Showing posts with label Audio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Audio. Show all posts


Chamber Music
for string trio

“... tapping bows, glissandos, and strong lines for the viola...” Northwest Reverb

In 1914, Erik Satie composed 21 short piano interludes called Sports et Divertissements. To close the two-week contemporary music festival March Music Moderne IV, composer/curator Bob Priest invited composers to respond to #17 Le Tango Perpétuel. I composed Tangosa...


Duration: variable (circa 1 minute)
Instrumentation: violin, viola, cello
Premiered by the Free Marz Trio: Hae-Jin Kim (violin), Kenji Bunch (viola), Diane Chaplin (cello)
Commissioned by March Music Moderne, Portland OR, March 2014


It's always a pleasure to work with choreographer Donald Byrd. I appreciate how he challenges my aesthetic and how clear his instructions are for what he wants musically. In March, Donald asked me to remix tracks for Spectrum Dance Theatre's Petruchska. He specifically wanted a carnival-girlie-show-feel that had a groove.

I laughed, "What do I know about girlie show music?!"

Spectrum Dance Theater presents Petruchska, Donald Byrd’s re-imagining of the Igor Stravinsky/Alexandre Benois ballet about ill-fated love. With a live carnival, roving performers, and multimedia installation, this voyeuristic immersion in the puppets' world will literally have the audience following the story as it unfolds throughout Madrona Park and into SDT’s studios and theater. This "creep show" ushers the audience into participating as viewers and witnesses in the lurid drama of life behind the puppet show.

Experience Spectrum Dance Theatre's Petruchska from April 13-22, 2012
Details | Facebook ]

Kane Mathis

For The Mother of Us All, I am honored to work with Kane Mathis. Kane is a multi-instrumentalist specializing in plucked string instruments such as the oud and kora. These instruments are akin to the guitar and harp. For Spectrum Dance Theater's new production playing at The Moore Theatre from March 3-5, I invited him to participate. After our initial meeting in early November 2010, I knew that he would be perfect for this project. Here's a sample of his music.

Kane is one of those rare musicians with a solid sense of self. He is grounded in his studies and dedicated to exploring sonic possibilities informed by a rigor towards understanding the traditional as well as contemporary contexts of the instruments he performs. Beginning in the late 1990s, Kane traveled to West Africa to study kora, a 21-sting Mandika harp. He learned:
  • that the kora, an instrument over 1,000 years old, functions to accompany storytelling as well as serves to relay current news;
  • to speak Mandingo and listen to the inflections and pauses enable his playing to resonate with the tones and silences of speech;
  • that musical traditions powerfully connect to folks when used in everyday life.
Kane performs on kora
As a musician raised in Chicago, Kane also realized in his 10+ years of studying with Malamini Jobarteh and Moriba Kouyate, that he wasn't from a lineage of kora musicians; that even though he would have the opportunity to perform for audiences throughout The Gambia on national television and radio as well as earn him recognition by the Gambian president, he would need to incorporate his musical background as a classical, jazz and indie rock musician with his present life.

Kane moved to Seattle over five years ago to follow another teacher, Münir Nurttin Beken from Instanbul. Beken founded the State Turkish Music Ensemble, composes for orchestras and film and is known as an oud virtuoso.

As a kora and oud musician, Kane currently calls Seattle home. He performs with a half dozen local bands. Additionally, he performs as a soloist as well as with choreographers such as Catherine Cabeen, as composer and musician most notably for the upcoming performance Into the Void to premiere at On the Boards in late April.

I first heard Kane at a 4Culture Touring Arts Roster showcase three years ago. Little did I realize that I would have the opportunity to work on a show about Africa and that I would be blessed to work with him.

Walking with ears open on World Listening Day

The first World Listening Day is Sunday, July 18th. There are listening events in cities such as Colorado Springs, Hong Kong, Rijeka, Perth, Cumbria, Chicago, and Seattle. Seattle's event includes a Greenlake soundwalk hosted by the Seattle Phonographers Union. One of their members is sound artist/audio engineer Doug Haire. Haire worked with me on the recording Walking released in 2001. Here's an excerpt:

As inspiration for the music, I walked around Greenlake at different hours and listened creating an aural sketchbook similar to Claude Monet's series of haystacks painted at different times of the day. My favorite time at the lake was around 5AM, when the morning was wrapped in fog, people quietly fished, and ducks slowly awoke. On weekdays from 7AM to 9AM, the power walkers and joggers took over with individual Walkman headphones plugged into their ears. This shifted Greenlake from a place of being to one of doing.

With listening, it is possible to merge both being and doing. Thanks Seattle Phonographers Union for hosting a listening event around Greenlake. The free guided soundwalk happens this Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. Participants will be briefed on acoustic ecology and intentional listening inspired by the World Soundscape ProjectWorld Listening ProjectWorld Forum for Acoustic Ecology, and phonographers around the world.

