2014年10月16日 星期四

Film Music: The Modern Version of 19th Century Program music


When answering a viewpoint question in the examination, we have to spend enough time to think carefully about the main issue or argument of that question first. The following is the question about film music analysis in the AMusTCL examination. Student's answer seems to show that she does not understand the main issue of the question. As such, I attempt to rework her answer, refocusing on the crux of the argument and expanding its supporting evidences, so as to give a more satisfactory discussion.


AMusTCL Nov 2010 (c):

Film Music Question


Question:  Is film music the modern version of nineteenth-century Programme music? Select and discuss TWO        films from those listed below and refer to any others that are relevant in your consideration of the question.


Student version:


Nineteenth-century programme music evokes the listener a specific experience and conveying emotions, which is written base on non-music idea, images or events. It invites audience invoke the imaginative correlation with the music. Similarly, film music is music that accompanies a film, creating narrative space and gives more body and depth to the story and characters. In this essay, some examples will be discussed.


My editing:


        Nineteenth-century program music is famous for its expressivity to narrate a story, or to recall and evoke the relevant experiences and emotions based on the storyline and the extra-musical ideas that embedded in the programmatic description for the listeners. As such, program music claims its communicative legitimacy through the written text, or program, which, despite the musical sound per se, can offer a larger imaginative space for deeper interpretation. Similarly, the plot, the dialogues, and the moving images of a particular scene in the movie is also likened to such referential “program”, which is capable of offering abundant referential meanings to the corresponding music, creating an even broader narrative space to the audience. From this sense, the on-screen visual “program” of a film becomes an indispensable guidance to the understanding of the supporting music. As such, film music, to a certain extent, can be said to be the modern version of nineteenth-century program music. In this essay, I will explore three examples that support my claim stated above.


Student version:


Firstly, in the scene “Seeking a Lesson” of Crouching Tiger and Hidden Tiger, two narrative spaces are created. On one hand, Master Long is fighting with many swordsmen. The Chinese percussions strikes fast with rhythmic pattern, this highlights the fighting action. It evokes audience the imagination of Chinese “Kung Fu” and intensifies the tension of fighting action. On the other hand, the Chinese piccolo produces a relaxing folk tune music which plays against the fighting scene. The lyrical, slow tempo and dance-like music emits an artistic atmosphere. It synchronizes to the poem reciting and sword waving by Master Long. This elevates a fighting action to the Art of Sword Dance of traditional Chinese art.  Thus, the music in this scene tells more than the music itself and gives more body to the story.


My editing:


       Firstly, in the scene “Seeking a Lesson” of Crouching Tiger and Hidden Tiger, the on-screen visual program, the plot, tells audiences about how Jen skillfully plays her artistic “game of sword dancing”, so as to “discipline” a mob of fierce, trouble-making swordmen in the eatery. If we want to understand why the underlying music is displayed in two layers of sound – one is moving rapidly under the support of the Chinese ethnic percussive ensemble, and the other one is singing in comparatively slower tempo by Chinese piccolo – we have to consider the “programmatic” reference on the screen. Indeed, the on-screen moving images and dialogues, such as Jen's sword fighting and reciting poem, seem to cry out in two narrative voices for these two musical layers. On the one hand, the power and strengthen of the sword fighting skill can be experienced from the fast moving Chinese percussion repeated in constant rhythmic pattern intensify the pace and strength of the fight. On the other hand, Jen 's dexterity and elegant gestures are exhibited through the music of the slow-moving Chinese piccolo folk tune. Such musical effect can likely elicit a sense of relax, effortless spirits in audiences, showing Jen’s mastery of the art of sword fighting. Interestingly, this dance-like tune, accompanying with Jen’s recitation of a traditional 8-line poem, seems to creates an imagined dancing stage, on which only Jen the artistic dancer is swinging freely to and fro like a bird hovering in the sky.


In fact, to many who know Chinese traditional culture, reciting poem is an intellectual activity which is usually found in the social gatherings of ancient literati. These people view sword dancing and poem reciting is a welcoming entertainment. As such, using slow-wind but fast-percussion ensemble of the folk musical style of northwestern China in this scene is a wonderful setting to express how skillful Jen is in sword fighting, and therefore, she can easily give a “lesson” to the swordmen and teaches them what is meant by art of sword fighting.  Although the audiences may think that the music is expressing a fierce fighting on the surface, however, by referencing the visual program reference, their understandings may be greatly adjusted. If no “program” is provided on-screen for reference, we may misunderstand the underlying ideas of the music, even of the scene. From this view, film music as a modern version of program music is undeniable.

