English

“Originality” CD Liner Notes

These are the full composer’s notes from the 2005 release of the Formosa Singer’s “Originality” recording, I-to Loh's first CD compilation of his songs. There wasn't room in the CD booklet for the inclusion of the full notes, so we have reproduced them here. The CD is available directly from the Formosa Singers at www.formosasingers.com.tw (unfortunately the web site is currently only in Chinese).

CONTENTS

  1. Catching Dragonflies
  2. North-West Rain (Thunder Showers)
  3. God’s Way is the Best Way
  4. For God So Loved the World
  5. In the Bulb There is a Flower
  6. Hunger Carol (Child of Joy and Peace)
  7. When Love is Found and Hope Comes Home
  8. Watch the Bush of Thorn
  9. Filial Piety Song
  10. Together with the Spring Wind, Let’s Welcome the New Year
  11. A New Version of “Expecting the Spring Wind”
  12. Su-Siang-Ki

Preface

Is music “an international language”? Observing the uncomfortable facial expressions of a person listening to the traditional music of the Tao tribe of the Orchid Island (Lan-yu), one begins to realize that the ethnic music of minority groups has not been included in the category of so-called “international language.” But if the world's seven thousand existing cultures chose to imitate a Western-centered notion of an “international language,” would there be any more fascinating new musical art in the world?

I have insisted on creating unique Taiwanese and Asian musical works that reflect Oriental musical wisdom, thus abandoning the trap of Western traditional harmonic language. This has made it difficult for many Taiwanese friends to appreciate my “strange music.” The musical elements and resources in these pieces are all derived from Taiwanese Holo, Hakkah, Pingpu, and Paiwan folk and childrens’ songs, as well as from the Indonesian gamelan. They have been treated with contrapuntal techniques to exhibit the melodic beauty of Oriental music. Some musicians might be able to discover certain traces of influences by Western maestros such as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525-1594), J.S. Bach (1685-1750) and Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967). Still others might sense the fragrance of “sweet potatoes” among the works marked with “Lõk-tô phiao” (“trademark of the Camel,” which was a nickname given to me by my classmates). Hopefully, they might begin to sense and appreciate my struggles searching for “self identity” in contemporary Taiwanese musical art. I would appreciate comments and criticism from scholars, musicians and colleagues.

I would like to express my profound appreciations and gratitude to Prof. Ching-chun Su and his Formosa Singers, for their love, support and hard work in recording and producing this CD album, which marks the first in my lifetime.

I-to Loh 10/04/05

Brief Biography of I-to Loh

Born in 1936 in Taiwan, the Rev. I-to Loh is a graduate of Tainan Theological College and Seminary (M.Div.), Union Theological Seminary in New York (SMM in Composition), and University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA, Ph.D. in Music, majoring in Ethnomusicology).

He has taught Asian and Global Church Music, Ethnomusicology and Worship for many years at the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music in Manila, and at Tainan Theological College and Seminary. He has collected and compiled over 20 collections of hymns, including Sound the Bamboo: CCA Hymnal 2000 (including 315 hymns from 22 countries, with 44 languages). He was named a Fellow of the Hymn Society of America and Canada in 1995, the first non-Caucasian to have earned that honor in the Society's 70 years of existence. His other publications include over one hundred hymns and anthems, Teach Us to Praise, and many academic essays in Chinese and English.

For more than two decades, he was active in the ecumenical circles leading music and worship at the assemblies and conferences of the World Council of Churches and Christian Conference of Asia.

Rev. Loh retired from his positions as seminary president and head of the Church Music Department at Tainan Theological College and Seminary in 2002. He has been a visiting professor in various countries, continues to be the editor of the Official Hymnal of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, and is writing a companion to Sound the Bamboo.

Brief Biography of Su Ching-Chun

One of Taiwan’s influential chorus conductors, Su Ching-Chun appears regularly at Taiwan’s important concert halls and festivals.

After receiving his Master of Music in choral conducting at Westminster Choir College, US, he returned to his motherland, becoming actively involved in choral directing and education. He founded Taipei Men’s Glee and remodeled Taipei Philharmonic Madrigal Singers into Formosa Singers. He was also asked to undertake the director of Taipei Joy Women’s Choir, Taipei Hwa-shin Children’s Chorus and Taipei Teacher’s Chorus. So far he has staged hundreds of successful concerts. The choruses he has conducted have been internationally recognized as being prestigious, and have frequently toured around the world. In addition, the CD albums he has produced are highly appreciated among music lovers and have won numerous Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan.

