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Nun’s dance or Seung-mu(승무) is a traditional Korean dance, performed by a solo female dancer who dressed like a Buddhist nun. Although not an official part of the Buddhist ritual, this dance is considered to symbolize the process from mortal suffering to enlightenment.
While Chi-hun Cho (1920-1968), a Korean poet illustrates its elegance and beauty, his poem also features an unusual type of passion, “the passion for submission.” Her motion is elegant and refined, but her mind is full of agony and desire for liberation from her sufferings. Although the dance is full of artistic beauty, she stands away from such earthly matters. In the end, her strong passion is condensed and sublimated as a peaceful prayer. This whole process is represented by the timbral and motivic contrast and eventual reconciliation between the choir and the solo soprano voice.
The composer has recreated traditional yet satiric pieces from fairy tales and children's songs. The five small songs in this cycle can be defined as five signs of the composer's "spoiled regression" himself, who is overly grown to be naive.
The first song, The Last Dew came from The Ass and the Grasshopper by Aesop: The Ass eats nothing but dew to mimic the grasshopper's voice, and shortly afterward died of hunger. The composer changed just "one" element of this story, replacing the original lesson "Know yourself" with something odd.
The second song, Run Rabbit came from Run rabbit run by Noel Gay, sung by Flanagan & Allen. The lyric of this song was changed to mock the Luftwaffe (German air force in WWII), especially in the Battle of Britain (A scene in the movie "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" depicts this history of the song.) The composer concentrated on how adults manipulated a children's song and changed its lyrics and harmony to the odd military style.
Next, The Revolutionary Potato is a parody of Daehongdan Potato, a North Korean children's song. The song boasts a local specialty, the Big Potato, and also plays a role as propaganda highlighting the grace of the "General". There are many facts that make a huge gap between this song and reality. First, In the North Korean countryside, where "white rice" is a rarity, they're trying to replace rice with potatoes. Of course, the taste of potatoes is different from genuine rice. Also, All farmers in Daehongdan County planted potatoes to meet the quota in the dictatorial regime. Finally, the song praises the infallible guidance of General Kim, which is also impossible. This reality makes an odd contrast against the cheerful melody and bright lyrics of the original song, creating irony. This irony captivated me, led me to tweak the lyrics, and tried to express this irony with eerie major chords.
Number Lullaby, the fourth song, was inspired by The Number Song which was a Korean big hit in the '00s, my childhood years. In this number song, every sentence starts with numbers, counting up. Contrary to that, the numbers are at the end of each sentence and also count down from ten to one. Also, these numbers are Korean; I put English words similar to Korean numbers. Therefore, the lyrics of this song has two meaning to those who understand both English and Korean. The lyrics itself does not have any context, rather just borrow their sound.
You're all pigs, the last song, came from Piggybook by Anthony Browne, a UK writer for children. In this book, the mother of a family does all chores while the rest do nothing. So with complaints, she shouted to them "Pigs!" And later, surprisingly, her spouse and children became real pigs. This short story recalls my childhood, and also my present days as an adult. Even now, maybe I am becoming a pig every moment.
Have you ever experienced a download error? This piece starts with that experience. Often those errors produce crashed files. Especially for the image files (.jpg, .png and more), they sometimes change into a full spectrum of noises. Those noises produce strikingly eccentric patterns of pixels, not revealing a tiny bit of the original image. Nevertheless, these randomly generated images exceed the original in a different sense, sometimes.
For its namesake, “Corrupted image.png” consists of crashed and diminished patterns. Those patterns are barely related to each other so that they sound very distant, seldom considered as the same piece. Over and over, these stacks intersect and disappear before developing, thus forming a colorful and drastically contrasting sound-structure.
This piece supposes a “laughing competition” in which the composer, performers and the audience can enjoy together. This song is composed in four scenes: encounter, competition, reconciliation and cooperation. Also, undefined materials, for example, improvisation and acting, make this song unique in every performance. To express laughter, I selected two wind instruments, especially Saenghwang and Melodica, considering that can express polyphony.
In the dark night where the end is unknown, a person who enters the black forest wanders and prays.
The structure of this piece is derived from Jeremiah 20: 7-18. Based on the text, I made the words used in the song, a confession of my self-doubt.
From the moment when I put composition as an important part of my life, anxiety and doubt come endlessly. Negative voices that are heard as much as cheerful consolations; the doubt I reflect on every time I release my pieces; the constant accusation that comes from within; shamefulness whenever I saw my past pieces.
Despite my inner endeavor to fight back these negative thoughts, I was worried about how long I can hold up the music, for I am not mature as a musician. This piece speaks directly of my anxiety, confusion, disappointment, and frustration of mine.
And eventually, despite all, this represents my firm will to keep my music going on.
"Beaconsfield" stands for Beaconsfield Station in Brookline, Massachusetts, United States. As a small suburban trolley station, passengers are few, especially on weekend mornings. Its unfurnished facilities are rather mundane and unremarkable.
