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Lieder ohne Worte

5 Dramaticalises by Ü Lee

      As a performer and an educator, I (Ü Lee) have struggled and have watched performers struggling through many stages of performances. When we face a foreign language, we may struggle with the pronunciation or the memorization. When the tune is very atonal, we may struggle with the pitches. When we finally get everything audible perfect, we may struggle with the visual presentation. When we have a full package of presentation, we struggle again, because now the performance becomes a routine and we start to feel bored.

      All these struggles became the drive for me to create this song cycle, Lieder ohne Worte, aka songs without words in German. These 5 songs do not have lyrics. They are like vocalises, except there are staging directions or subtexts as some guidance for dramatic interpretation. They are supposed to free performers (especially singers) from the memorization of words and the boredom after learning to perform the same way again and again. It is also very possible that I am creating a new struggle for performers because now they have to shift focus to the place that's not often focused. For instance, I personally think "Ice Cream" might be the hardest of all for a singer (even though there's only one sung note at the very end), because I note where and how to inhale or exhale for the rest of the piece. The majority of singers and audience care about the audible pitches the most. "Ice Cream" is my attempt to make a point of how effective and expressive breathing itself could be.

      The readers could soon realize that I am most fascinated and inspired by basic desires of humans, food, love, and sleep. The very first version of the set is not children friendly which might be more fun for adults. The beginning of the set is a lot more specific than the later ones, because I like to give the performers more and more freedom along the way. The pieces could be treated as individual incidents or a continual flow of events. My key to this set is to have fun. When the set stops being fun, that would be the cue to put the set away.


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