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FRAGILE BALANCE music theater for violin and cello

YIFAN GUO


Yifan Guo: Fragile Balance (music theater for violin and cello, 2019) Fragile Balance is a microcosmic process when two seemingly contrary/irrelevant people, cultures and ideologies interlace into each other, and this piece was inspired by the natural reaction of this kind of interlacing and the current social condition between Hong Kong and mainland China. I think all kinds of relationships need balance, and the balance itself is fragile. Complementary guarding and abandoning is a core to achieving it. However, before finding the real balance, the relationship will be destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. Through balance, we will be getting closer to the truth. The composition explores these ideas in a few large sections, starting with the guo men (过门) -like (an introduction/interlude in the Peking Opera) passage that creates an imagination of the interlacing. Later on, it goes to the real world and shows how these two opposite objects attract, meet, and repel. It concludes with a unified image. On a performance form level, this piece includes both sound and drama. The information that I want to convey to the audience is not only through music but also acting. The audience can also hear the sound changing acoustically through the moving of the musicians. Moreover, I use physiological and psychological reactions of the musicians as one of the compositional parameters, so the music has a more organic connection with the real-time emotional changes of the performers. Fragile Balance was written for violinist Johnna Wu and cellist Issei Herr (the PinkNoise Ensemble), who gave its premiere at Saint John's in the Village, NYC, on November 14th, 2019

Yifan Guo 11/11/2019 Boston, USA


i

Performance Notes General:

Instrument preparation: Violin:

higher

The 4th string should have a half-inch piece of tin foil folded over. It should produce a soft buzz and slightly dampen the vibration of the string.

0 lower

1_ 1_ 3_ 1_ 5_ 3_ 8 4 8 2 8 4

short fermata normal fermata

Cello: 

+/-0c

IV

-31c

III

+2c

-12c

II

I

scordatura (the tuning suggestions are as follows; all intervals are tuned in just intonation) 1) tune the IV string as shown 2) tune the III string as the 7th partial of IV string 3) tune the II string as the 3rd partial of IV string 4) tune the I string as the 5th partial of II string

long fermata 10"

The timings are approximate and don't require exact accuracy.

G fi

A piece of cloth needs to be tied near the nut so that it can be moved on/off the strings as indicated (towel mute). Two bows are needed.

 

fingering

freeze and stay completely silent (don’t move)

É É É

on the bridge molto sul ponticello ordinary position

 

staff for violin

left hand

 

I II III IV

staff for cello end of the fingerboard 2nd partial of harmonic near the nut

body movements (see page v) This score is written as sounding duration: 11’

near the 2nd partial of harmonic



right hand

all grace notes should be played before the beat

as high as possible

1 2 3 ...

bowing

irregular rhythm

change very gradually from one sound to another

Two-bowing techniques are required. (cellist should hold a bow in each hand. Most of the time, the left hand bow plays the upper part, and the right hand bow plays the lower part)

Staff and clef:

micro intervals

When playing long sustained tones the bow changes should always be made imperceptibly and independently of the other player.


ii

Bowing:

Left hand fingering:

fi Ÿ~~~ fi

S.P. sul ponticello P.O. posizione ordinaria (ordinary position) S.T. sul tasto clb. col legno battuto clt. col legno tratto ord. arco ordinary (cancellation of clb. & clt.) (s) slow circular bowing



(f) fast circular bowing

 0

 BBBB B

BBB

mf



vertical bowing (vertical shift of the bow at an angle of 90° to the usual horizontal motion on the surface of the string(s), and play near the frog)

L

oblique bowing (the oblique, slow shifting of the pressed bow. Produces a kind of buzzing, the intensity of which is generally somewhat weaker than when bowing horizontally. It is only effective on the part of the string which has rosin on it, and should be primarily performed there.) light pressure (tonlos) slightly light pressure

N.

normal pressure slightly over pressure over pressure (with large resonance) scratch tone play with hair side of the bow play with wood side of the bow behind the bridge

or

bowing in bridge clef is vertical unless there is an up/down bow sign, which indicates normal bowing direction

