Rituals and Resonances

A primary impetus behind this work was a consideration of the dislocation between cultural identity and heritage that may affect those born outside their place of origin. This can be thought of as a paradoxical sense of nostalgia – a longing for a past transcending a purely temporal notion and encompassing also a culture that simply did not exist for its subject. Of course, such an anxiety is arguably only perpetuated as long as one thinks about it, yet it may manifest itself as clearly as being unable to communicate with one’s grandparents due to a lack of a shared language.

Rituals and Resonances attempts to engage with this idea, and takes as its musical framework an exploration of the relationship between sound and its resonance. Just as one does not have (or need) control over their heritage and origins, a sound may include resonances far removed from its initial perception that although appear incongruous, are in fact quintessential to its being. Indeed, the yangqin itself is distinct to Western string instruments in its non-linear and inconsistent distribution of pitches, and so much of the writing of this piece is informed by the geographical layout of the instrument. The desire to compose idiomatically for an unfamiliar instrument was most challenging and to some extent undoubtedly futile, but equally it seems there is some value in acknowledging the challenge and contemplating its significance. In this way, nostalgia is similarly paradoxical, for in the words of Marta Caminero-Santangelo, “it is not lost at all, [but instead] the only culture shaping the person's perspective”.

The piece is dedicated to Reylon Yount and my grandparents.

You may also be interested in Dreaming Clouds.

Year: 2018

Instrumentation: Solo yangqin

Duration: 12'

Premiered by: Reylon Yount at Merton Passiontide, Merton College, Oxford in April 2018

Other performances: Recorded at Abbey Road Studio in February 2018; performed at LSO St. Luke's in July 2019; broadcast on Soho Radio in February 2020; released by nonclassical in February 2020

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