The word, pronounced Nian has multiple meanings depending on the context the word is used in or the prefix it follows. Examples of what it could mean are reminisce, meditation, meaning and sense. To me personally, the word connate a state of spiritual inner peace and awareness, while being in harmony with and connected to everything around us past, present and future. It is somewhat related to Buddhism philosophies of letting go of the idea of ‘self’ and that time is linear. Of course this piece has a physical beginning and an end, but my idea was to try to capture the concept of circular time/structure, where there is no beginning or end, only a state of ‘being.’ This was the inspiration for this piece.
Nian 2 is the second piece for multiple percussion I have composed, the first being Ojo, which my good friend, Casey Cangelosi, and I co-composed. It is preceded by a mallet sextet I composed in the summer of 2013 titled, 念. Compositionally, the piece is divided into three sections. The first section utilizes only bass drum, somewhat in the fashion of traditional Chinese drumming or Japanese odaiko drumming. The second section is slow and felt mostly without an obvious pulse. It begins with long quiet notes on cymbals and gongs, while the rest of the drums join in later with snippets of motifs derived from the first section. The third sections develops various motifs from the first section, though this time in a style one might consider closer related to western contemporary music. The piece ends with the rhythm of the opening six measures in retrograde, finishing with a long crescendo roll on large gong.
Composer – Pius Cheung