Joan La Barbara
for voice and Chinese instrumentsDizi (bamboo flutes), Erhu (2 silk-string, violin-like instrument), Yangqi (dulcimer played with bamboo mallets) and percussion (1995)
|Duration||15 - 30 mins|
|Commission||Commissioned by Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company|
|Premiere||June 8, 1995; St. Mark's Danspace, NYC; The Chinese Music Ensemble of New York; Joan La Barbara, voice • Tao Chen, Dizi • Sisi Chen, yangqi • Bao-Li Zhang, Erhu|
|Technical requirements||5 scores are required for performance.|
"Calligraphy II/Shadows" (1995) for Voice and Chinese Instruments (Dizi, Erhu, Yangqi and percussion) was commissioned by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company for premiere at St. Mark's Danspace June 8-11, 1995. In preparing to compose this score, I researched the development of calligraphy and looked at different periods and personal styles throughout Chinese history, trying my hand at traditional Chinese brushes and inks to get a feel for the intricate gestures and shifting movements involved in practicing this artform. I also attended rehearsals of The Chinese Music Ensemble of New York to learn more about the specific instruments I wanted to use. Having chosen the Dizi (bamboo flutes), Erhu (2 silk-stringed violin-like instrument), Yangqi (hammered dulcimer played with bamboo mallets) and various percussion instruments (some used traditionally only for Chinese opera). I then set out to compose a score that would reflect the gestural qualities of calligraphy as well as explore the indigenous, intrinsic sounds of the instruments I had chosen. As I prefer the freedom and aflow of drawing my own scores onto blank pages, I was able to incorporate portions of the specific calligraphy used by the choreographer for inspiration, lifting certain strokes and twisting of turning them to fit into the musical space of time and notation. The flow and form of this music reflects my awareness of the needs of the dance for shifting energy patterns and fluid lines, counterbalancing a variety of ensemble textures with solo material. The "Shadows" part of the title for the music refers to the musical score as a shadow or reflection of the movements and gestures of both calligraphy and dance.
- Joan La Barbara