Sea is a trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano that I composed in the winter of 2009.
In the past year, I have drawn inspiration from movies and other visual arts including illustration, design, and architecture. All of them give me huge impact influencing the philosophy of my writing.
Although I had only thought about music for short animations and films in the past whole year, I started writing Sea as a piece for live concert as I suddenly desired to do so. In this work, I not only consider dissonant modern acoustics and the techniques of contemporary classical music but also dig deeper into fascinating harmony and vibes that are somehow triggered from the diverse arts interesting me. I attempt to blend post-modern sound and filmic styles together and see if I can explore some new frontiers of fantasy and romance. Thus, the music possesses an artistic value while remaining accessible or even entertaining to its audience.
Through its six parts, Sea illustrates the kaleidoscopic nature of the ocean. It is build up with the sections in order:
Sea’s Width and Fantasy, Sea’s Intangible Waves, Sea’s Mystery and Unease, Sea’s Whispers and Tenderness, Sea’s Surge, and Sea’s Tranquility.
A Blooming Tree
A Blooming Tree
May Buddha let us meet in my most beautiful hours,
I have prayed for it for five hundred years.
Buddha made me a tree
By the path you may take.
In full blossoms I’m waiting in the sun
Every flower carrying my previous hope.
As you are near,
The quivering leaves are my waiting zeal,
As you pass by the tree without noticing me.
Upon the ground behind you
Is not the fallen petals
But my withered heart.
In the spring of 2008, I was commissioned by a soprano to compose a piece with Taiwanese poet Xi Murong’s famous poem A Blooming Tree. Xi Murong’s poetry has been known for its simplicity conveying deep emotions. While the moderation of her writing is prevailing, the flow of warmth and sentiment that is built up with delicate rhetoric delivers the thickest level of romance. Her letters remind me of Debussy’s music that discards the hysteria of the chromaticism tracing back to the last half of the Romanticism, and invents a new language of harmony which seems simple, but from another perspective, can truly interpret the artist’s romantic mood.
As a Taiwanese composer born in the universe of Mandarin Chinese and influenced by the tonality of the western music, I obtained my initial inspiration from Debussy’s harmony but in the meanwhile, blurred the boundary between the elements from tonality and mode that together form the spirit of this composition.
Expressions (2008) is a little concert piece for solo violin. The initial goal of writing this work is trying to experiment a vibe which should coexist the “awkward” beauty and the “unusual” glamor — for the versatile instrument violin, one of my favorite musical instruments. To achieve the ambition, I try to abandon the most sense of the tonal hierarchies that are developed since the 17th century, but maintain the melody and linear movement as organized as possible just like what should be taken care of when writing tonal music.
In harmony, it combines several syntheses that include the mixture of major and minor seconds scale, whole tone scale, and the chromatic scale. The music can be divided into five sections as A, B, C, D, and A’. Except the section D, each section develops, recalls, or transforms materials derived from the preceding section. Consequently, the section B is the mutation of the section A, and the section C can be regarded as the evolution of the section B. The section A’ turns out the finale that ends up with successive harmonics played in a tranquil mood.
As the title, this composition expresses various musical gestures within a limited space.
Nostalgia is an adaption of my previous work Sleep Well, Sleep Tight.
After finishing Sleep Well, Sleep Tight, a pianist friend pursuing his D.M.A. degree had the intention to play it as an encore for his lecture concert, but initially I wrote that one to be more pop music sound and personally didn’t think it could work well in an academic activity.
So, I decided to adapt it into this Nostalgia. I only kept the first phrase of the original composition but recomposed the rest of it to make the taste more classical and moderate. And that’s what you’re listening to now.
Running on the Grassland
Running on the Grassland was one of the two marches I wrote for the 21st Summer Deaflympics Taipei in 2009. Music was recorded by Taipei Symphony Orchestra.
Chien-Yu Huang: Midsummer Etude
Construct on Light and Shadow
Construct on light and shadow
Everything in the universe must have firmness and tenderness. Therefore, harmony exists.
Light can symbolize firmness, and shadow can symbolize tenderness. Light and shadow is a contrast in harmony.
I respectively use two kinds of woodwinds and strings: flute and clarinet, cello and harp. With the combination of sound, firmness and tenderness are demonstrated. Using the language of modern music, and mixing spatial notation and traditional notation, I attempt to display respective timbre, register, and performing technique of musical instruments and to mix musical instruments of different types on sound expression at the same time. This piece enables performers to fully exhibit the techniques of musical instruments. The element of rhythm also produces variable musical dispositions, making music more interesting and lively.
Big Bake Lake, Haunting Lake
Chien-Yu Huang: Big Bear Lake, Haunting Lake — all ends up at notes
Two Chinese Love Songs for Soprano and Piano
Translated lyrics of the Two Chinese Love Songs for Soprano and Piano:
The Love Song of Kangding Town
(A folk song from Kanding Town and rearranged / recomposed by Chien-Yu Huang)
High upon the mountain side, floats could so white.
There lies the Kangding town, bathed in silver moonlight.
Moonlight shines bright over Kangding town.
Lovely maid with sweet simile, Li the woodcutter’s daughter
Zhang the blacksmith eldest’s son, came to court her in moonlight.
Moonlight shines bright over Kangding town.
A courtship in moonlight.
Gentlemen of the world can woo all lovely women of the world.
The Three Wishes of Rose
(Originally composed by Zi Huang , words by Chi Long, rearranged / recomposed by Chien-Yu Huang)
Roses, roses, splendid open at railings.
I wish that relentless wind and rain do not jealous my beauty.
I wish that passionate tourists do not pick me.
I wish that I can keep my beauty and will not be withering by time.
Program Note of the Two Chinese Love Songs for Soprano and Piano:
I rearranged / recomposed the two Chinese love songs for the commission from soprano Hsingan Chen in 2010.
The Love Song of Kangding Town is a folk song from Kanding Town, a county in Sichuan in China. The original melody of the piece is very simple and written in strophic form. I recomposed the folk song with contemporary acoustics and harmony and exploited the usual usage of piano’s sustain pedal to mold the new sounds.
The Three Wishes of Rose is a through-composed song written by Zi Huang who is the most famous Chinese composer in the early 20th century. This song originally written in a romantic way was already fabulous and attractive. In contrast to being only an accompaniment of the vocal part in the initial version, I re-harmonized and reinforced the melodic lines of the piano to give it vivid and specific characters.
Piano in the both songs is dominating and flexible. We can thus discover that a usual accompaniment instrument can also, at the same time, develop its own motives while working beautifully with the voice it is supporting. That is very fascinating for an adaptation and also an interesting try for me.
Chien-Yu Huang: Tranquil