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华彩乐章|Havoc in Heaven Symphony Orchestra and Chinese musical instrument

It’s 3:30 in a Thursday afternoon during December 2011. I arrived at Dr. RogerBriggs’s placeto begin my weekly composition lesson. I just finished composing my symphonicErRenZhuanJoy and Prosper Overture. Roger invited me to learning Poly Chordal after I’m done with studying 12 tone serialism and Sets, the two primary contemporary composition methods. And this triggers the birth of Havoc in Heaven. This music practices a number of Western classical, Chinese traditional and Western contemporary knowledge and method. For better understanding, I would like to give some background orientation to contemporary music before I refer them to this music. 

Western music advances hugely in quality every 500 years. From early music development since 1000 AD, to the Baroque music during 1600, music changed from single melody to poly melody. Then it’s followed by the classical music period during 1750, romantic period during the 1810 to 1920, lastly there came the contemporary music period in the 20th century. According to this historical pattern, we are in another 500 years cycle, what could our music become? This is an answer that’s been rigorously sought by numerous contemporary musicians. Classical music period includes the past few centuries from 1600 to the present. However, musicians have never stopped exploring new music. 

There are two influential figures in the 20th century music history. The first one is Austrian Jewish Arnold Schoenberg. He advocated 12-tone method of composition and formed a circle that explored new composition technique. Composition in the past mostly relies on the musician’s nature. This is called Tonal, such as major and minor are all developed according to Tonal. Schoenberg’s 12-tone method is more like a systematic matrix. The development of this musical matrix unrolls according to certain format and turns into a full composition. This process is different from the past composition method in its quality because the composing is no longer pivoting around Tonal. Many sub-branches derivated from this theory and one of them is Atonal. 

Let me clarify myself here. Because Schoenberg’s music no longer pivots around a tone, his music is already “atonal”. But for the convenience of this discussion, we only call those who study music without tones atonal musicians. Their study might be very profound, but just like music theorist Dmitri Tymoczko (A Geometry of Music, Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice, Oxford University Press, 2011) pointed out that if one make music too obscure to understand is nothing better than create music with no knowledge about it. When Schoenberg was in Germany pursuing new music, his circle was prosecuted by the Nazi government as heresy, so they had to furtively hold their concert. Schoenberg continued pursuing his new music dream after he escaped Germany for America.  

The second influential figure is Russian musician Igor Stravinsky. I would like to emphasis his work Rite of Spring. He was commissioned by a Paris Bally group to compose for a new show. He couldn’t come up with any ideauntill the last few days to deadline. He woke up into a state of creativity explosion which he was inspired by his dream. The show was debuted in Paris on May 29th, 1913.  Because the music is way too intense and the costume of the dancers are too revealing to be acceptable for the audience at that time, the show triggered chaos in the audience and many of them even threw their chairs toward the stage. Nonetheless, Stravinsky gained unexpected fame after this show and his Rite of Spring became one of the most influential music in the 20th century. So what is the difference between this music and the music from the past? The biggest difference is that this music is poly melodies whereas the old music is single melody. In singlemelody, one chord consists of two to four or usually three notes. But in this music, Stravinsky overlaid multiple independent chords together. Many of them are dissonance in classical music. They are possible going to be unwanted in many of our modern audience, so the audience in Paris a hundred years ago was expected to be disgusted even more by this.  

