Ghost Songs

daegeum, cello and 2 percussion
(2021) 15′


This reworking of my concerto for daegeum, cello and Korean orchestra, Singing to the Sky (하늘을 향한 노래), distills the music to its essence, featuring only the two soloists and percussion.  The piece alternates between freely composed sections and those that reference Korean shaman music, whose highly syncopated rhythms add a visceral propulsion to the music. The soloists, too, act as percussionists at time, with the cellist tapping and striking the instrument and the daegeum player beatboxing around the shaman rhythms.

The piece is separated into six sections:

I. Incantation: The soloists enter, chanting and singing in slow tones.

II. Swaying and Spinning: Melodies dance atop shaman rhythms (in this case a puneori rhythm.)

III. A Prayer: The motion from the previous section comes to a halt, and the soloists sing long, lyrical lines.

IV. Ghost Song: The shaman rhythms return (this time a deuleung-gaengi rhythm), as the energy builds.

V. Possession: This is the cadenza of the piece, in which a third voice emerges from the two soloists.

VI. Frenzied Fervor: The energy intensifies as the percussionists rejoin the soloists. Here the shaman rhythms return, building to the energized finish.

Ghost Songs was commissioned by Korea University of the Arts, and is dedicated to daegeum soloist Kim Jeong-Seung

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