Duet – Blues n’Grooves

Erhu and Piano/ Violin and Piano/ Erhu and Orchestra
Duration:                 4 minutes
Year:                          2014

Complete Performance:

Program Notes:

    This piece came about as a result of several external factors. I was approached by Corey Hamm in April of 2013 to write an Erhu and Piano piece for his Piano and Erhu project he was undertaking with erhu player Nicole Li. Along with my piece, he commissioned several short works for this project from several Canadian and Chinese composers to be performed in UBC and subsequently toured in China. I thought this would be a great opportunity to write something short and snazzy as a kind of encore piece for his project, thus showcasing the virtuosic abilities of Corey and Nicole.

  I decided that I wanted to combine the elements of Blues and Jazz in this piece. I quickly realized that there are similarities between the music of the Orient and the blues, one of which is the similarity in modes. The pentatonic mode, which has 5 notes in its scale, is most often associated with Oriental music, whereas the blues scale has 6 notes, 5 of which are derived from the pentatonic mode with the additional note being the raised 4th scale degree. It can be seen that by adding a single note to the pentatonic mode, one can evoke the sound of Blues and Jazz by extension.

The piece itself is in a simple double binary form. Section A is a lyrical introduction, with the erhu singing a bluesy melody while the piano quietly accompanies. This transitions into the Vivace section, with syncopated rhythms and a driving pulse.

Performance History:

–  Sep 12th, 2014, Corey Hamm (pno) and Nicole Li (Erhu) @ Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, Vancouver, BC.
–  Aug 30th, 2014, Song Fei (Erhu) @ Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing, China.
–  Jun 27th, 2014, Song Fei (Erhu) @ China Conservatory of Music, Beijimg, China.
–  May 24th, 2014, Corey Hamm (pno) and Nicole Li (erhu) @ Roy Barnett Hall, Vancouver, BC.
–  Mar 21st 2014, Chairat Chongvattanakij and Amely Zhou @ University of Toronto Faculty of Music, Toronto, ON.


May 2015 – reviewed on Fanfare Magazine – Raymond Tuttle, reviewer

Blues n’ Grooves  is just that – a soulful and funky bit of absolute music by composer Roydon Tse.”

May 2015 – reviewed on the Fanfare Magazine- Lynn Bayley, reviewer

…although the first two works on this CD [PEP Vol .1] were written by a Canadian composer (Scott Godin) and a composer from Hong Kong (Roydon Tse), it is the former that sounds more Asian in musical concept and the latter that sounds more Western, specifically kind of a rock and blues sort of style, and interestingly it suits the erhu very well.”

February 2015 –  reviewed on The WholeNote – Andrew Timar, columnist.  More info

The repertoire on the album all dates from within the last few years. It explores a wide stylistic range, from the alternately sassy, sizzling Blues ’n Grooves (2014) composed by University of Toronto composition student Roydon Tse…a feast for Li’s expressive mastery in the erhu’s upper range.”