Ho Wai-On 何蕙安 aka Ann-Kay Lin

Videos, score, comments

4 Songs in Chinese 聯篇曲

《聯篇曲》:《相思苦》,朱淑真《山查子》,李清照《声‭声慢》,李白《月下獨酌》

Bitter Taste of Love  ⁕  Haws  ⁕  Sounds Slowing  ⁕  Drinking Alone

1st, Bitter Taste of Love《相思苦》

On Choi May-Chu’s line art. I wrote the words (not good but fit the melody well)

第一首注重蔡美珠的線條加彩色畫。曲詞我寫,寫得一無是處但能配合旋律。

2nd, Haws 《山查子》

On Choi May-Chu’s watercolour/ ink painting. A popular poem by a woman poet (Song Dynasty) and obviously about an affair – a taboo subject then in China.

注重蔡美珠的的水墨水彩, 這首朱淑真詞,人人會背吧。

3rd, Sounds Slowing 《声声慢》

On Choi May-Chu’s traditional Chinese paintings and watercolour. The poem was by China’s most revered woman poet (Song Dynasty).

第三首注重蔡美珠的國畫和水彩。這首李清照詞如此有名,不用我多言了。

4th, Drinking Alone Under the Moon 月下獨酌(李白)

This is more on Choi May-Chu’s Chinese paintings and abstract art. The poem was by Li Bai (Tong Dynasty). His works were integrated in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Li Bai drowned trying to grasp the moon’s reflection in the river from his boat while drunk. 在第四首我比較注重蔡美珠國畫和抽象方面的。李白詩仙的詩,人所共知,不需要我介紹了。

The Score 樂譜

Audio recording of the proper Chinese pronunciation of the 4 poems, read by Jiang Hua (姜華), BBC Chinese Service 曲詞正確讀音:

Music Videos 音樂視頻

Performed by Nancy Yuen (soprano) and Philip Edwards (clarinet). Jane Webster narrates.

The 6 videos are not completely identical, even if there seem to be some repeats.

In 2017 my old classmate Choi May-Chu replied to my Christmas card with her painting of lotuses and herons. I liked the painting and it gave me the idea that I could use her artwork to create a music video for the Four Songs. May-Chu was supportive and sent me a DVD containing many of her artworks and photos, allowing freedom of modification. She also painted new works and took photos for me, and supplied inspiration, such as the shadow motif in the 4th song Drinking Alone. I included my own video clips to enhance motion. As it was her painting of lotuses that gave me the idea in the first place, I put emphasis on lotuses, and used a lotus photo by a former staff member of our old school, Mr Leung, as material for a moving lotus motif to contrast with May-Chu's.

There was much to consider: What May-Chu sent covers a long period of time and reflects her life, how was I to present them to show the beauty of her work at different times? Most of her paintings have nothing to do with my Four Songs, how was I to merge them with the music and words and to create movement? How was I to modify my videos clips and her photos to match the style of her artwork? Because of my health, I worked rather slowly.  I took time to look at what May-Chu sent me for inspiration. After a few months, I chose a group of colour sketches that seemed to be her earlier work, and added some motion and created the video of the first song Bitter Taste of Love.  I had no idea what to do with the 2nd song, so I uploaded the 1st song as May-Chu had waited for some time to see what I might do. She watched it and liked it. A few months later, I used her watercolour as the theme and completed the 2nd song Haws. A few months later, I put emphasis on her Chinese paintings and lotuses, merging with my video clips and completed the 3rd song Sound Slowing. Another few months, with the shadow motif and more abstract images and my video clips, the 4th song Drinking Alone was done. As this is actually a song cycle, I combined the four songs, one without narration, and one with. The complete four songs with narration is the one with all the visual materials of May-Chu and mine, and is musically complete expressing the pangs of love from feeling unease, to loss, to deepest sorrow, to deep loneliness. It's narrated by Jane Webster, an RAM alumna and award-winning mezzo whose career includes opera and West End musicals. As it is my story, in each song there is at least one image of me at that time.

Although May-Chu and I spent six years in the same school, we didn't do much together in school. When we reconnected in 2017, we are both much battered by the vicissitudes of life. She's in Taiwan and I am in the UK, and we communicate via emails. However, I remember her beauty, her charm and her talents. One can turn life's twists and turns into a piece of creative art to be appreciated.  

