I’ve mentioned Donald Clark’s book Living Dangerously in Korea: The Western Experience 1900-1950 a few times lately (and it will certainly come up again), but I haven’t really summed up my thoughts on the book, something I’m trying to do a little more since falling out of the habit last year. Here are my thoughts… Continue reading
I mentioned recently that I was working on digitizing my compositions from back in my music student days. Well, I finished another piece earlier, and decided to upload it tonight:
- Portraits for Two Bass Clarinets (1995) by Gord Sellar (Complete score in PDF format)
There’s a recording of the premiere performance of the piece (and, I think, maybe the only performance so far) over on my Music page. The score here has minor corrections–but only minor ones, including some dynamics sketched in that should have been in the original, but somehow got left out–and there are a few small errors in the performance, especially in the third movement. (The altissimo and the multiphonic tones, especially.)
I’m even less enthused about the piece now that I’ve digitized it… my weaknesses in terms of understanding Western classical harmony are pretty evident (despite my enthusiasm for the work of J.S. Bach), and there’s enough repetition to choke a horse. But hey, live and learn, right?
More than that, though, I’m kicking myself for not having figured out how to use the old Finale software back when I was composing music regularly. As a compositional tool, I have to say that digital notation software with a playback function is pretty killer. Sure, it’s not great with the special sounds and effects–multiphonics, weird vocalizations, and odd harmonics are a bit tough to emulate–but as far as giving you a basic idea of how things fall together in time, it’s pretty game-changing.
Young composers coming up today are lucky: Musescore is really insanely easy to learn, and is also completely free software. I went from struggling along to inputting this whole score in a couple of days… and I only worked on it during break times between lessons and writing sessions, really. That’s pretty impressive!
(Sure, it’s a short score, and simple one, and it has a fair amount of repetition that could be cut’n'pasted around, but my point is, the learning curve really was quite pretty mild, compared to what I remember struggling with Finale years ago! The online forums for Musescore are, of course a huge help, but I think the software design is really good, too.)
I won’t have time for a little while, but I’m actually eager to input the next piece. I think I’ll try for something a little more challenging. Maybe the chamber orchestra piece I wrote in my 4th year of music school, “In Their Shadows”… or maybe “Yudhistira’s Dice”? We’ll see: that’s a project for late March or April, though.
For those interested in South Korean SF, but unable to read it themselves (like me) you will be interested in the little treasure trove of articles I’ve just run across on the subject. They were published as part of the Summer 2013 issue of the magazine _List, which appears to be published by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.
There are four articles in all:
- “Chronicling Korean Science Fiction” by Cho Sung-myeon, which discusses the history of Korean SF. This is a great piece with a lot more history than I ever found available anywhere else. Plenty of figures in Korean SF history are mentioned that I’ve never heard of even once!
- “Postcoloniality and Imagining the Post-human: Bok Koh-ill’s In Search of an Epitaph and Djuna’s The Pacific Continental Express“
by Kim Dongshik, which discusses two major works by long-established authors in the field of SF. I’ve discussed Bok’s In Search of an Epitaph before here, in the context of it being the obvious inspiration for the film 2009: Lost Memories, and have mentioned Djuna before as well. The discussion of Bok’s novel is especially worth a look.
- “Descartes’s Descendants: The Novels of Bae Myung-hoon and Kim Bo-young” by Bok Dohoon discusses two of the younger generation of SF authors in Korea in a more general way. They both great writers and very nice people. In fact, Mrs. Jiwaku and I are currently working on translating Kim’s story “An Evolutionary Myth” to English. The essay’s attempt to link their work with Cartesian philosophy… well, sure, okay. But it’s worth a look for its discussion of these two authors.
- “Children’s Science Fiction” by Kim Ji-eun discusses SF for kids, both historical and contemporary. It’s an area I know almost nothing about, beyond occasionally running across an old ratty book here and there, so it was quite enlightening.
