Music making is not only an incredibly intricate and complex process due to the many multi-dimensional elements and aspects it often involves, but also in how it can potentially help shed light on the trajectories of an artist’s own gradual evolution and transformation. A thorough understanding of any artist’s catalogue will inevitably highlight unique changes that help outline the incredibly valuable importance associated with the relationship between the music maker and the music-making process, and the music itself. In conventional terms, these can be assessed and examined with even the simplest potential artistic changes, such as an artist’s decision to shift the general genre or theme of their music at any certain point in their career. Regarding the contemporary music scene, this is often referred to as a stylistic and music-making skill change that can be applied to a range of different artists and musicians who have gradually or rapidly changed their approach to music-making at a certain point in their career. Having said that, changes in artistic approach and thematic choices can also be reflected in other areas of the music-making process. For example, three works of my research can also showcase clear signs of stylistic change, which can potentially affect everything from the melodic and harmonic elements to the choice of instruments and their roles, to the specific characteristics of the composition. Throughout this relatively comprehensive research assessment, score analysis and artist-based study, the notion of artistic development and transformation will be examined with relation to a number of different aspects associated with the music-making process. By examining three of the most popular musical scores written by Chinese-American composer, conductor and pianist Bright Sheng, this research assessment will explore the relationship between the music-making process, and the personal, professional and sociocultural elements associated with the music maker.
Bright Sheng’s writing for brass instruments can be portrayed as intriguing to pay attention to as a crowd of people part, and frequently hard to play as entertainers. This paper, through interviews with Bright Sheng himself and examination of his music is expected to give entertainers and audience more prominent understanding of both the foundation behind his composition, as far as his utilization of brass and his persuasions. This paper will likewise highlight aspects of his compositional style in his brass writing throughout his career from his early experiences in China to the United States. My interviews with Bright Sheng will reveal insight into how his life experiences impacted his utilization of and writing for brass instruments.
This paper focuses on brass selections from three of his deals with, which incorporate the China Dreams, Shanghai Overture for Symphony Band and the first movement of Tibetan Love Song & Swing, La’i (Love Song). Examination of these three works shows both how Sheng’s brass writing has developed over time and elements that have stayed consistent throughout. In China Dreams (1992), the second development Fanfare for ensemble contains significant composition for brass. Shanghai Overture (2010), initially written for orchestra, is motivated by two notable conventional Chinese syntheses, “General’s Degree and Purple Bamboo,” which both use people components found in Shanghai China. This piece call for traditional Chinese percussion instruments utilized in Beijing Opera. The first movement of Tibetan Love Song & Swing, La’i (Love Song) (2005) was initially composed for wind outfit. A significant part of the composition emulates customary Chinese instrument sounds and voice of the Tibetan people. Bright Sheng depicts the piece as: The personality of the music is melodious, slow in a free rhythm with speedy moving guttural effortlessness notes beautifying a general basic song. The enrichment frames an extraordinary connection to the tune, a one-of-a-kind component of La’i. I will stress the impacts and change in Bright Sheng’s syntheses in his later years and how Bright Sheng brought associations between the western brass instrument segment with the customary Chinese percussion.
CHAPTER I: LIFE STORY
Bright Sheng (b. 1955) is a Chinese-born American composer, conductor, and pianist, born in Shanghai, China. He is best known today as the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan after establishing a highly successful career as a prize-winning composer, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2001. Bright Sheng’s writing was significantly impacted by being a Chinese-born individual who experienced different perspectives within both traditional and ethnic minorities Chinese culture, largely originating from his experiences in the Qinghai Province. Equally as valuable and impactful are his more recent experiences as a Chinese-American immigrant, having lived in the United States for more than forty years. These two aspects greatly shaped his approach to composition and it spurred him to utilize different musical instruments, such as the brass, as mediums of Chinese and Tibetan influence within traditional Western symphonic ensemble. These two markers of identity for the artist undoubtedly influenced his compositional process throughout his career. It is also incredibly important to understand that Sheng’s musical career is almost inextricably inspired by several sociocultural and historical elements, from the very start. Even Sheng himself explains and admits that, if not for the Cultural Revolution, he would never have become the musician and pianist he is today.
Sheng’s granddad came from a rich landowner family and had the option to study in America during the 1920s. He got an electronic science certificate from the University of Wisconsin and returned to China to work as a designer. He initiated the family’s connection with American culture. Sheng’s dad was a radiologist, while his mom went to designing school and became a designer. Like other families with similar socio-economic status in Shanghai, music was a significant aspect of social life for the Sheng family. He was exposed to traditional Chinese instruments from early childhood and his father was a music enthusiast, and a beginner entertainer of Beijing (Peking) Opera. He played the jinghu, a two-stringed fiddle for Beijing Opera and of course trained his child to play. Bright Sheng’s father also had an assortment of accounts of Western classical music, and his mother played piano while growing up. Sheng started studying piano with his mother at 4 years old. Notwithstanding piano, Sheng likewise learned to play the dizi, a Chinese bamboo flute, the jinghu, and different strings and percussion instruments. He was familiar with the costuming, singing style, and acting of Beijing Opera, but was not inspired by music as a child. Fortunately, Sheng had a teacher who believed that he possessed a considerable degree of talent on the piano and fostered his skills, including sight reading even though Sheng admitted to not liking the piano as much. Regardless of his own interests, Sheng practiced two hours a day.