However, one day I realized the odd harmony of the station and its natural background: fenceless railways embraced by maple trees, wooden platforms more than a half-century old, falling leaves, electric wires that segment the sky, horning trains, children's voices from a nearby playground, pre-recorded arrival signals from old speakers, and more. Also, I came to recall the different seasons of this station: muffled footsteps on the snow, red and yellow foliage on the railway, headlights through morning mists, blossoming flowers...
Following this discovery, I imagined the audiovisual time-lapse of this station, and then I reversed the time flow and transformed it into sounds. "...at Beaconsfield" is therefore an aural projection of these moving images, which contains continuous changes (rather than repetitions) from one season to another, but also consistent peacefulness and harmony.
Psalm 121 is titled a “song of ascents” to the temple. The narrator(s) first seek help, and soon realize that God is actively protecting them. Although they acknowledge that there are obstacles and dangers on the way, they still are confident that God will keep them from all harm. This harm can be both physical and metaphorical – struggles from the Christian life. Also, the sanctuary - their contextual destination – still stands on the earth, but is spiritually separated from the secular world.
While reading this psalm, I came to internalize the text with my experience of climbing mountains and my spiritual life: I, as a living creature, am bound to the physical and earthly realm, and prone to slip and stumble. But during my life, God continuously assures me of his guidance, on the toilsome yet joyful road to his kingdom.
This piece is my reflection on Psalm 121, and the materialization of my spiritual journey. Unlike real mountaineering, which ends in descending, the beginning section never comes back in the original motifs, for the path set after me is ever ascending.
The title "Theme and BHariations" stands for the two notes, B flat (B in German) and B natural (H in German). From these two notes, a raw theme is paraphrased by the twelve ephemeral variations. Apparently, each section shows distinct gestures and moods without a stable meter, although the sonority is closely connected. Clusters, noises, and accented notes are dry and fragmental. Also, silence is a variable factor, occasionally playing a key role as much as sounds. And the striking dynamic and register contrast intensify the drastic shift between the variations.
This piece expresses the personal imagination of the very last scene of A Dog of Flanders (A novel by Marie Louise de la Ramée). Lying two small creatures in front of the door of a massive cathedral. A slight appearance of the Rubens' Triptych. And the snow, slowly covering all these features.
With these images, I repeated, and improvised basic figures on the loose structure, thus presenting both sorrowfulness and peacefulness.
In this piece, I arranged the melody of Dum medium silentium (in the moment of silence), a Gregorian chant. Like the lyrics of this chant, I would like to express God’s silent but timeless power and beauty that cannot be perceived by our earthly perception, with the unique timbre, long phrases, and even silence.
Also, I let the player freely select among multiple suggestions for each section. Also, sometimes the player should improvise within abstract notations. Therefore, every performance becomes distinct from each other, thus expressing the might that is identical in essence but ever-changing in appearance.
The title Die unsichtbare Nacht means “invisible night” in German.
I took a short sound sample from my squeaking footstep noise on the wet floor, and then dissembled, modified, and mixed together. As a result, the original material is hardly perceptible to the audience. While the sound is separated from the context, these newly processed samples create another context that imitates the natural soundscape of the dark forest. Strong wind, dog bark, insects, broken wind chimes…. However, none of them sounds purely natural. Rather, they still have some artificial touch that gives an uncanny feeling. A similar discrepancy happens between the music and the video. The clips in the video are strictly coordinated with the music, but it gives the wrong relation between individual scenes and sounds. This discordance amplifies the eerie feeling, produces much tension, and, most importantly, summons a certain drama that undergoes these audio-visual events.
I have written many pieces using Daft Punk’s guitar riff (in their Aerodynamic), which has been my earworm for several years. This piece is the second of those, as a variation of rhythm and tone colors, with a fixed pitch motif. The player can variate this figure into unprecedented ways, and even override and reverse the composer-guided direction.
The player performs this piece with a game controller made by the composer. Also, the audience may be confused as if the player actually plays a rhythm game while watching and listening game-like scene.
The words of the prophets that sounded when the Jewish people came back from Babylon about 2500 years ago are still valid for us. Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi continue to proclaim to the Israelites, and us too. The composer, in these words, saw the hope that the might of tyrants will surrender, and God's promises will triumph. In order to do that, he declares again the fact that we must return to the LORD, with his music.
In this song, the 5/4 rhythm, which constantly pulses for eight minutes under a simple structure, symbolizes the unchanging energy of God's Word over time. Also, the melody that is based on the complex rhythm and constant D tone is rather screamy than elegant one, and it evokes a tension of holy words. The timpani and bass drum, which are dominant in the piece, symbolize the power and majesty of God in the proclamation of "come back". Finally, the words of the prophets are directly quoted through the readings of a narrator, highlighting the main theological theme.
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