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Tan Dun

Publisher: G. Schirmer

In Distance (1987)
G Schirmer Inc
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Sub Category
Mixed Ensemble
Year Composed
10 Minutes
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Programme Note
Tan Dun In Distance (1987)
I called this piece In Distance because it was a kind of questioning of myself. On the simplest level, there is a wide distance between each of the instruments in register, timbre, and dynamics. Then, even though I used three Western instruments, the music often veers away from the way these instruments usually sound. The piccolo is treated more like the Chinese bamboo flute, the harp is treated like the koto, and the bass drum is made to sound like Indian drums, played only with fingers and the palms of the hands. A third meaning can be heard in the texture of the music, which is very open with lots of silent space, for I began to use rests as a kind of musical language. Finally, I explored the distance, even the conflict, between atonal writing and folk materials. Written just after I arrived in New York, I began to see myself with the clarity of distance.

—Tan Dun

Sample Pages

IN DISTANCE, a sparse and beautiful piece, [is] exquisitely-etched with fine lines and simple melodic fragments. [Tan Dun] is the real McCoy, stylistically assured, and manipulating easily-accessible musical material into unfamiliar but totally coherent structures.
Michael Tumelty, The Glasglow Herald,15/09/1988
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