The above reworking version (a part of the original essay) is only a suggestion that may help student to understand how to cope with the main issue and how to organize and present the points in a reasoning manner.

David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-10-16    (published)

2014年10月11日 星期六

Analysis of the Music Used in "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon" -- Reworking on the Summary


The following writing is not a complete article with appropriate argument. It is originally written by a student who attempts to summarize what she has learnt from the film music analysis lessons.

Although the draft contains many grammatical errors and some ideas cannot be clearly explained, the writing direction and ideas are quite good in nature.  It is worth to rework on this incomplete writing, though there is absent of the argument.

In fact, analyzing musical sound and transforming it into words is not that easy as one think. The formal analysis, which involves using many jargon-like symbols and signs, is not sufficient enough for such writing to general readers. The following reworking essay can, perhaps, provide a valuable reference for readers who not only want to write musical analysis, but also want to understand the musical meaning of some particular scenes.



Music used in the film “Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon”
Main focus on fighting scenes:

The scene of “Catching thief” speaks of the first fight occurred between Shu Lien and Jen since Jen has stolen Wudon master Li’s precious sword. In order to intensifying the fighting violence, a pair of Chinese drums is employed to create a series of fast moving percussive sounds. As the level of excitement is raised, the tempo and volume of the drum ostinato increase simultaneously until reaching the climax. At this moment, audience’s emotion is also pushed up to the zenith. Such frenzy is achieved by means of the percussive drum, which is able to create a contrapuntal two-part texture to multiply the hit points of two fighters' actions. In addition, the familiar percussive sonority of Chinese drum, to many audiences, is easily associated with the activities held by traditional Chinese martial art school, such as lion dancing, or free-fighting competition. Tan Dun’s idiosyncratic use of such timbre purports not only to express his wanting to parallel music with the fighting mood of the scene, but also his ambition to exhibit an oriental characteristic of traditional Chinese Kung Fu to the locals as well as the foreigners.

In the scene of “Dark Cloud”, Jen’s comb is robbed by Lo and she is eager to get it back. So she chases Lo and fights with him without noticing that this fight has already ignited her candle of love, which is suppressed in her inner heart for many years. Here, the music is designed in two layers of sound of distinct styles. The first sound layer makes use of the traditional native instrument, yun, to produce a lively, pleasant, and exotic folk dancing tune. The second one is a layer of rhythmic sound played by hand drums and other percussive ensemble as the accompaniment moving in steadily pulsation. To audience, the use of two sound layers is rich in expressive meanings. On the one hand, a rapid detached sound is created by the drums to enhance the power and violence of the fighting, creating many hit points to intensify the fast moving images. On the other hand, a sense of romantic feeling emanates from the dancing tune, which is composed by using the Xian Jiang folk scale to highlight a special feature, the augmented 2nd intervallic flow, in order to soften the vigorous excitement of the fight. In addition, the native plucking instrument, yun, is also capable of producing a quite unfamiliar timbral color, seemingly to inform audience that this love affair between Jen (high social status as aristocracy of mainland) and Lo (low social status as bandit of ethnic minority) is an unequal exotic love. Indeed the minority dance tune consists of the both metrical regularity and spontaneous flexibility, aiming to support certain lively and vividly gestures in the folk dance. Since dancing always reminds audience of a cheerful and happy occasion in many traditional festival activities, such as social gathering for youth to search for lovers or celebration of harvest, of the ethnic minority, the tune used here can fantastically romanticize the scene, transforming covertly the hostile tension to a lovely tender occasion, in which the two lovers can pour out their mutual admirations to each other without using a single word.

In the scene of “Seeking a lesson”, the composer has adopted a traditional folk musical style of Northwest China – music of slow-blowing wind with fast-striking percussions for instrumental ensemble. Jen exhibits her artful sword fighting skill to give a lesson to a large group of provocative swordmen in the restaurant. Here, the meaning of using the traditional folk pattern to accompany the scene is similar to that of the scene discussed above. Two opposite layers of sound produced by the ethnic folk ensemble, again, are able to express a musical pun to the audiences. On the one hand, the striking percussive layer highlights the fighting actions, enlivening audience’s tensions to the moment of frenzy. On the other hand, the comparatively slow-moving Chinese piccolo solo tune displays a glamorous image replete with free, relax, yet artful, gestures. At this very instant, the warrior Jen has seemingly been transformed to both of a graceful dancer and a sagacious poet: bouncing to and fro and flaunting her elegant figure at the one time, reciting lines of a beautiful poem and waving her sword dexterously like a butterfly fluttering and dancing amid the ferocious swordmen at the other. It is definitely an appealing traditional Chinese art of sword dance performance. Here, for this fighting scene, director Li On tends to elucidate a message to audience that Jen’s mastery of sword fighting art is likened to the entertaining subjects in an ancient literati gathering, which always contains poem reciting and sword dancing to enliven the party. To those literati, these intellectual “games” are so easy, so artistic.

