuke Koarashi

“Unconventional Convention Conventional Unconvention”
Date: 14th April (SUN)
Time 19:30 - 21:30
Venue: East Finchley Methodist Church
Address: High Road, East Finchley, London N2 8AJ
Collection in aid of Music school in Palestine (Al Kamandjâti)

Click here to download the flyer.

Click here to download the leaflet of Al Kamandjâti

10 Mar 2013


Pocket Penguin has been expanding their repertoire mainly by adapting various pieces with a view to exploring different possibilities of interpretation. Our repertoire is not all mentioned on the list, is constantly increasing and frequently being updated.

Recently we are taking a different approach to the sound world of melodica & guitar. What we are experimenting with is to find new sound material or different ways of producing sound on each instrument and then assembling them into a pattern or a time framework.

These fruits from our explorations are output as a series of "Preludes"—so named because we think they have some similarities to general aspect of conventional prelude, i.e. rather short duration, limited material and pattern, improvisatory—as some parts are left for the performers' judgement.

Our Prelude may include some "pre-removed" material, structure, and ambiguity from music. So we seem going back "before music", that is a place where the sound may not yet be called music, as in the Latin "Prae-ludere" which etymologically meant "before playing".

3 Mar 2013

A Concert at Union Chapel (The Daylight Music)

Pocket Penguin finished a performance on 2nd of March in the Daylight Music, a musical event regularly held at Union Chapel.

We would like to say thank you to all the people who were there listening to our performance warmly and carefully, and those who gave us good feedback, that will certainly encourage us to go to next step of music making. And also we would like to give special thanks to Ben who gave us the opportunity to play in such a nice venue, and stuffs who supported our performance.


J.S Bach: Prelude from Cello Suite III
Ryusuke Koarashi: Walking through a forest
Pocket Penguin: Prelude I, III, IV
Ryusuke Koarashi: Çok Güzeller

Melodica: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar: Ryusuke Koarashi

We played 6 pieces. Prelude from Cello Suite III is a piece we recorded in the first album "A Bird Flying over Mountains" and played several times before. And all the rest of the programme was the first time to play in public.

The title “Walking through a forest” just came from an impression of the piece, like walking in a winding road in a forest and sometimes stopping suddenly and looking around.

Prelude I, III and IV are from a series of experimental pieces by Pocket Penguin, exploring sound material and combination of our instrument. We will describe more details of the series 'Prelude' later in our blog. You can have a glimpse of our rehearsal on Facebook, and also listen to Prelude I on Soundcloud.

“Çok Güzeller” was a piece Ryusuke has just made last week in a demand of rhythmic and “happy” repertoire of Pocket Penguin. The title is Turkish, meaning “very beautiful” in third person plural form. We wondered if someone noticed the Bach motif, a succession of notes, Bb A C B natural, used at somewhere in the piece. Our programme of this time actually began and ended with "Bach".

12 Feb 2013

Hammond 44

We got really excited with Ayumi's new equipment—Hammond 44 by Suzuki—which is one of the most pricey and presumably the best quality melodica. We tried playing a little today. Pitch is very correct, tone is nicely soft, key noise is less than others in initial condition. It has got built-in mic and 44 keys (the previous one was 37 keys), which will give us more possibilities in arranging/composing. Can't wait for using it at next concert.!

(In duet with 37 keys melodica which we have been using)

(Melodica which Ayumi has been using, chronologically ordered from the left to right)

16 Jan 2013

Spain by Chick Corea, on Melodica & Guitar

Pocket Penguin played "Spain" by Chick Corea, which is one of the most frequently played repertoire from the modern jazz standard. The pictures in this video were provided by an Argentinian artist, Lili Mariel Sciarrotta. She is currently based in the U.S. and being active as not only painter, but also as poet, singer, and Spanish teacher.


Here is additional information about the painter: Mariel describes her painting style as a combination of expressionism, modernism, and abstract. She believes art is the true expression of the soul, the feelings and emotions that connects all beings. If you want to see more of her art, visit her site at: lmsciarrotta.blogspot.com/, or like her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/lmsciarrotta (updated on 20th Jan 2013)

 Melodica: Ayumi Toyama
Guitar: Ryusuke Koarashi

After the Concert, "Music for a while"

Date: 12th May (SUN) Time: 19:30~ Venue: East Finchley Methodist Church High Rd., London N2 8AJ (opp.Creighton Ave) Admission: Free Coll...