Joseph Wong: Vanishing Memories

(Submitted by ISCM – HONG KONG SECTION)

Joseph Wong studied composition at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and The University of York (UK), where he obtained his MMus and PhD respectively. His major works have been performed in various music festivals and concert series in United Kingdom, Israel, South Korea, and Hong Kong. These include the Asian-Pacific Contemporary Music Festival (Seoul (2009) and Tel Aviv (2012)), Hong Kong Musicarama (2010, 2011, & 2012), and the SOUND-IMAGination concert series (2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017). Among his best works, Duo for percussion was awarded the Nicola LeFanu Composition Prize by the University of York in 2009.

Besides composing, Wong has for many years worked as a music educator and researcher. He has been teaching in various local tertiary institutes including the Chinese University, Baptist University, and Open University of Hong Kong. His research interests cover the areas of contemporary composition techniques, music analysis, music for visual media, and contemporary Chinese musical culture. His research papers were published in the journals and proceedings by Springer Nature, Intellect Books, and the Council for Asian Musicology.

Vanishing Memories (2018) depicts an inner journey of searching for the memories that one may cherish. This work is organized in three sections. In the first and third sections, these cherished memories and the associated emotions are represented by a tune played by piano: firstly with muffled timbre, as if it is playing back from an old gramophone recording. But when the sonic space (representing one’s mind) further opens up, the piano tune becomes a more elaborate and expressive. In these sections, the background soundscape and sound effects are created by iZotope’s Iris.

As the journey goes on, the memories (represented previously by the piano tune) transform into a series of rhythmical and energetic dance-like music. The joyous and optimistic mood represents the aspirations and happiness brought by the memories. In this section, the ever-changing synth patterns and drumbeats are generated and morphed by applications including Camel Audio’s Alchemy Mobile and iZotope’s Stutter Edit.

The final section is a varied reprise of the first section, in which sonic space and the peripheral sound effects become more sophisticated. The piano tune reappears only very briefly when approaching the end of the piece, implies that the memories are fading away.

Joseph Wong: Vanishing Memories (2018)
Place and date of recording: 1 December 2018 at composer’s home studio in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong

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The International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) is a premier forum for the advancement, dissemination and interchange of new music from around the world. Through ISCM, our members promote contemporary music in all its varied forms, strengthening musical life in their local contexts and making their music and its creators known to world.