Strange Invisible Perfume details

Strange Invisible Perfume

for Guzheng, 1 Percussionist (voice, crotales, kulintang [6 bossed gongs], hi-hat cymbals, suspended cymbal, 2 Peking Opera gongs [middle, high], Korean ching, 3 bongos [high, middle, low], 2 tom-toms [middle, low]) (2017); duration: 11′ 46″; publisher: Australian Music Centre

Chiu Tanching (guzheng) & Claire Edwardes (percussion) – Hong Kong-Sydney synergy

film sample: 

Poetic Energies Across Sonic Space – Night Concert (last work)

score available from AMC

program note

Invisible Perfume explores the drifting sense of time and moment as expressions of spirit through subtle timbre graduations of the guzheng with muscular colour resonances of sonority and driving percussion qualities to suggest the sensualities of texts from Shakespeare, Tang Xianzu and Song of Songs. The form the work takes is of opening and closing sections with subtle changes of tone colour from wriggling string possibilities on guzheng and sharp Chinese opera percussion and lingering crotales sounds as types of perfumes of sound of stirring ‘invisible perfume’ of the sensuality of Cleopatra. Inside these frames, are balanced muscular sections with the guzheng’s full string arpeggios and skin and metal percussion barrages to express the sensual and joyful suggestions of the Biblical ‘I arose to open for my lover’ and ‘fingers with flowing myrrh’. The ‘strange perfume’—a central image from the Shakespeare—is explored as a central section of the musical structure and expressed through trembling strings and half-spoken whispered voice amidst guzheng chordal resonance; these are intended as evocations of an invisible sensuality and spirit which ‘hits the sense’ in a Shakespearean bold-moment and Daoist quivering nature of ‘sun rouged blush, damp with rain’.

dedication note:

Strange Invisible Perfume is dedicated to Chiu Tan Ching (guzheng) and Claire Edwardes (percussion)


Poetic libretto: from English title translations by Lindy Li Mark with Romanisations of the Chinese script by Milky Shan Man Cheung from the Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion, original play by Tang Xianzu; Romanisations of the Chinese script by Jocelyn Chey of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra; Romanisations of the Chinese script by Jocelyn Chey of Song of Songs

Bruce Crossman, Strange Invisible Perfume (bars 139-57)

first performance:

Chiu Tan Ching (guzheng) and Claire Edwardes (percussion) premiered Strange Invisible Perfume as part of the Night Concert at Poetic Energies Across Sonic Space, on 20 July 2017, at Western Sydney University with support from the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture

Chiu Tan Ching & Claire Edwardes – sensuous sonic synergies in Poetic Energies

available on festivals and writings pages

See story of the music in Poetic Energies and film on the festivals page, Shy like Blushing Flowers Music-Theatre Project

See article on the work on the writings page, Drifting Emergence and Sudden Colours: Shy Like Blushing Flowers at The JOAN