Composer - Gao, Ping

Su Xie Si Ti/Four Sketches (NZTrio commission, premiered July 2009) – 10′

The work has 4 short movements each with a subtitle –

1. Xiao (Boisterous)

2. Cuo Diao (Split Melody)

3. Dui Wei (Counterpoint)

4. Shuo (Shining)

As the movements are short and concise, they possess one single mood, and often one single musical idea. They are like snapshots of moments in memory. In fact, some of them are indeed musical translations of scenes from my experience, for example, Counterpoint was inspired by seeing a village funeral procession in rural China. The family members of the deceased progressed slowly, interrupted by frequent kneeling down and crying (which can be both a formal part of the ritual and an expression from the heart), while a band of very odd mixture of Western and Chinese instruments (such as a trombone and a Suona, a Chinese double-reed instrument) led the way by playing very upbeat happy music. It is not surprising as funerals in China are referred to as “the White Happiness”, while weddings are the red counterparts. In my music, the two moods are in counterpoint creating a synthetic mood of the happy and sad. Cuo Diao, split melody, or wrong key, (Movement 2) is an isorhythmic love song in which notes in the tune are playfully replaced by ‘wrong notes’ which are not from the tune or its mode. These erroneous notes, however, later little by little form a transposition of the original tune in higher register.

Su Xie Si Ti was commissioned by the 2009 NZ Music Educator’s Conference for NZTrio, through funds provided by Creative New Zealand.

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