Not Broken Bruised-Reed details

Not Broken Bruised-Reed

for piano and percussion (2010)

piano; percussion (kulintang, crotales, vibraphone, bass drum, Korean Temple gong, suspended cymbal, Peking Opera gong, 2 roto-toms [low, middle], ching [suspended], 3 bongos [low, middle, high], K’kwaenggwari)
duration: 10′ 00″; publisher: Wirripang

score available from
Wirripang Pty Ltd

recording session

Claire Edwardes and James Cuddeford, UWS recording studio during Creative Explosion 2009

program note
The Judaic-Christian idea of not breaking a bruised-reed or snuffing out light but instead allowing it to flourish is the basis behind this composition. The heart of the sounds draw on the poignancy of the Korean kyemyŏnjo scale a s the basis for the Pansori-like—traditional speech-song form—as a type of bruised utterance that emerges from noise to flower in lyricism. Its chromatic-tinged wholetones from the basis of layered harmonic resonances which wrestle with jazz-influenced sections based on extemporizations on Korean changgo rhythm. The rhythmic and harmonic complexity is matched by resonating metals from luminous Filipino kulintang gong-chimes, soft Korean ching drones and strident k’kwaenggwari accelerations. A controlled extemporization for the players emerges at the work’s centre culminating in the instrumentalists’ vocalized cry “a-p’u-ji a-na.” A late flowering of the earlier Korean modal resonances returns and then rests within the quiet living colours of prepared piano vibrations, whistling, ching glissando, and breath.

“After a short pause World New Music Days’ resident musicians, Ensemble Offspring, took over with chamber music from Canada, Denmark, France and the Antipodes. The first work, Bruce Crossman’s Not Broken Bruised Reed, quickly established just how good these musicians are.

Much of this fine work, and indeed much of the entire program, dealt with delicately nuanced sounds, fragile timbres and unforgiving rhythmic complexity. The performers played not just efficiently but with real style and charisma, making newborn works all their own.”

Harriet Cunningham, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 2010

“Asian-inspired sudden brutal gestures and gentle, exposed resonances of [a] Pacific composer.”

Stephen Adams, Limelight, May 2010

“The first piece was home grown, Bruce Crossman’s Not Broken Bruised Reed – a piece for violin, piano and percussion which was in turn soft and soothing with Oriental resonances and mega-energetic, including moments of vocalise and whistling.”

David Gyger, North Shore Times, May 14, 2010

“On the final day’s chamber concert at the Taipei National University of the Arts Performing Arts Center Dance Theatre, Amit Gilutz’s (Israel) Tslila (Diving, 2010) for clarinet, harp, piano, violin and cello and the Australian Bruce Crossman’s Not Broken Bruised-Reed (2009) for violin, percussion and piano were certainly the highlights…”

Andrián Pertout, Resonate Magazine, Australian Music Centre, December 20 2011

Rehearsal: Ssu Wei Lee (percussion), Szu-Han Wang (piano) and Tzi-Zhen Huang (violin), Taipei National University of the Arts Performing Arts Center

performance history 

3 December 2011, Not Broken Bruised Reed, Ssu Wei Lee (percussion), Szu-Han Wang (piano) and Tzi-Zhen Huang (violin), 29th Asian Composers League Conference and Festival, Taipei National University of the Arts, Performing Arts Center Dance Theatre, Taiwan

 3 May 2010, Not Broken Bruised Reed, Ensemble Offspring, ISCM World New Music Days, Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

 23 April 2010, Not Broken Bruised Reed, Ensemble Offspring, CONtexts: The Alfred Hook Lecture Series (Keith Howard)—The Oriental Other, Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

 22 October 2009, Not Broken Bruised Reed, Claire Edwardes (percussion), Zubin Kanga (piano), James Cuddeford (violin), Creative Explosion, University of Western Sydney

Ssu Wei Lee (percussion), Szu-Han Wang (piano) and Tzi-Zhen Huang (violin), TNUA Dance Theatre


See album Living Colours: Pacific Sounds & Spirit, Navona 2017; Spotify 2017