In 1998, he was awarded the Taiwan Cultural Devotion Prize by Taiwanese Care, Incorporated in recognition of his consistent devotion to music education in Taiwan. In 2000, he was invited to give a concert with the Formosa Singers at Vegal Hall, Takarazuka, Japan for “Ascending Taiwan,” Taiwan and Osaka-Kobe Earthquake Memorial Concert during which the audience was deeply moved to tears. And in August 2004, Mr. Su again conducted the Formosa Singers in its performance of “Sounds of Taiwan,” at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City. The Formosa Singers, under Mr. Su, won the Gold prize on August, 2005 in “The Takarazuka International Chamber Choir Contest”.

He is currently an Associate Professor of Music at Fu Jen Catholic University.

The Formosa Singers

Established in 1995, the Formosa Singers have over 40 members. The spirit of the ensemble is embodied in their maxim: “Expressing the essence of Taiwan in song, cherishing Her through music.” Musical director and conductor Su Ching-Chun (Julian Su) received his MA in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College in the US.

Since 1999 the Formosa Singers have actively sought to expand the range of their activities beyond regular domestic concerts. During the years 2000 to 2002, they were invited to perform in Japan, the US, Canada, and Australia. In addition to the extensive traveling, regular and charity concerts, in August 2005, the winning of 2 golds in the mixed and men’s category, and 1 silver in the women’s category at the 21st Annual Takarazuka International Chorus Contest in Japan added even more accolades to the existing glories of the choir.

The Formosa Singers have been expressing in song the essence of Taiwan for just over ten years. Despite such a brief history, under the guidance of musical director and conductor Su Ching-Chun (Julian Su) they have evolved a distinctive style that has allowed them to rapidly gain international recognition. With the winning of the “Best Lyrics” and “Best Performance by a Group” in the category of traditional arts music at the 13th annual Golden Melody Awards in 2002 (their most recent CD: A Walk Through Our Collective Memories, was also nominated for this year’s Golden Melody Awards in the category of “Best Performance”), and the “Outstanding Art’s Award” awarded by the US’s Taiwanese Care Incorporated in August 2004, their image as “the voice of Taiwan” has further entrenched itself in people’s minds.

1. Catching Dragonflies

“Catching Dragonflies” is composed with the combination of three- to four-note motifs, typical of children’s rhymes. Since Taiwanese is a tonal language, recitation of poems according to the natural intonations would formulate natural melodies. The composer utilizes this technique in two to three voices through imitative counterpoint. One needs the rich imagination of a child and a playful mind to recreate this song. It was originally composed for the Tainan Children’s Chorus in 1994.

Catching dragonflies! Catching dragonflies!
Dragonflies fly constantly when they see people,
Flying here and flying there, causing me to lose my breath from chasing them.

Catching dragonflies! Catching dragonflies!
Dragonflies fly constantly when they see people,
Flying to the east, flying to the west, 
Let’s see what would be your fate, when I catch you! I got you!

2. North-West Rain (“Thunder Showers”)

Based on popular children’s rhymes from various parts of Taiwan, this two-part chorus contains some children’s rhymes that the composer learned from his childhood playmates in Samkiap, Taipei. It was composed on June 9, 1977, in Los Angeles for a Taiwanese Children’s Chorus. Try to imagine returning back to your own childhood days with innocent, romantic and playful moods, and recite the song loudly, and the folk style will become apparent.

Northwest rain is falling unceasingly, the carp is getting married,
Brother ko-tai (fish) beating the gong and drum, Auntie catfish the matchmaker.
The sun is dark, lost on the road, come here quickly, firefly,
Be so kind as to lead the way. Northwest rain’s falling still.

(The same text, with 2nd voice adding percussion of gongs, cymbals and drums.)
[Match maker boasting]: As a match maker, I’m the best, but my eye sight is chhia-chhia, and can’t see the road...
1st voice: Rain, rain, rain, rain, northwest rain’s falling still, the heron hastens the way, over the mountains, crossing the streams, he can’t find the nest.
He stumbled. The sun is dark, what shall I do? God of earth, Goddess of earth,
Be so kind as to lead the way. The carp is getting married, 
the frogs, carrying the carriage, have large stomachs. 
Brother ko-tai is beating gongs and drums, 
Dragonflies, holding the flags, complain of the hardship. 
Tong-tong-long- tong- chhiang! Northwest rain’s still falling! Saahhhh!
2nd voice: Northwest rain’s still falling! The heron is pushing the bamboo basket,
pushing to the stream shore, he stumbled and picked one cent. He finds no nest, 
O firefly, be so kind as to lead the way. God of earth, Goddess of earth, Be so kind as to lead the way.

