LIVING TONES Compositions

“This is new music/world music at its finest, beyond political correctness, into the realm of the sublime, where words and cultural postures fall away.”  
Josef Woodard, The Los Angeles Times

 

Jin Hi Kim has developed a series of compositions for chamber ensemble and orchestra using her Living Tones philosophy--The timbral persona of each tone generated is treated with an abiding respect, as its philosophical mandate from Buddhism, a reverence for the ‘life’ of a tone, the color and nuance granted each articulation from Korean Shamanism expression. Kim's Living Tones concept is derived from the characteristic of Korean tone quality (sigimse). Each tone is alive, embodying its own individual shape, sound, texture, vibrato, glissando, expressive nuances and dynamics. The life is partly given to the notes by gestures, which shape the tones and produce subtle microtonal fluctuations. Living Tones can be realized best in the organically formed space (time) by shaping its own tone gestures freely rather than being locked in a fixed time frame. This radical departure from a harmonic based musical langauage is concerned with minute tonal shadings, gradation, and an organic process for developing phrases and time structure.

She has merged it with theoretical reserach in John Briggs' The Patterns of Chaos. Fractal patterns such as trees, waves, and clouds focus on broken, crinkled, wrinkled and uneven shapes (Living Tones). In the world of fractals, the shape of triangles, squates or lines is not important. Similiarly for me, fixed scale, perfect pitch and straight melody are not important in the concept of 'Living Tones'. The microscopic cosmos of fractal (organic structure) of self-similarity (infinite variety) and haphazard group (irregular phrases) is for me the essence of being.

Jin Hi Kim has given lectures about Living Tones at over 200 universities in the USA including Cornell, Yale, Wesleyan, Duke, Indiana, Peabody Consrvatory, New England Conservatory, Dartmouth College, University of Minnesota, UC San Diego, and University of Michigan.

Living Tones Lecture(PDF)

 



 


REVIEWS

VOICES OF SIGIMSE
"A gorgeously tactile piece that moved easily between an earthy folksiness and meditative refinement."
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

LINKING
"An essay in integration which suggested a Takemitsu-like ability to hover between eastern and western traditions."
Paul Griffiths, The Times (London)

"The delicacy of her effects and of the Kronos Quartet's playing were constantly riveting."
John Rockwell, The New York Times

KEE MAEK
"an otherwordly violin and cello duet in which sliding tones gave the impression of brush strokes on a canvas."
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

TILINGS
"In Tilings, Jin Hi Kim, an eloquent, eclectic advocate for the komungo, vividly translated her instrument's characteristic slurs and wobbles for a Western ensemble of woodwinds, strings, percussion and cimbalom."

Steve Smith, The New York Times

NONG ROCK
“She applied the concept of “living tones” from traditional Korean music to the Western string quartet.
The effect is a vivid one, especially in the high registers, where pitches slide in and out of consonances seductively. Kim is a composer to be watched.”  
Mark Sweed, Los Angeles Herald Examiner

“Savoring the life of each richly inflected note.”  
Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times

"Her music is inspired by the directly textured instrumental sounds of her own country.
It could never have been written by a native Californian or New Yorker. It's exotic. It's different.
It reflects its culture in the same essential way that Beethoven's quartets reflected his time."
David Harrinton, the Kronos Quartet

ETERNAL ROCK
"(Eternal Rock) moved through the orchestra like a curious outsider, wondering at the range of sounds it can make and using it as an extension of twangy vocabulary of solo komungo."

Anne Midgette, The New York Times

ETERNAL ROCK II
“It is not as westernized in that it doesn’t use traditional melodies, but it has a lot of bite and impact
and it’s really visceral.”  

