What do you expect to hear when someone says “American music?” Chen Yi, Composer



Chen Yi
Photo by Jim Hair

Since music is a universal language, music composition reflects the precipitation of a composer’s cultural and psychological construct, I think that all musical works composed in the States AND influenced by American culture are considered American music. The modern society, especially the American society, is like a great network of complex latitudes and attitudes, everything exists in equal rights under different cultures (both historical and contemporary), environments and conditions. They keep changing at every moment and interact with the others, so that each experience that we composers come across can become the source and exciting medium of our creation. That’s why I don’t have a fixed scope, a frame of styles to expect to hear when someone says “American music”. I am very open to it. I always have to do some study on the music itself, and some research on the creative background(s) of the composition before I label it.