a Shower of Sunbeams
Sunlight dances on ripples of seawater
Underneath, fish glide and zip through their kingdom
I follow them in…
'a Shower on Sunbeams' was written in July 2020 for
Dreambox Collective’s virtual concert ‘Big Blue’
~ ‘Big Blue’ is a creative exploration of our relationship to water, in partnership with marine Australian conservation organisation Tangaroa Blue. The concert saw people from all across the world join together in a virtual space to hear about Tangaroa Blue’s work on tracing marine debris, and hear five new works by
Australian composers responding to the theme of ‘Big Blue’. ~
Unlike any piece I’ve written in the past, the evocative name for this
piece was suggested to me first – by Dreambox Collective founder
and flautist Chloe Chung – and I took it as my initial point of
inspiration. Complementing this, I wanted to capture
some of the natural beauty of Sydney’s Shelly Beach,
where I spent some beautiful days snorkelling in near-solitude
during the COVID lockdowns (when beaches were reopened!).
On clear days, one is mesmerised by the sunlight’s dance on the ripples
of the sea, and it is easy to catch sight of the lively activities of fish in the reefs –
fish of all shapes and sizes, gliding through the water in solitude, or zipping about
in schools that behave like one big organism.
I experimented with quartal harmony in the top register of the piano to suggest the luminosity of the sunlight, and imbued the flute part with fishy rhetoric – that is, I imagined how a fish would speak, if it could. The bulk of the piece is harmonically structured around non-functional sequences of dominant 7th chords, set so as to bring out their perky qualities, which complemented the fishy melodic gestures I decided to use.
The piece is structured in an episodic, roughly symmetric form, unified by short motifs. It opens and ends with evocations of sparkling sunbeams – with the final section being an exact retrograde of the opening. In some sections, I wanted to capture the darting qualities of the movements of small fish, which can be seen in the wonderful video footage that has been put together by Jeffrey Cheah.
I hope you enjoy the end result!
Videography by Jeffrey Cheah jeffreycheah.com.au/
Audio by Jolin Jiang jolinjiang.com/