Windwaves, Op.18

After I entered the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a music student (in 2011), a student composition concert called the Bauhinia Concert came into my attention. It is a concert for which undergraduate and postgraduate students (and graduates in general as well) can submit one of their music compositions to the organising board for screening, and successful submissions can receive a performance (prepared by the composer) in which academics from other universities would be in the audience. As an amateur composer for years I couldn’t resist the honour from this and naturally decided to make a submission. Originally I tried to make-do with some unperformed chamber music pieces I have written before (most pieces I have written were orchestral pieces which are not suitable for the event). But one day after returning home from jogging an idea struck me in which music is spreading along a line of performers like a wave, like a human wave cheering in the stadium to be specific. So I decided to substantiate the idea and put it down to score.

I chose the flute as my instrument of choice (besides my own instrument, also one that possesses a timbre akin to wind or waves) and set out to write a piece which fulfils the requirements (the only of which, actually, is being no longer than 10 minutes). Then, in a matter of weeks, I completed the piece with an awkward (even myself think it is) instrumentation of 8 flutes. I named it “Windwaves” out of the impression the music gives.

To great joy I passed the screening, being the only two freshmen composers to be featured (the other is my friend Pierre Tang – his piece was a flute duet so I helped him as a performer in return for his helping me as a performer). Finding 8 willing flutists in the university was in itself an ordeal and I had to draw most of them from the university wind orchestra (some of them are from other departments). To negotiate a time for rehearsal was further annoyance – it had to be done mostly after wind orchestra rehearsals at night. Eventually it was performed quite successfully in the Bauhinia Concert that year (21 Nov 2011, Cultural Activities Hall in Shatin Town Hall).

Not much else can be said of the piece – except to talk about its formal structure and melodic source. It is divided into three distinct parts: the first some simple note-passing game like ripples, the second featuring more overlaying of textural strata (more vivid), the third (calmer) with passing waves over a pedal note. As for melodic source besides the usual pentatonicism I quoted a Sai Kung folk song (which I am using in my upcoming Symphony No. 2).

Since the premiere recording is in the possession of the departmental society, I am unable to post it here but I shall post here the computer rendering of the piece, as below.

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