We have an idea about the two musicians. Now let’s talk about why contemporary music development is so important. As the society advances with a better diversity, demand for music from the society has increase too. The music from the past can no longer satisfies the emotional and sensational need of contemporary society. In another hand, the music development is tightly related to the social changes. For instance, the model of assembly lines in western industrialization during 19th century was highly visible in symphony composition and rehearsal. That is, symphony and industrialization grow on the same pace. Similar, compositional method of symphony music is very alike to scientific scholar essay. From the past experience, we conclude that creativity guaranties advancement. The motivation of the creativity comes from the entire society and the broader environment. A good example would be the grants awarded to musicians from Canadian government each year to encourage new musical work. There is a joke about two musicians. One of them tries all his best to make the music sounds good, but his music sounds a little similar to classical music, so he never gets the grant. The other musician, he takes the already known music and copies it backward which makes the music sounds odd and obscure. The second musician always gets the grant because they sound different and new. The story maybe exaggerated, but it reflects the governments of western countries’ intention of cultivating new creativity and breaks the convention. This demonstrates the importance of greater societal environment influences creativity and advancement. There is also an old Chinese proverb saying that if one always has the nostalgia state of mind, it means that this person is old either mentally or physically. If a society is always looking back at its good old days, it’s hard to advance the society 

I had to set a frame, outline and theory foundation before I started composing Havoc in Heaven. I believe a work without a breakthrough in theory is mediocre. The complicity come from the poly melodies system. It is as complicated as 3D geometry in mathematic. In comparison, the singlemelody in classical music is like 2D geometry, and thus it is way easier. Composer in the past can easily imagine how their work will sounds like with single melody method. However, it is almost impossible to do so in poly melodies composition. From my understanding, if we use mathematic as reference, single melody music is liner one dimension.  And the classical music in the past with single melody is the two dimension geometry. WhatIm doing right now is to build the three dimensional geometry. It’s hard to solve the problem with eyes like in two dimension geometry, I have to rely on formulas. Therefore I made some baselines for myself to follow. Because poly melodies involve many chords, I can only find similar situation in Jazz music. Jazz music is very well developed in theory after many years of evolution. Many Jazz instruments can excel beyond the frame set by classical music as long as the restricted notes donot appear in certain chord. This restriction is in fact quite lenience compare to classical music, or it is not even a restriction at all. Therefore, I borrowed these features in Jazz music.  
I followed the same structure of traditional symphony and divided the music into four movements. Yet the content and the format differ my music from the classic. My first, third and fourth movements are contemporary, but the second movement starts with traditional Chinese element and eventually develop into contemporary music. It is a combination between classic and contemporary. I also integrated Schoenberg’s 12-tone method and Stravinsky’s Poly Chordal system. Together I used three chordal systems. I also incorporated many other derived system such as Atonal and Sets. I don’t follow the methods completely. My idea is to partially allow some “tone”. Because I feel like (Maybe I will change my mind in the future) that the existence and evolution of mankind must based on some pattern. Our human nature’s appreciation and sensational enjoyment is based on tones, these are unbreakable limitations. Only very few “superman” can appreciate absolute atonal music. People can appreciate atonal in some specific situation like extreme grief and rage, or the background music in horror movie, etc. In these situations beautiful tones are odd. Besides that, my second movement uses classical music chordal system to code with the unique Chinese folk melody. These includes the first part Chinese “Han royal dance” (from my imagination), the second part is Chinese “Korean ethnic group dance”, and the third part is Chinese Mongolian ethnic dance. The fourth part is modern dance music. Melody is a variation of the previous three part. But chord is built basing on classical chord with two independent chords.  
     The first movement introduction starts with one horn and one flute rising series of simple music from different direction, like the rising sun on the horizon. All of a sudden, the waves are rolling, mountains are shaking. This is played by string instruments with fast and fluctuating tones, as well as trumpet, brass, woodwind instruments. This leads to a trumpet solo, announcing the birth of Monkey king. Following that, timpani introducecello, bass, and trumpet, proclaiming Monkey King to the world.  

The second movement demonstrates Monkey King is having a good time in Heaven. The Jade Emperor listens to the Great god of Tai Bai gives Monkey King a meaningless title as “Protector of Horses” and “Great Sage equal of Heaven” to pacify Monkey King.  Monkey King is completely fooled and thinks he got a very important position in the heaven so he is very delighted. He watches dances of the fairies with the Jade Emperor. The dance picks up the speed from the slow Royal dance to faster Korean ethnic dance, and forward into the Mongolian horse racing dance, like the Jade Emperor is examing his royal horses.  Finally, the dance reaches its climax, the modern dance. The music here becomes fast modern beat, and poly melodiess system to demonstrate all kind of creatures including human, god, animal and elf dancing frantically.  

