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An analysis of Chen Yi's orchestral work "Momentum"

Jiang Liu, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study is to provide an analysis of Momentum, an orchestral work by Chen Yi (b.1953), a leading Chinese-born American composer. ^ After China re-opened its gates to Western society in 1979, Chinese composers started to explore Western contemporary post-tonal compositional techniques, as well as the compositional philosophy of postmodern music in their works. They yearned for a fusion of two starkly different elements, modernist compositional philosophy and techniques of the twentieth-century West and the traditional Chinese idioms. As one of today's leading Chinese-American composers, Chen Yi's orchestral works have received attention from both Western and Eastern audiences and have achieved widespread critical acclaim. Her music's unique language, which integrates both Western and Chinese musical elements, has also begun to receive serious scholarly consideration. ^ Chapter I provides a historical review and a sketch of Chen Yi's life including her family's influence, major music educational experience, and her work experience in both China and the United States, and her own attitude towards fusing the different approaches to this cross-cultural integration and the adoption of western 20th century contemporary compositional techniques. Chapter II discusses Chen Yi's musical vocabulary in Momentum. Chapter III through VII analyze Momentum based on the study of five aspects: form, pitch materials, rhythm, dynamics, and orchestration. Chapter VIII summarizes the main characteristics of Momentum and focuses further on the ways in which the composer fuses Western modernist and postmodernist techniques and philosophies with traditional Chinese idioms. ^

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Liu, Jiang, "An analysis of Chen Yi's orchestral work "Momentum"" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3194120.