The final discussion centers on the scene about Li fighting against Jen in the bamboo bush. Interestingly, the music is designed in sectional form of a ternary like A,  B, and A Sections. While the  ethnic wind instrument bawu playing the theme song melody of “Love Before Time”, which is quite independent of the moving images and moods, the A-melodic music accompaniment in B section  implies certain the Buddha philosophical meaning to the scene. Music of these two sections narrate a voice replete with  meanings. In A section, besides the thematic melody of "Love Before Time" is played by bawu, the supporting wind accompaniment plays some glissandi occasionally in slow tempo, going hand in hand with the moving strings of the repeated notes pattern, the ostinato. The accompaniment seems going non-directionally. Without a clear and specific goal, the music now creates an effect just matching with the two fighters rapidly swinging to and fro on the top of the bamboo trees without putting a foot on the firm ground. This A-melodic setting accompaniment  forms the B section continually after the main theme song finishes it first murmuring of the fate of Li and Jen's encountering. In fact, fighting in the bamboo bush pervades both of the religious and symbolic meanings. Since bamboo tree, according to the “Zen” philosophy, always symbolizes, an “enlightenment”, or “awakening” from the “secular mediocrity” to the “transcendental Buddha”, Li chooses to fight with Jen inside the bamboo bush aims to give her a moral lesson, or in the other word, to “awaken” her from going astray back to the right way through the Way of Sword. Music used here contributes to soften the violence of the fighting, bringing much sublime Buddha philosophical message to audience. In addition, the thematic bawu melody of “Love Before Time” murmurs in A section is used not for supporting the fighting. Instead, it aims to create a musical voice seemingly to narrate a different story to the audience. If the non-directional string glissandi in the B section is voicing the idea of “Zen – Awakening” to audience, the familiar tune of the theme song “Love Before Time” will undeniably speak in the second voice to notice the audience that this “awakening” lesson is doomed to be a failure, since it is not in the right time and the right place. Master Li’s arduous attempts cannot affect the wild, arrogant girl. His showing of love toward Jen as his Wudon disciple is futile.


David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-10-10 (published)

2014年9月26日 星期五

Two English Poems: After Reading Elieen Chang's Novel "The Young Marshal"


Comparing to writing Chinese Poem, writing English Poem is very difficult for me!
For my profession is not English Literature, nor my major study in the research department relates to Language. Indeed, I learnt hardly how to write effectively in English during my final stage of PhD study. Perhaps my interest in English writing, not the general grammar learning, is aroused from that time. Although I am not expertise in English, I still enjoy reading poem, no matter the Chinese or the English one. After reading a few pages of the last incomplete short English novel, The Young Marshal (recently published), written by the now-famous deceased Chinese writer Eileen Chang, I was stirred up an intense but unexplainable feeling toward her. You may say that I am quite sympathetic to her writing tones, styles, as well as her life. If I am asked to describe what kind of feeling it is, perhaps, a word may immediately flash in my mind -- "legendary" or "legend". To me, not only it is Eileen's writing a legend for both of her and her readers, but also it is of her own life, spanning from the prosperous decadence of younger years in Shanghai to the desolate seclusion of later years in US,  an enigmatic "legend".  As such, I have a strong impulse to write something using the theme of "legend".  So I attempt to compose a poem, albeit simple and raw, entitled "A Love Legend".


Poem I:

A Love Legend

They said my love for you is a legend.

I said it is you to make the legend!

But you choose to reside in your legend,

Alone I leave the reminiscence in my legend.

If we're asked what is a legend,

Could our love legend is the only legend?


It is a pity that this rather raw, somewhat a beginner's exercise is not rhymed. So I try to write another one constructed with rhymes.

Poem II:

Memory Ebbs and Flows

Memory, silently ebbs and flows,

As the evening breeze blows;

May the merry-sorry past go?

Still the old song floats;

Who gaze upon the stream?

within a moment of sigh and dream;

And fish for the hopes as they pass,

Within the limpid watery glass!


