Chou Wen-chung

Pien (Notation)

From the program notes of Pien, composed in 1966.

Pien, meaning transformation, is synonymous with the i of I Ching. In philosophy, i evolves from simplicity to complexity, complexity to phenomena, phenomena to its conglomeration and dispersion, and finally invariability.


Symbol Explanation
Vibrato in slow speed and wide amplitude.
Lower the pitch evenly throughout the duration to the semitone below by lipping.
Bend the pitch evenly to the semitone above or below by sliding (trombone) or rolling (flute), and return to original pitch evenly throughout the indicated duration.
Slow trill on the given note alternating with the harmonic (slightly lower in pitch) on the same note (flute).
Grace note or notes to be attacked an the beginning of the given note value.
Grace note to be played at the end of the given note value.
All note values are only qualitative indications without exact proportional durations; however, the total duration should be as indicated by the measure or rests.
The note values in a bracket should contrast sharply with each other: the quarter very long, the thirty-second extremely short.
Grace notes to be attacked as soon as possible after the measured note.


The following metronome marks (given primarily as a reference) represent the four steps (or six sets of two) in the temporal fluctuation:

Metronome marks.
104 tense — as fast as possible but with clarity
96 driving — but not tense
88 deliberate — but not relaxed
80 relaxed — but not dragging

All other metronome marks are metric derivatives of the above.

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