The Japanese poet Shiki Masaoka (1867-1902) is known for revitalizing and reforming the haiku art form. His subject matter often focused on the four seasons, and he was often a critic of other great poets of the time such as Basho whom he felt had relied on trite and formulaic approaches. He utilized and encouraged the concept of "Shasei" or "sketch from life" where he simply described life just as it is.
In a way, "Shiki Spring" is a similar art form. Each haiku used is at some point presented simply "as is." Nothing too sneaky. This evolved out of the recordings I made of my friend Misao Maruyama Smith reading the five Shiki haikus I selected. I transcribed her speaking them aloud and at different speeds and was able to approximate tangible pitch and rhythm from which I drew a majoirity of the material for the piece. Many of my recent compositions have been based on similar "extra-musical" material, often text and/or speech (see "An Attempt At Serenity" and "Rhythm of the Mind"). I also ended up using these recordings I made as sound material for the laptop/sampler, so hypothetically every sound the listener will hear from Jacob is in some form Misao reading the given haiku, although it will likely almost never sound like it.
When I began conceiving this piece for the Sihr Halal project, I somehow came up with the idea of creating a "song cycle" rather than an extended, complete piece. I have long been inspired by the songs of Charles Ives, many of which are less than a half page of music long. He was always able to be very profound in a short amount of time, and I was striving to have that element in these five very short works.
Conceptually, each work should stand on its own. I did not really share any of the musical material between works: each song is exclusively based upon its own haiku text. However, ideally they should complement each other in that they all have contrasting mood and technique that is intended to keep the listener on notice, so to speak.