For 18 instrumentalists and five female vocalists
With NUN (snow), I wrote a piece that is carried by a single widespread six-tone chord. This chord prevails through the entire piece in several different forms.
My starting point was an image: the white color of snow is changing through many shades of pastel while the sun is setting. My music doesn’t have harmonic functions, not even harmonic polar counterparts in the sense of dodecaphony. The harmonic field is static to me, while also caught in an endless flow at the same time. It makes the sound of this chord sequence into an almost timbral phenomenon.
The five singers are also playing some of the percussion instruments. The hand movements one does while playing percussion has been a natural expression of prayer in Korean culture for centuries.
In the lyrical poem „On a snowy night“ (1938), the Korean poet Kwang-Kyung Kim talks about how grief and regret are put to rest in the everlasting snowfall. (In Korea, white is the color of death and the traditional color of mourning). I chose some words and phonemes from this poem, and put them to music.
The lyrics are:
Snow – what distance – longing – the message – on this night – without a voice (sound) – falling – sad – traces of the past – white snow (HIN-NUN) – breath – my heart is so full I could choke – me alone – heart – emptiness – without a ray of light or fragrance – without a lamp’s gleam – looking back ruefully – mourning clothes – snowing – layer by layer – my grief – quiet – being cold – being icy cold.
ounghi Pagh-Paan (1979)