1. Background, Conception, Missing Info & A Little Disappointment
2. CD Music & Book (PDF files & audio/video) & Promo Images
3. Comments & My Responses
4. Dr David Tong Remembered & Songs of the Travellers
Music is Happiness is a CD of my music, and a 64-page book written and designed by me (CD cover & book cover design by Albert Tang) containing related stories, poems and more than 200 illustrations. The music is performed by excellent musicians. The Chinese character for 'Music' (see left) also means 'Happiness'. In the face of adversity, I have found happiness through creativity. In the eight selected works reflecting my bumpy journey of life, the music is very varied. The book can be read on its own or with the CD.
A Brief Description of the Music 音樂簡介:
THE PERFORMERS 演出者
Nancy Yuen soprano
Jane Webster narrator
Rowland Sutherland piccolo/flute/alto flute/Chinese flute
Lucy Cartledge flute
Joseph Sanders oboe
Philip Edwards clarinet
Glyn Williams bassoon
Roger Montgomery horn
Nicolas Hooper guitar
Helena Brown harpsichord
Vivian Choi piano
Neil Heyde cello
Nathaniel Bartlett marimba
Teddy Bergstrom xylophone/vibraphone
Alex Brangwyn timpani/percussion
Child singers from Redbridge & Walthamstow
THE MUSIC 音樂
SAKURA VARIATIONS 櫻花変奏 for cello & harpsichord
Five variations on the well-know Japanese folk song "Cherry Blossom" with Baroque influence and the music was written in the Japanese pentatonic scale. The Japanese koto influenced the harpsichord writing.
For more info see CD book pages 13-15.
FOUR LOVE SONGS IN CHINESE 聯篇曲 for soprano & clarinet
Aka FOUR SONGS — Bitter Taste of Love, Haws, Sounds Slowing, Drinking Alone Under the Moon — a song cycle on the pangs of love.
The first poem was by me. The others are famous poems of the Song & Tang Dynasties. The melody was inspired by the sound and meaning of the words, and written mainly in the Chinese pentatonic scale.
For more info see CD Book pages 16-21
PERMUTATION 排列变化 for oboe, clarinet, horn & piano
I used the computer to work out the permutations of a set of numbers that represents a set of chosen notes for the recurring haunting theme that's like a distorted hymn. I wrote this piece while suffering from the depression that
followed cancer. I saw past-present-future like colourful montages... I told my cancer consultant how I felt at the time, and he wrote the poem to be narrated before the music.
For more info read CD book pages 22-23.
TAI CHI 太極 for flute & guitar
Depicts Yin & Yan, and the movements of Tai Chi, with some influences from Chinese and Japanese instrumental sounds. Poem for narration before music by .
For more info read CD book pages 24-26.
TO YOU 情信 for soprano & piano
Song without words like a letter to a loved one of the past, with some nuance of Indian instrumental music.
For more info read CD book pages 27-30.
FAREWELL MY BELOVED ― Impression of a Chinese Opera
霸王別姬 for clarinet & (optional) narrator
Better known as IMPRESSION OF AN OPERA and has many versions, this is a composition inspired by my impression of a well-known Peking opera know to the West as Farewell My Beloved. In my own way, I tried to capture the dramatic atmosphere, the singing, stylised speech and movements of such a performance.
For more info read CD book pages 30-37.
BULLDOZERS, OLD HOUSE & OLD BANYAN
鏟泥機、老屋、老榕樹 for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon & piano
Aka BULLDOZERS VS OLD BANYAN
The music is in the style of Western Classical and was first written for a modern dance inspired by the story of an old house embedded in a huge banyan tree in Hong Kong's New Territories. The choreography depicts the banyan tree weave its branches round the old house to protect it from
being demolished by bulldozers, thus defying the developers. This version is more music-oriented but the dance element still can be felt.
For more info see CD book page 38-41.
MAGIC BANYAN TREE 神奇老榕樹 for soprano, piccolo/flute/alto flute/ Chinese flute, bassoon, marimba, xylophone/vibraphone, timpani/ percussions & child singers.
Music for family enjoyment, drawing on Cantonese and Western early music, recalling my childhood memory of village life in Hong Kong's New Territories.
For more info read CD book pages 38-39 & 42-46.
Promotional Materials designed by me
click image to enlarge
Music is Happiness
CD & book
Updated 22 Jan 1月22日更新
MUSIC IS HAPPINESS is a CD and a book, and produced after I survived cancer for the second time. There was much information to be included in this complicated project. Apart from feeling tired and unwell at the time, I also had to deal with a prolonged and dreadful situation worse than cancer... unwittingly some information was missing. I therefore include it here:
The poems preceding the music of Permutation and Tai Chi were by the late Dr David Tong (scroll down to see my tribute).
The narration of Farewell, My Beloved ― Impression of a Chinese Opera was much edited by the late Professor Brian Trowell.
I am sure the poem preceding the music of Sakura Variations was also much edited by Mark Argent as I tend to write simple and austere English in prose.
Living most of my life in the UK, I have come across all sorts of assumptions about ethnic Chinese people, and not necessarily from English people. Many pieces included on the CD have some cross-cultural influence. The writing, design and illustrations of the accompanying book were meant to promote greater understanding of (or at least some interest in) cross-cultural creation for English-speaking people. However, apart from positive responses, there have been some responses that seem laughable but also upsetting. These give me the impression that assumptions are more difficult to tackle than prejudice, as racial prejudice would stand out and be recognised as a personality flaw, while assumptions are so widespread and unnoticed that most people are not even aware that they have them.
Here are just some examples:
The book is about 99.9% in English. Just because there are a few Chinese characters in the book, some people on seeing them would say that they couldn't read Chinese and would give the book to a Chinese person that they know ‒ i.e., they assumed the book is not for them.
As for the music on the CD, I have heard many times that people assumed that what I included was Chinese music. The fact is I have no training in any form of Chinese music. The musical training I had was Western Classical and electronic music (now called electro-acoustic music). Also, the music of Sakura Variation was based on a Japanese folk song; Permutation was influenced by computer music and written in the style of contemporary Classical; To You was my impression of Indian and pop music; and Bulldozers, Old House & Old Banyan was Western Classical.
1. BACKGROUND, CONCEPTION, MISSING INFO & A LITTLE DISAPPOINTMENT
2. CD MUSIC & BOOK (PDF files & audio/video) & PROMO IMAGES