Farewell: a fantastical contemplation on America’s relationship with China

Dance Music
for voices, er-hu, cello, percussion, bicycle wheels, cassette tape players, soundtrack

“... hyper-frenetic sound score by Byron Au Yong.” —CityArts Magazine

Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China is a dance-music-theater work created by Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theatre. Composer Byron Au Yong collaborated on this project part of the initiative Beyond Dance: Promoting Awareness and Mutual Understanding.

Audio Excerpts

available at Bandcamp

Creative Team
Donald Byrd, choreographer
Byron Au Yong, composer
Jack Mehler, set/lighting designer
Byron Au Yong, er-hu, voice, drums, soundtrack
Paul Kikuchi, drums, bicycle wheels, cassette
Tiffany Lin, cello, drums, bicycle wheels
Mike Au Yong, Ying Zhou, additional recorded voices
Kelly Ann Barton, Ty Alexander Cheng, Geneva Jenkins, Kylie Lewallen, Vincent Lopez, Amber Nicole Mayberry, Joel Myers, Tory Peil, Patrick Pulkrabek, Marissa Quimby, Mia Monteabaro, Meaghan Sanford, Sarah Poppe, dancers

Duration: 80 minutes
Presented by Spectrum Dance Theatre in partnership with Seattle Theater Group
Premiered at The Moore Theatre in Seattle, February 2010

Press Quotes
“Byron Au Yong, delivers not just a score but a bedlam-filled sound collage.”
—Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
“... his memories of his father’s recollections of playing form a powerful connection to a lost past, and composer Byron Au Yong incorporates them into the score to powerful effect.”
—Jeremy Barker, The Sunbreak 
“The sound is a thick, almost impenetrable thicket, an onslaught you must cut your way through in order to pay the dancers any attention.”
—Marcie Sillman, ArtDish 
“The music alone is well worth it. Melodies are layered with live percussion, speech and bicycle wheels, punctuated by the sounds of the dancers.”
—Kaya P, Teen Tix Blog 
“The instruments Au Yong incorporates include Chinese percussion — drums, symbols and gong; Chinese fiddle; cello; and a bicycle wheel whose spokes are plucked and strummed.”
—Leslie Holleran, Seattle Dances
Read preview articles about Farewell

Stuck Elevator 2009 Demo

Aaron and I are busy revising Stuck Elevator for two readings in New York in mid-November. To that end, we created a demo from the September reading. This was recorded in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at the Tisch School of the Arts by audio engineer Mark Aiken.

Already one of the songs, A River Running, is cut from the November version of Stuck Elevator. I am fond of the music, so I included it as part of this online demo.


“Au Yong brings his usual eclectic collection of instruments.”
—Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger


available at AmazonCD Baby

In 1996, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel and I met in Japan. 10 years later, we performed in the Tokyo Art Museum designed by Tadao Ando. The following year, we performed in Seattle’s Chapel Performance Space, then recorded BreathPlay just before midnight as part of Doug Haire’s Sonarchy. Raw audio files were mixed by James Whetzel, then mastered by Jake Perrine at RFI/CD Mastering.

available at AmazonCD Baby

Creative Team
Christopher Yohmei Blasdel, shakuhachi
Byron Au Yong, voice, er-hu, piano, percussion, water
Doug Haire, audio engineer
James Whetzel, initial mix
Jake Perrine, mastering engineer
Wing Lee Fong, CD designer

Press Quote
“A master at scenting traditional instruments and theatrical staging with a whiff of the avant, Au Yong duets with Tokyo-based flutist Christopher Yohmei Blasdel. I heard Blasdel a few years ago and still remember his ravishing tone on shakuhachi.”
The Stranger

Forbidden Circles

Chamber Music
for soprano, shakuhachi, shamisen, 17-string koto, taiko


Forbidden Circles is a chamber work for voice and Japanese instruments with text by Mutsuo Takahashi.

Program Notes
In Forbidden Circles, I go beyond the circles of convention to investigate the forbidden. I am a Chinese American composer yet I write for Japanese musical instruments. The work is for hogaku ensemble yet is recently composed. The text is from a male perspective yet a female vocalist performs the songs. The Japanese poet Mutsuo Takahashi inspired the lyrics, yet his ideas are translated to and sung in English.

The contradictions abound yet provide the conceptual grounding for this work. The soprano chants a litany of Japanese vocal styles combined with outbursts from Takahashi's realizations of sexual longing to reach a place that reflects my everyday existence as a global citizen caught between cultures.
Byron Au Yong

Duration: 6 minutes
Premiered at the Fukuoka Gendai Hogaku Festival, Acros Theatre in Japan, 2002
Performed by Ora-J at the International House of Japan in Tokyo, 2006

Ishquoh: Where Sounds Meet

Site-Responsive Work
six children’s voices, ‘cello, rocks

Ishquoh means the sound of waterfowl taking flight from Lushootseed, a Coast Salish language. In this site-responsive music-dance work, six children search for a sound called Ishquoh. Voices, rocks and cello play in a ceremony alongside abandoned railroad tracks in Issaquah.

