Traces

Tan Dun
10 min



Once I was riding in a bus through the mountains in south China on a cold day. The windows were closed, but one near me had a little gap. The wind was whistling in, and I noticed it was singing A – C – D, those three notes. Sometimes it would disappear, but always return. I discovered that in between this appearing and disappearing, I was able to notice much more clearly the sounds of river, road, trees, and my own breath. Afterward, I began to find this A – C – D singing everywhere, in birds, in folk music and language of many cultures. So in Traces I used A – C – D as the only pitch materials, and wrote many rests in which to hear clearly the sounds of the natural environment and of yourself. Doesn’t this sound like Cage? Two thousand years ago, the Chinese philosopher Lao Tse said that the greatest sound can be heard only in silence. I think so too.

–Tan Dun