Modern Music Matinée
Saturday, 31 March 2018 @ 3pm
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Orchestra Hall
Every year, graduating students of the composition department at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM) complete a Final Year Project (FYP) of a portfolio including at least 25 minutes of music. Two of the three premieres on the concert (two natures of silence and Catalyst) are presented in fulfilment of a FYP. The FYP culminates the musical journey of an undergraduate in the YST composition programme. Students at YST can also create independent projects through a module call Collaboratory. Composers and performers work together to realize new works. Yang Ting-Ting’s work on the programme is the realization of several weeks’ preparation of her composition through this module. The following self-introductions are program notes provided by the respective student composers.
Catalyst by Chen Fang-Chi (BMus4)
I am a fourth year composition student at YST, under the tutelage of A/P Ho Chee Kong. In my third year, I was selected by the Conservatory go on the student exchange program to the Peabody Institute where I studied with Dr. Amy Beth Kirsten. During my time in YST, I have collaborated with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Ensemble Multilaterale, YST New Music Ensemble and had my pieces performed in the Singapore Conference Hall, Esplanade Recital Studio, YST and the Cohen Davison Theatre at the Peabody Institute.
Catalyst is written for percussion quartet. It is one of my FYP pieces and is about 11 minutes in length. A catalyst is usually used to accelerate or cause a chemical reaction without itself being affected. However, it also can be defined as something which incites activity, like a trigger. The concept of this piece is about triggering – the phrases are triggered by different combination of sounds. This concept is inspired by the first movement of Jeux Vénitiens by Lutoslawski.
As the exploration of timbre is the fundamental idea for my FYP, this piece has a variety of conventional and unconventional percussion sounds. I also use prepared percussion to extend the palette of unconventional sound colours.
Wobbling Nodes by Yang Ting-Ting (BMus2)
I have been playing the piano since I was six years old, and I still enjoy accompanying and playing chamber music and solo pieces. I started writing music when I was in junior high school. There, my teacher guided me in listening and analyzing music from the classical period to the 20th century. Hence, my time in junior high school increased my knowledge in music and made me more interested in exploring sound. Recently, I have been learning different systems of music and experimenting with those concepts in my pieces, trying to shape my own style.
Wobbling Nodes was written for clarinet quartet. I tried to depict the imagery of a ball bouncing irregularly. The concept of the piece is such that each motivic idea is expanded upon, more and more, every time they appear. In other words, every motivic idea is a cue for the following expansion. Hence, the ‘wobbling’ in the music becomes wider and more varied. The ‘node’, which consists of four notes at the beginning, changes more frequently in register and pitch collection as the piece develops.
two natures of silence by Mick Lim (BMus4)
Mick is a fourth-year composition student of A/P Peter Edwards. Full-length bio is available at micklim.wordpress.com
two natures of silence deals with the uncanny being of silence. Silence, defined as the absence of sound, is a phenomenological impossibility. If you think you’re sitting in a silent room, listen closer. Even in an anechoic chamber, you will hear at least a dyad composed of your nervous system at work and blood flowing through your body. Now that your consciousness is directed towards the plenitude of extremely quiet sounds, you are no longer sitting in silence — or are you? Apart from your newfound awareness, nothing else around you has changed.
We may say that music is organised sound. But how can composers organise silence? It might seem preposterous to criticise systems of music notation for privileging sound over silence. When notating silence, it makes no sense to assign an attack, a dynamic, or a pitch. In silence, only duration can be controlled. Without systems to organise silence, we may conclude that its nature is chaotic. And yet silence seems to have its own coherence. We seem to have a provisional understanding of what silence is, and can agree on when it’s there, even without a definition of silence. Achieving such silence even demands the acquiescent inaction of everybody, including audience members (no coughing!), rather than the action of one. This is the coherent nature of silence.
N.B. Although this piece is about the coherent and chaotic natures of silence, silence is not used as musical material in this piece. That would be akin to concluding that ‘silent is the nature of silence’ and would constitute avoiding the task of questioning the natures of silence.