3. God’s Way is the Best Way

This is one of Rev. C.M. Kao’s masterpieces written in a prison cell (see notes in “Watch the bush of thorns”). It is impossible to solve the problems of suffering with any philosophical interpretation. Only those with noble character and strong conviction may be able to perceive the transcendent will of God, and to turn hardship, tribulation and despair into thanksgiving and joy. This poem shows the wisdom and faith of the author. The motifs of this chorus and those of “When love is found and hope comes home” (see below) are all adapted from a Paiwan song “Isaceqalan,” the melodic figures of which are treated with rhythmic and harmonic variations. Together with the flute accompaniment, they depict the feelings shifting from horror, despair, and sorrow, to joy‚Äì like butterflies cheerfully flitting along in the spring wind. This piece was originally composed for a soprano solo, but it becomes more powerful and demanding in choral techniques when sung by a female unison chorus.

I asked the Lord for a bunch of fresh flowers, 
but instead he gave me an ugly cactus with many thorns.
I asked the Lord for some beautiful butterflies,
But instead he gave me many ugly and dreadful worms (caterpillars).
I was threatened, I was disappointed, I mourned.
But after many days, suddenly, I saw the cactus bloom with many beautiful flowers,
And those caterpillars became beautiful butterflies flying in the Spring Wind.
God’s way is the best way.

4. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son

This is the last chorus of the composer’s second cantata “The Prince of Peace,” written in the fall of 1966. The text is taken from one of the most important verses in the Bible, John 3:16. It was the intention of the composer to be free from the bondage of traditional Western harmony. After more than two years of searching and experimentation, he had finally established his own unique theory and practice of a Taiwanese style of composition. It was here in this piece that he was able to put his theory into practice: 1) Taiwanese cherish musical beauty through melodic lines, so the main melody flows according to its natural intonation, which enables people to understand the meanings of the text. 2) A five-tone scale marks the characteristics of Taiwanese melody, hence half-tone progressions are avoided. 3) A choral piece constructed within a five tone scale would get boring within a short time, hence it is necessary to “modulate” to other tonal levels. For instance, when “si” (7) is introduced, it constitutes “mi” (3) in the new mode or tonal center. Likewise, when the tone “fa” (4) occurs, it is the equivalent of “do” (1) in the new tonal center. 4) Western traditional chords or chordal progressions are consciously avoided in the counterpoint or harmonic development. Thus through this chorus, the author was able to establish his own musical identity as a Taiwanese.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish,
but may have eternal life.

5. In the Bulb There is a Flower

“In the bulb there is a flower” was written by American author/composer Natalie Sleeth. It is a search for the mystery of life through natural phenomena, such as from the bulb to flower, cocoons to butterflies, winter to spring, silence to music, darkness to dawn, end to new beginning, doubt to faith, and from death to resurrection, all pointing to the mystery that until its season, God alone has the answers. The melody is constructed in a folk style in D E F G A B C scale, emphasizing the melodic pattern of C B G A to depict the idea of mystery. The melodic skips and the accompaniment, tensions and restlessness only find certain peacefulness at the end of second and fourth phrases.

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree; 
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in ev’ry silence, seeking word and melody.
There’s a dawn in ev’ry darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Text copyright © 1986 Hope Publishing Co.

6. Hunger Carol (“Child of joy and peace”)

Hunger Carol (“Child of joy and peace”) is a different kind of carol written by the renowned New Zealand poet Shirley Murray. She warns us to be mindful of the starving babies around the world, lest we crucify the newborn Christ on the Christmas tree! This imagery stimulated the composition in an exotic scale (with intervals equivalent to E F G B C) in a pseudo-Indonesian gamelan style. The accompaniment on the treble voice imitates the bonang (kettle gongs) or plucked zithers with variations, while the large kenong (large kettle gongs) punctuate between two- to four-beat intervals. In the third stanza, the male voice imitates the style of slentem (low keyed metalophone with resonators) to sing out the abridged main melody like cantus firmus in the Middle Ages, while the soprano develops into its climax in “gather round one table.” On the fourth stanza, the bass line depicts the sense of horror, helplessness, guilt, and repentance dramatically with vigorous rhythms, which marks the climax of the whole piece. Care should be taken in treating the interval of augmented fourth (F ‚Äì B) and the shift of accents within the similar melodic figures which demonstrate the unique features of this style.

