Relapse (2016) for orchestra
3(picc., a.f.), 2+e.h., 3, 2+c.b.; 4,3,3,1; Timp.+3; Hp.; Pno.; Str.
Premiere: 10/14/2016; New Music for Orchestra, Bovard Auditorium, USC Thornton Symphony Orchestra; Donald Crockett, conductor
Reading: 4/20/2016; Advanced Orchestration with Andrew Norman, USC Thornton Symphony Orchestra
Preview Score: PDF
Buy The Full Score: Store
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