Mei-Fang Lin and Her Compositional Style:
Analyisys of two Solo Piano Pieces "Disintegration" and
"Mistress Of The Labyrinth"
Florida State University College Of Music
Citation: Wang, Yingying. 2020. "Mei-Fang Lin and Her Compositional Style: Analyisys of two Solo Piano Pieces Disintegration and Mistress Of The Labyrinth." Accelerando: Belgrade Journal of Music and Dance 5:3.
Acknowledgments: This paper was the part of Doctoral Treatise at the Florida State University, College Of Music. The Treatise was defended on April 2, 2019. The author expresses her gratitude to the professors and supervisory committee David Kalhous (professor directing treatise), Alice Ann Darrow (University Representative), Diana Dumlavwalla (Committee Member) and Heidi Williams.
This paper focuses on the contemporary Taiwanese composer Mei-Fang Lin’s two piano solo works, Disintegration and Mistress. Lin’s compositional aesthetic are intrinsically related to her educational background and cultural identity. The author is showing in her paper how this particular aesthetic is revealed in these two pieces. Lin’s musical language demonstrates a strong duality. On one hand, her European and American musical training imbued her music with an unmistakably Western voice. On the other hand, Lin’s studies of Eastern philosophy and traditional Chinese music infused her style with Eastern elements. Consequently, the author’s analysis illustrates how these two tendencies coexist in these two pieces.
Keywords: Taiwanese contemporary music, eastern philosophy, cultural indentity
Social Status And Economic Impact On Taiwanese Woman Composers
Taiwanese woman composers have benefited greatly from Taiwan’s political reformation of 1949-1987. Taiwan separated from the Republic of China in 1949 and began to implement democratization. Along with the political change, the economic boost enabled more opportunities for women composers in Taiwan, which provided them the opportunity to compete with their male contemporaries in pursuing higher educations.
This brought many beneficial outcomes, such as study abroad opportunities and an increase in cultural globalization, which has been greater than any previous historical period. When the single-party democracy led by the Government of Taiwan was finally established in the 1980s, the years following made Taiwan’s international role more prominent and more internationally involved for its open policy on trade and economy.
The economic boost also nourished the education system. For example, the ability for Taiwanese students to study abroad became more ubiquitous. The gender gap in education shrank, and women started to gain an equal status with their male counterparts to pursue higher education outside of Taiwan. Under this globalized educational trend, Taiwan has increasingly striven to provide opportunities to a wider range of students, and public funding and resources available for talented students, especially women, wanting to pursue their academic studies abroad has grown significantly. At the fifth generation, there is the highest number of female composers who have studied abroad (37 women); however, the summit of male composers who have studied abroad occurred in the third generation (27 men). The woman composer, Mei-Fang Lin was part of the fifth generation. As a result, she was raised during the best period for women composers, one in which the social conditions for their music and education was at a peak globalized level.
Mei-Fang Lin was born in Taiwan in 1973. She received her bachelor’s degree from the National Taiwan Normal University, and moved to the United States to pursue her graduate education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of California at Berkeley, where she obtained her PhD in composition. She studied composition with Hwang- Long Pan, Ting-Lien Wu, and Yen Lu in Taiwan and Guy Garnett, Zack Browning, and studied electronic music with Scott Wyatt in the United States.
Lin has received many awards for her compositions: the Prix SCRIME in France in 2000, the 21st-century Piano Commission Competition in 1999, the finalist selection at the Concours International de Musique Electroacoustiques, Bourges in 2000, the Oncorso Internazionale Luigi
Russolo in 1999, and the Honorary Mention and Special Award in the Music Taipei Composition Competition in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Her works have been performed and broadcasted in the United States, Europe, and Taiwan. She also performs new music internationally as a pianist.
Lin also studied and lived in France from 2002-2005 with the support of the Frank Huntington Beebe Fund for Musicians and the George Ladd Paris Prize. (Lin 2018, https://www.babelscores.com/Mei-FangLin ). She took courses in electronic music at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), where she worked extensively with many renowned composers, including Johnathan Harvey, Edmund Campion, Edwin Dugger, and Philippe Leroux.
Lin is one of many Taiwanese composers born after the 1950s who mastered composing electronic-acoustic music. She also incorporated Eastern cultural elements from I-Ching Theory, Qi gong, Tai ji quan, Nan guan, and the Beijing Chinese Opera into her compositions. During her stay in America and Europe, she distinguished herself from other musicians by infusing her Western musical training with her Eastern cultural heritage.
Lin is a well-trained concert pianist and a conductor. She has performed her piano pieces, including Disintegration and Mistress of the Labyrinth, at festivals across the globe. She has conducted many orchestras, including the Taipei National Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Parnassus Ensemble. For her role as a pianist, Lin has also composed several works for piano and electronics, often incorporating pre-recorded tape. For her solo work Interaction, for a computer-generated digital sound sampler and live piano, she first recorded the digital sampler and then the piano part.
Lin manages to balance both her Western and Eastern backgrounds in her compositions. Even though her undergraduate program was completed in Taiwan, the education there was quite Western, as she was trained in the Austro-German musical style. However, her own interest in the I-Ching, Tai Qi, and Nanguan Singing outside of her academic education formed an important part of Lin’s special compositional mind. As she has described,