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9 August 2011

MODART diaries 2011 - Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh

Annie Hsieh Image: Annie Hsieh  

This year is the 5th edition of MODART, the biennial professional development program, initiated by The Song Company and the Australian Music Centre. The participants of MODART workshops discuss their experiences in their diaries - for more MODART blog articles and information about the program and its participants, please see the MODART web page on AMC Online.

I arrived at the first session of MODART with a conceptual idea and a good, decent dose of insecurity in moulding that idea into a piece of music. As we sat through the ensemble's rehearsal for an upcoming concert, it was simply mesmerising to observe the open and collaborative process through which each piece of music is rehearsed and brought to life, through the shared wealth of knowledge and experiences of Roland Peelman and each member of The Song Company. This realisation from day one has then progressed towards shaping my half-baked sketch into a seed of inspiration, ready to be cultivated.

The following days came and went almost too quickly - it was almost too informative, and almost too exhilarating. For every session of the day, composers would present their rough sketches to Roland and the singers who, despite how adventurous or unpolished the ideas might be (such as my own), would workshop, question, suggest and discuss each and every draft that was presented, all while constantly being open, objective and encouraging.

My fascination with the gradual changes in sound and timbre has led me to the discovery of sonic 'morphing'. However, instead of creating a slow-evolving acoustical 'soundscape', similar to how the particular technique is usually employed in electronic music, I was more interested in searching for a way of developing all musical/sonic material (including some kind of text) through gradual blending and transformations, without treating the ensemble like a lifeless/breathless machine.

Such a concept is one that needs to be well-researched and prepared prior to the workshops. If only I had realised that before sitting in front of the ensemble, at my first session, and showing them the few materials I had devised. Of course, my drafts were doomed not to become what I was expecting to hear. Having said that, instead of being discouraged from my attempts, I was guided through a discussion on the basics of acoustic properties and formation of the human voice, phonetics, vowels, and to re-examine the concept of consonance and dissonance in music.

I left Sydney with a refreshed mind and perspective. Rather enlightened, I could see what knowledge I need to familiarise myself with and how I'm going to tackle this 'puzzle' I've created for myself, hoping to find the answers, and solutions, in this work that I have the rare privilege to write.

Further links

'Seven composers participate in MODART 2011 workshops' - Resonate 28 February 2011
The Song Company (www.songcompany.com.au/)

Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh (b. 1984) was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and has spent a major part of her life in Auckland, NZ, before moving to Australia. She studied at the University of Melbourne with Stuart Greenbaum and Brenton Broadstock, and gained her Master's degree in composition in 2009. Her works have been performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra (Sydney), the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Southern Cross Soloists, Ensemble Fabrique and Chronology Arts, and her music has been featured in festivals such as the Sydney Fringe Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival, and the Beijing Modern Music Festival. Her interest in theatre have led to the many collaborations with companies such as A is for Atlas (Quartet: the Razor), and BOOBook theatre (Student Body).


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