Child of joy and peace born to every race –
By your star, the wise will know you, East and West their homage show you,
Look into your face Child of joy and peace.

Born among the poor on a stable floor,
Cold and raw, you know our hunger, weep our tears and share our anger,
Yet you tell us more, born among the poor.

Every child needs bread till the world is fed:
You give bread, your hands enable, all to gather round one table,
Christmas must be shared, every child needs bread.

Son of poverty shame us till we see 
Self-concerned, how we deny you, by our greed we crucify you 
On a Christmas tree, Son of poverty.

Text copyright © 1992 Hope Publishing Co.

7. When Love Is Found and Hope Comes Home

“When Love Is Found and Hope Comes Home” is written by the Rev. Dr. Brian Wren, one of the most prolific English poets today. Its original title is “Love Song,” portraying the sweetness of love as well as the trials and pains of betrayal. The author is convinced that “’til lovers keep no score of wrong, but hear through pain love’s Easter song” comes from Christ’s “death and life in broken bread.” The composer adapted motifs from a Paiwan song “Isaceqalan,” which is the equivalent of C E F G Bb B scale, with B and Bb frequently exchanging like the unpredictable sweet-bitter relations in love. The glides and consecutive triplets that show the shift of accents are important features of this composition. The tight and narrow intervallic relations on measures 60-63 are like tone paintings depicting the feelings of betrayal, depression and agony. The chorus was composed in 1992 in contrapuntal and imitative style. A few spots that show the effect of Western harmony, especially on measure 76 (FAF), were purposefully inserted to reflect the idea of “love’s Easter song.”

When love is found and hope comes home,
Sing and be glad that two are one.
When love explodes and fills the sky,
Praise God, and share our Maker’s joy.

When love has flowered in trust and care,
Build both each day, that love may dare
To reach beyond home’s warmth and light,
To serve and strive for truth and right.

When love is tried as loved ones change,
Hold still to hope, though all seems strange,
Till ease returns and love grows wise
Through listening ears and opened eyes.

When love is torn, and trust betrayed,
Pray strength to love till torments fade,
Till lovers keep no score of wrong,
But hear through pain love’s Easter song.

Praise God for love, praise God for life,
In age or youth, in calm or strife.
Lift up your hearts! Let love be fed
Through death and life in broken bread.

Text copyright © 1983 Hope Publishing Co.

8. Watch the bush of thorn

Because of the “Formosa Incident” (1979), Rev. C.M. Kao, who tried to protect Shih Ming-te, whom he neither knew nor regarded him as guilty for the event, was sentenced to prison for over four years. Although Kao was charged with harboring a fugitive, the main reason behind the sentence was his position as the General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT). The PCT had issued a series of public statements against the Kuomingtang (KMT) regime, urging it to reform, to abolish the nearly 40 years of martial law, to practice democracy, and to hold a national election to replace all the legislators who were elected in China over four decades earlier. All these actions had angered the KMT government, which in turn took the opportunity to put him in jail. During his term in prison, he meditated on the spirit of the Presbyterian logo, “the inconsumable burning bush,” and wrote this poem to witness his faith: the church becomes stronger even at the time of persecution for the sake of truth and justice. Being deeply moved by this poem, the composer adapted a wailing song motif to portray the will and strength of women in a feudal society, who cried for their hardships but resolved to overcome their condition. The climax on the text “spring wakes what had died” is the exact reversal of the initial musical motif, jumping up a fifth, and introducing the 6th tone (si), which is the climax of the song, symbolizing the birth of a new hope for life. The hymn was originally composed in 1985, but arranged for three voices with optional flute or fiddle accompaniment in 1993.

Watch the bush of thorns being licked by fierce flame —
The bush is not consumed, but still stays the same.

Refrain:
When fire and heat subside, seed growth soon resumes;
The spring wakes what had died, and bring forth new blooms.

Watch the burning bush, by God’s will kept whole:
When Christians face hard trial, love’s power nerves their soul.

Watch the suffering thorns: though burning still alive —
If persecution strikes, then Christ’s Church revives!

Courage fill our hearts as Jesus Christ’s friends!
With him in test of fire, our faith finds true strength.