These two poems is my first attempt of writing English poem. To me, it is not that important whether these two poem are qualified as poetry or not, or it is beautiful or not. The mostly important is that they will remain in my reminiscence throughout my life, just like a seed of a flower sleeping in the soil, and waiting for its growth, as time goes by.


David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-26 (published)

2014年9月19日 星期五



朋友說想了很久,也不知道甚麼是最喜歡的。我相信她說這話時,是正在考慮新學年的選科問題。我想,她思索時也同時考慮到起完成學業後,如何選擇工作,想做甚麼職業等等的問題。或會問: 自己的路該怎樣走呢? 但感情生活又如何? 我最喜歡的人應是怎樣的呢? 會和他結婚嗎? 要組織家庭嗎? 會喜歡生兒育女,安穩做個家庭賢妻,好媽媽,又或是成功的職業女性嗎? 這真是無盡的煩惱啊! 要知自己的年齡都差不多,年輕時的激情也看似隨風逝去,橫看這個所謂人生,簡單來說,就是一長串的選擇吧........。

不錯,我們從哇哇落地的那一剎,每人都主動地和被動地要去面對很多很多,或大或小的決擇,直到最後一口氣為止。可是,我們的決定是否就一定要和我們最喜歡的掛勾呢? 問自己最喜歡的是甚麼時,是否就一定意味到這就是我們唯一要選擇麼?





說到最喜歡的,我就想起了許冠傑的一首流行曲歌的歌詞。這首歌叫作 "最喜歡你"。王馨平在她最近的大碟裡用重新的編曲重唱。很有趣的是,林振強填的詞,並沒有指明這個 "你" 一定是情人,聽者也不一定視這曲是首浪漫情歌。更甚的是,這首歌的原本 MTV,情節是有關許冠傑和他那可愛小 puppy 狗一起玩樂的情景。就連原版 CD 封套也是許冠傑和他的小狗,而背景就是一片藍天白雲和一望無際黃沙的海灘。這散發出來給人的感覺是消遙的,是自在的,是愜意的。這就是最喜歡的............皆因有 "你"。 。。。。。。





是十六歲時嗎? 好像只能往記憶處追尋。好像是跟同學朋友們在長沙的海灘,那時剛好考完會考,一起去宿營。



原因好簡單 皆因你真
原因好簡單 開始至今


我很喜歡 "真" 的人,因可以作我的朋友。有時這些朋友可能缺乏所謂世故式的面面俱圓,或比較自我為中心。不過,與其天天跟那與你做 "戲" 的人相處,倒不如找個比較簡單的好一些。你不用天天帶上面具去面對這樣的人。要知用機心去算計每一日的相處是很費心力的。最好就是英語所說的 "guileless" 的人。



要思考這問題的答案,使我不禁想起二十年代美國小說家 O' Henry 的一篇我最喜歡的短篇小說 -- 聖誕禮物。在這裡,我只能說,誰看完這個故事後,總該有一點啟發。




丈夫可以勉強做的,就是賣了他那已三代保存下來的黃金陀錶。宅的紀念價值就不用多說了,但如果賣了,如何對得起那已過世爸爸的承諾。畢竟自己曾應允過永遠都不會,也不能賣。可是面對最喜歡的人,伴隨了自己這麼多年,也沒有吃過一口安樂茶飯。對眼前的人,也不能信守誠諾,讓她一生幸福,還說甚麼對已死的人信守諾言。算了! 就先賣了這錶,將來有錢時,才想辦法買回來。

拿到這一點兒錢,可以買甚麼禮物給她呢? 是了! 她最漂亮,引以為傲的長長秀髮,正需要一套全新的,名貴得配得起她那秀髮的髮梳飾品。這樣,她就可以好好打理頭髮,彰顯出她那天生的動人氣質。


但妻子可以怎樣做呢? 她並沒有三代留下值錢的東西可變賣。看看鏡子,又想想。想到他大半生都為生計奔馳。在這個年頭,坦白說,才幹都不重要。最重要的是運氣。別人說,如果能在聖誕節時,送給自己最喜歡的人一份禮物,他這年就會好運了。但甚麼最能匹配他呢? 他最珍貴的,最有價值的,還就只有他那三代單存的黃金陀錶。但是錶鍊也陳舊了,彰顯不出這錶的氣派和魅力。

是的,絕不能讓最喜歡的人不快樂地過這個聖誕。但錢呢? 鏡子裡的倒影照出了自己焦慮的臉容,同時也影照出那烏黑的長長秀髮。是了,就這樣辦吧,可變賣這個。這個年頭,上流社會,有錢名人都時興戴假髮,而假髮的製作是需要真髮。所以,漂亮的,幼長的真髮可以值一點錢。



怎樣才算是最喜歡的...........人 (如是愛人)?

