Singing Forgetting is a composition for chamber orchestra. The title of this work is a quotation of Zhuangzi’s ‘sitting-forgetting’ adapted to a musical context, hence ‘singing’ instead of ‘sitting’. ‘Sitting-forgetting’ is described in Zhuangzi as a meditative state where one is detached from body and mind and is at one with Dao. At this level of attainment, one can take part in the process of transformation with the Great Universe without hindrance.
I have been interested in the interaction of time and space in music making (composition-performance.) Through composition I seek to create a musical environment which will condition and allow the performers to explore his or her physical space through performance. In an earlier work, Dragon Singing . Autumnal Waters, for example, the music is generated in performance on 2 levels: one through the interaction between the bodily space of the performer (physiology and anatomy), and the mechanical and acoustic space of the instrument; and another through the interaction between the musical space and the physical space of the entire performance venue. Subsequently, further exploration are done through works for chamber ensembles of various sizes. Finally, in Singing Forgetting, with the opportunity to write for orchestra, I decided to usethe standard orchestra seating plan itself as a physical space in which the music is distributed and its drama played out within the stage limits of left and right, and front and back. Prelude to Act One of Wagner’s Lohengrin provided the initial inspiration.
In earlier works, I have also been concerned with issues of synchronicity within certain controlled aleatoric performance and compositional circumstances. In Singing Forgetting, the dramatic tension among groups of instruments invarious temporal statesare played out; for example, several strands of temporally independent but related music led us to a brief climax before the Epilogue. Numerous fermatas of various lengths decided independently by the conductor and certain performers further increases the local moment-to-moment variables in time, pacing and shaping of the music thus accentuating the aspect of synchronicity in the work. The anticipation of possible outcomes and the interaction between performers within a fuzzy environment is an important element in Singing Forgetting. It is therefore this fuzzy environment that comes close to my understanding of the ‘Great Universe’ within which musical live interactions among musicians in performance are manifestations of the unhindered participation in the transformation of Dao.