II III §[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ «

mf

O

mute the string(s) with palm on the indicated place irregular trill with multiple fingers in the mute position

the thick wave shape indicates the range of the mute trill

harmonic pressure (even if there is no harmonic at the fingered place) half harmonic pressure (multiphonic) 1 quarter half harmonic pressure

2 quarter half harmonic pressure

4 quarter half harmonic pressure


iii

Repetition signs: Various repeat signs are found throughout the piece, in some cases with nested or overlapping repeat brackets. Changes in dynamics apply only to individual sections. The dynamics reset each time on the repeat. Roman numerals in boxes show the repeat section. The number of repeats given indicate the total number of repetitions. The repetition examples are as follows:

Normal repeat: I

II

III IV

..

..

..

V

..

IV

V

..

I

II

III

..

..

..

..

..

 ™™

™™

™™

™™

or ..

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

10x

example: I

II

III

 í ™™ ™™î  ™™î  ™™î ( ™ ™™î

 í ™™ í ™™ í ™™ Pingpong repeat:

° ° I

II

..

.

I

IV

..

V

..

..

¢. ¢.

¢.

..

.

.

° II

.

° III

 í¢™™ í¢™™  í¢™™  

ü

V

..

example:

°

° °

III

..

¢. ¢. .

°

I

II

III

IV 3x

IV

IV

..

..

ü

III

ü

..

† .† .

° ™  í¢™ IV

II

ü

..

I

=

   

    ( ™

  

    ( ™

G  

    

O O O        

ü

..

..

..

ü ü ™™î  ™™î  ™™î  ™ ™™î † † †( † IV

3x

III

ü

ü

II

I

=

   

    ( ™

Più mosso

    

G 

Più mosso

  

   

Più mosso

   

Più mosso

   

Più mosso

Più mosso

  

    


iv

Other instructions: *) **) ***) ****)

*****)

******)

Place the wood side of the bow on string(s), pizz. with the left hand, and then vertically shift the bow back and forth on the string(s). Hold the bow closer to the middle if needed. Shift the bow vertically, slowly and irregularly to produce flickering higher partial harmonics. Listen to what the cellist plays, then play the corresponding materials: play material “A” while the cellist is playing a long sustained note; play material “B” while the cellist is playing long glissando; play material “C” while the cellist is playing rapid glissandi; play material “D” while the cellist is making a percussive sound. Play with two bows on the same strings to produce a sound of both an open-string fundamental and a harmonic. The arms/bows should be moved in contrary motion. The bow stroke is as notated. The bow pressure of the upper bow (left hand) should be lighter than the lower bow(right hand). The number in a diamond shape indicates the partial of the harmonic where the upper bow should be placed. The cellist needs to adjust the placement and the bow pressure precisely to obtain the sound. Scratch tone should not be included. During this repeat section, change the proportion of repeated materials as indicated.

*******)

After the cello is laid on the table, play four strings at the same time. One bow plays strings II and III on top, and the other bow plays strings I and IV underneath the strings.

********)

Place the string side of the violin on the fingerboard of the cello gently, then horizontally move the violin slowly. This should make a buzzing sound when touching cello strings.


v

Performance positions and actings: Various body movements are required throughout this performance. Musicians should observe the following acting instructions for their body movements when indicated. All the body movements, emotions and facial expressions should be exaggerated and violent. The violinist should stand throughout the piece, and the cellist should sit most of the time (except the moving at sign 13 ). All the movements are variable and adjustable. Seven music stands, one table and two chairs (or benches) are needed. The size of the table should fit when a cello lays on it, and the height of the table should match the height of the musicians. Other stage setting needs are as the first diagram below.

audience

table

The violinist turns his/her head unknowingly, as below. Both gradually play with emotions and involve more body movements that draw from the music. The violinist carefully walks toward, then circles the cellist. The cellist should not look at the violinist. Both musicians should not have eye contact until 6 .

audience

vln.

vln.

