Next month, I’ll be travelling to Thailand to create a new piece as composer-in-residence at Burapha University’s Music and Performance Arts International Festival 2015. I’ll be working with four young talented Thai classical musicians – a singer, a Saw Dueang or upright fiddler player, a Khlui or flute player, and a percussionist.
We’ll be collaboratively creating a new piece I’ve entitled The Nature of Silence, that’s inspired by a gorgeous description I heard from meditation teacher Neil Hamill about two qualities of silence you might experience in meditation. He described the first as a flowing, pulsing silence (like waves on the ocean) and the second as an immovable, all-encompassing silence (like the experience of viewing scenary from a mountain top). What I loved about Neil’s description is how he related these experiences to that of being in nature – such as sailing on the ocean and hiking. After all, being in nature and meditating are different paths to the same source – that deep reserve of inner stillness.
The process of creating this piece is going be very different from my composing-business-as-usual. In this project, the musicians I will be working with do not read western musical notation (traditional Thai classical music has it’s own notation system). That means I will need to develop other ways of communicating my ideas. I expect there will be a lot of singing, miming involved and perhaps some pictures too!
I’m hoping by shaking up my process, something new and wonderful might come about.
One of things I love about Thai Classical Music is the way singer and instruments seem to weave around a shared melody, each with their own slight variations. I hope this rich tradition of melody writing will rub off on my musical writing.
My new piece The Nature of Silence will be premiered on 13 February 2015 at the Jam – Contemporary Music, Young Asian Musicians Connection concert at Burapha University. I hope to have a recording that I can share with you.