Imaginary Ceremonies

marimba and percussion
(2007) 15′

Program Note

In ancient Korea there existed a unique kind of court ritual, in which the king’s every movement was accompanied by music. One imagines a scene in which whenever the ruler was to drink, musicians would first be required to play a tune wishing him good health and a long life. If he was to cross the room, he would move to the pace of a slow, stately melody. Few actions could be performed without a musical introduction, and one imagines that only when he sat completely motionless would the king find a bit of silence.

What if such a court music existed today? What would it sound like? These are the questions that inspired me to write this piece. Each movement of this piece is music to accompany the everyday rituals of a court which has never existed. In the spirit of much Asian court music, every ceremony in the piece follows a distinct set of musical “rules.”

In fact, parts of the work make a direct reference to the gamelan music of Indonesia, in which pitched metals and woods are played at a sometimes-blazingly-fast pace. These sounds are referenced most notably in “Music for a Dance.” While the piece may open with a fanfare, it ends on a much different note. In listening to “Music for an Exit” one might hear a pair heading out and over the hills far away, whistling a cheerful tune.

The piece is happily dedicated to Yuko Yoshikawa and Yuri Inoo, who gave the premiere performance in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the Spring of 2007.

Listen

No. 2: “Music for a Walk in the Garden”


Yuko Yoshikawa, marimba
Yuri Inoo, percussion

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Imaginary Ceremonies

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