Wave Coming ... | 涌

for flute, trumpet, baritone, piano and percussion

Nov, 2018

Full Jury Concert, UC San Diego Conrad Prebys Music Center, San Diego, CA, U.S.

                            Steven Schick, conductor

 

Wilfrido Terrazas, flutes
Alexandria Smith, trumpet
Jonathan Nussman, baritone
Matthew Kline, double bass
Chris Clarino, percussion
Ashley Zhang, piano

In the past, I’ve already noticed the uniqueness of the Mongolian long songs is very much related to its melismatic ornamentations. While going back to listen to and study the sonogram of several typical Mongolian long songs, I found out the manifestation of the melismatic gestures are not only constrained in the ornamentations but also pervasively appear in the skeleton  tones. That is to say, even while the melody sustains on a single note, the melismatic gestures continue to evolve. It’s produced by hovering around the tone microtonaly, similar to the vibrato but in an even more subtle and nuanced way that incorporates with the shape and timber of vowels from Mongolian language. While looking at the sonic wave map, fluctuations of the vibrato in melodies are very irregular and this enables me to consider the rhythmic design in my piece. I therefore start the piece with the ratio rhythmic patterns and to gradually reduce the duration and the irregularity of the notes and the patterns. Finally they end up with melismatic ornamentations of the Mongolian long song. In the meanwhile, I create the motion moving only within the extreme small microtonal space/interval. The harmonic structure of the piece is closely related to the intervallic and spectral relationships of long song melodies. 

While I composed the piece, I was reading Lei Liang’s book and was very into the article he wrote about the performance of the Mongolian artist, Selaxi. Lei mentioned the energy of selaxi’s performance was profound in a way that within the space the artist situated , only art and something much greater than us exist. I was very moved. Because this form of performance Lei described, was embedded into each Mongol’s soul. What he mentioned is the philosophical and aesthetic believes Mongols believe for thousands years.  So I use unvoiced voice to present those murmuring consonants and further allow those whisperings to accumulate to the phase that “Silence, Solitary and Solitude ” are spoken out voiceless from the shape of “s———sa”.  By contrast, the baritone in the piece who sings vowels all the time, is another approach that I as an inpretater to transform Mongolian vocal arts in a tangible form. In Mongolian long songs, the functions of vowels are not semantic but rather musical. Certain vowels have nothing to say about the linguistic functions at all but are sang in those songs as a timbre and colors. The baritone writings in this piece serve a approach  of transforming  this concept in my own work.