Music, School of


Date of this Version

January 1995


I Légong Mantra (Bali) II Odalisque (Persia) III Sarang Ga (Korea) After living in Bali for several years the Canadian-born composer Colin McPhee once wrote “...what a marvelous thing would be a concert made up of new works by composers whose names were not included in the program.” This somewhat enigmatic statement reflected the crisis in his creative life caused by his encounter with Balinese music and concurrently his dissatisfaction with the uniquely Western European, ego-driven emphasis on “free” composition and innovation. Most of McPhee’s later music was either influenced by or transcriptions of Balinese Gamelan music. In a similar, but less drastic manner, some of my recent music has reflected a study of non-Western music. Jasmine Dreams are three oriental portraits that attempt to fuse my Western background with elements of ancient Asian musical practices, combining aspects of arranging, transcription, and original composition. Légong Mantra is built around a core of 23 heterophonic variations of a Balinese melody. The orchestration makes allusions to the sonorities of the Gamelan (Indonesian percussion ensemble) . Odalisque is an arabesque based on a Persian dastgah (mode). As with many non-Western modal systems, the Persian dastgahs use several microtonal intervals, especially the 3/4 tone (the distance on the piano from C up to a pitch between C# and D) .European music once also used these colorful intervals but abandoned them in favor of the symmetrical tempered system more appropriate to harmonic music (mircrotones still persist in the “blue notes” of jazz and popular music ).Sarang Ga is a free transcription of a Korean folk song, found in the P’ansori ( epic song tradition). It opens with the percussion playing the Chajinmori changdan , a Korean rhythmic pattern alternating 12/8 meter (4 beats in measure) with 6/4 (6 beats in measure.) The vocal nature of this song is conveyed through various ornaments. Most of this transcription retains the monophonic character of the original with only occasional harmony added. Jasmine Dreams was premiered by the Lincoln Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, Yong-yan Hu, conductor.

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