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Cultivating New Artistic Directions in Southeast Asian Music: A Composition Panel Discussion

24 August 2021

09:00 - 12:00 hrs (GMT+7)

The spiritual and emotional essence of traditional musical practices are an endless source of inspiration for modern composers. Functional aspects, from rituals to community music-making, as well as artistic components — sonorities, timbres, patterns, or the modes of communication themselves — can be explored and re-interpreted to mold novel musical forms.

During this panel discussion, five established composers from five Southeast Asian countries will each present one piece illustrating their philosophies and approaches to the adaptation of traditional elements. From their unique perspective, they will share their views on how to reinvent the past in order to chart new pathways for the creation of music within the Southeast Asian context.

Alex Dea’s ‘Gangsaran Sapto’ involves sixty players of different ages using every note of four gamelan sets of pelog and slendro, resulting in a wonderful horizontal poly-microtonal sound. The composer will share his views on composition and the use of non-European music, approaches, and aesthetics.

Jonas Baes discusses a musical composition which is part of a series of five separate environmental "soundscapes." ‘DALUY 2’ is written for five interlocking, flat gongs (Gangsa) played in patterns that invoke Kalingga music of the Northern Philippines. In the composition, these patterns are subject to dissolution, symbolizing the cultural politics within a mode of production dominated by powerful stakeholders and institutionalized culture brokers.

Hoh Chung Shih will share his piano works ‘reef weave’ and ‘rub dub’ which examine the definitions of ‘tradition’ and ‘transition’ within a creative process, with references to traditional Chinese practices, both from the perspective of music and the visual arts.

With ‘Sound of slow tears’, Kee Yong Chong combines various elements that are at once original and eclectic. The composer will discuss his particular interest in incorporating various Asian musical practices such as Chinese dialect folk songs (Hakka storytelling and mountain songs), Gamelan music from South East Asia, Indian ritual and ceremonial music, ancient Chinese court music, chanting of classical Chinese poetry, Korean Pansori music, and Japanese Gagaku music to create his own compositional techniques and language.

Anothai Nitibhon uses ‘The Pause’ to reflect on how to restore a more engaged experience involving human interactions and promote meaningful communication between a violinist, pianist and cellist. The piece involves a series of game processes aimed at rediscovering the fun of music making.

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