No-Self Is True-Self (2014)
(for Mezzo Soprano, Flute / Piccolo, Bass Clarinet, Trumpet, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello and Percussion)
Approximate duration = 14 minutes
MIDI RECORDING. This piece has yet to be performed.
Set to a poem by 4th century Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu, and inspired by the Tao Te Ching, No-Self Is True-Self explores the meaning of selflessness through timelessness. The skeleton of the piece was created from a set of 7 chords which repeat 3 times. The duration of these chords, as well as the triplet-8th note-quarter note motif, are determined by strict durational serialism. The sense of randomness and unpredictability that results contributes to the sense of no-time, or the awareness of time versus no-time. Another theme of the piece is the notion of major versus minor. Sometimes the chords sound major, minor, or both simultaneously. The vocal line was written last to float around the harmonies created by the instruments, sometimes anticipating a new chord, and sometimes carrying over a common note between two chords as the chords change. When the last melody was written to end the piece, that became the basis for the opening melody and introduction.
No-Self Is True-Self
by Chuang Tzu
Those in whom Tao acts without impediment
Do not bother with their own interests
And do not despise others who do.
They do not struggle to make money
And do not make a virtue of poverty.
They go their way without relying on others
And do not pride themselves on walking alone.
While they do not follow the crowd
They won’t complain of those who do.
Rank and reward make no appeal to them
Disgrace and shame do not deter them.
They are not always looking for right and wrong
Always deciding “Yes” and “No”.
The ancients said, therefore:
“Those of Tao remain unknown,
Perfect virtue produces nothing
No-Self is true-Self
And the greatest one is nobody”