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JungGa (2009)

Concerto for Musette and Oboe and chamber ensemble

JungGa is a traditional singing technique practiced through out the literacy class in ancient Korea.

The essential elements of JungGa technique are the long notes embellished with the various types of ornaments and specific vibrato on the limited points. It is also important to note that the reoccurring straightforward rhythmic pattern, played by percussions, marks the clear form of song. Personally what attracted me the most are the graces notes in harmonics-like tones, thorough glissando and variety of embellishments before and after the primary notes.

Although JungGa technique refers to singing practice in Korean tradition, it was not hard to imagine these techniques being applied to instruments. While imagining the rich timbre of Korean double reed instrument such as Piri and TaePyongSoh, my interest started to connect the sounds and musical ideas to western instruments. While working with Ernest Rombout during other projects, I witnessed the possibility to expand these ideas to Oboe. As I learn more of Mr. Rombout's profound understanding of double reed instruments from other cultures and comprehension of music philosophy behind these types of music, I was convinced to pursue with my ideas. In JungGa for Musette and Oboe, therefore, I attempted to compose a piece where these non-western elements internally becomes the essence of musical subject, by utilizing the glissando, ornaments (graces notes), vibrato and formal ideas in systematic/organic manner, and treated the oboe as an extended vocalist.

On top of rhythmically rigid percussion, oboe sings its rather carefree solo at the beginning. This section appears two times further over 18 minutes. In each appearance, the oboe gradually incorporate the rhythmic pattern and the ensemble joins more actively. In between these rigid pillar sections, the music driven from the primary pitch set (pentatonic scale) and the secondary set (diminution of primary set) are juxtaposed. The melody and harmony composed from the diminution and the augmentation manifest the attempt of systematic approach of the microtonal ideas both in pitch and in timbral expansion.