5

É

walking/moving direction

stage

vc.

audience

table

chair

The violinist keeps carefully circling the cellist, and gradually gets closer.

audience

4

vln.

3

audience

vc.

audience

stage

vc.

stage

audience

vln.

table

É

É

music stand

The violinist suddenly turns his/her head to the audience as below, then freezes. Both play with minimal body movement and emotion from the next bar until 3 .

stage

vc.

3 4

2

table

É

The violinist and the cellist face the opposite side and play with emotions.

audience

1

musician placement


vi

7 8 9 6

É

Both freeze, stop moving and look at each other in shock.

10 11

É

The violinist runs toward the back (or inside, if the auditorium is big) of the audience in alarm.The cellist should keep an eye on the violinist until the end of the performance. Both play with exaggerated emotions and body movements. The violinist walks toward the stage, then stays in front of it and looks at the cellist. The violinist slowly and calmly walks toward the cellist. The violinist starts kneeling in front of the cellist at 10 , completely kneels down at 11 , and imitates his/her body movements.

10

vc.

9 vln.

vc.

audience

audience

vln.

Both walk toward the table slowly. The cellist lays his/her instrument on the table (string side on top, don’t make any sound during moving).

13

The violinist gently hugs the cellist’s head to his/her chest with one hand. The cellist listens to the heartbeat of the violinist as an eighth note.

audience

vln.

audience

stage

vc.

table

É

8

audience

table

12

7

stage

vln.

audience

vln.

stage

table

vln.


composed for Johnna Wu and Issei Herr

Fragile Balance

music theater for violin and cello

Yifan Guo

1

É

™™

(see instruction*) clt.

Violin

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with towel mute I

II

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=

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(***) III

Œ

IV

Ÿ~~~~~~~~~ Ó ™ o p sf

III IV

4 4 A tempo

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Ϫ J

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III

III

mp

free and imperceptible bow changing, with energy

sff

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without towel mute

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10 Più mosso (q = 112) 4

Vc. I

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clb.

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mfmp

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pp

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4 A tempo 4

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p

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=

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(see instruction ****)

5

A:

(improvise)

B:

Vln.

C:

D:

&

4+ 1 48

j œ œ- œ- œ- œ- œ- œ œ- œ- œœ- œœ œœ- œœ- œœ3

5

3

III IV

(IV)

= Vln.

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5 8

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o

ff

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q = 84

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5

q.

I ( ) II

5 8

IV

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V

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5

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5

=

III

III IV

3 8

f

(mp)

Vc.

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>œ J

3 4

I

(see instruction *****)

˙≤ ™ I II

ord.

ff tenuto

ord.

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f tenuto

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4

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6

5

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Vln.

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N. (P.O.)

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œœ œœ œœ -- -

sffp poco a poco cresc. sim al fff Vc.

+ I II

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œœ -

œœ -

œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ - - - - - -- -

4 4

=

6

III

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IV

IV

í ™™

(1 5")

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I ( ) II (+)

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. .

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3 4

4 4

I

I II

II III

III

œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ - - - - -

™™ œœ œœ í ™™ œœ œœ í ™™ œœ í ™™ œœ œœ ™™ - - - - - --

œ

™™ œ

IV

IV

(1 5")

(1 5")

É

20"

™™î

(q = Max)

clt.

1 + + + + R U≈ ‰ í ™™ œœ œœ œœ œœ ™™î

2 8

sffff

ffff

ææj œœ ™™

(q = 84)

U ‰

1 J

æj ≈ œœæ™™

ffff

ffff (improvise)

III IV

Ϫ

ffff

. .

™™

. .

œ

I III II IV

Ϫ

œ

I II

≈ +≈ j œœ ‰

pizz.

&

. .

=

7

É

œ

II III

™™ œ

sffp poco a poco cresc. sim al fff

Vc.

I II

(press the strings to hit the fingerboard with the woodside of the bow)

œ

œœ œœ - -

I


7

17"

™™

™™î í ™™

(clt.)

™™î

(clt.)

+ + ++ + + + ™™ œj ‰ ™™î í ™™ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ ™™î œ

Vln.

