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JEJUHOLMEN (2018) - for flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion, piano

Premiere: Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Harris Hall at Aspen Music Festival, Aspen, Colorado, August 2nd, 2018


Duration:  ca. 8'30"


Program Note:


Jejuholmen (a portmanteau combining two place names—Jeju Island in Korea and Gressholmen Island in the Oslo fjord) is an experiment in designing my own fictional folk music by combining elements of three traditional musics with which I have come into contact—Korean traditional music—gugak—Norwegian folk music, and stilted Houston hip-hop a la Chris Dave. In summer 2017, I visited Seoul, South Korea to study at the National Gugak Center for the International Gugak Workshop, learning daegeum and changgu, the traditional Korean bamboo flute and drum. In spring 2018, during my Fulbright year in Oslo, Norway, I studied Norwegian folk music from different valleys in the country.

Jejuholmen borrows elements from both forms of folk music. The composition features Korean shikumsae (ornamentation) and the rhythmic modes of jangdan (in this composition, the jinyangjo, jungmori, jungjungmori, and jajinmori/pungmul), which are rhythmic cycles that change over the course of a performance, gradually moving from slow to fast. These rhythmic cycles divide the piece formally into four main sections (with an added fifth “hip hop” section) and create a kind of “theme and variations” for the piece’s main theme.

From Norwegian music, the composition uses an uneven three-beat rhythmic feel (from the traditional pols, or springleik dancing rhythm from the Gudbrandsalen valley in central Norway) and use of the neutral third, natural 4th (in between a #4 and a §4), as well as fiddle techniques and bowing styles from the Hardanger fiddle tradition. Lastly, the stilted subdivisions of Houston underground hip-hop drive the middle section of the piece. The folk music in Jejuholmen is entirely fictional and does not pretend to accurately represent any of the three folk musics it takes influence from. 

Learning daegeum at the International Gugak Workshop, July 2017
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