O' Henry 的故事簡單地告訴我們一個很容易忽略的道理。這就是:

就在當下,誰是你甘心樂意地願意為 他  / 她 付出所有,為之而犧牲的,就是你 / 妳在當時最喜歡的..........最喜歡的..........人。

但最喜歡的,有時可以不是指向人,因同樣原則也可以應用在物,或其他東西上,如理想,興趣等。有朝當 你 / 妳 發現那願意花上自己很多的不便,犧牲更多的資源,心思,時間的人或物出現時,那正是你 / 妳尋到的最喜歡的了...........。


David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-19 (published)

2014年9月18日 星期四

AMusTCL Film Music 試題的迷思 - Voicing in the "Other" Voice


The students' results of the film music question in the last May AMus examination were not satisfactory. Many complained severly that the question was very tricky.That the question looks easy in the surface when the students encounter with it at the first moment, in my opinion, is the underestimation of their realization of what is meant by "innovative and new". Indeed, the examination results reveal the fact that this question is proved to be more difficult than the student preliminarily expect. The following discussion is not focused on seeking a perfect definition or answer for what is artistic "innovative" and "new" for film art. But, rather, it only reflects my contemplation of a moot issue about artistic creation and aesthetic appreciation for film musical art, which has obsessed me for a long time.


To define what is meant by "innovative and new" is as slippery as explaining what is art. However, in the broaden sense, we usually commend a product, say, a smart phone, is innovative or new because of its multi-functional capability. This generalization of the term is not unreasonable, even not unconceiveable. To many customers, a phone that is not only for chatting but also for working as a personal computer or music player is already a new and innovative design. You cannot imagine how a phone could work in such a way in thirty years ago. Similarly, every scene of a film speaks of its story and plots in a voice through images, dialogues, and actions on the screen. But a passage of music, however succinct, can always add a unique extra-voice to that particular scene, forming a multiple web of voices narrating simultaneously. In such case, music definitely can convey more and richer meanings, leaving a vaster and deeper dimension for further contemplation. If the first voice is enhanced directly by the images on the screen, the music narrating behind can be regarded as the second voice.

In many movies, the former first voice constitutes the fundamental core for the understanding of the plots, going hand in hand with the musical second voice to enhance the moods, the characters, as well as their actions and emotions in the scene. In some occasions, however, this easily neglected musical voice moves against the moods and actions, or at least voicing independently from the dramatic context of that particular scene. In such momentary instance, the music is creating an "other" or "new" voice, expressing a new  level of meaning to the audience. Is there any subliminal messages concealed behind the scene? At this time, the "other" voice is creating an expectancy of the forthcoming plots for the audience to speculate. How can this expectation be realized in the later scene? Such an emotional suspense is one of the sources of artistic pleasure. As such, the meaning of the "other" voice is often a trigger for aesthetic contemplation.

Regarding a cliche function of music in a film, say, leit motive (leading motive), a term coined by Richard Wagner for his music dramas in the 19th century, is never failed to appear in many audiences' minds. All film music composers exploit the uses of leit motive. Indeed, the basic function of a leit motive is for unifying the story-line of a film. Every single event is cohered each other when the leit motive is recognized by the audience. However, leit motive used in a film per se is not innovative enough for the creation of film art. We need to step forward to a deeper level by investigating its musical meaning, understanding why it is transformed, and how it elevates the aesthetic meaning of a particular scene to the higher state. The artistic innovation for film art, I believe, is originated from the understanding of the meaning of this musical "other" voice.
It needless to repeat the effectiveness of leit motive. The power of music can also easily be experienced when the music is used to create a unique voice in a particular moment. One of the exemplars of using transformed leit motives in such an innovative way may be found in Casablanca (北菲諜影, 1942): the reunion scene. The scene before this one acts in many respects as a prologue to the reunion scene: the evening after their arrival in the city, Ilsa and Laszlo go to Rick’s café; after a while Laszlo walks to the bar to talk with a man, and Ilsa tells a waiter to ask Rick’s friend, Sam, also the Jazz pianist of the café, to come over to her table. Sam arrives and she asks him to play “As Time Goes By.” From this point, the audience hears that motivic melody four times in a row: sung (hummed) by Ilsa, then played and sung by Sam; then heard twice in the nondiegetic orchestra, first as the slow-motion reaction music in the oboe (transformed), and then as a slightly distorted (transformed) waltz when Ilsa refers to Paris in the conversation. Each time the tune is varied in some ways – not only in orchestration and tempo but also in its stylistic and aesthetic significations.