The third movement is “battling the soldiers from heaven”. Chinese Zheng(Zither) plays the 12-tone in order to reflect the tranquil before the big chaos. After that, string instrument uses 12-tone method and the music after being tweaked by tone matrix. Brass and woodwind accompanied by poly melodies system with Pipa in between, depict the many collisions between Monkey King and Soldiers from Heaven. In the end, Monkey King is defeated and captured.  

The Fourth movement “rebirth” talks about Monkey King is tightened up on a pole waiting to be executed. ErHu expresses the grief emotion. Oboe, horn, and clarinet’s single solo comes up one by one, reflects Monkey King’s calmness because he has already gain an unbreakable body through practice. Old Boiler Man puts Monkey King in his boiling pot for forty-night days to turn him into an immortality pill. Although I still used the same musical method but I added minimalism in Modern music to describe the concept of forty-nine days of boiling Monkey King. Changing tone in classical music is achieved through changing melody and chord. Minimalism is like calculus in mathematic. Everything can be integrated. The numbers before and after integration are equal in Calculus any time because these numbers could be infinitely small. However, in two macro moment in the changing process, the sum is too big to be neglected. Here, from ppp, pp, p, mp, mf, ff, to fff, every repetition raise half key unobservable. Without a notice, the key has already raised 5 keys when the boiler had done its job. Shockingly, not only monkey king is not boiled, he jumps out of the pot and beats up the Old Boiler Man. At this point, he hears the bells ringing. Chimes play the 12-tone completely. In Chinese culture, bells ringing means retrieve in a battle and Chimes ringing also have a hint of peace. Thus from all aspect, Chimes is an appropriated appearance, giving a calming feeling after the battle.  

Through this work, I come to the conclusion that poly melodies have demonstrated that modern electrical music effect is in fact based on theory. We all have the experience when we feel the sound effect in the movie theater is powerful, strong and vibrant. I consider poly melodies in the symphony played an important role. Two other imposing chords enhance and accentuate the frequent vibration of the main chord. Of course this is my guess. From the process of composing this work I have another idea. The music can be separated into three independent pieces. Therefore this music can be played by three independent orchestras at the same time, and same place to achieve a better effect. Perhaps the three orchestras can all be positioned on the stage, or they can be at 120 degree angles of each other and surround the audience.  





201112月的一个星期四下午3:30pm,我按时来到了我的老师Roger Briggs博士家,来上我的每周一次的作曲课。我刚刚完成了我的交响二人转,序曲《龙腾虎跃》作曲。Roger对我说,你已经学了12平均律序列(12 tone serialism)和集调(Sets)这两种主要的现代作曲手段,再尝试一下Poly Chordal(多和声)如何?这就是写作这部作品的起因。这部作品应用了很多西方古典、中国民族的、和西方现代音乐的知识和手段。在介绍这部作品之前,我想首先要介绍一些现代音乐的一些背景知识,以便帮助理解。 




20世纪初有两个音乐家对音乐的发展起到了也许是最重要的影响。第一个是奥地利的犹太人Arnold Schoenberg(勋伯格)。他提出并发展出12平均律序列的作曲理论,并组成了一个小圈子,探索新的作曲方法。过去的作曲基本上是作曲家靠感性,想到什么旋律,去发展,也是调性音乐(Tonal),比如大调、或小调,曲子始终是围绕着调性转。勋伯格的理论是靠12平均律的一个体系,更像是一个数学的代数矩阵。而后靠着这个音符矩阵,以一定的格式去展开、发展而作曲。这个过程就和过去的作曲方法有质的差别,因为作曲不再围绕着" (Tonal)转。于是从这个理论里,又派生出、或冉生出其它一些分支(我这么叫)。其中就有无调性Atonal)音乐。这里我需要说明一下。其实从勋伯格的理论发展出来的本来就是无调性,因为不再以调为中心。但是为了讨论的方便,我们把 ”无调性Atonal)音乐保留给那一派作曲家,他们专门研究如何把音乐做成没调。他们的研究可能非常深奥。但是正如音乐理论家Dmitri TymoczkoA Geometry of Music, Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice, Oxford University Press, 2011)指出的用各种深奥的理论把音乐做得让人没法听和不会作曲而把音乐做得没法听,二者有什么区别?勋伯格当时在德国的时候为了追求新音乐,小圈子要在地下偷偷摸摸的搞音乐会,因为纳粹政府是不允许搞新音乐的,认为这是离经叛道的。他后来逃来美国继续新音乐的研究。 


