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Huihui Cheng

What do you want to find out with your music?

For me, composing is about discovering my nature. It is always through this investigation of my own personal taste that the work emerges. I find it important to discover myself while composing. In this process of selection and elimination, I figure out who I really am.

I often work intuitively when I start a new piece, and gradually through this process of experimentation, I try to build a context around the materials I particularly care about, as a way to convey this music to the listener. I consider in a sense that music speaks and can evoke visual/theatrical images or specific memories, although, in the end, the music sounds for itself and does not need to rely on a narrative.

My music also has a strong Chinese influence, it tends to be conceived in a linear way, with each phrase, each sound conceived as a breathing gesture. Therefore, for me the best way sometimes is to show the singers what is actually meant in the score, relying for instance on simulations to help the learning process. Because the notation always describes the sound in an incomplete way, it also prompts the performer to find his own creative interpretation, that is why I often give a bit of freedom to a solo performer in his interpretation of rhythm, so that he/she can also make the music his/her own.

Where are the limits of notation?

Often, notation represents one of the most challenging issues, especially when I write for voice, because it is always difficult to find the appropriate symbols for the vocal gestures that I find in my own vocal practice. The timbre of voice presents infinite possibilities of notation: a minute pitch or dynamic inflection can give completely different meanings: depending on whether the sound contains air or not, or the ways in which breath is used… All these give different types of expression.


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