You are here

Chan, "Qin---Three Songs About Nature for voice and percussion," 2008.

USC Thesis in Composition.
August 5, 2009

Alan Chan, D.M.A.

Abstract (Summary)
Qin is a seven-string zither of Chinese origin with a history of more than five thousand years. It was an instrument played by the aristocrats and intellectuals in ancient China. Although the music for qin is often pre-composed, the interpretation of the music is highly individualistic and often involves some improvisation. Intellectuals used it as an outlet for meditation.

"Qin - Three Songs About Nature" is a cycle of settings of three poems by Bai Juyi (C.E. 772-846) and Li Bai (C.E. 701-762) in the original Chinese language. The choice of this selection came from Chinese Literature scholar Jeannette L. Faurot's article "Music and Nature in Ancient Chinese Thoughts" (1998). She points out that music is a medium for people to communicate their emotions with each other and with nature based on the notion of resonance and sympathetic vibration. (p.6)

This piece calls for two musicians - a female vocalist and a percussion player - providing an intimate set-up similar to qin music. A large collection of percussion instruments provides a diverse choice of timbre as well as a contrast of the two spaces on the stage with the singer standing solely on stage left and the percussion instruments on stage right. The physical space becomes as important as the musical space in the third movement. The musical materials are freely associated, incorporating styles from contemporary classical to music from Brazil and jazz. This creative process, incorporating free association and meditation, is similar to the process found in Chinese literature mentioned by literature theorists Lu Ji and Liu Xie (Fourth and Fifth Century C.E. respectively). This centuries-old practice is incorporated with musical elements of the present day.

Advisor: Crockett, Donald
Committee members: Ticheli, Frank,  Head, Brian