第二个音乐家是俄国的Igor Stravinsky(斯特拉文斯基)。我要谈的是他的春之祭Rite of Spring)。他是受巴黎的一家芭蕾舞团的委约为一出新的芭蕾舞写配乐。据说他苦思冥想,没有主意。直到还剩下几天了,他从睡梦中得到启示。起床就写,一气呵成。该剧于1913529日在巴黎首演。由于音乐太过激烈,还有演员穿着也暴露过多,造成观众几乎暴乱。有观众拔起座椅砸向舞台和乐池。此后,从前默默无闻的斯特拉文斯基名声鹊起。他的春之祭成为对二十世纪音乐创作最有影响力的一部作品之一。那么,这部作品和以前的音乐作品有什么不同之处呢?它的最大的不同于此前的音乐之处是它的多和声(Poly Chordal)体系。此前的音乐都是单和声体系。即每一个和声一般是由二个至四个,通常是三个音符组成。而他的这部作品则在同一时刻用了至少两个相互独立的和声,有时甚至是三个独立的和声叠加在一起。按古典音乐理论很多不属于和声体系的不和谐音加入进了和声体系。可以想像即使是在现代,我们有些观众,(尤其是中国音乐里本来就没有和声的概念,只是单旋律),连单和声里有的非传统的不和谐音都不习惯,可以理解在当时100年前的法国人,认为这是离经叛道的魔鬼之音,无法忍受。 


好 了,两个音乐家都介绍了,他们打下的基础对现代交响音乐的发展起到了非常重要的影响。接下来我们需要探讨一下发展现代音乐为什么如此重要?一方面,随着人 类社会的发展进步,人类社会越来越趋于多元化,人类对音乐的需求也越来越多样化。过去已有的音乐形式、和形态已不能满足人们的感情和感官需要。另一方面, 音乐的发展可能确实跟社会发展有着紧密相关的联系。比如,19世 纪西方现代工业,尤其是大规模集成化生产,就跟交响乐创作和排练演出的模式几乎如出一辙,交响乐几乎跟工业同步发展。而交响乐的写作格式跟科学研究论文的 写法几乎一致。以古喻今,要想继续保持领先的地位,就要不断地创新。而这个创新动力则是来自于整个社会的结构和大环境的推动。因此,政府也必须支持文化创 新,即使文化跟工业和科技并非直接联系。比如,据我所知,加拿大政府每年都要拿出很多经费给音乐家们,让他们创作新音乐。据说有两个作曲家,一个老是把音 乐写的好听一些,有点像古典的旧音乐,老拿不到经费。而另一位,老是把一些现成的作品拿过来,倒着抄一遍,听起来很费力、难听,交上去就能申请到经费,因为它看着新颖、怪异。这当然有夸张和开玩笑的嫌疑,但是它准确无误地反映了西方政府是在切实的鼓励作曲家们打破常规和传统,勇于创新。我想文化创 新的重要性在于创造这么一种社会大环境,让人们不要安于现状,要勇敢的标新立异,这样才能制造一个追新的社会大环境,才有利于科技的发展和创新,国家才能 立于不败之地。我们中华文化里不是也有这么一种说法吗,如果一个人老是怀旧,止步不前,那么这个人要么就是身体老了,要么就是心态衰老了。如果一个社会, 人们都老是处于怀旧的情绪下,心态衰老,就会影响到科技发展的停滞不前,导致社会和国家的落后。 


