Works (list)

Current project

  • Dry crosses / string quartet (2021-)

  • The moon is distant from the sea / mezzo-soprano and piano (2022-)

  • The dialogue between a man and his Ba / ensemble and electronics (2022-)

Click the title for program notes.


  • Nun’s Dance / mixed choir (2021)

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.

  • Pamyati Druga / mixed choir (2020)

  • Musika / 12 voices (2020)

  • Song of the Overgrown / voice and piano (2019)

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.


  • "So mashed up" / flute, clarinet, bassoon, 2 violins, viola, violoncello, double bass & piano (2022)

This piece is a mashup of 120 "New music" or "Contemporary" pieces after 1992, my year of birth.

As a new music composer, I arbitrarily selected and sampled pieces I listened to and studied, and took samples of various lengths - each instance lasts one to three measures. They are sometimes used intact, and in other moments they are juxtaposed, transposed and disassembled in a specific dramaturgy.

Justification can be multiple: a question about the current copyright system which dates back to a hundred year ago, the reflection of my aural surroundings as a new music composer, an homage to a specific popular music practice often found on Youtube and Soundcloud, an antithesis (or thesis) of someone's claim that "New music is all the same," etc... Yet, it has to be concrete music, not just a collection of samples. Therefore, as I mentioned above, I processed all of these pieces and organized them to create a drama of my own.

As many mashup artists nowadays disclaim, I do not own or intend to claim the copyright of this piece: Download Score (pdf)

  • Poème d'oasis / violin and piano (2022)

  • Dal-eun / chamber ensemble (2022)

“Dal-eun” is the first two syllables of The moon, only half, is on the paulownia tree (달은 반만 오동에), an old Korean song, .

Although this piece is purely instrumental and detached from its lyrics, the “Sijo(시조)” vocal style remains in the sound: very long phrases that are almost non-metric, slow drum ostinato with alternation of five and eight beats, a wide variety of embellishment in both attack and decay of each note, and subtle control of tremolos. While flute and clarinet present the tune, the string instruments respond to the woodwinds, and supply radiant harmonic and timbral colors. As the tension increases, percussion gets out of regular beats, but more fluidly directs other instruments, as in the traditional Sijos. Through the interaction of these three groups, a vibrant continuum appears, as if it sings the text, the unfulfilled longing in a silent courtyard.

Below are the lyrics of the original tune.

"The moon, only half, is hung in the paulownia tree; the Milky Way flows into the western mountains.

In the empty courtyard, pacing up and down, carried away by my yearning, my thoughts are just like the flickering lamp, inextinguishable.

Suddenly ak-ak the rooster cries. Sleep eludes..."

  • Prelude (or Postlude?) / string quartet (2020)

Prelude (or Postlude?) is an extension of the tuning scene before starting the concert. Whenever it is played, a wide variety of frequencies in the open strings, and microtonal chords appear. Standard A does not exist until the end, and performers tune again and again, to meet the goal altogether. During these false tunings, the audience also would lose their idea of where the “right” A exists, and accept this type of tuning as an independent musical phenomenon.

The title implies that it may be a prelude to the real concert, starting from the mess to the fine-tuning. Also, it can be played backward, therefore functioning as a postlude to the concert, thus returning to the “natural” and “unorganized” state.

  • Corrupted Image.png / chamber ensemble (2020)

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.

  • Keep Breathin’ / reed quintet (2019)

  • Stars on the highway / chamber ensemble (2018)

  • 3, 2, 1, Go! / 3 violoncellos or string trio (2018)

This piece is a transcription of a (virtual) car race. In this piece, each component portray many sounds of the race, e.g., the grumbling engine sound before departure, the start signal, big and small crashes between cars, the slippery tire sound within the circuit, and the Doppler effects when cars run rapidly.

