Symphonic Poem No. 1, Poems on Stone Drums, for Full Orchestra
Symphonic Poem No. 1, Poems on Stone Drums is an orchestral piece with three main sections played in a single continuous movement. Its inspiration comes from a set of ancient Chinese seal scripts on ten drum-shaped stones now preserved in the Palace Museum in Beijing, China. These drum-shaped stones with seal scripts were originally made before the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC), and were first discovered in 627CE. The poems on the seal scripts describe an ancient Qin king’s parade. However, for thousands of years and still today, experts and scholars do not agree on the exact date of the incidents described in these poems on stone drums. The legend and mystery that surrounds these drums, and the beauty of the ancient Chinese seal script characters are deeply attractive. These ten drum-shaped stones have been traveling through time and space to the present, and they are now displayed quietly in the Palace Museum in Beijing, China, offering a rich and dramatic contrast with the grand scene of the king of Qin king’s parade over two thousand years ago. In my composition, I express the massive contrasts in different sections through different timbres, dynamics, registers, and orchestration styles, and thereby praise the glorious and magnificent tradition of Chinese history and culture. Concerning pitch material, I employ a series of tetrachords with their permutations, and develop them using a technique based on set theory combined with a Chinese music flavor. Specifically, I use major and minor seconds to create two groups of tetrachords (“0123” and “0246”) along with their transpositions and permutations in the foreground and two Chinese pentatonic scales (CDFGA and C#D#F#G#A#) with their transpositions and permutations in the background.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Acknowledgements -- Instrumentation -- Program notes -- Score -- Vita