Dark Side of the Shadows
TRACK 1 - Dark Side of the Shadows Dark Side of the Shadows is a reflection of Jun'chirõ Tanizaki's book, In Praise of Shadows. After reading this book, I found it delightful to see the flowing commentary on different aspects of Japanese life and art such as architecture, drama, food, and feminine beauty all mixing into traditional Japanese aesthetics and technologies. Tanizaki clearly makes his own statement on softer, quieter, darker, more shadowy and older aesthetic traditions. I tried to create some identifiable fragmentary sound as a motif and series of tone-color patterns. The combination of motivic fragments with series' of tone-color patterns is rippled in countless wave-like forms, along with repetitions and imitations. The ensemble provides different tone colors to create different atmospheres. In the entire piece, the shifting of the color and tonal change is important. Although there are many sound effects produced by different instruments, most of them are meant as imitation to each other. TRACK 2 - Color. Valley (2010) This solo cello piece was composed in 2010. It was written for a cello workshop at the 45th International Summer Course for New Music Darmstadt, and was premiered by Christopher Mathias at Groer, Akademie fu¨r Tonkunst, Darmstadt, Germany. Contemporary Chinese impressionist painter, Wu Ganzhong's landscapes and waterscapes influenced this piece. Like Master Wu's style of work, the composer merged Chinese thoughts and philosophy into Western musical techniques in this piece. Through the use of different musical shapes, tone color, and gestures, I tried to depict my own expression of the natural environment. The title of the piece, Color. Valley is an abstract musical picture drawn from the beauty of abstract forms, lines, colors and variations of tones. I focused not only on the musical structure, but also my feeling and expression in the composition of this piece. TRACK 3 - Yûgen Yûgen is a traditional Japanese aesthetic concept in Noh theatre related to the important interpretation of refined elegance and grace known as "invisible beauty." Noh is a major form of classic Japanese musical drama dating from the 14th century. It can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty's Nuo, Wu and other various Chinese folk theatres around the period of 618 - 907 in China. By looking at the meaning of the Chinese characters in the word of "Yûgen". "Yu" can mean dim, dark, deep or quiet; and "Gen" can mean subtle or profound. The combination of these two characters express profundity and evanescence detached from reality and representing the mystical beauty of nature. This work was written for flute (piccolo), bass clarinet (Bb clarinet), cello and piano. Structurally, it was influenced by one of the most subtle elements of Noh, "Jo-ha-kyu" means "slow evocation (Jo), components detailing transgression (Ha), and the resolution of elements with haste and suddenness (Kyu). There are three main sections in this piece. The first section shows different musical elements in different musical gestures and tone colors in a slow tempo and flowing pulse. The second section has several "breaking parts" from the first section. Those "breaking parts" are the existing elements from the previous section, with more detail development. The tempo of the third section is rapid. It reaches the climax by a fast process of transformation and expansion of the existing musical elements from the previous two sections. TRACK 4 - Cloud. Color II (2011) This violin-cello duo was composed in 2011. I tried to employ different strings' tone colors to depict the gesture and texture of clouds. Like a contemporary impressionist painting, the piece captures the momentary and transient effects of light and cloud. The work portrays the overall aural effects instead of details, and uses different mixes of color to achieve the effect of intense color vibration. I merged Chinese thoughts and philosophy into Western musical techniques in this piece. Different musical shapes, tone colors, and gestures are used to depict my own expression of the nature environment. The title of his piece, Cloud. Color is an abstract musical picture drawn from the abstract forms, lines, colors and variations of tones used in the work. TRACK 5 - Distant Voices (2013) for string quartet I have maintained an interest in depicting visual pictures in musical sound. In this work, there are five 'scenes' written in five short movements. Those five scenes were visited in the past and represent different places and countries, which now exist only as small fragments in my memory. In the first four movements, each theme is repeated three times in different tempos and dynamic expressions which allows each voice to sequentially loop within the contrapuntal texture in a certain time and space. This 'extended time' repetition is used to recall various small pieces of color and distant voices of memory. The final fifth movement is kind of a coda to conclude the entire piece, where each instrumental part diminishes and fades away. TRACK 6 - Postlude: Etenraku Postlude: Etenraku (2012) was composed for and dedicated to Martin Choy and Parsons Wind Ensemble for their performance at the 7th Kagoshima Youth Arts Festival, in Kagoshima, Japan. This piece was influenced by one of the original Japanese ancient imperial court's music with dance: Gagaku "Etenraku." "Etenraku literally means music brought from heaven. I have composed this work as a reflection on this great, well-known repertoire. In this piece, there are some melodic fragments borrowed from the original tune of Etenraku. The major pitch element is based on different sets of pentatonic scales. The ensemble's wide timbral range is used to imitate some of the traditional Japanese instruments such as employing piccolo and oboe as ryuteki and hichiriki; or using a mixture of different woodwind sounds to evoke a sho; or the use of bass drum and different metallic western percussion instruments as Taiko and Shoko. The woodwind key click sound is one of the important materials in this piece, in addition to it providing a simple and steady pulse as a percussive sound effect. In between each key click sound, there are different spaces and intervals used as substance to give a sense of time and layers. As a result the key click sound is designed as a trigger to dominate the structure of the entire piece, to separate each musical event and to define structural 'sentences' in the music.