Nian 3 (solo bass drum)

Nian3 (for solo bass drum), Pius Cheung

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Composer’s Notes

The word Nian has multiple meanings depending on the context the word is used in or the prefix it follows. Examples of what it could mean are reminisce, meditation, meaning and sense. To me personally, the word connate a state of spiritual inner peace and awareness, while being in harmony with and connected to everything around us past, present and future. It is somewhat related to Buddhism philosophies of letting go of the idea of ‘self’ and that time is linear. Of course this piece has a definite beginning and an end, but my idea was to try to capture the concept of circular time/structure, where there is no beginning nor end, only a state of ‘being.’

Nian3 is scored for solo bass drum. It is preceded by Nian2, which is scored for 6 drums and 6 cymbals/gongs. In Nian3, I wanted to experiment with expressing musical/artistic depth through a limited palette of instrumental color. This piece compositionally/technically works on any drum. I just personally prefer the depth and resonance of a bass drum. Like Nian2, which shares the same rhythmic subject, Nian3 shows Asian musical influences on the surface, but the core of the music is quite deeply rooted in western musical structure. For instance, measure 19-57 is built on a 4 voice canon of the main rhythmic subject.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of my father-in-law Yasuo Daimo.

Pius Cheung

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