在创作《大闹天宫》这部作品过程中,我首先必须给自己制定一个框架、大纲,确定理论基础。我坚信,没有理论上的突破,作品是无法有突破的,然后就是生产出一部平庸的作品。从另一方面来讲,先设定理论的重要性还在于现在要面对的是多和声体系,非常复杂。 其复杂程度堪比数学领域里的立体几何,而古典音乐里的单和声体系与之相比就像是平面几何,简单的多。过去的古典和声的单一体系,作曲家可以从感官上靠直觉 去想象它的效果,然而现在要做的多和声体系已经超出了我们人类靠感官来直接想象它的能力。我的理解,如果以数学作为参照系,过去的单一古典音乐和声体系是 二维的平面几何,而现在我要做的就是三维的空间立体几何。在三维空间立体几何里,除非是在非常特定条件下,解题必须要靠理论公式,而很难像解二维平 面几何那样靠眼睛观察,感觉来解问题。因此,我先给自己制定了一些规则,在作曲过程中必须遵守。因为多和声体系涉及到多个音,而能够找到类似情况的就只有 爵士乐。爵士乐经过这么多年的发展,已经有了一套成熟的理论。在爵士乐里,常常有独奏乐器可以远远超出古典音乐和声的框架随意发挥,只要几个限制音不在特 定和声中出现就可以。而这个限制比起古典和声的限制来说,是非常宽松的,或者说根本就不算限制。因此,在这个作品中,我借鉴了爵士乐的这些规则。 


在这部作品中,我采用了四个乐章的结构。这和迄今为止的古典交响乐的章节是一致的。但是,不同的是内容和格式的不同。具体来说,我的第一、第三、和第四乐章用了现代的新音乐的手法,而第二乐章却是从古典开始,并且中国元素非常明显,逐渐过渡到现代音乐,是古典与现代的结合。在乐曲中我把勋伯格的12平均律序列的作曲理论和斯特拉文斯基的多和声(Poly Chordal)体系融合到了一起,我是用了三个和声系的叠加。同时在作品里也加入了其它的派生体系,如无调性,和集调(Sets)。但不是完全照搬,有我自己的想法。我的想法是用这些现代的手法,但是,允许乐曲局部的有调性,因为我感觉,人类的存在与发展必定有一定的天道可遵循,而人类可接受的、并欣赏的感知听觉是建立在调性上的,这也许是我们人类的、特定属性的、也许是无法突破的天然局限。存无调性音乐也许是属于极少数的可能存在于人类之中的灵性类人所能够欣赏的。人类在某种非常特定的条件下也许可以接受并欣赏 “无调性音乐。比如在极度悲伤、愤怒情绪下,可以接受完全不和谐的音乐,或者如在恐怖电影里制造的恐怖音乐等等,而在此种条件下,美丽的音乐反而是不和谐的、不合适的。除此之外,我在第二乐章,整个用了古典音乐的和声体系来配非常中国特色旋律的民族音乐。这包括第一段中国汉族宫廷舞蹈(当然这是我想象的),第二段中国 ”朝鲜族舞蹈音乐,和第三段中国蒙古族舞蹈音乐。第四段是现代舞音乐。旋律是从跟前三段同一源泉演变而来,但是和声体系是在古典和声基础上,叠加了另外二个独立的和声。 


第一乐章引子一 只圆号和一只长笛从不同的方向演奏着简单的序列音乐,仿佛旭日在海平面上冉冉升起。弦乐则在下面演奏着简单的节奏型,似乎海潮拍打着海滩。很是平静无奇。 突然,海浪翻滚,感觉地动山摇。这段是由弦乐演奏快速、却又起伏的旋律,配以小号的点缀,和其它铜管和木管的配合来表现的。尔后,引出小号独奏,宣告猴王 诞生。接下来,定音鼓引出低音弦乐,又在低音弦乐里引出小号独奏,猴王公告世界。 


