This piece was written on the death of my grandmother, after I went back to Hunan to take part in her funeral in the village where I grew up. This Taoist ritual brought back to me the sounds, the movement, the spiritual vibrations from my childhood, forgotten in the many years I was dedicated to learning western music. I used both instruments and voice to break the artificial law that music must be made of tonal and atonal scales. I wanted to explore sound in many dimensions: microtonal, swimming among frequencies, expanding timbres as the ink of calligraphy spreads in rice paper.
“On Taoism is an orchestral piece that marks Tan Dun’s symbolic victory over Western orchestra procedures and Western form and melodic patterns, [with its] unique tone color and special otherworldliness.”
–Stephen Ellis, Fanfare