Exploring Solo/Small Ensembles Series #25

Lan Tung: Beijing Opera Rock

Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra / Chih-Sheng Chen / National Recital Hall, Taipei, Taiwan 2014.3.30.

Lan Tung (2010) - Chinese ensemble: dizi, erhu, zheng, pipa, yangqin, daruan, percussion (2010, 2011) - quartet: flute or clarinet, cello, piano, and erhu or violin or viola (2012)

In the process of transformation, a new sound is created. Exploring the transformation between different musical genres, the original inspiration for “Beijing Opera Rock” came from the seemingly incompatible musical forms of Beijing Opera and Jazz. Yin and Yang are the two principals in the universal process of transformation. Their relationship is that of mutual constraint and fulfillment. Two poles, equal and opposite, they influence and represent the human character in all aspects of life. Just like how the duality of yin and yang is expressed in all aspects of life, it is present in all forms of music. The piece is named after its rocking feel in the constant motion. It is built on a short phrase used as bridge (過門) in Beijing Opera music; however, set in a cycle of 7 beats similar to a lehara in Indian classical music. At the same time, it layers together different modes and scales on top of each other, combining chromatic and pentatonic systems. This gives birth to the opening melody and serves as the motive to bring back in different variations throughout the piece. The slower middle section in a 8-beat rhythmic cycle have triplets playing against a duple time, punctuated with short melodic and unmelodic interjections, creating a dreamy atmosphere. The gongs mark the beginning of each cycle as in Indonesian gamelan music. Also as in Indonesian and Indian music, the rhythmic cycle is then subdivided, shortening the melodic phrases and increasing the pulse. Taking the form of jazz, the final conclusion of the piece restates the main melody from the top.

“Beijing Opera Rock” won the fourth place of the “Yin & Yang – Chai Found Music Workshop 2010 Sizhu Music Composition Contest”. It was premiered by Chai Found Music Workshop on Oct 30, 2010 in Taiwan.

~ Lan Tung