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2012年10月26日 星期五

聯合音樂院 – 回憶與懷念

Forewords:

我的音樂作曲啟蒙老師王光正先生逝世已一段時間了。但回想前塵往事,在聯合學習的一段日子,竟如歷歷在目。不過,環顧現在我所教的學生的求學態度,也不能不再以這篇為聯合音樂學院三十五週年紀念音樂會所寫的文章,吐吐我的不快。



聯合音樂院 回憶與懷念

 

有回憶,就有懷念。懷念,是回憶的伸延。

 

離開了聯合音樂院,畢業以來,屈指一數,不覺也接近二十多個年頭。

承蒙王院長月前從加拿大來電,要我這個理論作曲科畢業生為聯合音樂院三十五週年譜首新曲,順道撰文一篇,笑談風流 事,懷古唱今,以慰思念之情,確是倖甚,倖甚。

 

可是一別經年,水逝年流,景物依舊,無奈人事全非。心頭雖還是點滴著昔日的綿綿細雨,但又教我從何道起………..

 

回憶前塵,在聯合學習音樂的一段日子,確是百般滋味,乍喜乍愁。

我在聯合唸夜校的那個年代,學音樂的學生肯定比今天的務實和勤力,並且堅毅得多。我們雖是夜校生,但所做的和聲及對位習作,比起現今在大學和音樂學院攻讀音樂為專科的學生的所謂習作,多了好幾倍。而且學習時期也較長,絕不似今天的急就章課程,令學生囫圇吞棗,消化不良。

 

老師們雖不是甚麼大教授,可是教學認真,嚴緊,絕不馬夫。我們的音樂寫作技巧也被訓練得精進不少,皆因強將手下無弱兵。因此,我敢說我們聯合畢業學生的基本音樂理論水平,比起很多現在的專科學生是優良得多。這也為我後來進大學研究院進修音樂時,打下穩固的基礎。而吾之理論習作,更令一些教授瞠目咋舌。

 

再者,夜校資源缺乏,沒有像今天大學音樂圖書館等設施可供學生運用。我們要進步,就得靠自已。沒有參巧書可閱讀,沒有樂譜作分析,沒有音樂唱片供聆聽,我們就到坊間書店,公立圖書館,或到朋友處不斷搜尋,互相借閱。這種獨立學習,自我充實的上課方式,少一點自發性,缺一點毅力,也都不可。

 

反觀今天不少音樂學生,雖有良好的資源配套,卻對學習不求甚解,功課只是草草了事。他們只望快快畢業,拿個學位。從不望扎好基礎,以裝備自已在做學問的功夫上,更上層樓。最理想的還是 一個所謂 “A” 級,好自我炫耀一番。這種缺乏堅毅忍耐去克服困難,對音樂學習毫無熱忱的態度,以及那些自欺欺人的行徑,實在令我更懷念往昔在聯合學習的日子。

 

今天我仍在大學當研究生兼助教,大學給我可運用的資源可說是相當豐富齊備。做研究,教學,學習都十分方便。可是,我仍然非常懷念在聯合時的那種自我學習的時光。聯合曾帶領我走進音樂世界的殿堂,亦為我開展了以音樂教學為目標的人生道路,她既是我的伯樂,也是我的知音。僅以拙詞一闕,聊表衷情。

 

五花馬,千金裘,

爭得似聯合結伴,韻樂風流。

自古伯樂難遇,

如今知音相投。

花月夜,琴歌頭,

唱盡人間千古,水逝年流。

真情應如斯,

夢迴百繞,一曲還鉻心頭。                                     

 

梁大偉書於二零零五年十一月五日晚
 
 
 
David Leung (theorydavid)
2012-10-26 published

2012年10月14日 星期日

Unofficial Histories: Musical Quotation and Collective Memory in Hong Kong

Foreword: I haven't written something new in the recent months. Of course, this is not really good. But, as having mentioned in previous essays, I have explored different topics in artmusic during my Post Graduate years. I am delighted to publish these articles in my personal blog, hoping to share my findings with all friends. This time, I would like to discuss a topic about Hong Kong Contemporary live composers' music.