Of course, there’s plenty of context that’s missing here, but that’s not surprising: LTI Korea’s agenda/mandate is to promote Korean literature to the world, and it doesn’t serve that end to discuss the contemporary translation scene much, for example.
Specifically, I mean, the ongoing canon-building going within Korean SF in terms of foreign works translated to Korean. For example, Kim Boyoung is discussed here primarily as an author, which is fine, as she deserves attention for her own unique creative works. However, she is not only an author, but also a translator, and like a number of other SF translators, she has played an important role in the development of Korean SF not only by direct influence through her own work, but also through the choices she has made as a translator.
These articles present this part of SF mainly as historical and foundational, rather than as the ongoing, expanding process it really is right now. As a result, plenty of the figures (especially translators, but also publishers) who play a crucial role in the Korean SF scene don’t get mentioned, because they’re working in the area of inbound literary globalization. To understand the development of SF in any society, one must acknowledge the interplay between foreign influences and local innovations, and how it is usually ongoing and constant, especially outside the English-speaking world. Not to privilege the foreign stuff, but to understand the transmission of a literary genre from one culture to another, and how that process continues and mutates over time.
Still, these four articles open a lot of doors and shed a lot of light. They’re definitely worth a look!
Well, I updated WordPress. Like clockwork, another stylesheet bit the dust: fonts were all whacked out, menus not working properly, and who knows what else. It was a bit disappointing, but it seems inevitable these days, and at least replacement templates that (mostly) work straight out of the box are common enough.
I’ve settled for what you see now, for the moment. (That is, if you’re reading on the page itself.) It has most of what I want, except for a nicely navigable menu at the header. (There’s supposed to be one, but it’s not showing up, and the submenus aren’t showing up on the bottom. Plus some other little things I can live with for now, really.)
For the moment, just in case anyone needs it, I’ve popped the full menu to the bottom of the sidebar.
UPDATE (28 Feb 2014):
Digitization completed. The file is available here, along with my comments on the software and more.
UPDATE (27 Feb. 2014):
Well, I’ve finished the first movement, (sparse) dynamics and all.
When I’ve finished all three movements, I’ll update again, combine the PDFs into a single file, and add it to the page where the audio is posted. The second and third are much shorter and simpler than the first, but it may take a little while for me to get around to it.
(And not that I expect it’ll ever get performed, remixed, or anything else, but if anyone’s interested, feel free: there’s no charge. While I retain copyright over the piece, any not-for-profit use is fine with me. All I ask is that you send me a recording of the performance. I haven’t thought about Creative Commons licenses, but I may release this under one. Until then, though, feel free to download, print, and perform it to your heart’s content.)
I’m working on a few pressing things now, so I’ll just say that I’m still sometimes grabbing an old manuscript and attempting to notate it in Musescore, which I’m finding far easier to learn how to use than Finale ever was. (Finale may be more high-powered, I’m not sure–I have a few scores I think will be difficult to notate with either software, so I guess we’ll see eventually–but Musescore is handling everything I’m doing much more gracefully than I found Finale to do back in the day.)
Anyway, the piece I’m notating now is one I have a recording for, and also not my best composition, but it’s fun. It was a piece a friend (Lana Fribance) commissioned for one of her recitals, I’m not sure which: I wrote a bass clarinet duo for her, and each movement was named after a friend in the department. The first movement was titled Grace, for the inimitable Grace Yip.
I’ve only input the notes so far–no dynamics, no slurs or breath marks, no performance instructions: it’s just a half-hour’s work–and as with the last piece, I’m just inputting the notation as it was when performed.
I may make changes it at some point, though I don’t think the piece is really worth trying to edit into anything better than it currently is (it’s kind of awkward and amateurish, in part because I was just starting out) but anyway, at the moment the purpose is just digital archiving of this piece for which I currently only have a single hard copy and a scan. Here’s what I have so far…
I wonder if any of the people who saw it performed back in, I think I was 1995, remember it at all… but probably not. It was pretty simple and forgettable. Were I asked to write something for bass clarinet today, it’d be very, very different!