Duration: variable
Premiered on abandoned railroad tracks in Issaquah, October 2006
Commissioned by the Issaquah Arts Commission and 4Culture's Site-Specific Performance Network

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Betsy Baeskens, vocal coach
Michelle Kumata, costume designer
Okazawa M, production manager
Amos Yang, cello
Clarissa Bury, voice/rocks
Kaela Palmer, voice/rocks
Megan Schutzler, voice/rocks
Dori Skinner, voice/rocks
Cassie Smith, voice/rocks
Bethanie Willis, voice/rocks

Press Quote
"Byron Au Yong, more sensitive to natural sounds and the spiritual resonances of a place than perhaps any other local composer."
Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly Pick

Special Thanks
June Sekiguchi, Charlie Rathbun, Suzie Bixler, Trish Bloor, Tracy & Dieter Bury, Vincent DeAndrea, Marc DelaCruz, David Goldman, Karen Klein, Issaquah Historical Society, Coll Thrush, Susan Palmer, Cari & Michael Schutzler, Cathy Skinner, Luellen and Doug Smith, Ty & Kelly Willis, Village Theatre

On Ensemble's Dust and Sand

Available at Amazon

On Ensemble has released their first compact disc called Dust and Sand. They included my work Two by Four, for nagauta voice and taiko as part of the recording.

I remember when I wrote Two by Four in 2003. I visited the musicians in Mt. Shasta where they were rehearsing. One night, Shoj, his dad, Mas, Kris, and I huddled under the piercing stars on a summer evening. I fell asleep listening to their deep voices tell stories from the past. In my slumber, I discovered that Two by Four was about creating an alternate story for North American taiko music based on noise and the ephemeral quality of stars. Being near a sacred mountain, I was reminded to listen and feel the night in this way, calmly taking in the activity of nature.

Listening to On Ensemble's recording, I hover in that summer dream space again, fascinated by how the taiko and gongs cross between Latin and Japanese, between past and future, and between myself and the night-mountain sky.

Two by Four

Chamber Music
for nagauta voice, taiko
Available at Amazon

Two by Four features nagauta voice singing the names of stars in Latin and Japanese along with gongs/taiko played mallet-style with two sticks in each hand. The graphic-notation score is modeled after a Japanese star map from the 16th century.

Program Notes
One summer, I visited Ōn Ensemble in Mt. Shasta. Two of the members were raised near this sacred mountain. I wanted to experience the childhood homes of these Los Angeles-based musicians.

One night, Maz, Kris, Shoj and his dad told stories under the stars. I fell asleep listening to their deep voices. In my slumber, I discovered that my role as a composer was to discover alternate sound possibilities for North American taiko music. Rather than structure rhythmic motifs, I thought about patterns of noise. What if North American taiko music embraced the attention to sound textures of hogaku music?

I realized that Two by Four embraced the ephemeral quality of circulating stars similar to the member of the Ōn Ensemble  transnational artists who travel between the United States and Japan.

Two by Four hovers in a summer dream space, nagauta voice, gongs and taiko cross between the Latin and Japanese words for stars, between now and then, and between the listener and the night-mountain sky.
Byron Au Yong

Duration: c. 6 minutes
Recorded on the CD Dust and Sand, released by Ōn Ensemble, 2005
Premiered at Grand Performances, California Plaza, Los Angeles, 2003
Commissioned by Ōn Ensemble



Available at
for er-hu (Chinese fiddle), euphonium, Irish flute, Noh voices, shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), string bass, tabla, taiko, trombone, dhung chen (Tibetan long horns), voices, and xun (clay flute)

“There is the sense of field recordings and yet, compositionally, there is also an insistence of academic modernism.”
– Jon Gierlich, International Examiner

Unusual instruments and vocal techniques produce a theatrical music that evokes secret rituals.

Audio Excerpt

Producer Notes
“Stirring, meditative, but distinctively contemporary music by Byron Au Yong, drawing upon traditional Asian aesthetics and instruments. There is a highly ritualistic quality to Au Yong’s music, especially in Walking, which features Noh Theater vocal techniques and percussion. The compositions also include Stirring and Weaving. The latter is a shakuhachi solo composed at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.”
Herb Levy, Periplum Records

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Doug Haire, audio engineer
Ellen Fullman, CD designer

Karen Akada, voice, taiko, gong, rattle
Byron Au Yong, voice, taiko, gong, er-hu
David Crandall and Yukie Iotomi, noh voice
David Goldman, clay flute, taiko, dhung chen
Frank Minoru Phillips, tabla, trombone, clay flute, taiko
Greg Ohme, euphonium
Peter Joon Park, dhung chen
Dennis Staskowski, string bass
Aiko Shimada, voice
Hanz Araki, Irish flute, whistle, shakuhachi
Christopher Yohmei Blasdel, shakuhachi

Recorded at Jack Straw Productions, Seattle
Released by Periplum Records, January 2001
Available at
Dedicated to intercultural collaboration, Byron Au Yong composes songs of dislocation, music for a changing world. He teaches in Performing Arts & Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

Byron Au Yong & Christopher Yohmei Blasdel: BreathPlay

Byron Au Yong: Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas
Kidnapping Water:
Bottled Operas
Byron Au Yong: Yiju