Koji Nakano—Collaboration with Nature and the Environment
Over the last several years, I have engaged in self-exploration through music. In 2009, I traveled to Cambodia, Thailand, Japan and Austria, where I made various recordings of environmental sounds including insects, animals, chanting, cow bells, etc. Three years later, I composed a series of compositions entitled Worldscape. In the pieces, I was especially interested in exploring my relationship with sounds from nature and my own environment. For me, the Worldscape series reflects multiple dimensions of collaboration: 1) the composer, nature and his environment, 2) the composer and performer, and 3) the performer, nature and his or her own environment. In this paper, I will examine the incorporation of Asian instrumental techniques into environmental sounds, using my Worldscape I for amplified pipa and pre-recorded sounds as a guide. I will also discuss how hybrid musical elements are comprised in this work with careful attention paid to my Japanese heritage.
Chinese instruments lecture demonstration.
Nancy Yunhwa Rao: Shi, Propensity of Things, Landscape and Musical Gesture in Contemporary Chinese Composition
This paper examines musical gesture that reflects a unique Chinese concept, shi, i.e., disposition or circumstance, power or potential. In discussing Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, scholars of Western music theory such as Robert Hatten have described musical gesture as “energetic shaping of sound through time,” with a focus on the way it conveys affective motion, emotion, and continuities of shape and force. Shi in Chinese music can be described in similar ways. Yet it is at the same time different in the dynamism produced and the tension that animates various elements to create a single gesture. Especially, I contend that in Chinese music such as that for guqin, the aesthetics are defined by the potential, the energy, and shi that generate musical gestures.
This paper will show how exploration of such “propensity of things” in Chinese music aesthetics can offer the expressive interpretation of significant musical gestures shared in many contemporary Chinese compositions. Two types of gestures will be the focus of this study: 1) the musical gestures derived from Chinese percussion music and how they work together to produce an expressive dynamic process, and 2) the musical gestures derived from the art of landscape painting and calligraphy.
Chen-Hui Jen—Reflections on Composing for Traditional Chinese Instruments in "Through a Fading Autumn"
In this talk, I discuss my approach to composing for traditional Chinese instruments, as well as the poetic ideas in "Through a Fading Autumn" (2010) for two huqins, pipa, and zheng. This virtuosic work resembles a miniature chamber concerto for a "super erhu"—an orchestration idea that primarily treats the two huqins as one instrument. To demonstrate this idea, I explain how the two huqins sometimes closely combine with each other and sometimes develop individual lines. I also explain how I orchestrationally use the pipa and zheng to form a meta-duet that primarily responds to and colors the two huqins. In this work, I also extend the huqin’s bowing, phrasing, and vibrato styles into a unique sonic world where all the articulations and techniques elaborate on the work's poetic context. I discuss how this poetic context incorporates personal meanings as well as my knowledge of traditional Chinese instruments, music, and culture.
Yu-Chung Tseng— The Integration of Chinese Instruments with Electronic Music
In recent years, I have been interested in working on a series of compositions that integrate solo instruments and electronic music. Among those compositions, I have employed Chinese or Asian instruments, including pipa, shakuhachi, yangqin, erhu, and bamboo flute.
In the lecture, I will talk about: 1) the compositional idea of integrating oriental instruments with western technology; 2) the function and role of electronic music in the works; and 3) the methods and issues that result from integrating the two different media.
To illustrate my thoughts and ideas, I will utilize the work Trace of Bamboo for Chinese bamboo flute and electronic music as example.
Eric Lai—From Re-merger to Re-emergence: The Evolution of Wen-chung Chou's Music
CHOU Wen-chung (b. 1923) is one of the most influential musical figures of our time. His rich cultural background, his studies with Edgard Varèse, and his interest in the genuine rapport between Eastern and Western musical traditions have guided his musical development. As a composer, Chou has assembled an oeuvre whose stylistic innovation and technical profundity are distinctive among composers of his generation. His music documents his creative journey, especially in the realization of re-merger—the fusion of Eastern and Western music that has become a mainstream in contemporary art music.
This paper provides an overview of Chou’s music through an exposition of his compositional system and readings of selected works, ranging from his early music that employs traditional Chinese material, to the experimental pieces influenced by Varèse, and to the mature compositions that explore the potential of his system of variable modes from the 1960s to the first decade of the 21st century. The last part of the paper introduces his most recent music written in the last few years, a group of works that not only continues to champion the ideal of re-merger, but also reveals a new stage in Chou’s development, re-emergence, which exhibits his newest compositional approaches as well as redefines him as a leading composer of East-West confluence.
Mei-Fang Lin—Traditional Chinese Practices as Compositional Models
It is not uncommon to find artists who seek inspiration for their work from their own ethnic roots and feed their creative activities with their cultural heritage. Whether this fascination with one’s own cultural identity comes from a conscious effort to connect to a bigger community or collective, or is simply a sort of conditioning that is deeply ingrained in our unconsciousness, remains to be answered by individual artists. Composers have done this through utilizing folk songs, ethnic instruments, ethnic tuning systems and scales…etc. In this talk, I will attempt to elucidate the origin of my own fascination with my roots, and more importantly, how that paves the way for my way of thinking and how it is transformed into elements of my music.