Music Composers Unite!
I composed Land of the Morning Calm as an homage to South Korea, where I lived and worked for six and a half years. I conceived of it as possibly either a symphonic poem or one-act ballet. While I hope it stands alone as "absolute music," I did have programmatic ideas in mind as I composed it, mostly visuals of places or experiences I had in Korea. Subsequently, I devised a storyline for the symphonic poem, focusing on an elderly Mr. Kim's last day on earth. He awakes at the sound of a temple bell resounding through the hills where he lives in a humble traditional Korean adobe home. He rises, dresses, and embarks on his morning walk through the trails of Mt. Taejo--trails he's walked his entire life. On this day, he has vivid hallucinations during his walk, remembering both beautiful and tragic events that happened in his life. At the end of his walk, he returns home, falls asleep and passes away. Some of the scenes he recalls are walking hand in hand with his mother when he was a young boy and feeling warm and loved, seeing his future wife dance for him on a picnic wearing her lovely hanbok, seeing his young children perform a traditional streamer (ribbon) dance while he and his wife look on while they're on a family picnic, walking through the woods as a soldier in the Korean War with his American war buddy before a bloody battle breaks out, returning home after the war to discover his wife and children had perished in the war, in a drunken stupor seeing Jeju's Dragon Rock come to life as a "real" dragon and do battle with him, conquering the dragon and riding its back as it flies him into the next life, the hallucination that accompanies his walk home, climbing into bed and dying.
If you're a wind player, I wonder if you can comment on the playability of these busy, breathless lines. Otherwise, I wonder if the ending works for you. I like it, but two people whom I trust have expressed concern that the piece ends quietly. I don't mind quiet endings, so long as they're effective. Is this effective?
Thanks for any constructive feedback you can give. It is appreciated.
A Link to an Unlisted YouTube Video of "Land of the Morning Calm" (Score View)
Wow! Stunning! So well done!
Excellent orchestration, very colorful, your story helps to imagine what’s going on.
I lived in China a few years and I’ve been all over Asia in the last 30 years so I can relate to your work easy.
Between time 9:07 and 10:05 (the score is a bit too small for me to read what is happening there precisely) I feel traces of the Indonesian Gamelan.
About the wind players ability to play these breathless lines. They could alternate between them and there is a technique called “circular breathing” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_breathing) I wouldn’t worry about it.
About the end, I think from a composers perspective your ending makes perfect sense considering the story behind it. But from the listener perspective it could indeed be unsatisfyingly quiet. It could do with a slightly more expressive and dramatic ending while keeping it quiet.
The sound is really convincing, may I ask what tools you used to produce this?
Excellent work August! A pleasure to listen to, thank you for posting….
Thanks, checking it out as I write...
August Champlin said:
Thank you, Joost, for your thoughtful feedback. I think you’re probably right about the ending. I’ll have to reconsider that. The problem is that I kind of like it. I tried alternate endings but they felt fake. Perhaps I can find a sincere ending that somehow still satisfies the average music lover. May God help me! You asked about the performance. I’m using NotePerformer 3, a third party app that plays back Sibelius, Finale, Dorico, and perhaps now other notation software scores using AI to emulate human performance parameters. I have tried all sorts of sample libraries (e.g., VSL, EWQL, GPO, etc.), but NP3 ($130) gives me the best results. I’d strongly recommend it.