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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sonic Engraving

  • Author(s): Chen, Yeung-ping
  • Advisor(s): Liang, Lei
  • et al.

Sonic Engraving is a compositional approach I have developed inspired by the practices of music transcription in European music culture as well as the Japanese print-painting form Ukiyo-e.

Ukiyo-e features a meticulous fabrication process which inspired a similarly meticulous layering compositional method that I employ in my Sonic Engraving model.

In every Sonic Engraving work, I begin by selecting a source work from which I collect a set of numerical data that characterizes the sonic behavioral patterns that are important to that adapted work. These generated data then serve as musical seeds for my own, new work. The new work is fresh in sonic nuance, timbre, texture, and musical expression, yet maintains strong ties to the adapted musical work.

This compositional approach was developed and evolved throughout a series of Sonic Engraving works that I composed at UC San Diego, including, Fugue of Distances (2012-13), contrabass quintet, Stretch of Light (2013-14), and piano solo piece, The Celestial Threads (2017).

The general principles of this compositional model and integrating strategies that I discovered within each of these Sonic Engraving works are discussed. Musical examples, analysis, and illustrations accompany the article throughout, which is followed by the complete scores of the three Sonic Engraving pieces and my telematic symphonic work, The Moon in La Jolla (2015).

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