Posts Tagged ‘choral’

Voice for the Formosan Parents – the Lullaby (搖嬰仔歌)

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

I recently completed a first draft of new orchestra composition which is a Theme & Variations on a famous Taiwanese lullaby, 搖嬰仔歌. I have found many variations in the translation of this melody’s title , “Cradle Song”, “Voice for the Formosan Parents – the Lullaby” or simply “the Lullaby”.  My wife sings this melody to our daughter every night and calls it “Rocking the baby”, my daughter just calls it “sleep song.”  We though it was an old Taiwanese folk song but when I started to do research on it I found it is a modern song. It was written in 1945 by the famous Taiwanese composer, 呂泉生 (Lu Chuan-sheng). Professor Lu was known as the Father of Taiwan Children’s Choir  because he was dedicated to promoting Children’s choir for 50 years as well as writing over 200 composition.  I have read a few stories about the events inspiring the writing of this piece:

In May 1945 during WWII, the allies bombarded Taiwan heavily to fight against Japan.  Master Lu evacuated his wife and 3 months old infant to the countryside of Feng Yuan, his hometown.  He stayed in Taipei and worked in Taipei Broadcast Bureau.  As the night fell, Master Lu’s longing for his wife and new born son inspired the song. The song has a wonderful simplicity that expresses the traditional attitude all Chinese parents have toward their children. It extols the hardships and high expectations experienced during child rearing.

My wife translated the lyrics which where written by Master Lu
father-in-law as:
The version of this melody I’m using for my composition is a little different as it is a transcription of the way my wife sings it to my daughter, but I have found this copy online of the original after I completed my piece.
A baby Sleeps
Growing one inch a night
Sweet baby
growing one foot a night
Rock the baby until sunset
staring at the baby in my arm
you are my sweetheart
worry you’ll get cold
cherish the baby like gold
It’s a great responsibility to bring up a baby
If only you get married, my duty will be relieved.

Sheet music to the lullaby

Sheet music to "the lullaby"

Master Lu Chuan-sheng passed away in the United States March 17, 2008 but generations long after will be still learning his songs to perform in concerts. I hope he would have enjoyed my composition inspired from his.


Music for Humans

Friday, June 9th, 2006
Michael introducing his composition.

Michael introducing his composition.

        “Music for Humans“, was premièred June 9th, 2006 by the SFCCO and Schola Cantorum. (Video Low / High) “Music for Humans”, makes use of extended vocal sounds instead of the traditional chorus sing text. Based on ideas I have for a choral symphony, the chorus is asked to make sounds humans can make but choir are rarely asked to. Clapping, snapping and clicking of the tongues are some of the extra sounds the choirs is asked to make. And since there is no text instead of the traditional Ooohs and Aaahs, I use the rich sounds of the Chinese Phonetic alphabet, Zhuyin Fuhao or known as BaPaMaFa. Not only are the sounds the choirs makes in “Music for Humans” unusual, but so it the way the choir is used. Instead of being a soloist, they are used as just another set of instruments like they way I used 4 vocalist in my first symphony. As for the sound of work, one can hear hints of Witold Lutoslawski, Paul Hindemith, and Meredith Monk. I make use of techniques made famous by Giacinto Scelsi, where I improvise sections then transcribes them into notation, for the orchestra to replay. Over all the work maybe a meditation of the human mind, with points of calm clarity, beauty and intense confusion, which is how we humans live our lives everyday.