A composer's imagining of musical tradition and the reinvention of heritage

Yiu, R. (2013). A composer's imagining of musical tradition and the reinvention of heritage. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Guildhall School of Music and Drama)

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Abstract

As a Hong Kong-born concert-music composer operating in the historically Western-centric art form of concert music, with only Cantonese popular music qualified to be considered as my true musical tradition, I am awkwardly situated outside of two strong musical traditions, namely European art music and traditional Chinese traditional folk music. This thesis addresses the idea of the composers’ perceived musical traditions and the impact this has on their work, particularly for those who come from a place where there is no conceivably strong musical heritage.

The inspiration for this work has been my own personal experience. The concept of musical tradition runs deep in my work and thinking, but before it became a source of inspiration to me, it was a cause of ‘composer's block’. Dealing with this through research and talking to other composers has helped me to overcome this block, and at the same time, given me new insights, transforming the way I think about composing. Most of all, I hope the findings taken from this research will continue to shape my future works.

In Part 1, I will give a general overview of my own development as a composer and the genesis of my interest in the notion of musical traditions. Part 2 considers the meaning of ‘tradition’ in the context of this research. Part 3 will look at the processes and approaches some of the more relevant Western classical composers have taken in locating themselves in the increasing complex musical landscape of the twentieth/twenty-first century and their respective findings.

As an Asian composer myself, special attention will be paid in Part 4 to composers from Asia who found ways to deal with being ‘outsiders’. Part 5 will consider how memory as an integral part of the construction of one’s musical tradition. In Part 6, I will summarise all the ideas and approaches in dealing with the musical traditions discussed, and consider them selectively as the foundation for my own framework to contextualise (i.e. imagining) my musical traditions. Part 7 is an overview of my works, drawing findings from my research, i.e. the ‘re-invention’ of my heritage. Through these works, I aim to provide an over-arching narrative and some possible solutions for composers faced with the issue of finding their compositional voices when they come from a less prominent musical culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: School of Arts > Department of Creative Practice & Enterprise - Centre for Music Studies
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/18067

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