Gil Rose, Conductor, Boston Modern Orchestra Project

"Some of the orchestral writing sounds like movie music, but the way that Kim extends the effect of the drums by additional percussionists ringed around the stage is striking."
Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe

MONK DANCE
"The most exciting of the instrumental imports (to orchestra) was the set of barrel drums used by Jin Hi Kim in her own vibrant composition, "Monk Dance" ....her propulsive solos on drums took over, leaving the audience breathless."
David Baker, New Haven Register

NORI III
“the colorful, engrossing “Nori III” for Percussion Quartet and Electric Komungo... The infectious rhythms of the piece were playful all right, while suggesting the hypnotic, repetitive style of American minimalists like Steve Reich. Thanks to the exotic tones of the komungo and Asian percussion instruments, the insistent pace never grew monotonous.”  
David J. Baker, New Haven Register

 

 

SELECTED COMPOSITIONS FOR ORCHESTRA & CHAMBER ENSEMBLE

Contact: selected scores are avaiable from Living Tones Publisher at JHKSOURCE@gmail.com.


ONE SKY II
(2018)
instrumentation: orchestra
[winds at 3.2.2.2; brass at 2.2.2.1; timpani, 2 percussion; harp; strings at 6.5.4.4.3]
duration: 15 minutes

notes: Dedicated to the unification of Korea; Composed for Wesleyan University Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life Collaborative Project; Premiere by Wesleyan University Orchestra, Jin Hi Kim (Korean percussion) and Nadya Potemkina (conductor) at Crowell Concert Hall, Middletown, CT (April 16, 2018)

The current political conflict between North Korea and the USA has enormous implications for the world. ONE SKY II is an attempt to deliver a message that we live under and share one sky no matter how different our individual’s beliefs may be or what political boders have been created.


CHILD OF WAR (2014)
instrumentation: soloists (S.A.T.B.), mixed chorus, semi-chorus, percussion, piano accompaniment, and optional komungo (or dan bau) solo interlude
duration: 35 minutes

notes: Dediated to Kim Phuc renowned for 'the girl in the picture' during the Vietnam War;
Commissioned by John Marshall Lee for The Mendelssohn Chorus of Connecticut Carole Ann Maxwell, D.S.M., Conductor; Premiere by the Mendelssohn Chorus of Connecticut with Jin Hi Kim as soloist at Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University, CT (April 6, 2014)

It is my honor to contemplate Kim Phuc who had gone through extreme turmoil during the Vietnam War as a 9 years old girl. Ms. Phuc subsequently transcended to forgive those who destroyed her physically and mentally. She is now calling loudly for world peace.


TILINGS (2013)
instrumentation: piccolo/flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, cello, komungo, cimbalom, and percussion
duration: 11 minutes

notes: Composed for Either/Or Ensemble; Premiere by Either/Or Ensemble, Jin Hi Kim (komungo) and Richard Carrick (conductor) at The Kitchen, New York (May 30, 2013)

Patterns are basic to daily life. We experience repetitive patterns in clouds, wind, waves, leaves, flocks, etc. In Korean tradition there exists a variety of artistic expression in colorful repetitive patterns called moonee, which are seen in intricate structures on the underside of temple roofs, on wrapping cloths, and other decorative objects.  


NORI III (2009)
instrumentation: percussion quartet and optional electric komungo
duration: 12 minutes
notes: Commissioned by New Haven Symphony Orchestra for Meet The Composer Music Alive;
Premiere by New Haven Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble and Jin Hi Kim at Woolsey Hall, New Haven, CT (October 13, 2009)

NORI III is an attempt to realize the similar performance of swing and mesmerizing energy in Korean traditional farmer's band.

Preview by New Haven Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble and Jin Hi Kim at Sacred Heart University Performing Arts Center, CT (October 13, 2009); Additional Performances by Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music Percussion Ensemble, Whitman Hall NY (November 24, 2010); Empire State Youth Orchestra Percussion Ensemble and Jin Hi Kim at Albany Symphony Orchestra’s American Music Festival, NY (May 22, 2011)


NORI II (2008)
instrumentation:soprano saxophone, clarinet, two percussionists and optional electric komungo
duration: 15 minutes
notes: Composed for newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble; Premiere by newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble and Jin Hi Kim for "Pacific Rim" at All Soul Unitarian Universalist Church, Minneapolis, MN ( April 26, 2008)

In traditional Korean farmer's band music the world nori means playing and having fun.