Unofficial Histories: Musical Quotation and

Collective Memory in Hong Kong

 





     What people within a society reorganize as their shared common legacy can be termed collective memory. According to the sociologist who coined this term, Maurice Halbwachs, “there exists a collective memory and social frameworks for memory; it is to the degree that our individual thought places itself in these frameworks and participates in this memory that it is capable of the act of recollection.” Despite its alleged autonomous status, music can serve as a powerful platform for the operations of memory within the temporal dimension of our experience, both in our everyday life and, albeit in a different form, in the ritualized context of the concert hall experience. In the following discussion, I wish to look at how musical borrowing in a self-contained instrumental piece can be interpreted in terms of the relationship between individual and collective memories.
 

While musicologists such as Larry Starr or Peter Burkholder merely regard musical borrowing as an intertextual element to convey various meanings or compositional device to create stylistic diversity, I wish to argue that a musical quotation can function as a representation of one’s act of recall. Thus viewed, musical quotation is no longer an isolated abstract realm which is a merely thematic, harmonic or rhythmic deviation from the overall texture of a piece, it rather evokes the totality of the sonic world of a specific time, place and event, operating in every dimension of personal and collective memory. Be it a tune, a rhythmic pattern or a specific sonority, a reference to a style or genre, a quotation is a tangible link between the sonic and cultural reality of the past and those of the present, as well as a metaphor for identity formation. In the following, then, I shall examine the function of musical borrowing in two contemporary Chinese compositions to illustrate my argument. These are Symphony 1997: Heaven, Earth, Mankind by Tan Dun in 1997 and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Tung Lai Shing in 2000. 

 

Tan Dun, a Chinese-American composer with hardly any connection, personal or otherwise, to Hong Kong, was commissioned to write a piece by the Association for Celebration of Reunification of Hong Kong with China to celebrate the reunification on July 1, 1997.  Attempting to borrow a sonic image to represent Hong Kong’s indigenous culture, Tan’s compositional choice was to incorporate a pre-recorded musical performance of Cantonese operatic singing at Temple Street into the sixth movement of his symphony.

 

The street performance heard in the recording is a duet named Xiao Yao [The Death of the Princess] (香夭), which is sung in the last scene of the well-known Cantonese opera, Di Nu Hua [Princess Cheung Ping] (帝女花).  Both the duet and the opera have been popular with Hong Kong locals for years. Tan’s intention to insert the original recording into this symphony without any editing or manipulation is obvious. Most audiences, in fact, are capable of linking this recorded sonic material with an image of “Chineseness,” or “Hong Kongeseness.”  The insertion of such a collected sound on Tan’s part may be a function of his desire to represent spatial and temporal distance and the reshaping and cementing of one’s identity as one recalls that experience. 

 

This kind of folk borrowing has been a patriotic and political cliché in the music of Mainland China in the early 20th century. Like them, Tan makes use of a collective sonic image to emphasize the celebratory tone of a work which was, after all, composed at the request of rulers. A political reading applies to the other striking quotation in this piece. As you may recall, at the end of movement 5, the choir sings the textless parodic fragment of “Ode to Joy,” appearing to speak to the audience about the emancipation of Hong Kong from its British colonial sovereignty. Then, a strikingly primordial sound of Bianzhong (編鐘) is heard, enticing listeners to anticipate a journey back to the unknown distant past.  Unexpectedly, however, it is the recording sound of Temple Street, acting as a mirror, as it were, that allows one to experience one’s “self” within the local cultural context.  While the bass plays a drone in the background at the opening of the movement, familiar traditional percussive sounds lead the entry of the street singer’s reciting voice. This intrusion into the texture of piece of sounds and music from a real life setting is meant to open up a new aesthetical dimension so that all audiences, irrespective of background, may feel, perceive and recall the ordinary experiences of daily life.  

 

In fact, Tan is an old hand at playing chicanery of collective memory by using quotations to “popularize” his music for both the Chinese and non-Chinese audiences. Tan only affords a souvenir-like memory as manufactured by the tourist industry, however, functioning as much a tourist attraction as a symbol of ordinary life of Hong Kong. The recorded excerpt works on one’s memory rather like a postcard or a souvenir. Just as souvenirs can induce pleasure and allow collectors to relive a certain experience by associating the surviving object to a particular place, period or event, a sound recording too can be used in a similar fashion.  With a similar trick, Tan borrows Mo LiHua [Jasmine Flower] (茉莉花), a popular Chinese folk tune in the second movement. His intention of using Chinese folk material as expressive shorthand of “Chineseness” is clear.

