Peter Shin

Composer and Visual Artist


Relapse (2016) for orchestra

In 2012, a series of lapses in psyche confronted me with the two halves of my Korean-American identity, both of which—at the time—felt alien to me. Among many realizations, I became cognizant of my inherent role for the Asian-American community which struggles to be recognized as truly American. Today, I am educating myself on its collective origins and strive for a deeper understanding of my Korean ancestry.

The initial melody of Relapse is derived from the minor pentatonic scale, the major counterpart of which makes up the building blocks of the Korean folk song, “Arirang,” inscribed—for its preservation—on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Although pleasant to the ears, this tune is an anthem of abandonment and tremendous lament, drawing out the original dance-like 3/4 meter over a more stately and solemn quasi-4/4 meter. Although the central idea of Relapse, the melody makes only one incomplete and wildly-interrupted iteration following a series of rhythmic shifts within a rigid tempo, illustrating the grief behind the text, and the wave of doubts which—four years ago—would constantly disrupt my sense of belonging.

“My dear—who discarded me here—cannot walk ten li before their feet burn.”
– translated verse from “Arirang,” Korean folk song, Anonymous

New music group, Feral Bodies, debuting in 2017. With Corey Dundee, saxophone/composition; Graycen Gardner, soprano; Liya Khaimova, soprano; Peter Shin, composition; Nick Volpert, cello/composition.

Stills from a video piece by Feral Bodies featuring saxophonist Corey Dundee and vocalist Liya Khaimova.

With poet Dexter L. Booth and featured poets at the thematic poetry reading for Sandra Bland. July 13, 2016, Art Share L.A.