An Example of Musical Analysis: Double-Notation

Institut de Recherche en Musicologie (Université Paris-Sorbonne - CNRS)

In the post-modern era, in order to better distinguish the native voice of a composer, it is almost impossible to escape the problem of ``exchange'' which comes in various forms, such as transculturation, transculturality, multi-culturalism, and interculturalism etc.,2.6 in the field of artistic creativity with different areas of research emerging from the United States since the 1980s. During the sixties, North America demonstrated remarkable dynamism with new anthropological and ethno-musicological analyses that were oriented toward the ``aesthetic'' and originality of the work. The ``aesthetic'' creates an exotic new encounter and a new approach to Far Eastern thought, qualified by John Cage as ``non-Western'', and in opposition to a European style tied to the historical context of musical culture. The freshness of ``Conceptual Orientalism''2.7 attempts to go beyond the historical trend.

Experimentalism is found at the heart of a musical phenomenon of differentiation that welcomes the world's diversity.

The ambition of many compositions shows a research into and an affirmation of identity and is reflected in the organization of cultural exchange as is embodied by one of the first Chinese composers, Chou Wen-Chung (1923) who has lived in the United States since 1946 and who created the Sino-American Arts Exchange Center in the late seventies, as well as by Hsu Tsang-Hui (1929-2001), the first Taiwanese composer trained in France between 1954 and 1958, who embarked on many creative activities and introduced numerous exchanges between France and Taiwan during the seventies and eighties.

This ambition to welcome the world of transculturation in the field of contemporary music began to blossom in the United States and France during the sixties and seventies. France saw many creations rich in inspiration from the Far East, with a special appeal for Japan because of its openness to the West and the idea that some traditional Japanese music carries with it a contemporary energy. The situation and attitude during this period were very different in relation to Communist China, ravaged by the ``Cultural Revolution'', as well as across the strait in Taiwan, who in response to the chaotic political climate engaged in a ``cultural renaissance movement'' against China. At the same time, South Korea was emerging from its post-war period.

For many years, my research has focused on the four principal categories of Asian cultural elements and the manners in which they are employed in composition. These musical, cultural and sociological analyses are aimed particularly at works by Asian composers who have been trained abroad as well as Western composers inspired by elements from distant cultures. Many Eastern and Western composers, such as Bright Sheng, Chou Wen-Chung, Tan Dun, Xu Yi, Wen De-Qing, Zhang Xiao-Fu and John Cage are inspired by the I Ching - Book of Changes. The composers of Chinese origin benefit from a ``double culture'' or interculturality, first in their native country with strong local musical tradition, then later trained in a musical educational system that has been totally Westernized since the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, with then further periods of study in the West. How can Chinese dualism operate in Western musical composition? How does philosophy emerge into a personal theoretical organization? Or does it go in the opposite direction - organization into philosophy? Can it be nourished from one to the other? How does the composer freely come and go between both the theory and the wisdom of the I Ching?

At the EMS 14 Conference in Berlin last June, I developed a cultural and musical analysis of the acousmatic work Yi : Etudes des 8 Elements, by the Taiwanese composer Wang Miao-Wen (1963), who demonstrates an ``anthropological cosmology'', or rather, a manner of thinking that implements analogous relationships between cosmos and human. She employs the teachings of Taoist wisdom amongst the philosophical systems in her internal listening and in her musical writing. For example, the sound sources recorded inside her house with 8 mundane objects of everyday life signify the 8 essential elements of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching, based on the dualist philosophy of Yin and Yang.

Here, I propose a new musical and cultural analysis of mixed music based on fundamental Taoist thought, by looking at two pieces, which are supported by this cosmological philosophy in their organization of instrumental and electroacoustic writing. The two composers, the Taiwanese Wang Wen-Miao (1963), and the Chinese Xu Yi (1963), each arrived in France at the same period to begin their study in composition at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, each with different professors. Later, they each successively met Gérard Grisey (1946-1998), who became the mentor for both women. While they share certain philosophical points on the I Ching, each composer employs a different interpretation in their musical language issue from the complex historical background of their two native countries during the last century.

Through a double notation - cultural and musical - I will also present the characteristics of their compositions which are theoretically and philosophically integrated with thought from the I Ching as a basis for musical parameters: range, rhythm, structure, timbre, spatial, relationship between instrument and electroacoustic, etc. In order to freely express the thought and language of these two composers, between the culture of the Far East and the writing of West, an analysis of a double-notation symbolically, gesturally, and musically ``decodified and recodified''2.8 will be introduced in the presentation.


... etc.,2.6
Apollinaire Anakesa Kululuka, L'Afrique subsaharienne dans la musique savante occidentale au XXe siècle, Paris, Connaissance et savoirs, 2007.
... Orientalism''2.7
John Corbett, ``Experimental Oriental: New Music and Other Others'', in Western Music and Its Others, Georgina.
... recodified''2.8
John Blacking, Music, Culture, and Experience: Selected Papers of John Blacking, University of Chicago Press, 1995.
adrian 2015-06-03