On Silk and Paper
It was an honour to collaborate with the musicians of the Silk String Quartet for this piece, and it has been a rewarding challenge working on an effective means of responding to their artistry. As musicians of a Chinese music education that included several differences to my own western-based training, from a distinct notation system to a much greater emphasis on oral/aural (over written) pedagogy, it seemed necessary to consider the way in which my musical ideas were transferred to the musicians. Indeed, it is for this reason that this piece looks to reassess the function of the composition ‘score’ and thereby the relationship between the composer and performer(s).
On Silk and Paper is split into five sections, each requiring the ensemble to make a variety of creative decisions that affect ‘duration’ in the broadest sense from a micro to macro level. This consequently allows the performers to shape the temporal relationships across the piece and thus the structure of the work as a whole. In doing so, I hope the central role that the ensemble hold in formalising the piece can be seen to eschew the familiar trope of performers occupying a subservient position to the composer/score. Music is after all a sonic medium in the first instance, and at that, an aural one.
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Instrumentation: Erhu, Pipa, Yangqin, Guzheng
Commissioned by: Silk String Quartet
Premiered by: Silk String Quartet at RichMix London in September 2021
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