 

While Tan’s shorthand form of borrowing seems to constitute a confirmation of a shared identity, Tung’s use of collage quotations appears to evoke a sense of “forgetting” of such a shared, indigenous identity.  I now turn to his piece, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

 

Tung is a local composer steeped in a distinctly local cultural background.  His choice of quotation are from a less popular Cantonese opera Hai Jiao Hong Lou [Red Chamber at the Corner of the Sea] (海角紅樓) and opening of the prelude of Verdi’s La Traviata.  The title of the piece, as well as the title of its second movement, does suggest a possible connection with Milan Kundera’s novel of the same name. Tung also made a special reference to one of the book’s chapters, “The Angel.”  This movement and the previous one, “When Life Turns Fate,” allude to the tragic life and inescapable fate of the characters in the stories of the operas and the relevant Chinese classical literature The Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢), opening up a larger and wider contemplative space for our perception and imaginative participation.

 

Unlike Tan’s shorthand form of borrowing, Tung’s several fragmented quotations and stylistic allusions work like a catalyst to affect the listeners’ mood and mode of perception, mediating between one’s own “self” and one’s imagined other “self” through a highly individualized web of sonic images. In fact, Tung’s scattered quotations become more captivating when they interact with the listener’s disjunct memories. Fragmentation makes symbols out of ordinary things and allows quotidian objects and perceptions to acquire new significance. Hence memories are more evocative precisely only when they are fragmentary.  Like relics of past cultures, the shards of memory reveal to listener’s imagined world that is at once partial and plural, functioning as an ironic metaphor of one’s life. 

 

The opening muted divided strings from La Traviata in the beginning of movement 2 seems to proclaim that from the past to present, life is ironic and is only a circle game of inescapable tragic occurrences.  Several percussive sounds from different parts of the world, again in the form of fragments, continue to agree with the proclamation and confirm it twice.  The third time, however, after the deep reverberated sound of the scratched strings of the piano is played, whose role normally is to introduce the percussion, a traditional Cantonese operatic female voice appears instead. The singer utters two disjointed words, “思凡,” [thinking the secular world].  The listeners, who were drawn to a tragic reality a moment ago, are now asked to shift to a more distant and illusive story world, that of Red Chamber or Hai Jiao Hong Lou (海角紅樓). This is like a dream inside a dream.  By incorporating a genre that does not traditionally belong to the concert hall into a Western orchestral work, Tung rebuffs the accustomed complacency that is in fact the product of a cultural hypocrisy.  The collision of eastern and western idioms, as well as the low-brow (Cantonese opera) and the high-brow (Western opera), results in a sense of tragic foreboding, evoking all the inconsistencies and contradictions that is part of the everyday ironic life of Hong Kong. 

 

This irony is emphasized by multifarious collage of sonorities in both movements. Tung’s diverse tapestry of sounds produces a crisscross of imagined sonic maps.  The shakuhachi-like flutes, Tibetan singing bowls, African bongos, South America marimba, Chinese bass drums, and many other Western orchestral brass, strings and percussions are entangled in an ironic kaleidoscopic chaos, appearing to reflect a sonic image of multicultural styles of postmodern Hong Kong. Buried in this chaos, the indigenous, local culture seems to have disappeared or to have been forgotten. Not only does this multicultural irony mock at the intangibility and inconceivability of daily life, but it also reflects the ambivalence of accepting any permanent identity on the part of the Hong Kong locals. 

 
In conclusion, the presence of quotations in a self-contained piece not only expands the scope of musical materials used but also expands the scope of what composers can do with these materials as well as the scope of how listeners enter a new level of appreciation of the same materials. While Tan borrows materials in the form of expressive shorthand to let it function as a metaphor of an identity already formed, Tung uses collage quotations and allusions in an ironic and diverse ways to refute the idea that such an identity is there in the first place.


David Leung (theorydavid)
2012-10-13 (published)