Echoes and Fragments: New Background Music Composition

Happy New Year. During the holiday period, I finished this short (three-minute) minimalist piano piece, though it is somber rather than festive. It is the 30th song in the free background music series (the music is free for non-commercial use; for other uses, refer to the terms of use).

I’m working on a longer piece at the moment, but that will take a while longer to complete.

The name of the song is about memory. As I get older, long-term memories fragment and slip away; sometimes they resurface, bubbling up from the boundless sea of time; sometimes they simply sink and are never seen again. For many memories, I am unsure whether I am remembering the actual event or remembering a story that I once told or that someone once told me. Do I remember the house I grew up or do I simply remember its image from photographs? It seems that a lot of what I call ‘memories’ are merely faint and distant echoes.

The photos are about something entirely different. These focus on the problem of homelessness in Hong Kong. The photos of the homes of the homeless were taken around Kowloon. Though Hong Kong is a rich city, there is a high level of income inequality. To compound the problem, even tiny apartments are expensive to rent and their is a long waiting list for public housing.
Quite a few people just fall through the cracks. Some of them cannot afford to live even in tiny ‘cage homes ( while some simply prefer the freedom of the street. One thing that surprised me was that quite a few people were hanging onto useless little nick-nacks like Christmas ornaments and volleyball trophies, but maybe my surprise just highlighted my own prejudices. Why wouldn’t people want decorations and awards?

The photo set is here on Google+:

More about the Music

The song was performed on a Korg M50 synthesizer and recorded using Cakewalk’s Sonar Home Studio. Unfortunately, I am not a piano player, so even a simple piece like this is terribly difficult for me to play. I had thought about returning to the first melody at the end, but it really stretched out the song (a little like the ending-after-ending of the Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King)


3 thoughts on “Echoes and Fragments: New Background Music Composition

  1. Longzijun, this is an amazingly moving piece! It is so obvious that this music has come from a place deep within you. It actually made me cry. An absolutely lovely piece. Happy New Year to you too and I hope 2014 is filled with peace, love, and all good things that come your way.
    Hugs, Lyn

  2. Oh thanks, your comments are always warm and supportive. When writing or performing songs, I don’t express any emotions. I learned this approach from one of my music tutors, who argued that emotion exists within the music itself (melody, harmony, dynamics, articulation, tempo), so if you take care of the technical aspects, the music will express it’s own emotions. The only time I’ve worried about emotion is when I wrote a song in memory of a student of mine who passed away suddenly–I purposefully made it less ‘sad’ (for example, by writing in a major key) because the real event was sad enough already and she had been a sweet and cheerful girl, so a depressingly sad song wouldn’t have done her justice:

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