Mimi Brown of @springhongkong
: Joyce, could you expand on the compositional process in Pieces of Eight – 八音?
Joyce Beetuan Koh: Underlining the compositional concept of Pieces of Eight – 八音 is the ancient Chinese way of thinking about tones or sounds known as the bayin (八音), which are essentially eight categories of material (leather/hide, clay, metal, stone, gourd, wood, silk, and bamboo). The tones and materials are also linked to the eight cardinal directions on a compass. This led us, myself and Per Magnus of Soundislands, to conceive of placing the musicians at eight locations around the central point of ArtisTree and at different distances from it. Together with William Lane, we chose the instrumentation with reference to the sonic qualities of bayin 八音: xiào, shéng, gúqin, saxophone, percussion instruments (bells, gongs, stones etc), violin, viola, and double bass. In parallel, the concept of bayin 八音 informed ESKYIU’s design of the percussion instruments and selection of eight locations that were metaphorically connected with each of the materials. For example, the estate Shek Kip Mei evokes the image of dense living quarters, and the accompanying percussion instrument is made from concrete.
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