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Rain and Flowers
for violin and piano
(2015)

 

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At the request of a friend, this piece incorporates the melody of an old popular song from Taiwan’s Japanese period. It is a simple folk-like melody with words based on the image of flowers that were washed to the ground during a rainy night. Directly translated, the title is “Rainy Night Flowers,” but I ended up reworking that title as well as the music.

 

This music is neither a pure arrangement of the song melody nor a traditional theme and variations. Instead, it can be thought of as free improvisations on ideas from the song. Some of those ideas are obviously musical, while others relate to images or possible meanings of the lyrics. I don’t think it is necessary to quote the lyrics here or discuss what they might actually mean, though I will say there is a sense of sadness and loss. At times, that emotion comes through in this piece, but I also tried looking at the song’s imagery in various ways. For example, the scene of flower petals strewn on the ground might be seen as being both beautiful and pitiful, or even tragic. It might be contemplated in silence after the fact, or during the time when the flowers are being destroyed by the driving rain and fierce wind. In terms of the weather, various types of rain and wind might be witnessed throughout the night. In the end, however, the remains of flowers were discovered and a song attempting to capture those emotions was composed. Similarly, the end of this piece finishes with an obvious attempt to “sing” that tune, but in a very improvisatory and folk-like way.

(duration ca. 8:30)