MONK DANCE (2007)
instrumentation:
orchestra and Korean barrel drum set
[winds at 2.2.2.1; brass at 1.1.1.0; 2 prcussion; strings at 6.5.4.4.3; and solo percussionist]
duration: 10 minutes
notes: Commissioned by New Haven Symphony Orchestra; Premiere by New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Jin Hi Kim (barrel drums) and Jong Ho Pak (conductor) at Woolsey Hall, New Haven, Connecticut (March 24, 2007)

MONK DANCE is inspired by the Korean traditional solo drumming dance piece, in which a dancer dances very slow and gracious movements and also plays the highly ornate suspended barrel drums with vigorous rhythmic patterns.
The drum solo is derived from the Buddhist monk’s drumming on a big barrel drum for personal enlightenment.

Preview by Stanford Symphony, Jin Hi Kim (barrel drums) and Jindong Cai (conductor) at the Pan-Asian Music Festival, Stanford University (February 24, 2007); Additional Performances by New Haven Symphony, Jin Hi Kim (barrel drums) and William Boughton (conductor) at Woolsey Hall, New Haven, CT (April 22) and New Cannon High School Auditorium, CT (April 24, 2010); Key West Symphony Orchestra, Jin Hi Kim (barrel drums) and Sebrina Alfonso (conductor) at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, FL (January 16, 2010) and Tennessee Williams Theatre, Key West, FL (January 13-14, 2010)


ETERNAL ROCK II (2006)
instrumentation:
orchestra and Korean barrel drum set
[winds at 2.2.2.1; brass at 2.2.2.0; 3 percussion; strings at 10.8.6.6.4; and solo percussionist]
duration: 20 minutes
notes: Commissioned by Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Premiere by Boston Modern Orchestra Proect, Gerry Hamingway (barrel drums) and Gil Rose (conductor) at Jordan Hall, Boston, MA (March 10, 2006)

‘Eternal Rock’ refers to the evolution of rocks in space, over eons of time. ETERNAL ROCK II is about rythmic cycles and the spinning motion of planetary bodies in space.


ONE SKY (2005)
instrumentation: s
tring chamber orchestra and electric komungo
duration: 18 minutes
notes: Commissioned by the Great Mountains Music Festival, South Korea; Premiere by Great Mountains Festival Orchestra, Jin Hi Kim (electric komungo) and Joel Smirnoff (conductor) (August 7, 2005)

I composed ONE SKY for the 50th anniversary of Korean War memorial event at DMZ between North and South Korea and for a KBS-TV broadcast. The work is an attempt to deliver a message that we live under and share one sky no matter how different our individual’s beliefs may be or what political borders have been created.


NORI (2002)
instrumentation:
two percussionists, winds (Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone), keyboard synthesizer and with/without electric komungo
duration: 20 minutes
notes: Commissioned by Meet The Composer's Commissioning Music/USA for the Zeitgeist; Premiere by the Zeitgeist and Jin Hi Kim at Walker Art Center, MN (June 1, 2002)

Additional Performances by the Zeitgeist and Jin Hi Kim for Meet The Composers The Works Marathon Festival, MN (June 8, 2002) and Perpich Center for Arts Education, MN (November 22, 2002)


ETERNAL ROCK (2001)
instrumentation:
orchestra and komungo
[winds at 2.2.2.1; brass at 2.2.2.1; timpani; 4 percussion; strings at 12.8.6.6.4; and komungo]
duration: 12 minutes
notes: Commissioned by American Composers Orchestra; Premiere by American Composers Orchestra, Jin Hi Kim (komungo) and Dante Anzolini (conductor) at Carnegie Hall, New York (March 18, 2001)

‘Eternal Rock’ refers to the evolution of rocks in space, over eons of time and space.