The first appearance of this now-famous melody in the film is through Ilsa’s self-humming, and brief wordless singing: instantly it becomes the love theme as it is literally embodied in her while the audience sees her in the close up. Here, the interaction of music with images  on the screen all together in the particular instant aims to convey a new meaning to the audience. Since the song, a lyrical tune dispersed with droplets of somber memory, is hummed by Ilsa, it is both of her point of view music, which can conjure her unforgettable, however painful, memory up, and of a diegetic music voicing to her herself and Sam in the café. Sam’s repeating it reluctantly but fluently tells audiences that this leit melody has an undisclosed history, a seemingly ‘perfect, good thing’ associated with it in the recollections of Ilsa’s and Sam. Is it a love affair of Ilsa with someone else? The audience is supposed to know nothing at this moment. The love  story about Ilsa and Rick has not yet been disclosed to the audience. The director employs the technique of flashback for Rick's recollection in the forthcoming scene to re-tell the deepest, yet poignant, romantic love story happened in the past.  While the first voice is narrating a general meeting of two old friends in a café, the hidden "other" voice of this self-humming diegetic melody undoubtedly creates a broader space for audiences' numerous speculations.

The suggestion of the undisclosed love affair in Ilsa's humming is powerfully realized her “point of view” recalling voice that immediately follows a stinger chord, working as a musical punctuation pronouncing in loud volume by tutti orchestra, to dramatize the moment of the sudden encounter register in the minds of Rick and Ilsa. The bombarding chord signals the audience that Ilsa is awakened from her deep immersion of the recollection. Again, using a distinctive instrumental timbre, the oboe, for the return of the transformed melody -- "As Time Goes By" -- is an appropriate choice. In fact, the oboe voice is capable of eliciting a feeling of missing, perhaps a even more anguish recall of her unwillingly separation from the ‘distant’ beloved, in Ilsa’s inner heart, as she is so missing of this unrequited love. When being compared with the other woodwind timbres in orchestra, oboe sound is always regarded unique, characterized and heterogeneous in nature because of its double reed color. Together with the slow moving pace, this exotic oboe tune seems narrating to the audience that the immeasurable sorrow of Ilsa is deep rooted in her far off memorable past. Here, the old, already faded out 19th Century Romantic sentiment of longing and yearning is relived again through the innovative use of such a poetic, yet slightly distorted (transformed), leit motive. 

Finally, the audience learns where the whole memorable history can be localized – in Paris (through dialogue), as Ilsa makes a reference to the city and the audience hears “As Time Goes By” in waltz, however greater distorted, form. It has been widely known that dance of waltz is beautiful in nature and can easily be associated with a delightful context. But now it is transformed, or  more directly, distorted, in a certain level, seemingly voicing something unusual happened in Paris. The leit melodic theme is distorted in such a way that not only the melodic notes are chromatically inflected, creating a somewhat out-of-tune melody, but also several massive sound blocks are intruded to the originally eloquent tune, bringing the audience a disconcerting feeling. Indeed, the audience can realize later that this distorted (transformed) leit motive speaks of a miserable story between Ilsa and Rick meeting in Paris, which is a tearful but memorable place for both of the lovers. In fact, Paris was the place where Ilsa tasted her both the happiest and bitterest moments with Rick in her life.

Compared with the voice crying out from the uneasy, embarrassed conversation among Ilsa, Rick and others, the eerie second voice ("As Time Goes By") murmuring behind seems more important for one to reveal the subliminal message between Ilsa and Rick. Are they previously known to each other? Is Rick the protagonist of Ilsa's recollection? If that so, does such a distorted tune aim to herald a message that the love between Rick and Ilsa doomed to be a failure? Is their falling in love only a ‘distorted’, yet beautiful, illusive memorable dream even in the beginning of their first acquaintance? Here, this "other" voice of the now-famous love theme has already disclosed Ilsa’s sorrowful but unforgettable story  to some extent to the audience.

While the music in a movie mostly operates together with the characters, their actions and dialogues as the first voice to carry out the basic plots, there is music, at times, works against the scene, creating a second narrative space to speak in an "other voice." The use of music as such is capable of deepening the aesthetic and artistic dimensions of the narrative context of a film. Thus, musical voice is always open up to multiple readings, creating an expectancy of the forthcoming plots for the audience. As I believe, one of the factors to determine whether the music in a particular scene of a film is innovative or new largely depends on the interpretation of how such a musical voice narrates in the "other" voice.


