Duration: 8 minutes
Written in 2021, Time Immemorial is a work for solo 37-reed sheng that explores the contrapuntal capabilities of this ancient instrument. A chromatic instrument with a range of more than 3 octaves, it is a modern remake of the ancient bamboo sheng with modifications that allow for extra projection and polyphonic capabilities. It is known for being an integral member of the Chinese instrument where it supports the woodwinds and brass with its hybrid reed and brass sound. As a solo instrument, the 37-reed sheng is gaining widespread popularity as it is well suited to support itself and be adapted for music in many genres.
The title Time Immemorial refers to “a point of time in the past that was so long ago that people have no knowledge or memory of it. (Oxford Languages),” and was chosen to reflect the ancient lineage of the instrument and the imaginary narrative that governs the work. The piece begins with a gesture that is repeated several times throughout while sustained pedal tones anchor it harmonically, giving each gesture context. A faster section displays the virtuosic capabilities of the sheng as it navigates through various chords that were composed with the instrument’s unique design in mind. The piece closes with the same gestures from the beginning, returning to a stillness that harkens back to Time Immemorial.
Special thanks to Wu Wei and the SEED 2021 Academy for bringing this piece to life.
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