Invited by violist Jui-Se Yang, professor of the Music Department at the National Taiwan Normal University, I arrange/compose four folk songs for viola and piano for the album April Rain: Heritage Music of the Heart — Folk Music Album for Viola. These four pieces are Peach Blossom Takes the Ferry, Song of Four Seasons, Scarborough Fair, Song of the Seashore.
The album is recorded by violist Jui-Se Yang and pianist Chiao-Han Liao, and has been available in many stores including books.com.tw, Eslite Bookstore, Chia Chia Records, etc.
More information about the album at:
Written for four cellos, Phantasmagoria is a piece combining my compositional thoughts and imagination that have been developed in the recent years. I began my education in Los Angeles for almost six years since 2008 and during the time, I started comprehending various types of arts including films, theaters, dance, and stage performance, as opposed to my previous study all focusing on the traditional concert works, or contemporary classical music. Those arts all, naturally or indirectly, stimulate or affect my musical linguistics in aspects of creating transition, reproduction, and development. I was living in a different study environment so that automatically encountered different cultures and peoples. Consequently, I returned with diverse exploration and deep self-examination. In the last years of my student life, the question I was frequently asked, out of my expectation, not from the series of academic curriculum such as counterpoint, harmony, orchestration, contemporary execution and notation, or individual instrument’s and ensemble’s timbre, but writing melody. I was not merely inquired by only one professor with question or straight answer like, “What is the most difficult thing? Melody.” “You have learned much from schools including orchestration, counterpoint, harmony, and so on. But when does a teacher tell you to write a great melody?”
Tonal or atonal, melody still exists in the contemporary repertoire in the 20th and the 21st centuries. Although, it has been developed and mutated, melody is definitely the only musical element that is apparently ignored, less-mentioned, and underrated.
I am hugely involved in commissions combining music with visual media in the past years and melodic lines of course the main concern that producers, filmmakers, actors and dancers care most of the time. However, as a contemporary composer, how to write melody beautifully after paying full attention to the skillful composing techniques covering well texture, abundant harmony, and novel tone colors, so that the music can still be artistic, intellectual, and spiritual, is the largest goal and subject of my current writing.
Even though composers seem to have to give up something intuitive for creating music original as well as for avoiding the criticism from academia, I think a successful melody is not only because it sounds great itself but how it is skillfully embedded into the fabulous counterpoint and harmony, and then comes out impressively through the collaboration with brilliant timbre and structure.
Try not to think of music but the sonority.
Phantasmagoria is a composition I composed after deliberating all the ideas mentioned above. I hope to deliver the music’s artistry and sympathy via the intelligence of melody, which to me is also the essence of music.
This work is commissioned by Cello4 and dedicated to YH Chen.
The Appearances of Snow
The Appearances of Snow: Live recording in pianist Chu-Han Huang’s piano recital Brilliance In Gray at the Kaohsiung Music Hall in 2015, October 16th, 7:30pm.
Commissioned and performed by pianist Chu-Han Huang
Written in Aug 2015
Chien-Yu Huang: Nocturne
Written in March 2013
The Dawn, a small piece for piano was written by me on Nov 7, 2010.
Pure Sound Waves
Pure Sound Waves (2006 – 2007):
There are various sounds consisting of clamors, cheers, laughs, and cries in a metropolis as Taipei, Taiwan. In Pure Sound Waves, I present abstract relationships between these sounds by not only depicting their concepts from the original definitions but also embodying them musically via string quartet, one of the oldest conventional instrumental settings of the world of classical music.
I convey innovative ideas and complex emotion into this piece. By combining unusual harmony, experimental acoustics, irregular rhythm, and exclusive strings’s timbres, I expect that the audience will experience the varying degrees of the tension and all the unexpected sonority.
The composition comprises eight sections that are Chant, Laugh, Whisper, Dialogue, Silence?, Chatter, Cry, and Lament in sequence. I build up these musical sections with both the traditional and spatial notations in order to clearly express the miscellaneous sounds that resonate in my memory of living in such a bustling metropolis.
Moreover, in addition to the graphic notation, I also exploit the technique of pitch class in the middle section of the music that also consolidates the musical structure without getting the complexity sloppy or uncontrolled. I also create the Density Line and the notation of blowing air into the f-shaped hole of the sound boards of the strings.
This composition is not only a milestone of my study in youth as well as a memory for the past 5-year life (from 2001 to 2006) in Taipei.
Film Noir Sound
Film Noir Sound was written for the Composition for Film and Television Class in February 2009. This is recorded at the orchestral reading by the UCLA Philharmonia.
(Professor / Supervisor: Paul Chihara; Conductor: Henry Shin; Alto Saxophonist: Ryan Weston)
I wrote the piano piece on June 10, 2011, when I felt kind of lonely.
The beginning motif (Ostinato, repeating idea) first came into my mind naturally and later I felt it might be cool to bring the melody from Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess (Pavane pour une Infante Defunte) into the music. It’s not only a fragmented combination but also a re-creation which is supposed to be something new, inspiring, and based on the memorable tune. The repeating motif created by me symbolizes the flickery appearance, and later, is melted with the sorrowful melody from Ravel, and with the approach, outlining an imperfect beauty which I look for from the work.
Homeland is an orchestral piece written as an expression of my emotions towards my native land of Taiwan.
Atonality and traditional tonality are combined in this piece so that a wider audience can embrace the sentiments of longing contained in Homeland.
According to the musical structures and moods, music can be divided into four parts.
The first part describes a city born to suffering and poverty. A great deal of dissonant acoustics and tense rhythm show the depression of the city and inhabitants’ agitation. The consecutive repetitions of pitches and motifs echoed sharply among the voices sharply bring out the tension in the music.
After a round of acoustic turmoil, the music changes gears to feature the deep sounds of the timpani and the bass drum, and then develops into the dolce second part at bar 70. The mellow and solemn tone brings to mind the prosperity and beauty of the city. Simultaneously, the scattered but restless echoes of trills haunting the voices resemble the unstable moods pervading the city; nevertheless, the trilling fears are soon transformed into the singing of strings as warm light sprinkles the lovely city.
Moving on into the third part at bar 101, the trills return as another danger emerges!? The city remains secure throughout these changes though, as many groups of rapid short notes dart in and out between the voices. This distinctive rhythm endows the section with an uninhibited atmosphere.
At bar 140, with the advent of night, the city seems tranquil!?
Chien-Yu Huang: Dialog – Steinway & Bösendorfer