Additional Performances by Seattle Creative Orchestra conducted by Roger Nelson at Shorecrest Performing Arts Center, Seattle, Washington (June 30, 2001); Boston Modern Orchestra, Jin Hi Kim and Gil Rose (conductor) at Jordan Hall, Boston, MA (October 5, 2001); Riverside Philharmonic, Jin Hi Kim and Helen Cha Pyo (conductor) at Riverside Church, New York (March 10-11, 2002); Key West Symphony, Jin Hi Kim and Sebrina Alfonso (conductor) at Tennessee William Fine Arts Theatre, Key West, FL (February 5, 2003) and Broaward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, FL (February 7-8); Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Symphony, Jin Hi Kim and Apo Hsu (conductor) for “Women in Music Festival”, Seoul, South Korea (April 8, 2003)


GARDEN OF VENUS (1999)
instrumentation:
Korean komungo, Chinese pipa, Japanese yokobue and Balinese gender/voice
duration: 20 minutes
notes: Commissioned by The Asia Society for “Asian Women in Music Today”; Premiere by Jin Hi Kim (Korean komungo and janggo), Min Xiao-Fen (Chinese pipa), Michiko Akao (Japanese yokobue) and Ketut Suryatini (Balinese gender/voice) at The Asia Society, New York (October 23, 1999)


AGATE SLICE (1998)
instrumentation:
violin, cello and percussion
duration: 10 minutes
notes: Commissioned by the Festival Nieuwe Muziek, Middelburg, The Netherlands; Premiere by Mifune Tsuji, Frances Marie Uitti and Tatiana Koleva of Xenakis Ensemble and Diego Masson (conductor) at the Festival Nieuwe Muziek "Women in Avant-Garde" (June 19, 1998)

Agate is composed primarily of microscopically crystallized silica (SiO2) and often occurs as a cavity filled in by lava. I have begun to merge it with theoretical research in fractals. Fractal patterns such as trees, waves and clouds focus on broken, crinkled, wrinkled and uneven shapes (Living Tones). The microscopic cosmos of fractals (organic structure) of self-similarity (infinite variety) and haphazard group (irregular phrases) is for me the essence of being.


VOICES OF SIGIMSE (1996)
instrumentation:
flute, clarinet, viola, cello, bass and komungo
duration: 13 minutes
notes: Composed for Tan Dun's "New Generation East"; Premiere by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Jin Hi Kim (komungo) and Tan Dun (conductor) at Alice Tully Hall for the Lincoln Center Summer Festival, New York (July 27, 1996)

Sigimse is an abstract term used in Korean traditional music performance that is the essence of individual musician's ability to add a range of nuances to the music. The nuances are the basis of my compositional concpet, 'Living Tones'.

Additional Performances by Sonora Ensemble at Cornish College and Western Washington University, Seattle, WA (February 1-3, 1997); Xenakis Ensemble conducted by Diego Masson at the Festival Nieuwe Muziek, Middleburg, The Netherlands (June 1, 1998)


KEE MAEK #4 (1995)
instrumentation:
cello solo
duration: 9 minutes
notes: Composed for Madeleine Shapiro; Premiere by Madeleine Shapiro at Crane Festival of New Music, SUNY College at Potsdam, New York (April 13, 1995)


YOEUM (1995)
instrumentation:
baritone voice and male kagok singer
duration: 13 minutes
notes: Commissioned by Thomas Buckner for Living Tones Concert; Premiere by Whang Kyu Nam and Thomas Buckner at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, sponsored by The Korea Society in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (April 11, 1995); Published by OO Discs for "LIVING TONES" CD

Yoeum means extended sound vibrations that come from stretching the pronunciation of vowels.  I cut and pasted together various traditional Korean kagok lyric songs with a counterpoint of e.e. cummings poems for this newly assembled kagok song. Some vowels of Korean old poem are extended and elaborated upon with kagok singing techniques. The consonants of e.e. cummings poems add sonic textures to the song with the contemporary Western singing and speaking voice.

