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Beneath the Hybrid Surface: Baban as a Tool for Self-Definition in the Music of Chen Yi

Beneath the Hybrid Surface: Baban as a Tool for Self-Definition in the Music of Chen Yi LETA MILLER Beneath the Hybrid Surface: Baban as a Tool for Self-Definition in the Music of Chen Yi Chinese American composer Chen Yi has been widely acclaimed through- out her creative life for her inventive fusion of traditional Chinese musi- cal traits and contemporary European American compositional practices. Commentators invariably mention this cultural synthesis, citing sur- face features such as pentatonic melodies, sliding tones, and single- and double-grace notes, embedded within a thoroughly modern harmonic language. Ezra Laderman’s 2001 speech, bestowing on Chen the Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, serves as a typical example. She “interweaves East and West cultures into a seamless fabric of constant tension,” said Laderman, reflecting the opinion of the all-star selection panel: Gunther Schuller, Francis Thorne, Joan Tower, Olly Wilson, and Laderman himself. “The music is all-embracing, moving effortlessly from a taut chromatic language, to a gentle pentatonic modality, to a vibrant, exuberant use of non-pitched and pitched percussion.” Chen encourages this fusion trope, noting that traits such as penta- tonicism and sliding tones are essential signifiers of her tradition—and inspirations for her own musical language. At the same time, however, focusing solely on these surface features http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Beneath the Hybrid Surface: Baban as a Tool for Self-Definition in the Music of Chen Yi

American Music , Volume 37 (3) – Nov 11, 2019

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349

Abstract

LETA MILLER Beneath the Hybrid Surface: Baban as a Tool for Self-Definition in the Music of Chen Yi Chinese American composer Chen Yi has been widely acclaimed through- out her creative life for her inventive fusion of traditional Chinese musi- cal traits and contemporary European American compositional practices. Commentators invariably mention this cultural synthesis, citing sur- face features such as pentatonic melodies, sliding tones, and single- and double-grace notes, embedded within a thoroughly modern harmonic language. Ezra Laderman’s 2001 speech, bestowing on Chen the Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, serves as a typical example. She “interweaves East and West cultures into a seamless fabric of constant tension,” said Laderman, reflecting the opinion of the all-star selection panel: Gunther Schuller, Francis Thorne, Joan Tower, Olly Wilson, and Laderman himself. “The music is all-embracing, moving effortlessly from a taut chromatic language, to a gentle pentatonic modality, to a vibrant, exuberant use of non-pitched and pitched percussion.” Chen encourages this fusion trope, noting that traits such as penta- tonicism and sliding tones are essential signifiers of her tradition—and inspirations for her own musical language. At the same time, however, focusing solely on these surface features

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Nov 11, 2019

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