I’ve been living in San Diego since late August, starting the last phase of my student life.
Everything here is a challange for me — including language, cultural differences, my TA position, my courses, and many other circumstances. Almost all the students are thouhtful and excellent. They read and study a great variety of thing, listen to a lot of music, and probe into their majors deeply. My TA course is Basic Musicianship in which I teach sight-singing and dictation and also some music rudiments. I’m also auditing an undergrad course and attending in two non-credit English seminars in the first quarter.
At the beginning, I felt myself featureless and weak even if I was relatively outstanding in my homeland where I graduated in honor and won a lot of awards. Most of the students had similar experiences as me. During the first month I met and talked with a lot of composers and we often shared our works and ideas with each other. I found that American composers have specifically strong interests in microtones and harmonic spectrum. I don’t know that is a common phenomenom or not. Besides studying, I’m trying to avoid writing clichés.
Recently I’m working on my jury piece — a trio for Clarinet, Contrabass, and Percussion. In this piece I’ll combine some of my logical thoughts and analysis with some new ideas about the flow of time. In the composition seminars I’ve already done the sketches of various musical parameters and all what I need now is the time to realize in music.
Before I started my work, I listended and studied on some Taiwanese aboreginal music as well as Giacinto Scelsi’s scores for a couple of weeks. But I stopped reading anything about the latter not wanting to be influenced. His music sounds extraodinarlily oriental and his thoughts also reflect some oriental philosophy. Sometimes I think it’s unfair that a western composer can use eastern materials and notions as exoticism but, for an eastern composer, it will easily become a parody or a cliché if not deeply refined and contemplated.
However, in such a large world, I must find out my basic stance and be more critical on my own music.
The photo: One of my manuscript sketches which is different from my old formal structural designs.