Me & Me & More
Voice, field recording, electronics
These songs are my early experimentations at creating music, which is through songwriting and sound manipulation in my laptop. They also came out of a period when I was studying psychology. As a result, they explored similar ideas in different ways.
"Me & Me and More" is an electroacoustic song cycle that evokes themes such as real and imagined past, nature and ideas of nature, dream and reality, conscious and subconscious, and schizophrenia. I use my own voice as the core material, and construct a theatrical narrative with electronics and field recording.
Composed and performed by Lemon Guo, video by Mengtai Zhang, Projection Mapping by Eric Epstein, presented at Ambient Church, First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights in 2018
Teensy-modified Xiao with sensors and clarinet components, field recording, electronics
The work engages with the emotional, ethnographical, and political charge of material and place. Specifically, the piece explores music reconstruction and displacement in relation to a historical movement during postwar China (After 1949). Informed by personal experience, this work raises questions of systems of dissemination and cultural appropriation. Due to the call from the Chinese government, the idea of westernization while adhering to the national essence has caused an epistemic transformation of the musical practice, and lead to a movement of reconstructing folk instruments and music system, accommodating symphonic demands. Afterwards, this movement caused serious controversy and criticism. Although the war (organized massacre) has come to a temporary end, the combats on the cultural recognition and political ideology have never stopped. This composition is inspired by such historical and political issues, combined with acoustic Xiao, digital signal processing and sample triggering in Teensy, and expressing an imagination on the post-war cultural reconstruction. Overall, this work mirrors the wider idea of postcolonial identity, but explodes the expectations of a standardized sense of oriental aesthetics.
Composed by Lemon Guo
Instrument designed and performed by Mengtai Zhang
Performed at New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME 2018), New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival (NYCEMF 2018).
2017 - Present
Inspired by a field recording trip with the EcoSono Institute to Alaska in 2013, I started working with the vocalization of orca whales, which can produce a much larger range of sound than human hearing range. The ultrasonic orca songs became the piece “into silence they appear”. The project then slowly unfolded into an ongoing exploration with the inaudible sounds from different environments.
Performed at International Computer Music Conference (2018, Korea), EcoSono Festival of Environmental Music and Sound Art (2017, Alaska), and Chronus Arts Center (2017, Shanghai). Published on Computer Music Journal (MIT Press) in 2018.
在那遥远的地方 In A Faraway Land
SATB chorus, Chinese music ensemble
Wang Luobin, one of the most renowned Chinese songwriters and earliest ethnic music researchers wrote the song in 1939 in Qinghai Province while shooting a film near Qinghai Lake. He met a young Tibetan girl and wrote a song about the beautiful impression that she left upon him and all those around her. The song is set to the tune of a Kazakh folk song that Wang had collected in the area, and it’s famous for its ethnic complexity. This traditional Chinese tune is rearranged to a SATB chorus by Lemon Guo and a Chinese chamber ensemble including guzheng, pipa, erhu, dizi and bangu by Sophia Shen.
What is it like to have a conversation with a space? What is it like for different spaces to speak with one another? What is the relationship between a voice and a space? Does a voice have its own identity, independent of the space in which it resides? In this piece, the voice journeys to explore these questions through interactions with different acoustic and electronic spaces.
道生一 Tao Begets One
“Tao begets one, one begets two, two begets three, three begets everything.” According to Lao Tzu, that’s how the universe began. When the vocalist sings into the piano with its sustain pedal down, the resonating sound embodies the idea of Tao. The pianist and the vocalist listen carefully to the vibrations of the piano strings, caused by the vocalist saying “Tao begets one”, which acts as a spectral analysis of the sound, and provides the pitches for them to produce. More and more harmonics are produced, and in turn a richer spectrum is created. This cycle continues and energy accumulates, until the space is saturated with sounds, and the piece naturally ends.
Original soundtrack for the film Lilies’ Talk, directed by Samantha Liu
Composed and performed by Lemon Guo
Produced by Flynn Wheeler
Premiered at Madrid International Film Festival, 2017
Written and arranged by Lemon Guo
Produced by Will Evans
Performed by Peter Hathotuwa (Guitar), Lemon Guo (Voice), Hicham Benhallam (Voice), Will Evans (Drum), Tim Swartz(Bass), Sophia Shen (Piano)