Ngawang Samphel Plays Piano Arrangement of songs by Palgon, Yudrug Tsendep, & Yadong
(Guest post by one half of Strangers)
This this essentially an arrangement of three Tibetan songs for the piano: Aku Pema by Palgon, Drenpai Zhechung by Yudrug Tsendep, and Ama by Palgon. It is also a medley because of the way the three songs are woven together as opposed to a division into three separate movements. I composed this arrangement with a simple goal in mind. I wanted to bring to attention the beauty of everything outside of the sung lyrics. I always felt like that the instrumental and the melodies (sans paroles) receive neither the attention nor the praise that they deserve. As a Tibetan who isn’t fluent in the language, this was naturally the aspect of Tibetan music that always attracted me. The lyrics would then serve as icing on the cake after it would be explained to me. I believe that it is important to conserve ones cultural art and music while maintaining relevancy with the modern world. This is what I hoped to achieve with this piece, which is but the first of a series of arrangements that I plan on writing.
The performance took place on October 29th in DC for an event that Machik hosted. I actually wrote this during the summer before Kalachakra, which I performed for a night event in VA during Kalachakra. At the time it was very much a “work in progress” so it was an uncomfortable performance. The fact that Lobsang Sangay la and Jetsun Pema la were attending did not help put my nerves at ease either. The medley that is heard in this video is actually still partially incomplete. It still hasn’t been written down on paper so the piece goes through minor changes each time I play it. I have plans on studying during this winter break on the advance theories of counterpoint, arrangement, and harmony from the greats such as Arnold Schoenberg and Walter Piston. I also intend on further perfecting my playing endurance through finger dexterity exercises. With whatever I can gather from these books, I plan on applying them to my arrangement and to future Tibetan medleys that I want to create during the break.
Wow, Tibetan music sounds beautiful on the piano too. I love classical and jazz music and most of best musicians in the world have mixed different traditions and instruments to captivate more audience. So I wish Ngawang well and hope he composes more music. I think more Tibetans should take HHDL advice to combine modern tools or ideas with ancient wisdom. I think it will be really cool if he can get in touch with Tibetan singers, monks and song writers too. I always thought if someone can orchestrate all the Tibetan religious instrumentation, like gyarling, thung, Nga, cymbals, etc it will be one wicked orchestra.
Ngawang, I was there that night and your performance was easily the best. Keep up the good work! Cannot wait for the complete version since what your played that night was absolutely beautiful. Good luck.