Level: Professional/very advanced
Duration: 30-40 minutes (6 movements)
Jom makan! This is a series of pieces inspired by my time in Malaysia. Based on the 6 potential meals a day Malaysians may eat (breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper), this cycle of compositions in progress uses the diverse cultural background of the food and culture to create a multi-movement work that is truly inspired by Malaysia
1. Nasi Lemak (breakfast)
a spicy dish common eaten for breakfast. When I first saw the dish, I thought the spicy red sauce (sambal) was tomato sauce and served much more than I should have. The resulting pain of the spiciness is reflected through the tone clusters near the beginning, in an atonal rendering of the rhythms of the Malay dance known as a joget. As I slowly learn the right portions to eat it, I reveal a song in more conventional terms largely inspired by the music of the Malay dance known as a zapin. Towards the end, the spiciness returns as I frequently run out drink, reflected by the Caribbean inspired rhythms (what I associate with spiciness) and the return of the tone clusters, culminating in a loud, sigh of relief when I finish the food.
2. Morning Tea
In Malaysia, the "tea" meals will serve tea in the British sense, but also include non-British items like curry puffs or rice-based cakes. In this movement, I start with a sound similar to Mozart or Haydn and slowly incorporate music inspired by lagu asli ("original music" a local music itself a mix of Malay and outside influences), punctuated at the end by the pianists emulating the rebana by striking the piano body.
3. Nasi Campur (lunch)
Nasi campur ("mixed rice") is the most common thing available at lunchtime. It is usually self-served and contains a variety of meats, vegetables, sauces, and drinks. Because of this, I was inspired to create a composition that could be different each time, inspired by the musical dice in the classical era and aleatoric/chance music in the 20th century.
4. Afternoon Tea
Similar to Morning tea, it starts out like a European style—in this case, a Bach minuet—and concludes like a joget. To put a twist on the piece, I ended with an "unbalanced" joget in 5/8.
5. Char Kuey Teow (dinner)
A noodle dish created by Malaysian Chinese. This piece uses the traditional Hokkien opera tune "Cuey Zhaw" as a fantasy. It starts with music inspired by the sheng (Chinese mouth organ), and later shifts through Malaysian gamelan (which uses the same scale as a lot of traditional Chinese music), then to blues and salsa to represent my interaction as an American.
6. Roti Canai (supper)
An Indian flatbread very popular in Malaysia as breakfast or a late night meal. The music is heavily inspired by Indian Classical music with improvisation sections, followed by a medium rhythmic section, concluding the entire section with a lively, fast section. There are elements of Malaysian gamelan and the two-note motif found through is inspired by the two gongs of mak yong.
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