Behind the Back
pipa and electronics
Commissioned by The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra for Su Yun-Han
Available on Crossings: Contemporary Music for Chinese Instruments, Albany Records (pictured right)
List of Performances
The musical inspiration for this piece comes from my fascination with the murals of the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, China. The artwork famously depicts musicians performing while dancing and flying though the air. One image – that of a woman playing pipa behind her back – is so iconic that many Chinese dancers train in order to recreate her graceful pose. Behind the Back alludes to the ceremonial atmosphere of the Mogao murals while imagining the sort of music provided by the acrobatic women depicted within – a music which incorporates passages suggestive of dance and aerial maneuvers. Also present are oblique references to Jimi Hendrix, a consummate virtuoso who was known to play guitar with the instrument slung behind his back. At all times, the virtuosity and lyricism of the pipa is the focal point.