In 1966, when he was eleven, the Cultural Revolutions broke out. Due to his property manager and bourgeoisie family, his family was the foe and focus of the upset. The Red Guards, a progressive youth association, looked through his family loft, and removed the piano because of its status as “western poison.” During that period, everything was examined by the progressives. The nation was in disorder with a destroyed and wrecked economy. Many young people were cast into the society where they not yet belong. Without the piano and daily practice routine, Sheng started to feel the importance of music in his heart for the first time and only became interested in playing the instrument once he was no longer able to do so. He started practicing again in a nearby middle school with a piano.
In spring of 1971, Sheng was 15 years old began to consider higher education and career plans. He was confronted the possibility of being sent down to the field for the re-training by the laborers. He was acknowledged commonly, and afterward turned down following the political record verification. His family’s economic status threatened the progressive norm. In any case, there was one craftsmanship company in Xining, a far-off district, in Qinghai region that had less progressive enthusiasm than to select abilities, acknowledged him. During Sheng’s time in Qinghai, a number of incredibly important and greatly influential elements transformed the young musicians’ career, spurring many of the innovative aspects and rich framework of harmonic and melodic elements in his compositional style. The Qinghai Province, which at the time was a part of Tibet, has historically been home to several different sociocultural and socioreligious groups, including Chinese-Mongolians, ethnic Mongolians, Tibetans, and Chinese Muslims. Because of the generally low socio-economic status of most of the province’s residents at the time, folk-music was used as one of the most important and most influential avenues for entertainment.
After arriving in Qinghai, he sought out a piano instructor and to proceeded with his musical development. Sheng was a percussionist of the group, and did some orchestrating which inspired him to create. He was intrigued with the nearby society music, the “Hua Er,” or “the bloom tune.” The exotic nature and the harshness of this music fascinated Sheng. His research of the Hua Er and Jia melodies motivated him to learn more about customary Chinese culture and the societies of Qinghai. For instance, in customary Chinese culture, it would be in a terrible preference for a man to communicate his enthusiasm for a lady’s actual excellence straightforwardly, yet to do it in idyllic similitudes or in third individual. The verses of the Hua Er, then again, utilizes express terms to convey such an appreciation between two sexes, once in a while physically realistic. His examination of tune, verses, and mood mirrored his inside and out comprehension of this material. It appears to be that he has been after Bartok’s guide to study, comprehend, and ingest those society tunes as a significant organization asset. This music impacted him, and he needed to implant this material with Western consonant, instrumental procedures and structures. He knew his insight for structure was restricted, and began concentrate genuinely, other than finding out about and gathering people tunes. He showed himself music hypothesis, arrangement, and took in the ways of assembling a piece.
In 1977, a year after Mao’s passing, China resumed permitting individuals to attend college and take prerequisite placement tests. The acceptance rate was around one of every 100 candidates. Sheng left Qinghai in 1978, and entered the Shanghai Conservatory at age 22. After he entered Shanghai Conservatory, he noticed the popular notion that everything venerated from the West. Many music students treated Western music as “genuine music,” viewing the Chinese Music Division as an undereducated studio subservient to the Composition Department. Sheng started to think about and consider learning more about conventional Chinese music. He did not simply classify Chinese and Western music by good and bad, but rather, he absorbed as much as he could from both traditions. Sheng graduated at the top of his class, and the Shanghai Symphony performed one of his instrumental works. In 1979, he won the main prize of the Art Song Competition in Shanghai, and took both the first and second prizes of the Chamber Music Composition Competition in 1980.
After gaining recognition through prestigious awards, Sheng moved to United States in 1980 to further pursue his music study. He attended Queens College and realized that while he had a strong background in traditional Western pieces in China, he lacked knowledge of contemporary composition practices and procedures. He concentrated eagerly. Between 1982 to 1984, under the full concentrations eyes of his educators George Perle and Hugo Weisgall, two notable composers, he dominated the fundamentals of twentieth century draws near, e.g., serialism, among others. In 1984, he entered Columbia University’s organization program and worked with Chou Wen-Chung and Jack Beeson and Mario Davidovsky, who was his theory counsel. He accepted his Doctor of Musical Arts from Columbia University in 1993.
His examinations appeared to be working out in a good way at Columbia, yet he battled. With grants to Aspen and Tanglewood summer music camps, he met the piano player Samuel Lipman, who sent him to Gerard Schwarz, appointed and debuted his H’un in April, 1988. Additionally at Tanglewood, he met Peter Serkin, the eminent musician. In the late spring of 1985 he met Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein who highly supported his compositions. Sheng frequently discusses his view on his social personality that he considers himself to be a result of both Chinese and Western societies, and considers Chinese musical assets as his first language, and Western musical assets as his tongue. This view didn’t come to fruition without battle. While he was at Columbia, he had apprehensions concerning whether the different Chinese and Western musical materials can definitively coincide in a solitary style as far as he can tell. As he was seeking after a valid style, as he calls it, he was told by his educators and companions not to seek after a style which blends Chinese and Western music. He ought to make either Chinese music or Western music. Not knowing how to treat, asked Bernstein, who was astounded and looked him and said, What do you mean combination? Everything is combination. Stravinsky is combination. Shostakovich is combination. Debussy is combination. Brahms is combination with people music. I’m combination. Obviously, it’s conceivable.