A: (pizz.)

&

B:

5"

(improvise) A: 10% B: 90%

(see instruction ******)

90% 10%

5"

ffff sempre

œ œ œ œ œ Ó

II III

Vc.

œ œ œ œ œ

II III

(ffff)

=

° I

™™

Vln.

°

°

í ™™

í ™™

II

(clt.)

III

°

IV

°

° ™™

í ™™ í ™™

VI

” ++ +++++ ++ “b >œ ™ > b œ > B>œ n >œ , ≈ œ œ œ œ í¢™™ Jœ í¢™™ í¢™™ ¢í ™™ & ¢™™ œ œ œ œ í¢™™ œ Œ 5 3 (pizz.)

(ffff)

V

Vc.

™™ Ó

Ó Ó

Ó Ó

15"

Œ Œ

I

˙

BB BBB

mf

BB BBB

poco

œ

(improvise)

I II

œ =

É

play this box right away after finishing the previous repetition passage

VI

A: 60% B: 30% C: 10%

III >œ IV Ÿ~~~~~~~~~~~~ RÔ ™î ™ † fi ™™î† ™™î† ™™î†

arco

° I

™™ Œ Œ

II

fff

8

ü ü ü 8x ord. ™™î œ ™™î ™™î ™™î œ III

IV

V

ü

ü ü

I

œœ ææ

( )

. .

(*****) II III

≥˙

° II

.

ffff

¢

. .

≥˙

II III

ff

¢

. .

wait for vc. cue fff

° III

œ, . œ

,

5% 15% 80%

clb. fi œ

. .

œ

°

IV

œfi

. .

œ

° V

œ

. .

¢

clb.

œ

¢. Æœ .

3

œ

¢. œ .

3

IV

4x

. .

. .

ü ü

II

N. acro

. .

ü

I

II (III )

≥œ œ≤ . ™ ≥œ œ≤ ≥œ ™ . J ‰ J . ‰ J ≈R ‰ J ≈ .

N. acro

3

f . œ .Æ

ü

V

III

ü

5

sim.

II (III )

≥ œ≤ . ™ ≥ œ≤ ≥ ™ . . † œJ . † ‰ œJ ‰ J . † ‰ œJ ≈R ‰ œJ ≈ . † fff

3

5

sim.

play next box right away after finishing this repetition passage, and cue vln.


8

9

É

15"

™™ œ

™™

ord.

Vln.

™™

III Ÿ~~~~~~~~~~ ™™ ™™  II

&

fff

A:

-(f) ™™ œœ p

Vc.

™™

™™ œ

fff

I II

p

fff

™™ ™™

B:

™ ™

clt.

pizz.

sfff

clb.

µ>œ ,

k>œ

B>œ ™

œ

III IV 

œ

œ

 œ

œ

fff

™™ œ I II

3

œ

j œ

œ

3

+ œ

™™

™™ œ

™™

™™

™™

™™

œ ‰ ™ ™ j œ ™™

ord.

arco

B œ- b œ- b œ- µ œ- n œfff

≥ ™ œ™

C: N. II III ord.

™™

II III

œ ≥-

fff

œ-≤ ≥œ-

œ-≤ ™ ™ œ ™™ ≤

œ- œ≤ ≥

=

b N.œ ™™ œ

œ

ff

œ œ

œ

ff

œ œ

œ

sim.

œ œ

œ

œ œ

œ

™™

A: 1 5% B: 35% C: 40% D: 1 0%

D:

™™

N.

B

ff

œ

œ œ

ff

œ

œ œ

œ

sim.

œ œ

œ

œ œ

™™

œ

=

10

É

6"

œ Vln.

20" (A) 30% (B) 30% (C) 0% (D) 40%

80% 0%

&

5"

4"

II III Ÿ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  I

or

II

mf

20%

poco a poco dim. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

œœ

mp Vc.

5"

6"

4"

o

I ( ) II

mp

(pp)

o

3 4


9

11

É √ Œ

(1 0")

œ

Vln.

