The Turns of Life虞美人．聽雨, 2013
for SATB Chorus, Piano and Percussions
performed by The Greeners’ Sound
The Turns of Life
JIANG Jie (1245-1301)
When I was young,
I listened to the rain in sing-song girls’ boudoirs,
The red candles on brocade canopy casting a dim light.
When I was middle-aged,
I listened to the rain in travelers’ boats:
The clouds low, the river wide,
In the west wind the stray geese cried.
Now I listened to the rain in monasteries,
My temples specked with grey.
Joy and sorrow, parting and reunion-
They do not touch me so much anymore.
Let the raindrops drip, on the doorsteps till morn.
Buddhist philosophy advocated that human mind could create perception toward the physical world without the aid from the 5 “entities”: color, sound, scent, taste and the objective circumstances. One of the examples is the story of Song Dynasty Poet Jie JIANG having different insights from listening to the rain at different points of his life. Even though “raining” is merely an objective climatic phenomenon, people endow subjective emotions to these scenes, confirming that perception is ultimately controlled by human mind.
I tried to express the moods and feelings JIANG conveyed in his song poem through my music. The piece begins with a monophonic melody in a gloomy atmosphere, later weaving melodies from different voice parts which results in a complicity and abundance in texture and timbre. The tonality turns bright at the end of the music, with the rhythm gradually slowing down into calmness, leading the music to end in tranquility. With such artistic arrangements in this music, JIANG’s full understanding to tastes of life leading to his reluctance to express his feelings is completely rendered to the audience.