pipa improvisation with live electronics
i. Algum 木
ii. Aerium 氣
iii. Crystallum 晶
iv. Eluvium 土
v. Metallum 金
Composed in SuperCollider, a real-time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition programming language, “The Unveiling” is a written for pipa improvisation and live processing. It is inspired by synesthesiac associations between the quality of sound and feel of different materials. The suite evokes a journey from wood (the body of the instrument) to air, crystal, earth and metal. It at the same time transitions from acoustic sounds to live-processed electronics. The performer mediates the dialog between computer and instrument by improvising to the electronic sounds at the moment. The decaying notes and enlarging auditory spaces connect the music between acoustic and synthetic worlds.
for pipa and bronze bells
Commissioned by San Francisco Asian Art Museum for the special exhibition Music for the Afterlife in May, 2017. Composer and pipa performed by Sophia Shen. Han Dynasty replica bronze bells performed by Stephen Parris and David Samas from Gamelan Encinal. The composition has won the 2017 Dunhuang Cup National Pipa Composition Competition Silver Award in China.
for two pipa.
(After the rain freshens the empty hills,
The autumnal dusk deepens the chills.
Through pines the bright moon glows,
Upon the stones the clear spring flows.
-- Wang Wei)
Live at the 2018 Thingamajigs Pacific Exchange Festival @Theatre of Yugen at NOHspace, San Francisco.
Performed by Shenshen Zhang and Sophia Shen.
Fixed media. Collaboration with Gabby Wen.
San Francisco Tape Music Festival, The Victoria Theater, San Francisco, California, 2018
for koto and pipa.
Composed by Sophia Shen at the Art Omi 2018 residency.
Koto: Shinobu Eto
Pipa: Sophia Shen
for percussion ensemble
Commissioned and performed by William Winant Percussion Group
Duo Apartment D with Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir
Hymn is a folk improvisation with voice, pipa, percussion and live electronics based on the Icelandic hymn Heyr Himna Smiður (Hear, Smith of heavens). The piece uses pipa and abstract vocals to create a powerful soundscape of tension and grandiosity. The looping of the sounds conveys a dark ambient feeling that builds as the composition progresses. It’s a conversation and convergence of sounds from the two distant cultures.
The hymn that this composition is build on was written by Kolbeinn Tumason (1173-1208), just before 1208 AD, and is the oldest known nordic hymn. The music was composed over 700 years later by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson (1938-2013).
This is a studio mix of a live performance. Kristopher Rodriguez Svönuson plays percussion.
Stereo mix of the multichannel fixed media version
captures the most unforgettable experience during the recording session in the middle of the ocean on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. It was the sonic traveling between the land and the underwater. Under the peaceful appearance of the surface was the incredibly dynamic world that I had never encountered, and everything was vividly unveiled in my headphone. But when I put down my headphone, everything seemed to disappear all of a sudden – only the world that I live in was left.
is made in RTcmix using field recordings from my hometown Zhangzhou, Fujian, China during the summer storm season. Different techniques of sound synthesis, physical modeling and sample processing were applied in order to sonically transform and reconstruct the gloomy, depressing, and overwhelming visual memory of the frequent thunderstorms, as well as to juxtapose the fantasy and the reality.
III. The Last 23 of Us
takes the data of the estimated population size of the Hainan black-crested gibbon from 1950 to nowadays. The data is mapped into different parameters of the FM synthesizer and the IIR filter in RTcmix in order to show the rapid decline of the population in the past 65 years. Every 10 years equals 20 seconds of the piece. The frequency range also shrinks, which signifies the shrinkage of gibbon distribution over the years. The Hainan black crested gibbon or Hainan gibbon (Nomascus hainanus), is a species of gibbon found only on Hainan Island, China. The Hainan black-crested gibbon is under grave threat of extinction. They are currently identified as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.