&

<Ÿ>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ o

(p)

3 4 q = 45 Œ

(*****)

Vc.

√ Œ

(1 0")

2 4 (1 0")

 o

j‰ Œ

‰™  R

3 4

p

p

√ ( ) ≥ ( ) ≤ œ œ

œ ‰™ Œ R œ ‰™ Œ R

pp

≈ J

4 4

Œ

ϲ o

Œ

mp

3

œ

5 4

≈ ≥œ ‰

II ( ) III

˙

J ™

œ

≈ ≥œ ‰

BBBBBBBB BBBBBBBB

mp

II ( ) III

œ

œ

p 3

6 4

pp

IV

p 3

≤ œ o

Œ

I II

≈ J

p

œ Œ ˙™

œ

3

II III

( )

(1 0")

≤ ˙ o

‰ ™ œR

II III

( )

II III

Œ

œ

√ ≥œ ( ) œ≤

˙≤ o

II III

N.

œ

j œ( )‰ Œ

o

œ

o

œ ‰ Ó™ J

‰ ™ œR

‰ œœj™™ -

S.P.

Ó

5

6 1 4+ 8

III IV

j3 r5 œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ- œœ- œJ œ - r5

j3 œ- œ-

5 ‰ œj™ -

Ó

poco

3

ppp

Ó™

III Ÿ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ r 5 j3 r5 ‰™ ™  o mp p II

j ‰ Ó™

Ó™

j œ

œ™ ˙™

5

pp

œ -

œ

mp

œ- œ œJ-

II III

œ J

II

3

œ J

mp

= ˙ ™™

N.

Vln.

Vc.

o o

= ‰ ˙™ III

&

7 8

7 8

-µ 3

mf

3

3

Ÿ~~~~~~~~~~~~ U “” KO 3 n O j #O B- nO J o

-

3

3 5

 41

p

œœ- œœ- œœ-

mf II III

œœœ ---

mf

œœ œœ- œœ œœ- œœ- œœJ 3

5

j3

œ- œ- œ-

œ -

5

œœJ

œœ œœ- œœ J

œ J

œJ

3

I II

3

œ- œ ™

S.T.

o

pp

œ ™ I

p

œ

o

U

Ϫ J o

II III

p œœ ™™ o

I II

Ϫ

(p)

3

œ ˙

œ œ J I

J

≈ Œ ≈ Œ

œ œ

II III

mp

mp

œ

II III

mp

pizz.

# >O J ‰≈ Œ I

arco

pizz.

III IV

3 4 16 A tempo 4

Œ Œ œj ˙

3 œ+ ≈ J ‰ Œ Œ j k " sf " o

III

rit. S.P.

˙™

I

B-

j- B B- B J II

œ œ

mp

J

Ϫ

( )

(p)

Ϫ

(*****)

J

(pp)

3 4

o

pp

œ ˙

2 4

p

˙

II ( ) III

ppp

œ ˙

pppp

˙

II ( ) III


10

12

É

™™ œ Vln.

& ™™

(pizz.)

™™

OI O O

5"

20"

o

# O O O K O O O # O ™™ O II

IV III

II

IV II

p - pp (dynamic range)

œœ o

P.O.

Vc.

(see instruction *******)

œ œ o

P.O.

=

= 13

É

5"

50"

(see instruction ********) III IV

Vln. (shifting on Vc.)

pppp

ppp Vc.

ppp

-(s) í ™™ ˙˙-

˙˙-

pppp - pp (dynamic range)

- ™(s) œ- ™ œ ™ í ™œ ™ œ ™

œ- ™ œ™

pppp - pp (dynamic range)

˙˙-

™™î œ- ™ ™î œ™ ™

201 9.1 0.27 Boston, USA

e = violinist's heartbeat

Profile for Yifan Guo

Fragile Balance, music theater for violin and cello  

https://youtu.be/G0H2RhfrlPg

Fragile Balance, music theater for violin and cello  

https://youtu.be/G0H2RhfrlPg

Profile for yifan.guo
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