Ancestral Tune (wind band 2012) [12’00”]

World-premiered by Tao Yuan Symphonic Band with Amy Chang conducting, at the Tau Yuan Recital Hall, Taiwan on November 27, 2013.

The piece was inspired by the unbreakable spirits of Hakka ancestors during their continuous migrations to explore new territories and to protect homelands, which the composer is profoundly moved and admires. With motifs from the traditional “Old Mountain Song” and “Dapu Tune,” the music contains the following five sections:

  1. Overture (measures 1–17), with trumpet playing the melody from “Old Mountain Song,” tells the history of the ancestors' hardship and perseverance.
  2. Front section (measures 18–75) describes the progression of a ritual ceremony, expressing reverence, ancestry, and respectfulness.
  3. Middle section (measures 76–113) is ushered in by an impromptu bridge with percussions, erhu, and suona, which develops into a capriccio of Hakka sceneries led by marimba and xylophone. With a mysterious mood and through layers of instrumentation, this section depicts the scenes of ancestral migrations, over the mountains and over the sea, to explore and establish new habitats.
  4. Back section (measures 114–168) is based on a motif from “Dapu Tune” to describe festivals at temple gatherings.
  5. Coda (measures 169–220) represents the ceremonial progression of worshipping deities with a strong, alternating percussion demonstration, and expresses the colorful vitality of people with a frenetic, forceful display of brass. After the climax the motif in the beginning returns, symbolizing the remembrance and respect of modern-day Hakka people for their ancestral heritage.

This work is an endeavor to combine wind orchestra and Hakka Eight Tones. Hakka Eight Tones is an traditional musical art form of the Hakka people, commonly used for weddings, funerals, and other occasions. Therefore its musical styles, performance forms, contents, and instruments possess strong characteristics of the traditional Chinese folk music. This composition is based on the traditional folk music, but develops into an innovative exploration with the Western musical techniques. Hakka Eight Tones is closely tied to social rituals, from welcome of newborns, marriage, birthday celebration for the elderly, to funeral. The progression of rituals, the gratification for gifts, and the celebration with music represent deeply rooted cultural appearances and social relationships, symbolizing the emotions and yearnings for auspice, heritage and ancestry. Hakka Eight Tones is often performed as background music. Although its music is based on a simple rustic melody, the performers often have ample room for improvisation. Once combined with Western wind instrumentation, the music is significantly diversified in tone and enhanced in volume. More room is opened up for exploring musical forms, textures, and dynamics. For the composer, however, it is quite challenging to resolve issues pertaining to tuning, timbre, balance and coherence. This piece was commissioned by Tao Yuan Symphonic Band.