第二乐章 “齐天大圣” 表现的是猴王在天宫里度过的欢快的时光。玉皇大帝采信太白金星的建议,为了不引起猴王不满而肇事,封了猴王一个弼马温的官职和 “齐天大圣” 空名号。弼马温” 就是养天马的马夫。猴王不明就里,以为他的官很大,非常高兴。陪着玉皇大帝看天庭的仙女翩翩起舞。舞蹈从缓慢的宫廷舞蹈(汉族的),逐渐加快,先是斑斓的少数民族朝鲜族舞蹈,再加快到蒙古族赛马舞让玉皇大帝检阅马温圈养的欢快的天马。最后,舞蹈达到高潮的现代舞。音乐也随之变成现代的快节奏、多和声的复合音乐体系,以表现各种各样的生灵,包括人,神,仙,及各种动物和精怪疯狂起舞。 
第三乐章 “大战天兵,古筝以中国的特色音色把这部作品的基调12平均律序列按循序演奏一遍,以表示天庭的大战前的宁静。而后,弦乐演奏以12平均律序列手段、通过音符矩阵处理过的音乐,而铜管和木管伴以多和声体系,期间有琵琶加入,表现猴王与天兵天将的混战多个会合。最后,猴王被擒。 


第四乐章浴火重生猴王被绑在缚妖柱上,等待被处死,二胡奏出了悲怅的情绪。双簧管,圆号,和单簧管的单一音色逐次表现了猴王却不在乎和宁静的心情,由于猴王已经修炼成不死的身躯。太上老君要用他的八卦炉把猴王炼化七七四十九天,以炼成长生不老仙丹。这里,我继续用弦乐演奏以12平均律序列手段、通过音符矩阵处理过的音乐,而铜管和木管伴以多和声体系。但是这里我引用了现代音乐的一个极简minimalism概念来描述七七四十九天八卦炉炼化猴王的过程。在古典音乐中,变调是通过旋律与和声运行,逐渐引导调性变化而达成的。而 “极简化则 很类似于高等数学里微积分的原理。万物皆可被微分至无限小。那么在微分过程中的任意时刻,变化物体的量和前一微分时刻的量可以宏观地看成是相等的,因为微 分的量是无限小的。但是,如果在变化过程中的两个宏观时刻,由可以乎略的每一微分时刻所产生的变化微量积分而产生的总变量则是足够大而不可被忽视的。这 里,从ppp,到pppmpmffff,到fff,每次重复,升高半调,令人不觉。在不知不觉中,等到炼完开炉时,调子已经升高了五度。猴王令人震惊的跳出炉外,把老君府打个西巴烂。但是这时,猴王听到了钟声。编钟把12平均律序列完整的敲了一遍。编钟应该是画龙点睛之笔。在中华文化里,有鸣金收兵之说。另一方面,钟声在音乐里也有表示和平的意思。无论从哪一方面论,我都认为,编钟出现在这里来结束本曲是非常好的立意,让人有一种从纷乱的打斗中,立刻心安的一种感觉。 

     通过这次演奏这部作品,我感觉多和声体系似乎验证了现代电子音响效果是有理论基础的。我们都有这种体验,电影院里的电影音乐(sound track)很强大,有力,震撼。我的直觉是多和声体系在交响乐里起到了这个效果。两个另外叠加的和声助长了主和声的发挥,也许引起了主和声周边的音频振动、振荡,并且这个振动趋向于渲染和加强主和声的 音响效果。当然,这只是我的一种猜想。从这个作曲过程,我又有另外一个想象。因为这个总谱理上是可以写成三个独立的总谱的,每一个和声体系单独构成一份独 立的总谱。那么,这个作品就可以由三个独立的交响乐团在同一时刻、在同一场地、同时演出,效果也许会更好。也许三个交响乐团都在一个台上。或者另一种可能三个交响乐团在三个成120度角的外围方位上,而观众则在中间。

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