Colours of the Wind

Colours of the Wind is a duet composition for Gao Yin Sheng (高音笙) and Bass Clarinet. Three main objectives have been considered while exploring the colours of different wind instruments from different cultures: (1) Unfold the common playing techniques that are usually employ in the existed repertoires; (2) Seek for new possibilities of playing techniques, and (3) Identify the similarities and differences among the related techniques between both instruments.

As for the composition, it starts with a constantly high intensity section, followed by a long section with a range of low to high intensity. The discovery of the playing techniques (common and uncommon techniques) has been collected and distribute to different sections of the piece in order to demonstrate various kinds of tone colours combination. These include a solo passage that represents the uniqueness of the instrument, as well as an interaction passage that generating a coherence or contract holistic atmosphere with the chosen collection playing techniques (For example: a loud passage which presented with a combination of chord (Gao Yin Sheng) and multiphonics (Bass Clarinet); or a soft passage which presented with a tone and voice passage (Gao Yin Sheng), together with lip glissando at a constant long note (Bass Clarinet).

Journey for Seeking the Colours of the “Wind” (Instruments)

I seek this opportunity to have a deeper investigation towards the selected instruments (Gao Yin Sheng and Bass Clarinet) after I received the invitation from PGVIM for participating in AYE2020. Below is the journey of my music collaboration and composition for the past 5 months:

Stage 1: Self-Study
  • Self-study with the available resources for learning the general structure and the common playing techniques of each instrument.

  • Below are the main references which I studied

            1. Gao Yin Sheng

                      Book: The TENG Guide to the Chinese Orchestra

            2. Bass Clarinet

                      Book: The Bass Clarinet: A Personal Story
                      Website: https://heatherroche.net/

Stage 2: Meetings with the Players
  • 4 Group sharing/discussion sessions which organized by PGVIM

  • 1-to-1 meeting with the player 

  • There are three objectives for having 1-to1 meet-up with the player individually:

1. Double check with the player regarding the information (playing techniques, score examples and etc.) which I read from the references, and have a sound collection in relation to the examples from the references.
2. Identify the limitation of the instrument in term of the playing techniques. For example: it is important to check with the fingering chart when choosing the notes within a chord for Gao Yin Sheng.
3. Experiment with new possibilities/uncommon playing techniques.

Stage 3: Tone Colour Collection and Categorization between the instruments

Three main objectives have been considered during the process of collecting relevant tone colours from the instruments:

  1. Unfold the existed playing techniques of the instruments that are commonly used in the repertoires.

  2. Seek for new possibilities of the instruments.

  3. Identify the similarities and differences among the related techniques between the instruments.

Table 1 below demonstrates the playing techniques between the instruments which I employ in the composition, while Table 2 compares the related techniques between the instruments.

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Table 1 – Playing Techniques

Table 2 – Comparison between Related Techniques between the Instruments

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Stage 4 – Composing the Composition 

In term of the structure, the composition starts with a constantly high intensity section, followed by a long section with a range of low to high intensity. The discovery of the playing techniques (common and uncommon techniques) has been collected and distribute to different sections of the piece in order to demonstrate various kinds of tone colours combination. 

The table below demonstrates the main elements which have been employed for each section.

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Table 3 – The Structure and The Main Techniques for Each Section

Stage 5 – Double Check with the Player to Avoid Mistakes

This is a stage where the completed draft was shared with the players for checking. The purpose of it is to prepare a professional score by avoiding notation mistakes.

Stage 6 – Finalize the Composition 

After checking by the players, finalize the composition by compiling all the details. These include the title page, programme note, abbreviation and the score. 

Video Presentation
Video Examples

Here I share three video examples which performed by Jocelyn Tan (Gao Yin Sheng Player):

Video 01 – A Short Excerpt with all the Common Playing Technique of Gao Yin Sheng

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Video 02 – A Solo Passage with a Combination of Tone and Voice

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Video 03 – Air Tip – Blow slightly away from the Tube, together with a Chord

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References

Heather roche. (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://heatherroche.net/

Sparnaay, H., de Man, A., & Roe, P. (2011). The Bass Clarinet: A Personal Story. Periferia Sheet Music.

Wang, C., Wong, S., & Chow, J. Y. (2019). The TENG Guide to the Chinese Orchestra. World Scientific.
 

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Chow Jun Yan

Singapore