Additional Performance at Merkin Hall, New York (April 13, 1995), sponsored by The Korea Society in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots; Presented by Dr. Frances Nobert at the fourth International Festival of Women Composers (March 13, 2000)


TCHONG II (1995)
instrumentation:
flute (soprano & alto) and daegum (court & folk)
duration: 10 minutes
notes: Premiere by Hong Jong Jin and Robert Dick for LIVING TONES Concert at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, sponsored by The Korea Society in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (April 11, 1995); Published by OO Discs for "LIVING TONES" CD

Tchong is the timbre produced by a vibrating membrane inserted on the daegum, a Korean transverse bamboo flute. An alto flute is prepared with rice paper across the finger holes to get the special buzzing sound imitating the daegum-tchong sound.

Additional Performances by Hong Jong-Jin and Robert Dick at Merkin Hall, New York, sponsored by The Korea Society in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (April 1, 1995); by Hong Jong Jin and Christine Perea at New York University Black Box Theater (January 31, 2001) 


PIRI QUARTET (1993)
instrumentation: three piri performers and
oboe/English horn
duration: 15 minutes
notes: Commissioned by Meet The Composer/Reader's Digest consortium commissioning program; Duo version was presented by National Living Treasure Chung Jae Guk and Joseph Celli at Merkin Hall (New York), Asian Art Museum (San Francisco), Korean Cultural Center (Los Angeles), University of Maryland (Baltimore) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy) in April, 1993; Premiere by masters from the National Gugak Center (Chung Jae Guk, Park Jong Sol, Yang Myong Seok) and Joseph Celli for LIVING TONES Concert at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, sponsored by The Korea Society in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (April 11, 1995); Published by OO Discs for "LIVING TONES" CD

PIRI QUARTET is composed for three piri (hyang-piri, dang-piri, se-piri) and oboe and English horn. I had an inspiration of composing the piece when I observed oboist Joseph Celli studying piri under Fulbright scholarship in Korea with National Living Treasure, Chung Jae Guk. I wanted to blend different approaches of these two double reed instruments from the West and East.

Additional Performance by at Merkin Hall (New York), sponsored by The Korea Society in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (April 13, 1995)


NONG ROCK (1992)
instrumentation:
string quartet and komungo
duration: 15 minutes
notes: Commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Kronos Quartet; Premiere by the Kronos Quartet and Jin Hi Kim at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York (January 15, 1992); Published by OO Discs for "LIVING TONES"

In this piece I juxtaposed two different energies in music. Nong means vibration and Rock refers to ecstasy that emanates from the Shamanistic spirit. In Nong, tone gestures and textures become 'Living Tones' and exist as the shaping of each tone’s energy. NONG leads to ROCK. NONG and ROCK balances tension and release in the music as yin and yang.

Additional Performances by Kronos Quartet and Kim at San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts (February 21, 1992); Sirius String Quartet and Kim at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (April 11, 1995) and Merkin Hall (New York), sponsored by The Korea Society in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots; Sonora Ensemble and Kim at Cornish College and Western Washington University, Seattle, WA (February 1-3, 1997); Xenakis Ensemble and Jin Hi Kim at the Festival Nieuwe Muziek, The Netherlands (June 27, 1998); American Composers Orchestra string quartet and Jin Hi Kim at Joe's Pub of Public Theater, New York (March 9, 2001), Henry Playhouse, Newcomers High School and High School for Environment Studies in New York (March 17, 2001); Kairos Quartet and Jin Hi Kim at Galerie Katrin Rabus, Bremen, Germany (October 12, 2003) and at Haus der Kulturen der Welt for Transonic Festival, Berlin (January 25, 2004); Crane School of Music faculty string quartet and Jin Hi Kim at Crane School of Music, New York (March 31, 2004); Texas Christian University string quartet and Jin Hi Kim (April 13, 2005); Stadler String Quartet and Jin Hi Kim at Heidelberger Biennale fur Neue Musik, Germany (November 3, 2006) and Salzburger Museum Carolino Augusteum, Austria (November 2, 2006)


LIQUID MIGRATION (1990)
instrumentation:
viola, cello and prepared piano
duration: 10 minutes
notes: Commissioned by the Fidelio Trio; Premiere by Lois Martin, Harry Clark, Sanda Schuldmann of the Fidelio Trio at Crowell Concert Hall, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT (March 28, 1990)

The gestures of notes are treated as creating motion of timbral migration relevant to a wet ink brush stroke smearing on a rice paper.