Translated by Jim Minchin, 1990

 

9. Filial Piety Song

“Filial Piety Song” was written by Mr. Chian-chong Chen and Cheng-chong Tseng in 1983 for the celebration of Mother’s Day and an evangelistic campaign in Chu-tong Church, admonishing people to respect their parents and repay their kindnesses. The melody was from a Hakka “P’iang-pan”genre, arranged by I-to Loh with the interpolation of large skips that are the peculiar melodic features of the “shan-ko-tsu” (mountain song) genre. Stanza two exhibits the melodic beauty of the p’iang-pan and the free accompaniment by the flute. The augmentation of the shan-ko-tsu melody on stanza three is an interplay with two other voices plus the flute counterpoint, forming a complex four-part polyphony leading into the climax. The original ornaments and the non-lexical syllables have been retained to show the simplicity and beauty of the Hakka folk tradition. This reflects the composer’s ideal of contextualizing choral works through utilization of local materials.

Filial Piety Song. All people in the world have parents,
A father and mother’s health is good news,
Use kind words and be filial, Generations begotten are better than gold.

God loves all the people of the world,
Children can enjoy their parents’ favor,
Everything on earth has an origin, we should be filial, 
and more so, worship Heaven.

God has spoken to the people of the world,
“Return your parents’ gracious kindness.”
If we obey this commandment, we will receive longevity and happiness.

Translated by Paul McLean

10. Together with the Spring Wind, Let’s Welcome the New Year

On “921” (Sept. 21) 1999, Taiwan suffered the strongest earthquake of the century, and before the wounds were healed, there came floods and mudslides. On “911” (Sept. 11) 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists; the twin towers of the World Trade Center crashed to the ground, and thousands of innocent lives were lost within minutes. The eyes of the world have witnessed these tragedies with utmost fear.

In the midst of adversity, how can we celebrate Christmas? I-to Loh, therefore, approached the poet Rev. Gan Sin-seng to write a poem that would reflect the anxiety in the world and proclaim the message of the gospel of hope. In order to exhibit the diversified musical styles of Taiwan, Rev. Loh adapted a Paiwan melody “ualaioyi” as the theme to develop the song in a hymn style. He also utilized the Heng-chhun folk song motif “Su-ah-su-siang-ki” to lead into the new texts “morality losing its direction in flight” and “the soul sinking in vanity,” both of which have similar intonation (in the Taiwanese language) with the folk motif, thus amplifying the meanings of the original texts. Further, the adaptation of another folk melody “Long-chhuan-khek” (“Song of the Rural Village”), in which the original texts “for feeding the three meals” are now set to a new lesson “Give up your insatiable greed” and “imprison your hatred in cages”; these are reminders to fellow Taiwanese to be content with sufficient food and a simple life, rather than being so greedy and over-cultivating lands, thereby destroying the ecological balance and resulting in natural disasters.

The poem also reflects the hatred among the international communities, which seek the revenge of “tooth for tooth.” We all need love to overcome animosity, so that we may “release gently all trials” and “let charity sail into the harbor.” Only in so doing, can we “welcome the New Year together with the spring wind.”

The individual voices in the chorus are generally set in parallel fourths, counterpoint, imitation, fugal progression and rhythmic interlocking parts, the technique of which is intended to break away from the traditional Western harmonic idioms, so that the unique features of the music of various ethnic groups in Taiwan may be heard. The transformation of the original texts of the folk songs to the new messages and lessons that we have to learn today demonstrates the composer’s initial attempt in doing theology with music. It is hoped that one would be able to perceive its meanings when one can listen carefully to the intimate relations between the text and tune.

The earth is shaking, shaking in a night of deep slumber.
Awakened in dreams,
wordless and in tears, only to question the heaven:
My beloved family, where have they gone?
My destroyed home, when can I rebuild?
Why were the mountains and rivers devastated by mudslides,
all that I can smell are the filthy insatiable desires?

Fires of war are burning,
burning in the new century, covered with fog.
In the signs of modern civilizations,
we see with our wide opened eyes
the cold currents of hatred;
trying thousands of times, yet they cannot be pushed away.
The root of evil sows seeds everywhere;
Satan, formulated in the dark smoke,
laughs with the wind at the ignorance of humanity.

