These improvisations are unedited explorations, mostly inside the piano, recorded on August 5, 2006. My sister Hsi-Ling set up the microphones and left me alone for the day with my mallets, oscillators, walnut husks, newspaper, spray bottle, and the remote. My original intention was to explore sound ideas for my Taiji teacher’s DVD, at his request. For this I had planned to evoke the qin, my favorite Chinese string instrument. However, improvisations have a way of deviating from original intention, and I soon found myself in the realm of the subconscious, of serendipitous and psychedelic sound collages, unraveling stories narrated by strange voices from other dimensions. I will be the first to admit this music is not suited for dinner parties or driving in the car due to it's unpredictable nature. Listening to it in a quiet environment with the lights off works the best for me. Total playing time: 34:08
Japanese Sounds 2:40 First experiment using the walnut.
Chopin Bug 4:46 A pianist’s practice is interrupted by a bug and its swarm of friends.
Drunk on Taiji 3:51 Based on my favorite Chinese qin tune 酒狂(Drunken Craze) by Ruan Ji from the 1st Century. Inspired by the flowing energy and joy that underlies the deceptively quiet movements of Taiji, this improvisation is dedicated to my father H.T. Chang who first taught me Taiji quan when I was ten, and to my Chen Taiji teacher Ren Guang-Yi.
Le Gibet Revisited 4:10 Inspired by Aloysius Bertrand’s poem Le Gibet in which a listener, hearing the incessant bells of the gallows, takes an imaginary journey of horror as his subconscious slowly unravels what the ringing bells imply.
Ukulele Lady 5:10 Piano strumming.
Lullaby of the Insomniac 6:04 Inspired by those unidentifiable sounds in the dark the restless mind amplifies while trying desperately to fall asleep. This lullaby is not recommended for putting children under the age of 12 to bed.
Willows in the Wind (version 2) 6:43 Inspired by the excellent piano piece The Willows are New by Chou Wen-Chung. Chou’s piece is based on a famous qin piece called Yang Guan Qu, set to the poetry of 8th-century poet Wang Wei. The poem describes friends sharing a last drink under the green willow trees before one of them travels west of the Yang Guan mountain pass, beyond which there will be no more friends. In this version, I imagined what the willows might say. copyright 2008 by Hsia-Jung Chang, New York City
Engineered by Grammy-nominated Hsi-Ling Chang
Cover design by Bai Ma
Chopin Bug graphic by Stehpanie Yue
Critic reviews and DJ awards:
Best of 2008 list on Don Campau's radio show No Pigeonholes of KKUP and Radio Marabu
Best Recordings of 2009 list on Joel Krutts "Pushing the Envelope" WHUS.
"Very lovely and frequently humorous. I especially enjoyed “Chopin Bug” which contrasts great music and mundane annoyances." - KFJC Radio DJ Cousin Mary on February 11, 2009
"This is a fascinating collection of experimental music that is accessible, surprising, witty, reflective and often eerily beautiful (especially the lovely ‘Drunk on Taiji’ - watch video ). The album is highly recommended, as are Hsia-Jung Chang’s recordings of Chopin Etudes and Preludes."
- John Pitt, New Classics-UK