演出者: 女高音 阮妙芬,單簧管 菲臘愛德華氏, 珍韋斯特朗誦。

2017年我發出一些自製聖誕賀卡,真光同學蔡美珠回賀,是一幅她畫的《清荷羽白》,我很欣賞,覺得風味很適合配合我那四首一組的《联篇曲》做音樂視頻。視頻圖象是不停改變的,否則不能稱為視頻,圖像改變要配合音樂節奏和曲詞,需要很多圖像,很感謝蔡美珠支持和了解,寄給我一DVD,內有很多她各種不同風格的畫和攝影,容許我自由裁改,又有求必應的再加添,還特別為此畫了些新作和影了些相,又給我提供靈感,譬如第四首《月下獨酌》其中影子的變化,就是和美珠互動得到靈感的。我加入一些我影的視頻來增加動感,因爲是見到美珠畫的荷花而起了做這組音樂視頻的念頭,所以對荷花作了點特寫,還把一張真光前教職員梁熾恆先生影的荷花做素材,做成有動感的圖案與美珠的荷花相呼應, 既是我的故事,每首曲都有我在當時的型象。

但要考慮的太多了:美珠多年來的畫作,其中包含着她的人生,怎樣才能表現她不同時期作品的美好呢?大部份畫作與我作的《联篇曲》無關,怎樣才可以與音樂融合和産生動感呢?如何修改我影的和她影的去配合她畫作的風格呢?我多次經歷大症,影響了身体,做事慢手,我把美珠寄來的看了又看,想了又想,數月後選出一組似是較早期的顏色素描,畧加動化做成第一首《相思苦》的視頻,不知道什麼時候才能想通如何去做第二首,怕美珠久等,便先上傳了,美珠看了說喜歡。數月後以美珠水彩為主,再用軟件圖畫化和動化彼此影的做成第二首《山查子》。數月後以美珠國畫為主,加上彼此影的和梁生那張荷花相做成的圖案,做成第三首《声声慢》。又數月,用彼此影的和她為此畫的包括抽象型式的,和與她交流得到影子變化的靈感,做成第四首《月下獨酌》。這本是應該四首合成的組曲,先合成《联篇曲》無朗誦版,最後合成《联篇曲》有朗誦版,這個有朗誦版才是包括了所有美珠和我視覺材料和音樂的視頻

我和美珠雖然是中一開始做同學,在真光六年彼此接觸不是很多,到2017再聯絡時,彼此都已歷盡滄桑,而她在台灣我在英國,只能電郵交流,但我記得她的美麗,她的氣質,她深得褚遂良神韻的書法,她的靓畫。文藝創作可以把經歷過的人生波折昇華成為可以欣賞的美好。

Though the PDF score here is for soprano and clarinet, the songs can be sung by lower voices and accompanied by clarinet, cor anglais, flute or Chinese flute (see suggestions in the score).

This is a song cycle inspired by the pangs of love (also called Four Love Songs in Chinese). I wrote the words of the first song.  The rest are famous poems from the Song and Tang Dynasties. I wrote melodies inspired by the sound/meaning of the words. Though my professional musical training was Western Classical, as a small child in Hong Kong my first impression of music was Cantonese opera - a performer would modify the melody/rhythm according to the sound and meaning of the words, and the accompanying instrument flexibly imitates/follows the singing. I have heard free renditions of existing music (e.g., Purcell’s Dido and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons) by Western Classical musicians, but I have yet to come across free rendition as dominated by the lyrics. I think this might due to the importance of harmony in Western Classical – certain notes have to come together vertically at a certain time, while my song cycle was about two lines (vocal and instrumental) flowing freely horizontally. Though the songs sound Chinese pentatonic, there are notes outside the scale and glissandos. Pitch fluctuation and tuning outside the well-tempered scale is also a characteristic of the music I heard as a child. Traditional Chinese music in Western notation often looks simplistic and is not a true picture of the real sound. Perhaps the flexibilities in rendition…etc., as mentioned above, explain some of the reasons.

More info & cultural background: download Music is Happiness CD book in PDF format and see pp.16-21.

年輕時對愛情和友情有憧憬,真心去愛但說愛你的人卻傷害你,我對我最好的朋友非常好,她卻搬去我男朋友處住,太痛了,好一陣子感覺麻木,好像什麼都沒發生似的,在他/她而言,不過是遊戲,是自己蠢,把感情浪費在不懂珍惜的人上,多年後,這種傷痛成為作曲的靈感。這是一組四首的《聯篇曲》,第一首表達開始感覺不妙,第二首表達感到失落,第三首表達深深的傷痛,第四首孤苦地對酒當歌。第一首的曲詞是我寫的,這樣,曲調和用字可以互相遷就,但曲詞唱起來還可以,讀起來自己也覺得不行,其實很多唐宋詩詞更能貼切地道出我當時的感受,所以第二首曲詞用朱淑真《山查子》,第三首用李清照《声声慢》,第四首用李白《月下獨酌》。這些詩詞太美了,字不能更改,所以我是跟隨字音來作曲,寫出了中國味的曲調,不適合套上我在皇家音樂學院學的西方和聲伴奏,而我小時候接觸到的粵曲,由一件樂器自由地跟隨和模仿歌者曲調的伴奏型式在《聯篇曲》派上用埸了。我居住英國,本科和演出埸地屬西方古典音樂,在唱每首曲前誦頌曲詞英繹,這樣,不會中文的觀眾亦能欣賞,亦可能會引發他們對中國詩詞的興趣,以下視頻的誦頌者本身是位歌唱家。雖然四首曲可個別演出,但四首連貫一起聽才能完全領會到我那番經歷。