TCHONG (1988)
instrumentation:
prepared flute/alto flute
duration: 8 minutes
notes: Composed for Barbara Held; Premiere by Barbara Held for Composer's Forum at Alternative Museum, New York (March 9, 1988)

Additional Performances: Performed by Dorothy Stone of The California E.A.R. Unit at the Pacific Contemporary Music Festival at California State University, Los Angeles (June 22, 1989); Laurel Wyckoff at Composer to Composer Festival, Telluride, Colorado (August, 1989) and Relache, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (February 19, 1990)


KEE MAEK #3 (1988)
instrumentation:
viola and cello
duration: 11 minutes
notes: Premiere at Alternative Museum, New York (March 9, 1988)



DASRUM (1988)
instrumentation:
clarinet, cello and komungo
duration: 8 minutes
notes: Commissioned by Inoue Ensemble; Premiere by Inoue Ensemble and Jin Hi Kim at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Center, New York (October 17, 1988)


LINKING (1986)
instrumentation:
string quartet
duration: 15 minutes
notes: Commissioned by the Kronos Quartet; Premiere by the Kronos Quartet at Herbst Theater, San Francisco (September 12, 1986)

Upon my arrival to San Francisco from Korea, I attempted to link my Korean traditional music training to the American contemporary music landscape.

Additional Performances by the Kronos Quartet at Darmstadt, Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, the Warsaw Autumn Festival, Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Institute for Contemporary Art (London), UCLA (Los Angeles); New Zealand String Quartet at Asian Pacific Festival, Wellington, New Zealand (December 3, 1992); Sonora Ensemble at Western Washington University, Seattle, WA (February 3, 1997)


KEE MAEK #2 (1986)
instrumentation:
violin solo
duration: 9 minutes
notes: Premiere by Roger Zahab at Experimental Intermedia Foundation, New York (April 22, 1986)


KEE MAEK (1986)
instrumentation:
violin and cello
duration: 11 minutes
notes: Premiere at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, CA (September 6, 1986)

The piece uses sound gestures for its impetus. Kee (energy) and Maek (pulse) can be defined as energy inherent in a shape.  Calligraphic brush stroke-like gestures of pitch bending and subtle timbral changes of each note are part of the process of creating 'Living Tones', providing a richness of the piece.

Additional Performances by the California E.A.R. Unit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (November 29, 1989); New Music Group at The University of Akron, OH (January 21, 1993); Denise Stillwell and Jennifer Kloetzel for Joel Sachs’s Focus Festival of Juilliard, New York (January 23, 1996); Veskko Gellev and Grace Lin for Joel Sachs’s Summergarden Series at Modern Arts Museum, New York (August 13-14, 1999)


X4 FOR SOLO VIOLIN (1985)
instrumentation:
prerecorded tape and live performance
duration: 9 minutes
notes: Premiere by Mary Oliver at New Performance Gallery, San Francisco, CA (September 18, 1985); Additional Performance by Mary Oliver at New Langton Arts, San Francisco, CA (November 16, 1985)


X5 FOR SOLO FLUTE (1985)
instrumentation:
prerecorded tape and live performance of alto and soprano flutes and piccolo
duration: 10 minutes
notes:
Premiere by Ann LaBerge for the "Contemporary Music with Korean Influence" at the Mills College, CA (February 22, 1985); Additional Performance by Barbara Held at Experimental Intermedia Foundation, New York (April 22, 1986) and Roulette, New York (October 7, 1986)