David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-18 (published)

2014年5月11日 星期日

美在哪裡 - 2: 一篇文章,一首古詩,兩首歌詞



我就以這篇短文,美在哪裡,再加上兩首粵語歌詞,一首古詩,與知音共享。其中一首歌詞,是作於 1986年的 誰是妳 這首歌是本人自 1983 年學習作曲填詞以來,公開演出的第一首全包處女作,頗有紀念價值。另一首 美在哪裡 也是本人包辦作曲填詞的。雖然題材是春暉,和親情,寫作風格是頗為工整,但或許對很多人來說,主題是有些陳舊老套。 可是,我總覺得這就是我們為人子女的心底聲音。至於 無期 ,就是希望道出作為別人兒女的一份緣,願人人學懂珍惜,也是本文的總結。




年輕的時候,我唱著山歌,去拜訪每一個原野,問色彩繽紛的野花和小草: "美在哪裏?" 它們低著頭,含羞不語。於是,我只好奔向海洋。


一首首悅耳悠揚的樂韻,在耳邊響起,我年青的身心也漸漸陶醉了,微笑從嘴角滲出來。 蒙納麗莎的低迴淺笑和維納斯的光潔圓潤,也同時誘惑著我流連忘返。這時,我彷彿聽見美的呼喚。



母親的微笑發出萬道光芒,包圍著原野,包圍著海洋,也包圍著我; 比悠揚的樂曲還要悅耳,比蒙納麗莎的微笑更燦爛,比維納斯的身軀更晶瑩純潔。世間一切的生命,都憑藉著這道光芒而活。


歌詞:       誰是妳 (1986)







歌詞:   美在哪裡 (1988)






我寫了歌曲之後,過不多久,真的在外飄泊打滾了一段時間,沒有回家。及後回來了,爸爸一見我面,雖口中沒有責怪,卻暗暗地道: "這些年頭,你媽媽很掛念你,應該多打電話回家嘛!" 我聽後也耿耿於懷好一段日子。誰料沒過多久,母親就癌病去逝,我也不能做甚麼了。










      無期 (2014)







David Leung (theorydavid)

2014-05-11 (published)

2014年3月7日 星期五





還是先看看第一首歌詞。歌曲名稱是: 漫畫家的悲哀,曲調是臺灣一首校園民歌,也忘記了誰是作曲者。

這首歌曲,顧名思義,主要是寫身為漫畫家的一份悲哀。這也可說是所有藝術創作者的悲哀。有朝一日,假如你發覺你的創作力盡失,意念已窮,那怎辦? 坦白說,如果我們的創作是職業,每天都要控空心思,去想出新奇意念,,隨著時間過去,年歲日長,說不定我們也會上演一幕漫畫家的悲劇,不足為奇。


以上的歌曲,我最喜歡的一句歌詞是: "讓冷諷,化做懷念"。
除了將別人'明窒' 的說話,硬吞下去,還可以做甚麼?


第二首歌曲,歌名叫做 "最後一遍"。

這首歌是描寫一個即將畢業的學生,正準備踏出人生的第一步,到社會工作。主人公也深知現實是,社會是個大染缸,純真的校園生活從始不再。所以他也說: "恐怕青春豪情不會再現"。這時的他的內心,是充滿忐忑不安,但他也要勇敢地面對,試試全程投入這新的人生旅程,所以詞中有一句這樣說: "昨天的我,似在叫囂中蛻變"。我寫這詞時,是用點的手法。描寫主人公一剎那的感情世界。這是盧國沾老師很喜歡的寫詞手法。是忠於那一剎的感情真摯。歌詞也用了一個含有象徵性的舉動,就是閱讀在學時的作業筆記最後一遍,然後明天就迎向人生的新的一頁。歌名就是以這個閱讀命名的。'最後一遍',就是這個意思。


我很喜歡歌詞中的一句,就是 "戲中主角會合我飾演?"


天知曉! 不過,我人生的角色也真不討好。或許有盡過力,但肯定的是,有一些角色演得真差勁。可能是性格使然。

無論是順景逆景,我們內心的真正豪情,也無可避免地讓 '浮光如夢' 的'閃跳霓虹' 添上冼鍊,或者,更差勁的是,我們的真正豪情已被銷磨得一光二淨了。

社會,真的是大染缸? 抑或是自己的慾念才是汚染的來源?







