December 4, 2006

HE HAS TO BE YANKING HER CHAIN:

Questions for Tan Dun: Composing a Life (DEBORAH SOLOMON, 12/03/06, NY Times)

Q: As an experimental composer who has used crumpled paper, rocks and swishing water sounds in your music, how did you wind up at the staid Metropolitan Opera, where your new opera, “The First Emperor,” makes its debut this month? Do you see yourself as an avant-garde composer?

I see myself as a spiritual mathematician. What I do is kind of one plus one. I figure out that one plus one equals one.

That sounds very Buddhist. What does it mean?

It has many layers. I have conducted orchestras around the world, but my favorite instruments are still the ones you find in nature — water, stone, ceramics. I add my past one and my current one together on one stage.

You grew up in a remote village in the Hunan Province of China, without a television or a radio or any knowledge of Western music.

Before I ever saw a Western orchestra, I wanted to be a shaman. Only they understand the talk between the wind and the birds and the stones.


What is the sound of one composer laughing at the credulous round eye?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 4, 2006 11:50 AM
Comments

crumpled paper, rocks and swishing water sounds

P.D.Q. Bach would be proud.

Add in a bicycle, carboard tubes, uncooked manicotti, a "Hardart" and other "devious intruments", and maybe some orchestra can do a concert featuring pieces by both "composers".

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 4, 2006 12:33 PM

So, are you telling me that I might finally see "Oediupus Tex" make it to the Met?

Posted by: Dreadnought at December 4, 2006 4:31 PM

...or "Iphagenia in Brooklyn"?

Posted by: Foos at December 4, 2006 7:01 PM

Only if P.D.Q. Bach composes the scores for few critically well-received films. That's Tan Dun's main claim to fame, and a deserved one, in my view. His forays into concert-hall music, on the other hand, are full of occasionally interesting moments that never manage to go anywhere, which is why I doubt he's yanking the interviewer's chain. The faux-"deep" Eastern philosophy he spouts off here is of a piece with his music.

Posted by: M. at December 5, 2006 11:39 AM

His Passion is consistently interesting.

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2006 11:40 AM
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