…from a thatched hut: Exploring Transcultural Composition
The author’s composition for string quartet, …from a thatched hut (2010) was written in response to an exhibition of furniture designed by Khai Liew, and was premiered in the exhibition space. The designer’s Chinese heritage and the nature of his work, which fuses modern Western design principles with techniques and aesthetics of Ming dynasty furniture, influenced the form and content of the music. The author’s own long engagement with Chinese culture led to the composition of a seven-movement work that fused techniques of contemporary Western music and Chinese traditional music. The work also drew inspiration from Chinese philosophy and poetry, in particular the work of Li Bai and Du Fu. There are many Chinese composers who have assimilated Western techniques—it is standard practice in China, where students are taught Western composition. However, examples of Western composers drawing on Chinese musical elements are rare in comparison, while other Asian musical traditions—from Indonesia, Japan and India—have exerted widespread influence in the West. In this paper the author examines the challenges of a transcultural approach to composition, and considers questions of influence and authenticity.
KeywordsTranscultural studies Music Composition
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