FOUR SONGS IN CHINESE no narration《聯篇曲》 無朗誦版

FOUR SONGS IN CHINESE with narration《聯篇曲》有朗誦版

This version is meant for a concert setting with an English speaking audience.

Comments:

"Just had a look/listen to your ' Drinking Alone ' piece.  It's an interesting amalgam of the images, voice and music. The voice has a distinctive sound but I don't know enough to understand it fully sort of chino-operatic. Please forgive me if that is totally sacrilegious - but I do like that haunting sound   combined with those cosmic images".    Vivien Finch, Suffolk and Essex coastal dweller, music amateur, teacher, memoir writer and London JP... charities: Canine Partners, Medical Detection Dogs (making huge strides in cancer detection) and Dogs Trust (biggest rescue and re-home charity in UK)


"At long last I had uninterrupted time to look at the paintings and listen to the video - all of it is utterly sublime and words cannot describe it.  The haunting sounds of the clarinet echo humanity’s need to forget, to reach beyond itself and ultimately to transcend.  It’s so beautiful."   Christa Darragh, former neighbour, studied German Language & Literature at Birkbeck College, founder of poetry groups in Wanstead, Warminster and Towcester.

Comments:

This week is hectic but I just took a moment off to watch your video which I think is very beautiful, both music and words, although I am sure the words are more evocative in Chinese than a rather mundane translation. “   Margaret Morley (see above)

Now, most important. I absolutely loved Sounds Slowing  - the music, the imagery and language. Taken as a whole, it is beautiful - but beautifully morose and bleak.  Always a paradox. Vivien Finch (see above)

At the bottom of this page is the earliest recording of this work for soprano and cor anglais performed by Kathryn Harries and Jane Mitchell.

The Earliest Recording of 4 Songs in Chinese

It was for soprano and Cor Anglais and sung by the Welsh soprano Kathryn Harries and accompanied by Jane Mitchell. This is a very old recording, the sound has deteriorated a bit and may not do them both full justice. I was impressed by Kathryn's willingness to sing in Chinese which was unusual at the time. When I first heard the recording I was impressed by the purity of her voice that reminded me of early music and seemed very apt for this particular work. Later on Kathryn Harries made a very successful operatic career including singing Wagnerian repertoire.

I may upload other recordings by other sopranos singing various combinations when I can find/restore performances by Nancy Zi and Pamela Ryker (flute), Lisa Nolan with Geoffrey Elkan (clarinet), and one for soprano with Chinese flute.

以下是我作的《聯篇曲》最早的録音,由威爾斯女高音嘉芙蓮夏里氏用國語唱,珍美曹氏伴以英國管,那時候在英國罕見非華裔的音樂家肯花時間學國語來演唱的,後來她成為成功的歌劇演唱家,包括唱華格納歌劇的女主角,這録音帶受到時間侵蝕,有點變質了。還有其他的録音:香港女高音徐美芬(由笛子伴奏),澳洲女高音麗莎諾蘭唱的,和有用中國簫伴奏的,能找到和修復再上傳吧。

Comments: 評語:"剛欣賞兩位好同學的真情互動作品,美妙之至!無論曲、畫、歌聲、朗誦均妙絶!詳細的述說我也拜讀過兩次,作品的完成實在不簡單,從中可見兩位的經歴和感受! "  — 黃國凱,真光校友和前國文教師,中國信徒佈道會合約編輯

"Your music is so beautiful, although I don't have musical cells but I do appreciate it very much. 聴到耳油都出来, 無得頂! 你对音樂實在很有才華. You and 蔡美珠各有不同的天份, 但合作得很投入, 彼此有共鳴, 好難得呀! 我們真有福, 可以有机会欣賞你俩的傑作精品."  — E.B., Hong Kong True Light Middle School alumna 真光同學

Comment:

The songs are so melancholy, they have left me feeling quite subdued!

Margaret Morley, RAM alumna, sister of John David Morley.