"It does not matter that our life are regarded as the fortunate or the unfortunate. It matters only if we have made the choice." -- David Leung


David Leung (theorydavid)

2014-03-07 (published)

2014年3月6日 星期四

文字何價? : 電影 "偷書賊" 觀後感


踏入了2014年,還沒有寫過第一篇文章,皆因在朋友幫助我下,正設計我個人的新網站 (www.davidmusiccenter.com/)。我希望的網站不是純為做宣傳,買廣告,找生活。所以,我的網站也收錄了我這兩年多所寫的大部份文章和詩詞。將來,我也會在新網站陸續發表我已前出版過的有關音樂的學術論文。

當然,我暫時不準備取銷這個個人網誌。各方好友,讀者,仍然可以透過這個網誌,看我的寫作。不過,我也會同時發表我的文章於私人的網站。因此,我也懇請各方有心之好友,抽空流覽這個新網站,予以支持。私人網站的成立是有需要的。或許有一天,google 會像 yahoo 一樣取銷免費的個人 blogger,如有自己的網站,我的文章就不至於沒有發表的渠道。因為,我是算自己是半個藝術家,作家和作曲家。

電影 '偷書賊',就啟發了我這篇文章。


如果有空閒時,我倒邀請各方好友,去看一套電影名叫 "The Book Thief", 中譯 “偷書賊” 。當然,閱讀原著小說也可。據說小說也是真人真事改編。
我早前去看了電影。在看之前剛好收到一位學生的電郵 ,也道出了她對這戲的欣賞,並說這電影很感人。
電影的中心思想,是道出文字本質的價值。文字是甚麼? 為何能長存於人類歷史當中? 有人類存在,看來就有文字記錄。或許有些人認為,文字只是人與人溝通的一個實體記錄。小學課本常說是因為人在日常生活中,常常忘記了與別人談過的說話,又或對事物的善忘,為了解決這個問題而發明了文字,以此作為實體的記錄和憑據。
可是,電影再次提醒我們,文字的存在和人類思想的永恆是息息相關,永不分離的。人與動物禽獸的最大分別,就是人類是有思想的,所以思想是無價,也因此,文字同樣是無價 。小女孩無錢買書,所以偷書,就是為了閱讀别人的文字。她深知,如果她懂得閱讀文字,就可以進入别人的內心世界,了解別人的感情和思想。這價值是無其他東西可比擬的。如果她懂寫作,她就可以通過自己的文字,與別人建立一個可以互相共享的思想和感情的世界。這是現代的溝通工具如 whatsapp,wechat,手電等不能取代。
戲中的男主角是在大戰期間被 Nazi (納粹德國)追捕的 Jew (猶太人)。他躲在女孩子家中的地牢生活。可能是為了解悶,他每天都鼓勵女孩閱讀,表達和寫作。他每天在不見天日的地牢裡,鼓勵女孩給他描述當天的天氣怎樣。他不準許女孩只直述每天天氣的狀況,如今天天晴,或今天下雪等。他要求女孩用比喻去形容天氣,如今天陰霾,她就要說 "today is thunder dark.",而且他更要女孩用說話式的文字去表達自己在這種天氣下的感覺和情緒。是! 用文字講出自己內心感情。
他教女孩怎樣用文字表達的方式,和我教學生寫音樂文章都很相似。就是多用比喻去表達,用比較去作樂曲分析。他不止用口頭鼓勵女孩多閱讀,還送了一本空白頁的記事薄給女孩作禮物,鼓勵她要寫作,要用文字記下她自己的思想和感情。但好景不常,Nazi 的蓋世太保要搜屋捉人,為了確保女孩一家的安全,他一定要逃走。
臨行前,女孩捨不得這個後來是她一生的摯友的離開,就死拉著他的手不放,但男主角(比她年紀大很多) 卻對她這樣說:
"You never lose me. You can always see me in your words."
他說這話的意思,不是單單鼓勵女孩寫下自己對摯友別離的思念。而是提醒女孩,每逢她用文字寫作,每論在寫甚麼的時候,就會想起他這個曾經教導過,鼓勵過自己的摯友。只要女孩繼續寫作,無論他日後是死是生,'他' 是永遠地活著,永遠地陪伴著自己。
男主角離開後,女孩就發現牆壁上寫著: Writing! (寫作!)
"Word is the vessel of thoughts."
" Word is not only the vessel of thoughts, but also the container of affection, the redemption of the missing."
David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-03-06 (published)