As a composer originally from South Korea who favors Western musical languages as a medium for composition, it has always been my passion to create works that integrate my Korean culture in some way. Sometimes I combine both musical languages, and other times, as found in many of my recent compositions, Korean cultural influences serve as the inspiration for my works written in Western music style. Having two different cultural perspectives allows me to see one culture as an abundant source of creations from the point of view of the other. It naturally leads me to find ways to embrace both to establish my own musical voice.
Scissors for Orchestra is an extension of this attempt to experiment. I was inspired by the Scissors Dance, a Korean traditional dance performed by taffy sellers in farmer’s markets to attract attention from people. The dancers use a special type of scissors to cut the taffy as well as to create percussive sound while performing the rhythmical dance. The dance tends to be showy and dynamic in nature. For example, the dancers throw the scissors high up in the air, spin themselves around, and catch them. Also, to create musically exhilarated sound, the dancers employ Jangdan, a Korean traditional rhythmic mode.
Throughout the piece, I did not necessarily intend to be either illustrative or programmatic. Rather, I see this piece as an aural re-interpretation and imagination of the original inspiration. However, I did try to highlight both visual and auditory characteristics of the dance. Jangdan, the array of different, repeated rhythmic patterns, affects in division and progression of the rhythm throughout the piece while acting as a structural framework. Also I aim to bring out the percussive and metallic nature of the instrument, scissors, by using various percussion instruments. Fast runs will also bring up the image of the scissors thrown in the air.
The pitch material is broadly atonal yet the progressions are mostly linear to be more accessible. I hope the listeners relate to energetic and vigorous atmosphere while enjoying rhythmic drive with lively gestures.