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Strange Invisible Perfume : for guzheng & percussion

by Bruce Crossman (2017)

Heaven to Earth Border House


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Strange Invisible Perfume


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Strange Invisible Perfume : for guzheng and percussion / Bruce Crossman.

Library shelf no. 785.5812/CRO 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Strange Invisible Perfume explores the drifting sense of time and moment as expressions of spirit through subtle timbre graduations of the guzheng with muscular colour resonances of sonority and driving percussion qualities to suggest the sensualities of texts from Shakespeare, Tang Xianzu and Song of Songs. The form the work takes is of opening and closing sections with subtle changes of tone colour from wriggling string possibilities on guzheng and sharp Chinese opera percussion and lingering crotales sounds as types of perfumes of sound of stirring 'invisible perfume' of the sensuality of Cleopatra. Inside these frames, are balanced muscular sections with the guzheng's full string arpeggios and skin and metal percussion barrages to express the sensual and joyful suggestions of the Biblical 'I arose to open for my lover' and 'fingers with flowing myrrh'. The 'strange perfume'-a central image from the Shakespeare-is explored as a central section of the musical structure and expressed through trembling strings and half-spoken whispered voice amidst guzheng chordal resonance; these are intended as evocations of an invisible sensuality and spirit which 'hits the sense' in a Shakespearean bold-moment and Daoist quivering nature of 'sun rouged blush, damp with rain'.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Guzheng,  percussion (1 player: voice, crotales, kulintang [6 bossed gongs], hi-hat cymbals, suspended cymbal, 2 Peking Opera gongs [middle, high], Korean ching, 3 bongos [high, middle, low], 2 tom-toms [middle, low]).

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Advanced — Complex rhythmic detail and changing colour nuances

Written for: Chiu Tan Ching, Claire Edwardes

First performance: by Chiu Tan Ching, Claire Edwardes — 20 Jul 17. Night Concert at Poetic Energies Across Sonic Space, Playhouse, Western Sydney University, Penrith Campus (Kingswood)

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Chinese opera: Kunqu and Cantonese opera; free jazz improvisation; Shakespeare, Tang Xianzu and the Judeo-Christian Song of Songs; traditional Chinese guzheng music

The composer notes regarding the text used:
The Biblical quotations are from the King James version of the Bible which is in the public domain. The Shakespeare quotations from Anthony and Cleopatra are in the public domain. All other quotations I have formal permission to use.


Strange Invisible Perfume


Performances of this work

20 Jul 17: Night Concert at Poetic Energies Across Sonic Space, Playhouse, Western Sydney University, Penrith Campus (Kingswood) . Featuring Chiu Tan Ching, Claire Edwardes.

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