Recently went into a short discussion about program notes of contemporary, abstract acoustic pieces (electroacoustic pieces utilizing real-life sound sources will inevitably evoke a different set of expectations and images, not everyone is a fan of, or is capable of extensive reduced listening as advocated by the like of Pierre Shaeffer). Although I admit that most of my program notes, or even titles, only occurred to me as usable after the fact (double bar per se), and sometimes I have to actively search for them; they are not completely irrelevant in that they could usually quite accurately (well... or vaguely) convey the images I "saw" during my compositional process. Coming up with a paragraph of descriptive ideas could certainly enhance the effect of the overall image I try to convey in my music. That being said, I think titles and program notes are parts of the compositional process--writing them are certainly as painful as writing notes.
I just think it is ironic that I get most performances from pieces that I have spent least time on; not that they don't represent me--I am as proud about them as I am with the other pieces, but it just makes me think if I can really justify myself spending so much time on one piece. Sometimes, I do need to think less and just write with impulse.
It is exciting that I will have three world premieres in three days, on December. One of them is yet to be written!
Art x life
Art is essentially useless because it does not contribute to any material gains in this world. During this time of economic hardship, politicians and other literal-minded people urge to eliminate the emphasis of the arts on all levels of society. Obviously, you cannot eat your paintings, music or poetry, but what the arts contribute to this world is, I believe, on a spiritual level, much more meaningful than anything else.
Many have overlooked the vibrant color that arts can bring to their lives because of the immediate attraction of material gains. Today, young people tend to have a short attention span, thus submitting to this attraction, as a direct result of overwhelming technological bloom.
As a young person myself, I am determined to purify my expressive power in a musical way and seek to communicate with others through my artistic endeavor. I am also fascinated with the idea of constructing a body of arts that represents my “other voice.”
Art is about communication; communication is the basis of society; society is the back-bone support for a modern life--art is essential to our living, believe it or not.
Two weeks ago, I was able to co-compose a piece of music for cello and live electronics (Max 6) in merely hour and a half, and the piece lasts for five minutes (quasi-improvisatory). This makes me wonder, do I over-think most of the time when I compose? I often spend hours just to come up with materials for three to five measures, let alone polish and fit them into the large scheme. Should I think less and just let the music flow, or should I take an entirely new direction regarding my composition process all together?
Here I am again, in the midst of a fall semester--there is usually no time for an afterthought. Regarding my own composition, I saw a dramatic change in my approach, and somehow I became more "productive," or perhaps I should say, I could stretch my composition process for a long period of constant composing time. This "new" method produced pieces including Icebergs, ...and see it vanish, Anemoi and etc. I am very anxious to hear the results. Icebergs will be recorded by eighth blackbird on November 7th!
This semester, I also began as the studio manager of the IMPACT center; my duties include setting up concerts, maintaining the studios and such. Even more demanding is teaching the electronic music class, but I really enjoy every minute of it--getting to share something I love and designing this entire class is more than fun.
Usually, I really want a performance of my music. I understand I will get one performance of a piece and that's it, I'll still write a piece for anyone who asks me to. I care less now--I'll write whatever I want to write, if it doesn't get performed, it doesn't. Life is too short to worry about stuff like this--I enjoy composing, and that's the end of it.
Summer Traveling Plans
Heading to Vegas next week for a recording project of Katachi IV (2012) with saxophonist Mark McArthur, I haven't heard any of my newly completed pieces for a while, this should be exciting! Bowling Green trip some time in June? ...then San Francisco! I finally have the perfect excuse to come back to the bay area for a visit!
It feels like I have been composing a lot this semester, but I actually haven't written that much. My bass trombone quartet commission is coming very slowly. I have this urge to finish it ASAP--don't know whether it's a good thing or not. Perhaps I am just anxious about commissions, that I want to see a finished product as quick as possible. I am, however, very satisfied with my recent completed piece Katachi IV for alto saxophone and live electronics. I can see my style slowly changing and evolving. Honestly, I would have never imagined it be like this, say, five years ago. I am excited, and anxious to see what's next.
More travels are ahead of me: Bowling Green, Hong Kong, Iowa... as much as I love traveling, I am broke.
Traveling and such
Had three concerts in four days! It was a lot, but hey, can't complain! My music is being played! What could be better than that? (don't know if it's ever gonna happen again---I mean, three concerts in four days!)
The symposium at Connecticut College was a great experience. I met many musicians/artists, and made me feel that, we are all in this TOGETHER! Daniel was a great performer. It was a somewhat different interpretation, and that's what's fantastic about live performances! There was a slight feedback issue towards the middle of the piece because of how the speakers were placed (sorta weird position...), but everything else went well. And, a new commission for piccolo violin!
Wish I had time to drive to Boston or New York City... Oh well. Stay at airport for the whole night just to save this one night's hotel fee, worth it?
Still contemplating on my idea of starting the ALEA series. Perhaps I should just embed this idea into my Katachi IV, which will be a commission for saxophone and live electronics. It might be hard to justify having the live electronics completely aleatoric, but I'm sure that makes it very comfortable for the performer. The patch would be very easy to make basing on all these templates that I have developed lately. I just need to map out the range of the effects and their relative amplitudes to the raw input level.
I have also been toying with this idea of compiling my patches into applications and make them available for download. Max/MSP, however, did not like this idea and crashed my laptop, so that I could NEVER use the program again... There, perhaps, is a better way to do it. But isn't it awesome that others can make cool sounds with my patches?
Non-electronically, I am working on a commission for flute, cello, bass trombone and percussion , very slowly. Originally intended as a collection of five pieces, I might cut some and just make each one longer.
Max-ing and such...
I have been quite busy, not composing, but patching with Max/MSP, just exploring different ways to route my signals and building instruments/effect modules. The results are couple patches that I can well use in the future, and I also generated a fixed media piece (Stargaze) with them.
I am expecting to write one new fixed media and two new interactive electroacoustic pieces with these patches. I will continue the Katachi series, and start a new series called ALEA.
And, having come back from the UAHuntsville New Music Festival this weekend, I feel fresh and inspired. It was a nice event with seven concerts and over 40 guest composers. Duo for Two Flutists (2008) was performed.
I haven't visited this blog for so long... I feel like it's time to write something. It has been a real adventure this first semester at UMKC - it's difficult, but I know I wouldn't like it if it's too easy.
I just finished a paper on Lutoslawski couple days ago, and am quite satisfied with it. I also read many of his writings and interviews. There is something he said that is so interesting (irrelevant to my paper topic): L regarded two main trends of music in the 20th century, that of the Second Viennese School's and Debussy's heirs'. The Second Viennese School is generally regarded as the complete opposite to the main stream because they disregarded the function of pitches by equally distributing the chromatic scale, but L suggested that they were the one that continued the tradition by completely disregarding it. The other pole was Debussy's harmonic language, which completely revolutionized functional music and its order and construction.
I could not agree more. Schoenberg consciously avoided tonal function; Debussy just ignored it.
Welcome! Please feel free to leave some comments. Also, check out the music page and many full audio samples!