Title-wise, the numbers one, two and three are the basis of the structure. For example, these numbers form three signals from start to end, the pitch relationship in the motif, increasing numbers of common notes between distinct scales, the numbers of cellos, and finally overall 6 structure, which is a sum of three, two and one. This logic forms structural and harmonic unity. In addition to that, many anomalous elements not relevant to that logic appear in this piece from time to time, thus depicting irregular situations which occur in a real car race.

  • Giggle giggle / melodica and saenghwang (2017/2018)

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.

  • Confessum / chamber ensemble and electronics (2017)

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.

  • Sea Fragments / bassoon and piano (2017)

Sea Fragments is a patchwork of many scenes and stories about the sea. This contains personal experiences of the composer himself, an event that has already passed, a myth, and a sad memory that is still circling in the memory of the people. This piece is the result of selecting, extracting, shuffling, and weaving together ten thousand of these “seas” into one musical piece. This piece is neither a variation, nor a suite. The song flows continuously without interruption, but one episode ends prematurely shortly after its appearance and the next episode suddenly appears in the acoustic space. Sudden unfamiliarity, is the emotion I want to describe my conception of the ocean. At first glance, the difference can be heard as very drastic. But if you listen closely, you will hear that each piece resembles the other and forms a story.

  • “·, -, ■” (Dot, line & plane) / string quartet (2016)

This piece is based on the basic formative elements; dots, lines and planes, and faces. I matched dots to individual tones, lines to melodies, and planes to harmony. Also, I made the overall structure of seven movements, by developing and becoming higher dimensions, i.e. dots to lines.

Of course, a variety of textures, such as planes that consist of dots and larger lines made by numerous small lines, which are not directly derived in the above process, are also inserted in various places.

I compose this piece in the method of serialism, to give unity and produce a neutral tone-color. Also, I explored the nuance generated from limited elements.


  • I lift up my eyes / viola (2022)

  • Theme and BHariations / piano (2020)

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.

  • In front of the Antwerp Triptych / piano (2019)

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.

  • Dum medium silentium / gayageum (2016)

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.


  • Day’s end (2020)

  • Die unsichtbare Nacht (2020)

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.

  • _.PAra_siTE (2020/2022)

This piece is intended to be a “subpiece,” which only can exist through the presence of another piece. That means, like a parasite, it feeds the other programmed piece as material. Also, it is like a “phantom of the opera” appearing randomly, roaming around the concert hall, looking for prey.

Technically, it takes three minutes from any recordings and reinterprets them. It distorts the original file like a computer virus, full of disjoined fragments and glitches. On top of that, it speaks through a text-to-speech voice, as if it confesses a distorted love to the host. Though this piece repeats a pre-programmed text, it pretends human emotion. Eventually it oscillates between the originality and the derivativeness, while focusing on the contrast between the expressional voice and the emotionless algorithm, and the living music and parasitizing music.

  • Acoustodynamic II / electronics and game controller (2019)

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.

  • Radio énigmatique (2018)

This piece is based on the sounds of various "numbers stations" (or oddity stations). I used XPA2, XSL, V24, FO3 (those are all codenames of the stations), either cited or imitated. These sources occasionally play random patterns of tones or numbers to deliver enigmatic messages. Only intelligence receivers can solve these patterns via their number table. Thus, to the non-interested people, these are just meaningless. These signals do play repetitive "music" in limited rhythm and range. After recognizing that, I believed that it has the potential to be transformed into intended music. So I sliced, lengthened, modulated, distorted, and combined them into one piece. After processing, these individual sounds deliver no messages, but it sounds like a fake-numbers station.

This piece consists of four sections. In each section, sounds are processed differently processed to make various color changes, like adding filters, making background noises, or whiling tones, etc. By doing this, I made not just a series of oddities, but music with a cryptic soundscape.

  • Spectro-Continuum / electronics and lights (2017)


  • Return to the LORD / orchestra and mixed choir (2018)

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.

ⓒ 2022 Joogwang Lim, powered by Google site