Chorus A:
Morality losing its directions in flight,
the soul sinking in vanity,
the earth, with unbearable pain,
awakens our dreams in deep slumber:
Give up your insatiable greed; imprison your hatred in cages.
Break away from the snares of desires;
together with the spring wind, let's welcome the New Year.

A voice is calling, calling all to “come to me,”
from oceans to high mountains,
from ancient times to the present;
wherever the people are, there the voices of this call reach.
Where there is love, there his name is.
When this voice of calling becomes seeds of peace,
they will take root from Christmas night and generate new lives.

Chorus B:
Christmas bells are ringing again, each ring reports of peace;
the unchanging love of Christ the Lord
is the eternal hope for human beings.
Release gently all trials; let charity sail into the harbor.
Walking through the gate and lane of times,
together with the spring wind, let's welcome the New Year.

11. A New Version of “Expecting the Spring Wind”

The renowned poet Li Lim-chhiu’s “Bang Chhun Hong” (Expecting the Spring Wind) is considered a masterpiece of Taiwanese literature. The skillful way it portrays the hidden emotions of a young girl in love is incomparable. The composer was very fond of polyphonic music from the Renaissance era, so he utilized a lyrical and slow counterpoint to depict the implicit changes of the young girls’ feelings. This exhibits the composer’s general approach to composition during his early formative years (1970):

  1. The melody develops according to the natural flow of Taiwanese intonation.
  2. Retaining the same main melody on the second stanza would create tone-tune conflicts; this necessitates the other voices to develop counterpoints according to their respective natural flow of intonations.
  3. Although the piece is basically composed with a six-tone scale (D E F G A C), there are no half-tone progressions (E-F), and the four-part harmony does not create any effect of chordal progression.

This was the composer’s own principle for getting out of the trap of Western traditional harmony. The accompaniment by Taiwanese flute has purposefully borrowed the motif of Teng U-hian’s original setting, thus creating a dialogue and counterpoint between the old and new versions of this song.

On a lonely night, without a companion, sitting under the lamp, 
the spring wind blows through her face. 
A girl of 17 or 18, not yet married, met a young chap;
Truly handsome, fair in skin, what kind of family is he from?
Wanting to question him, but feeling embarrassed,
her heart is pounding like playing the pi-pa (lute).

How much I want the man to be my husband; 
keeping the secret love in my heart, I’m waiting for when this man would come
to pick the flower that is blooming at the golden season of spring.
Suddenly hearing someone coming from outside,
I opened the door to see, only to be teased by the moon that 
I am a fool, being cheated by the wind without knowing it.

12. Su-Siang-Ki

Folk songs, such as this “Su-siang-ki” (literally “when I recall...”) from Heng-chhun, reflect all the sweet, sour, bitter and joyful feelings of the people. The improvisations normally vary according to their contexts, events, feelings and regional differences, hence this “su-siang-ki” melody may contain the soul and characteristics of folk music of different ethnic groups (tribal, Holo and Hakka) in Taiwan. The composer uses contrapuntal and imitative techniques in the first two stanzas to portray people’s luxurious desires and conflicts created by love affairs between men and women. For the third stanza, the composer transcribed the version sung by the last and foremost folk singer Tan Tat’s (Chen Da) monumental song of proverbial exhortations to contemporary people, and is set with three voices, accompanying and echoing the main melody. The composer wrote his own new text for the last stanza to highlight the importance of folk songs, which can be turned into works of art worthy of performing in concert halls. The piece exemplifies the composer’s rejection of traditional Western harmonic language, and his insistence on his own polyphonic treatment that enhances the beauty and flow of Taiwanese melodies. It was originally composed for three voices in St. Louis in the summer of 1994 for the Formosa Singers, but was revised for SATB in October 2003, in Princeton.

When I recall...
Buds of peach flowers are pink; fading plum flowers have lost their fragrance.
When I recall my old passion, a good tasting sugar cane 
should be sweet in both ends.

When I recall...
Green bamboos blossom with green bamboo shoots,
If the first wife cannot bear children, one should take a concubine.
After taking in the concubine, everyone loves her;
It is so pitiful to abandon the first wife. So, you should never get married!

Hey, when I recall...
One year passed by and another year comes,
The current condition is getting worse.
Don’t spend so luxuriously when you can earn so little,
Young and old are shedding tears for not being able to get by.

When I recall...
Su-siang-ki is a native product of Heng-chhun village,
Upon hearing, all young and old are very fond of it.
Folksongs can even achieve the rank of high art,
One never gets tired of listening to native Taiwanese songs